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Explore Arizona with Saw Mill River Audubon! Monday, April 28, 2008 to Saturday May 3, 2008 $1850/person double occupancy including RT airfare LGA to/from Tucson Details Price above includes all meals, all ground transportation, all lodging and a $100/person donation to SMRA. Limited to 14 participants. Single supplement $275. If you are traveling as a single, we may be able to offer you a roommate to avoid this extra cost. Cactus Wren Itinerary Overview Because of its proximity to Mexico and the diversity of habitats in such a small area, Southeast Arizona has earned a reputation as one of the best birding spots in North America. Southeast Arizona has recorded more species of birds than any other area of its size in the country. Moreover, there are many bird species in Southeast Arizona that are hard to find or simply cannot be seen elsewhere in the United States. This area has been called the “Biological Grand Canyon” for North America. Our guides from Naturalist Journeys are wellknown experts in the natural history and wildlife of this region. We will stay at three different highly-rated birding accommodations as we visit the key birding hotspots of this region. All of the spectacular mountain ranges (Sky Islands), deserts, valleys, grasslands and riparian areas have their own special scenery, habitats, plants and birds to delight both dedicated birders, casual naturalists and those who want to refresh their senses with natural surroundings. Mon & Tue: Chiricahua Mountain and Cave Creek with two nights at the American Museum of Natural History Southwestern Research Station near Portal After arriving in Tucson, we will enjoy a beautiful afternoon drive to Portal through spectacular scenery with birding stops along the way including the Willcox Playa. At our lodgings at the Southwestern Research Station at 5,400 feet, we will enjoy a welcome dinner and an overview of the week ahead. For over 50 years scientists from around the world have studied the incredible natural diversity of this region. The station is situated in lovely oak-juniper woodland, and Cave Creek runs through the property. Tuesday morning we will bird at Cave Creek and also have afternoon time to explore the grounds of the center. Tuesday late afternoon and we will bird in Portal including feeder area and Tuesday evening we’ll have the option of a nighttime owl walk! Wed & Thu: Birding at Chiracahua National Monument, Ramsey Canyon, Rustler’s Peak and San Pedro River with two nights at the highly rated Casa de San Pedro in Hereford. This nationally-acclaimed inn has been featured in birding publications both for its accommodations and cuisine and excellent access to the above spectacular birding habitats. Fri & Sat: Birding at Garden Canyon, Patagonia with one night at the Amado Territory Inn This inn includes 17 acres of riparian habitat and gardens and is located just 30 miles south of Tucson. Southeast Arizona Nature and Birding Saw Mill Audubon Society April 28-May 3, 2008 Mon., April 28 Arrival in Tucson / Arizona Desert Sonora Museum / Willcox Playa / Southwestern Research Station Arrive in Tucson, AZ today, a delightful city surrounded by mountain ranges that rise from the floor of the Sonoran Desert. We will begin our trip with a visit the the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson where we will also have a sandwich lunch. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place! There are great opportunities for photographers here as well as an excellent introduction to the animals, plants and habitats that we will see in the week ahead. Be prepared with cameras and binoculars, as we make several stops en route. Our primary stop will be at the Willcox Playa, once a lake and now an expansive dry salt pan. On lush ponds of a nearby golf course, we scan for water birds and waders, such as American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Wilson’s Phalarope and Lesser Yellowlegs that stop at the Playa on their way north. We may also see Redtailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Peregrine or other raptors that hunt the agricultural fields of the Willcox area. Arriving at Portal, we head right to our lodgings at the Southwestern Research Station, where we enjoy a welcome dinner and an overview of the week ahead. For over 50 years scientists from around the world have studied the