AZ: Madera Cyn trails & madrone berry report (29 Oct 2010)

Morgan Jackson and I hiked with Madison the Adventure Dog today up the Super Trail and back down to Madera Canyon via the Old Baldy Trail from 7:30AM to noon.  While it's true that hiking 6.5 miles at elevation in late October is not the greatest way to rack up a species list, we were a bit surprised to barely eke out a 20 species total.  But of course there were a few highlights:

WILD TURKEY - A prime number of turkeys wandered away from the road north of the Bog Springs Campground turnoff as we drove into Madera Canyon.  There were 17 of them...

HEPATIC TANAGER (female plumaged) - Morgan saw and heard this bird at the south (upper) end of the uppermost parking lot.  At this date it is classified as "rare" in the TAS "Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona" bar graphs.

WESTERN TANAGER - Heard giving its "pit-a-tuck" call not too far below Josephine Saddle on the Old Baldy Trail. We may have made it to the "casual" classification of rarity by this date, but it seems like there was a big push of tanagers not too long ago so perhaps they were all a bit late moving south.

TOWNSEND'S WARBLER - Ok, still "uncommon" but soon to be "rare."

Finally, the madrone berry update (Arbutus arizonica).  [Side note for birders who don't know this already: this is an attractive food for wintering birds at middle elevations here; consequently also a good place to find rare birds.]  Interestingly, much of the madrone berry crop was ripe or close to ripe along the Super Trail, perhaps because it receives more sun exposure (or so it seems).  Along the Old Baldy Trail, many of the trees appeared to have only half-ripe fruits.  There were a few sunny patches closer to the Vault Mine Trial, however, where the madrone trees had very nice crops of red berries.

Good birding,
John Yerger
Tucson, AZ
Adventure Birding Company
Specializing in flexible, personalized guiding in SE Arizona

Lighting wasn't very good for bird photography today, but we caught this Yellow-eyed Junco in an Arizona white oak.

We also didn't see too many butterflies today, but a few common ones were out like this Mexican Yellow (Eurema mexicana)  I'm not totally positive, but I think it's nectaring on a type of mock pennyroyal (Hedeoma hyssopifolium?)

This West Coast Lady (Vanessa annabella) was found on the same type of flower.  We saw all three species of lady on the trails today - the others being Painted Lady (V. cardui) and American Lady (V. virginiensis).

One of the non-avian finds I was most excited about today was this Madrean Alligator Lizard (Elgaria kingii).  Someone overheard me talking about this one and said "ooh, I want to see that!"  Before I could give her directions to where the lizard was hiding, she mentioned that the first time she'd ever heard about it was a few days ago, when a friend or relative of some kind made the claim that it ate one of their pet cats...  After showing her this little guy (all of about 5.5" long), I assured her that there was no way on earth it could kill a cat - especially since it eats mostly grasshoppers, caterpillars, and moths.


lew said...

Awesome that you are updating the blog regularly again! Lets me at least live in SEAZ vicariously every so often...

Anonymous said...

great updates recently! I always enjoy reading them and recommending to others. thanks