Arizona Trip – Day 2

 Day 2 started better than the first day although we had our little side trip to get a new card reader. It required a a trip to Wal-Mart to pick one up, but since we had to get groceries anyway it wasn’t a huge deal, if a but inconvenient.

The drive on the interstate was typical of the type of road, but at least the roadside scenery was different from what we were used to. At one point about halfway there was a short length of amazing rock features along both sides of the road, a kind of sandbox odd the gods. As we got closer, and off the interstate, the scenery got more interesting. We crossed into New Mexico for a brief while (the road seemed to ignore state lines), before heading into the desert ecosystem, mostly unfettered by man save for the sparse barbwire fencing that was ubiquitous throughout Arizona.

As we were getting closer to our destination, we started seeing some interesting things. Shari saw a Northern Harrier and what we now think was a Zone-tailed Hawk. We both got to see Swainson’s Hawk, Western Kingbird, Prairie Falcon and my first Black-throated Sparrow. But we really wanted to get to our destination, so we moved on.

Ground Control to Major Don 

We bypassed the town of Portal, somewhat desperate to make it to or first destination: Cave Creek Ranch. The approaching road was enough to take your breath away and was just a glimpse odd the beauty we’d behold for the next days. We pulled in to see nearly a dozen people sitting around the feeder stations, which were FULL of birds: pine siskins, lesser goldfinches, woodpeckers and lots of hummingbirds. Our room wasn’t going to be ready for a couple odd hours so we sat down to enjoy the birds. Within an hour, we had 10 new species, including four new hummers (broad- billed, broad- tailed, blue- throated and magnificent), bridled titmouse and Bullock’s oriole.


Here Come the Clowns 


The feeders that they had set up were attracting all sorts of different birds and lots of each. Other guests (and visitors) were all enjoying themselves with binoculars and a couple of cameras, but it was easy to ignore them … at the same time as it was hard to focus on any single bird because there was so much going on. After about an hour of birding overload, we decided we needed to get some food.


We also made our first trip down to Portal, the big ‘town’ in the area. Portal consists of the Portal Store and Lodge, a repair shop, a defunct post office and about a dozen homes. And it’s one of only a few small towns in the whole area – from what we learned the Portal Volunteer Fire Department covers almost 500 square miles! But as small as it is, Portal has a lot of character – and so does the Portal Store. Like any other store in a small town, you walk in and are greeted by a counter, some souvenirs and limited numbers of basic supplies along a few shelves. It had everything you’d NEED (including beer), but very few extras. In the back of the store is a small diner that serves breakfast, lunch and dinners on most nights. We sat down for some lunch before heading back to check in – and it was surprisingly good. The restaurant is quaint and no-frills, with some local artwork on the walls and diner-style serving – which suited me just fine.

What, no jelly? 

Once we got back, we were able to get into our room – and our ‘room’ was fantastic – we actually had the Ranch House, which is an entire house that sleeps six (4BR), has a gorgeous living room with a fireplace, and a full kitchen. We got it because it was the only thing they had left, and it might have been too much for just the two of us (but would be perfect for a set of friends). Big or not, we loved the open patio in the back where feeders were strung up in the trees, and the birds would walk right up to us. We also got a chance to talk with owner Reed Peters, who was a great host – not only was he doing a lot to make sure that the feeders were filled and bringing in great birds, but he also gave us lots of advice about the area, where to go, when to go, etc.

Green on Green 

Step Up to the Bar


It was hard to tear ourselves away to make dinner, and right after dinner we found ourselves actually unable to keep our eyes open. Expecting a long day on Day 3, we headed to bed early.

Swainson’s Hawk
Turkey Vulture
Prairie Falcon
Western Kingbird
Black-throated Sparrow*
White-winged Dove
Zone-tailed Hawk (Shari)
(Cave Creek/Portal)
Black-headed Grosbeak*
Acorn Woodpecker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Arizona Woodpecker*
Western Scrub-Jay*
Mexican Jay*
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird*
Broad-billed Hummingbird*
Blue-throated Hummingbird*
Magnificent Hummingbird*
Scott’s Oriole*
Bullock’s Oriole*
Gambel’s Quail
Curve-billed Thrasher
Yellow-rumped Warbler (‘Audubon’s Warbler’)*
Canyon Towhee*
Bridled Titmouse*
American Crow
Great-tailed Grackle
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
Pine Siskin
Chipping Sparrow
House Sparrow
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Trip Stats (Species/New)
Location (Cave Creek): 28 / 12
Day: 33 / 13
Trip: 54 / 23

Other Stuff

Rock Squirrel
Cliff Chipmunk
Coue’s White-tailed Deer*

4 Responses to “Arizona Trip – Day 2

  • i’ve never seen the peanuts in a cage thing (in the woodpecker shot), interesting. great shots as always Marty

  • @Van: it’s a woodpecker feeder and they love it. They have them at Wild Birds Unlimited for about $20. This one has been through a little ‘bird love’, obviously. A friend said that he recognized the location I took this just from the beat-up feeder.

  • Great shots — it sounds like a birding paradise! I love quaint towns like the one you described.

    Regarding your comment, I would think we could make it out that way at some point. Let me know where specifically that is. Heck, send me an e-mail and we will see if we can plan something.

  • Michael – Portal was a really cool place to check out. I sadly am realizing that despite my desire to take more landscape shots, I really did very little in the way of it – mostly because my 80-400mm lens is horrid at taking that style of shot. BIG regrets, because I should have really gotten some pictures of the store and the town.

    As for getting together, I’ll try to coordinate something with Van.

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