incredible natural diversity of the region. The station is situated in lovely oak-juniper woodland, and Cave Creek runs through the property. Indeed the calls of Elf or Western Screech Owl may lull you to sleep tonight! Accommodations at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, AZ (D) Tues., April 29 Portal / Cave Creek Canyon Wake up this morning in a dramatic setting as the Southwestern Research Station sits in idyllic spot with grand views of the Chiricahua Mountains, perhaps southeast Arizona’s most famous of the “Sky Island” mountain ranges. We begin the day birding on the station grounds, with hopes of seeing Elegant Trogon, Acorn Woodpecker, Mexican Jay and a number of hummingbirds even before breakfast. After breakfast we explore Cave Creek Canyon, one of the most biologically diverse places in the U.S. Here the ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Madre, the Chihuahuan Desert, and the Sonoran Desert intersect. Bird calls echo through the canyon as we walk on shaded trails. Dusky-capped and Brown-crested Flycatchers nest in the area, as do a host of interesting warblers such as Grace’s, Virginia’s and Red-faced. Mexican Jays quickly make their presence known. One of the hottest birding spots in the canyon is the trail along the South Fork of Cave Creek. Against pinnacles and crenellated walls of orange rock, yuccas stand above bracken fern and Douglas Fir entwine with Arizona Sycamore. We’re also likely to see Painted Redstart, Strickland’s Woodpecker, Cordilleran Flycatcher, and Plumbeous Vireo, just to name a few! After lunch and some time to relax back at the research station, we visit the town of Portal in the afternoon – it’s hard to believe the number of species to be seen right on the main street of this little village! Acorn Woodpecker, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s race), and Canyon Towhee are common here; we also may see Blue Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Hooded, Scott’s, and Bullocks Orioles, Wilson’s Warbler, and YellowBreasted Chat. A pair of American Kestrels has nested in one of the Arizona Sycamores at the end of the street for many years. A resident Cooper’s Hawk often swoops down on feeders in the yards, scattering the eating birds in a panic as the Acorn Woodpeckers screech in protest. Nineteen species of hummingbirds can be found in southeastern Arizona, and we are likely to get close looks of many species at local feeders. Tues., April 29 Portal / Cave Creek Canyon (continued) In the evening, after dinner at the station, we have an optional night walk where a local guide joins us to take those who are interested out for some night birding. Looks at Elf, Western Screech, and Whiskered Screech Owls are possible, among others. Accommodations at the Southwestern Research Station (SWRS), Portal, AZ (B,L,D) Wed., April 30 Rustler’s Park / Chiricahua National Monument / San Pedro River This morning we drive a winding forest road up several thousand feet to Rustler’s Park, nestled between peaks of the Chiricahuas. On our drive up, we witness the dramatic changes in vegetation that occur as we gain elevation. Enjoy spectacular views of the mountains and the flatlands below, while birding in forests of fir, spruce, and Ponderosa Pine. This is the realm of many fascinating birds, including: Townsend’s, Olive, and Red-faced Warblers; Western Tanager; Western Bluebird; Mexican Chickadee; and Yellow-eyed Junco. Raucous Stellar’s Jays may greet us, and we may find sign of resident White-tailed Deer, Chiricahua Fox Squirrel or Black Bear. We then descend on an equally winding road on the west side of the mountains, and at the base. We stop at the rock wonderland of the Chiricahua National Monument. In this area of spectacular rock pillars formed by volcanic activity and erosion, famous Apache leaders Cochise and Geronimo and their followers once hid from American troops. Today, Zone-tailed Hawk and Peregrine Falcon patrol the rugged rock landscape. We stop at several scenic overlooks, and walk short trails between the rock formations, looking for Rock and Canyon Wrens, Painted Redstarts, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Mexican Jay. With luck, we may spot an inquisitive Coatimundi, a relative of the raccoon. Claret-cup Cacti and Yucca should be in bloom, and huge Arizona Cypresses and Ponderosa Pines lining the path provide shade for much of the