To be clear within this blog post, I am referring to Arizona’s southern town of Patagonia. In 2013, I did visit the Patagonian region on the Argentinian side of the tip of South America. Whenever I think of Patagonia here, I have great memories of that travel and look forward to visiting the Patagonian region on the Chilean side someday! (Isn’t it said, anticipation of travel brings happiness to one!?!)
My recent visit to the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area which includes the Patagonia Lake dam/spillway was an adventure. While driving the mile-long dirt road to the parking lot, a coyote ran across with its fresh kill followed by another coyote. I could only grab my camera fast enough to get the second coyote. Further down the road was a coral and a cow lounging around. I’ll see more of these creatures later in my visit.
From the parking lot to the spillway is a dirt trail for a short distance and then a steep, concrete road to the spillway. As you are on your way down, do take a look at the lake. At the spillway, you can walk across even when there are a couple of inches of water flowing over it. Be careful though as the mud and algae do make it slick.
Some birds lazily swim along, while others fly in and out to snag insects in the air and never seem to stop flying! That was my challenge with the swallows and it was not till I arrived home to discover I had observed 2 different swallows. Here are some of the birds I photographed:
I hiked further along and parallel to the creek which joins the Black Hawk trail. About .6 mile from the spillway was my turn-around point. This photo shows the depth the trail goes down to the creek’s edge again, so I will save that for another day.
On my way back to the spillway, I stopped at Jen’s vista for a snack and water. There is a bench to sit and enjoy the vista. Here are photos looking both directions from there.
It is an open range so cattle are all over as obvious by the observed cow dung and cows grazing near and on the hiking trail. I worked my way past a few cows to discover around a corner another one was staring at me. They seem to be comfortable with humans, yet all day I only saw 3 people on the trail. I talked to them as I walked by, and while they took notice they seemed unimpressed … maybe with what I was saying!
Back at the spillway I spent more time trying to figure out which type of sandpiper I was observing. There were 10 of these birds! I was challenged and apparently so was the Merlin Bird ID app I use for help with bird identification. Here is the bird. If you know what it is, let me know. Thanks.
I then noticed a bird with a longer bill and different colored body nearby and knew it was no sandpiper. A much longer bill and stripes on its body compared to a sandpiper. Wilson’s snipe has now been added to my life list! Here is a Wilson’s snipe:
There are other trails in this area, but this is the only direct trail to the spillway. The Black Hawk trail continues for miles and can link with other trails to make for a long hiking day. I limit my hiking miles since carrying my camera backpack, tripod, lunch and water are a weight, plus I like to spend at least 45 minutes at a spot with birds so they get used to me being around. The spillway was a great place to spend time with the birds. In the future I would continue along the trail, about 1 mile I guess, to get down to the creek’s edge. Thankfully we have these protected areas for our adventures and safe places for wildlife to roam/fly in and out. Anyway you can support these efforts is greatly appreciated.