Reid Park …

So many people and so many birds are hanging out at Reid Park in Tucson, Arizona. No one is on the baseball fields near by, everyone is at one of two ponds … feeding the ducks, despite signs saying not to feed them! Scurrying around on the ground eating some berries were yellow-dumped warblers.

A quick look into the trees and way on top I see a Cassin’s kingbird … new bird for me!

Many, many mallard ducks, American wigeons, geese and ring-necked ducks in the pond while some comfortably go about their business at the pond’s edge, such as the great egret. Others, neotropic cormorant and black-crowned night heron, sit and watch all that is happening around them and are not bothered by the ruckus. Yet the egret does fly up into a tree and the heron moves itself to sit on a BBQ grill!

While the mallards and other ducks fly to another side of the pond, as this American wigeon is doing, when another handout of bread is about to happen! It seems there is no enforcement of the rule on the sign.

Here the great egret lands at the tree and the black-crowned night heron is at the BBQ grill. When you spend time with birds you see how smart they are!

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

In the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains and within the Coronado National Forest, you’ll discover Sabino Canyon’s numerous trails which reopened 3 months ago. The Bighorn wildfire burned thousands of acres north of the canyon causing the area’s closure. Many of us are now walking or running the trails or riding the emission-free tram which operates on a paved road. While hiking along, you’ll see some ramadas with tables for picnic time, saguaro cacti and riparian areas, canyons and mountainsides.

Check the park rules to know when bicycling is allowed, be aware dogs are not allowed, and understand wildlife live within or walk through the area. Always carry plenty of water and know where you are in the park since trails are numerous.

Since the Bighorn fire, there are a couple of new fences and gates erected quite possibly to restrict trail access, if needed in the future. Whether it be another fire or monsoon activity, not a bad idea to keep everyone safe since few check local weather or know of hazards as often as we should when thinking to explore an area.

During the pandemic, the majority of hikers are wearing facial masks and/or keeping physically distant while hiking the trails. I have not been near the visitor center so I can only hope safety protocols are followed there too. It is a beautiful place to hike with your family or partner, so I hope to see you on the trail!

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!

Cyclists & Pedestrians Counted!

It’s an interesting piece of equipment on the bicycle loop in Tucson. It records the number of cyclists and pedestrians, which would include roller-bladers, joggers, runners, along with walkers all passing the counter each day and provides totals for the year. This is definitely one of the busier spots where people are on the loop. Kudos to all using this multi-use path! (You may even see some wildlife while out there. I bet the roadrunner wished to be counted!)

Chuck Ford Lakeside Park, Tucson, AZ

I stopped by to visit another city park in Tucson, AZ. Here in the desert one does not often see water, but this lake supports bass and catfish so anyone who fishes is happy. I was here to do some bird watching. Between all the trees and shoreline there were birds to be seen. Excessive noise is prohibited so it really is a quiet park.

Plenty of wildlife seen: Black crowned night heron, roadrunner, tricolored heron, cooper’s hawks – actually 3 of them, many mallards and hummingbirds and plenty of other birds, and turtles.

The following is not a good photo, but it is the first time I have ever seen a hawk pull its tail feathers up! There were three Cooper’s hawks in the tree. It was a very hot day, 100+ degrees Fahrenheit. They were hiding and I guess I got to close!?! They had wonderful shade and thus the photo is grainy.

Cooper’s hawk with tail feathers up!

The park has plenty of places for people to sit and relax, plus a playground, ball park, and activity court with various games.

Funniest looking bird was hanging out with the mallards. I really cannot explain its look.

Another park for me to check out during the various seasons!

Bungalow Relocation in Tucson?

Few times do I drive Broadway Boulevard to downtown Tucson; however, recently I did, noticed construction equipment and a “Historic Bungalow Relocation” sign. I stopped to take some photos, talked with a couple of people in the area, and returned home to research the project.

According to the sign, “moving seven Rincon Heights historic district contributing structures ahead of the Broadway widening project”. The homes were moved off their current foundation and onto concrete slabs to be part of a future retail center.

These buildings date back to the 1930’s and other demolished buildings are from WWII till 1975. Much money has gone into buying and demolishing buildings for this project. City planners first discussed Broadway in the 1980’s with a possible 8 lanes, but the project was not approved till the 2006 voters decided four lanes would become 6 lanes. The project’s goal is to take buildings viewed as assets and convert them to community value. Future merchants and planners are in those discussion stages.

I wondered about “The Sunshine Mile”. In 1953 there was a contest to name the strip between Campbell Road and Country Club Road. Of the 5,000 entries, the winner to name the strip was “The Sunshine Mile”. In 2012, added on was Euclid Road to Country Club Road and all on the list of endangered historic places.