walk. Driving south from the monument, we make a quick stop at Whitewater Draw where we hope to find Vermilion Flycatcher, White-faced Ibis, and a number of migratory shorebirds. We then continue to our delightful lodgings at the Casa de San Pedro, a birder’s haven right on the oasis of the San Pedro River. Watch Gambel’s Quail bring their little chicks to the feeders, while Gila Woodpecker dangle from the suet cakes. Gray Hawk and White-tailed Kites may be hunting the river corridor. Settle in and enjoy great birding right outside your door. With luck their Barn Owl will be in residence. Accommodations at the Casa de San Pedro, Hereford (B,L,D) firstname.lastname@example.org Thurs., May 1 Canyons and Birding Hotspots of the Huachuca Mountains This morning we offer an optional walk along the San Pedro River, looking for Summer Tanager, Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Horned Owl and other species. After a delicious breakfast, we head up in elevation to Carr Canyon, a beautiful high mountain setting where we encounter Quaking Aspen and Gambel’s Oak along with a number of beautiful pines. We hope to have superb looks at Buff-breasted Flycatcher, one of the most local of Southeast Arizona’s signature species. We also look for Northern Goshawk, Greater Pewee and the beautiful Western Tanager. After a picnic lunch we visit the Nature Conservancy Preserve at Ramsey Canyon. Here, in the foothills of the mountains a beautiful clear stream descends through oak woodlands, its banks lined with massive sycamores. These sycamores are favored nesting trees of the Elegant Trogon. We also hope to see Wild Turkey, Strickland’s Woodpecker, Golden Eagle, Black-throated Gray and other warblers, and a variety of colorful hummingbirds at close range. Walk the trails, or park yourself under a tall, bending sycamore to wait for the birds to come to you! Butterflies occur here in abundance, as do a number of rare plants, reptiles, and amphibians. In the late afternoon, we make one more stop at one more feeding station at Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast, where we often get superb photographic opportunities in the oak-woodland setting. Many years our host Mary Jo Ballentor has a resident Lucifer Hummingbird; if not we are sure to find some other gems! Accommodations at Casa de San Pedro, Hereford (B,L,D) Fri., May 2 Garden Canyon / Patagonia / Amado This morning, after an early breakfast, we venture into Fort Huachuca’s Garden Canyon, home to Elegant Trogon and Dusky-capped Flycatchers. Walk along a sycamore-lined creek to look for Strickland’s Woodpecker, Plumbeous Vireo, and other species. In this shaded canyon we may encounter blooming Yellow Columbine and Monkey Flower. Those that enjoy hiking may want to hike the steep trail up Scheelite Canyon to try to spot roosting Spotted Owl, as well as Canyon Wren. In the afternoon, we head towards Patagonia, a small town well known to birders. We pass through grassland habitat en route where we may spot Pronghorn. Patagonia’s lush preserve along Sonoita Creek was one of the first established by the Nature Conservancy. Zone-tailed Hawk often patrol this stretch, and at a local bird feeding haven we look for Violet-crowned Hummingbird and Thick-billed Kingbird. If time allows we may make a stop at Lake Patagonia, a small reservoir which attracts several aquatic species, as well as birds of more open, arid thorn – scrub forest, most notably Northern Beardless Tyrannulet and Black-capped Gnatcatcher of late. We spend our final night at the Amado Territory Inn, which offers an irresistible combination of delightful architecture, outstanding food, and great hospitality. Accommodations the Territory Inn, Amado, AZ (B,L,D) www.amadoterritoryinn.com Sat., May 3 Madera Canyon / departures After a lovely breakfast in the great room of the inn, we spend our last morning at Madera Canyon. In expansive grasslands leading up to the canyon, we look for Botteri’s, Rufous-winged, and Rufous-collared Sparrows, as well as other specialties of the area. In the canyon itself, a pair of Cooper’s Hawks is likely nesting. Flame-colored Tanager are often seen here – a colorful Mexican species that would be great for a final day highlight! In the lush Madrean-oak woodland of Madera, Painted Redstarts appear almost tame; we may also see Bushtit and Hutton’s Vireo. Black-headed Grosbeak, Scott’s Oriole, and Mexican Jay.