Rio Vista Natural Resources Park, Tucson, Arizona

What to do with a former horse ranch near a bike path in Tucson, Arizona? Forty acres of land has provided an equestrian trail, bicycle and walking trails within and to the bicycle “loop”, along with sitting places and picnic areas at ramadas. There is also a playground with a children’s climbing wall, dog area and a Compassion Garden. The Compassion Garden is a place for people to seek solace in nature as they grieve a loss.

A gneiss (pronounced “nice”) bench is nearby to sit on, with a plaque explaining its origins … love humor in the least likely places! It was formed during uplift of the Santa Catalina Mountains from 1.4 billion years old black Oracle granite and 50 million years old white Wilderness Suite granite through high temperatures and pressures to a recrystallized gneiss, an artist sculpted it, and now here as a bench; nice!

I recently discovered this park while looking for birding places. Various trails cut through the land with the City of Tucson Parks Department making a concerted effort to close off trails to slow down erosion of the land. Other signs encourage visitors to not feed animals, stay on main trails and to watch out for coyotes and bobcats. No doubt in my mind, the coyotes I see walking across the nearby wash do use this park as a pathway since neighborhoods are all around the park.

Lots and lots of sparrows! I identified most as white-crowned sparrows, along with phainopepla and house finches. The male house finch seemed to pose for me so I did spend time with him.

I was walking to leave the park when I saw a hawk-like bird on a cement wall. I quickly took a photo, but it then flew off into a bush after something and over my head to another area. This sharp-shinned hawk was to fast for me to capture him in anything but his sitting on the wall!

People can drive and park their car, ride their horse through, or walk in from the neighborhood or bike path, so it is an easily accessible park. I nice place for all to take a break from whatever we wish!

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