Hooked on Birds! – Patagonia

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Male Elegant Trogon

From Quartzsite we made a quick stop back at Casa Grande to do some of the mundane tasks of RV life after boondocking; flushing the black tank and doing laundry.  While there, we had a chance meeting with Hans and Lisa of  Metamorphosis Road, who recognized  me through my blog.  Isn’t blogging so cool!  Sharing our travel tales has connected us with so many like-minded RV travelers on the road.  To top it all, both Hans and Steve were in the Air Force at almost the same time during their younger days and  both worked in the Computer Operations field.  We definitely hope to meet up with these great folks again down the road.

Patagonia Lake State Park

Site # 10

We had heard a lot of good things about Patagonia Lake  State Park, which is tucked away in the rolling hills of southeastern Arizona.  It is about 150 miles southeast of Casa Grande and 60 miles southeast of Tucson, at an elevation of 3750′.  It took us about 2.5 hours to drive the beautiful highway 82 scenic route to get there.  The forecast going in was rain and wind over the next two days 😦

This park has been designated as an Important Birding Area by the Audubon Society – in short, we were going to see a lot of birds!  And that was the first thing I did by signing up for a bird walk tour – a mile-long walk on a flat area which lead down to the lake level where the birds are known to hang out.  Going with other birders, I learned a lot about birds in the region, like the fact that there are about three hundred varieties of birds known to live or migrate here.  The first bird I was introduced to was the Western Screech Owl.  If not for the guide we would have missed this little guy, comfortably perched and blending in with a tree trunk.

Western Screech Owl

Western Screech Owl


After three hours of gawking, peering into binoculars and identifying many birds, the group broke up a little disappointed, for we did not see the most exciting bird around, the Elegant Trogon.  This is the bird that lures many birdwatchers to come to southern Arizona just for a glimpse.

Bird Walk tour

Its fun to be with a group of bird watchers

But I continued on my own and followed the creek with anticipation.  After half an hour my patience paid off,  for there it was along the creek perching quietly on a branch.  With its brilliant metallic colors – black throat, an iridescent green head, breast, and back, and a red belly – this bird is lovely to watch.  Isn’t he gorgeous?   Yes, in birdland the males are sexier and colorful than the females as shown below, the front and back of a male Elegant Trogon.

Male Elegant Trogon

Male Elegant Trogon

Male Elegant Trogon

The back of the male Elegant Trogon

To see more of my other bird photos, click  here.

The day after my bird walk, the weather forecast of rain became a reality, for during the next two days it was pouring so we were housebound much of the time and made upcoming travel plans.  Even the scheduled Moonlight Hike was cancelled due to inclement weather.  Hmm, that would have been a first for us.

On the day of  our departure we had a watery surprise, a leak into one of our cabinets coming through the slide lock mechanism.  Well, that really made Steve’s morning.  It looked like water had pooled on top of the slide cover and then made its way through to the top of the slide where the lock mechanism resides.  Then it just came into the cabinet around the lock.  Steve went up to check the slide cover, and while trying to lift it he was rewarded with gallons of water right on his head.  OK, daily shower completed!  It looks like some sealing will have to be done up there, but we are just keeping an eye on it for now.

Next up, our last stop in Arizona – Tombstone.

But wait here is one more stunning capture, breaking dawn at Casa Grande.

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn at Casa Grande

Sonoran Desert beauties!

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Northern Cardinal

We just realized we’ve been hanging around southern Arizona for two months now – how time flies when you’re having fun with friends in such a beautiful place!  Being here, you can’t help but take notice and admire the abundance of cacti, succulents, birds and other critters that make the this area unique.  The area is generally recognized as the Sonoran Desert, and includes the southwestern third of Arizona, a small area of southeastern California, most of Baja California del Norte and the western half of Sonora, Mexico.


Sonoran Desert is Saguaro central

It is during our many hikes and drives around town that we encounter these desert beauties in their natural habitat or being used as landscaping ornaments.  In particular, the ubiquitous saguaro, (pronounced SUH-WAR-OH) a  large, tree-like columnar cactus that develop branches (or arms) as they age.  The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States and the most famous plant in the Sonoran Desert.  It is closely identified with the imagery of the American southwest, and all of them are found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert.  This cactus is so important that moving, harvesting or collecting is strictly regulated!   Yet despite the saguaro’s popularity, the state plant of Arizona is actually the Palo Verde.

Some fun facts about this famous cactus:

It is slow growing and may take 10 years to reach 1 1/2 inches in height, and 30 years to reach 2 feet.

It begins to grow arms when it is between 50 and 100 years of age, although some never  grow arms.

Given the right conditions it can live for 150 to 200 years.

It  typically grows to heights of 40 – 60 ft.

It is more than 90% water content and when fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds.

The saguaro’s blossom is the state flower of Arizona, they blossom once a year, and the flowers open at night and stay open only 18 hours total.  Imagine how breathtaking the Sonoran desert would look with all of those blooms!

The woody ribs inside the plant have been used for fences and combined with mud and grasses to build homes.

Here are a few of the many desert cacti and plants:

The chirping and singing are everywhere with all these beautiful birds.  Here are just a few that frequently visited us at Catalina State Park. Click here if  you would like to see more of my bird pictures 🙂


Lastly, when the sun is low here it gives a hue to the sky and mountains that is nothing short of spectacular.

Catalina Mountains

Orange glow at the Catalina Mountains before snow…

Catalina Mountains

…and a reddish-pink glow with snow

Table Top Mountain

Red-orange glow at Table Top Mountain, viewed from Casa Grande

Stay tuned as we return to Quartzsite to join the RV show madness!