May 26, 2020, the Sunshine Mile District is officially on the National Register of Historic Places. I look forward to seeing what happens in this area in the upcoming years.

Where Are You Going?

It scurried across the soil under the mesquite trees so quickly, all I could do was wonder why it was moving so fast? So I waited and watched.

A round-tailed ground squirrel, often observed here in southwestern USA and northwestern Mexico, was on the run! Other posts I have mentioned how one never knows what you’ll see when outdoors. And here off in a dash, this ground squirrel was returning to its burrow made another time in the loose soil. I have seen plenty of these burrows here in Arizona, but this one had a chewed piece of cardboard there too!?! No doubt part of the ground squirrel’s architectural plan as it chewed and brought pieces of cardboard underground. I wish I could see the inside of this burrow; I can only imagine.

Yup, like I have said other times, one never knows what you’ll see next! Keep your eyes open! Wildlife is in action in your area also!

Urban Wildlife Habitat

Sweetwater Wetlands is a water treatment facility originally constructed in 1996. The wetlands now use reclaimed water and has become a wildlife viewing area in Tucson, AZ. There is about 2.5 miles of pathway for visitors to walk and it does connect with the “Loop”, yet no bicycles are allowed on the property. You can lock you bike at the fence and take a walk on a pathway from there.

On any given day, I never know if water birds will on the settling ponds, other birds in various trees, insects on the marsh grasses or hawks overhead. There have been days I viewed javelina and bobcats! Many people visit this urban wildlife habitat.

Here are some photos from my recent visit:

The red-winged blackbirds were definitely the noisiest of all the bunch, the duck was nonchalantly walking down a path … no doubt due to few people out in the late morning hot hours … and the turtles, well they may be finishing their mating act. Other visitors to the wetland may be more interested and focused on capturing insects as I guessed this man was with the specific net he was using. I could not capture any moth or butterfly in a photo, but he may have been also interested in damselflies.

For early morning time in nature, this urban wildlife habitat is an easy place to get to and visit, relax and observe nature. As the heat of the day rises, most wildlife settle in away from the hot air. This adds to my challenge, but I also like being out with fewer people on the trail and to see what else may be nonchalantly walking down the trail! (Reminds me too of the coyote I saw lying on a person’s driveway while I rode past on my bicycle.)

Always keep your eyes open; one can never predict what you’ll see in nature. That’s what makes being outdoors so exciting! Where and when are you headed outdoors? Enjoy.

People of All Abilities, Welcome to this Park!

In Pima County, Arizona, a park for all … who knew?

The east end of Speedway Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona ends at Douglas Spring Trailhead, but I wondered what about the west end? So I drove to this end of Speedway Boulevard, took a right turn on N Camino De Oeste and discovered Feliz Paseos Park! Needless to say this was my first visit.

Universally accessible trail system here.

I was most impressed with the trail signage. The directions were easy to understand and information provided more details than I ever expected. When home, I learned this private-public park’s goal was to have a universally accessible trail system. That explained the trail signs noting the grade and cross slope of each trail whether it be gravel or paved. Recognizing the special needs and capabilities of people with disabilities is a huge accomplishment and hopefully a model for other communities.

Super signage!

I enjoyed my visit and had a couple of instances to capture a photo, yet the black-tailed jackrabbit ran off before I could get a photo. Thanks to signage along the trail I learned the names of more plants and animals too. Today’s photos: black throated sparrow, cactus wren, saguaro cactus and a coyote was seen as I was driving out from the park. (And a sign of that jackrabbit that got away from me!)

Someday I will return to this park. I love the fact this park is close enough for all to visit and with trails all can handle along with quite a variety of wildlife to be seen.

Just over the hill and also bordering the park, houses can be seen.

Check Local News for the Latest Re: AZ Wildfire

June 5, a lightning strike was the cause of a wildfire started in the Coronado National Forest bordering Tucson, AZ. Firefighters and support crews are still fighting the wildfire today, June 11. This afternoon some people are required to evacuate their homes in a specific area of the Catalina Foothills. Check the local news to know the latest status of the fire and what you should do if you live in the area.

So far the Bighorn fire has burned 4769 acres and is moving east as of this report. A back burn is being conducted with the fire perimeter being held by fire lines being built with the support of aerial resources. One can see the helicopters and small planes dropping water.

Unlawful drone incursions can result in significant fine or mandatory court appearance as that activity interrupts aerial support. Planes with fire retardant have flown over the area also which help suppress the fire; however, there is an evacuation order in place at this time for certain areas. Check your local news for updates.

Another wildfire in the Tucson area, the Tortolita Fire is 100% contained and 3140 acres were burned there. We should be appreciative of all the time and energies put in to fighting these fires and the work continues as I write. Hopefully the Bighorn wildfire will be contained in the very near future. Check your local news for updates if you are in the Tucson, AZ area.