May 7 San Diego, Tucson, Ramsey Canyon, Texas


We had such a good time in San Diego, it is hard to decide what to report. Lara and family are doing great and it was a joy to be with them for such a long time. The T-ball games were a lot of fun and this time I have a picture of Justin in his uniform on the Website. I did get Justin's quilt finished while I was there and gave it to him. He likes it, so I felt properly rewarded. Alyssa didn't understand why I couldn't get hers quilted too, but I just didn't have the time. I got it laid out and pinned together when we came back through Tucson, so it shouldn't take too long to finish and get it to her.


First Baseman Justin

Justin & his new quilt


Alyssa
Riley spent some time giving Sean driving lessons; I'm too nervous. Sean has passed the written part of his driving test and will probably take the driving part in the next couple of weeks. He bought a car with money we had in a savings account for him and is quite proud of it--a 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier. It seemed a good deal since it was a one-owner car and had under 100,000 miles. Since we have left, he has been driving with Lara and Juan. Lara may never have to drive again. :-)


Sean & his car

Engine check

The flowers in San Diego were beautiful--so many different varieties. Those trees with the beautiful purple flowers were beginning to bloom just as we left, but no one seemed to know their name. Unfortunately, I was never where I got a picture of one either, though I took plenty of flower pictures.

Pictures of flowers, marina, & RV park
We left San Diego April 30 and headed for Tucson where we spent another lovely day with Randy, Ginny & Rachel. We went on a drive up to Kitt Peak to visit the observatory and, my, was it windy there. We were all in shorts, and I, for one, was wishing for long pants and long sleeves, because of the cooler temperatures. There's an amazing number of telescopes up there. It is an interesting place and we enjoyed looking at everything, including the wonderful views from the mountain top. Driving back to their home, we drove through Saguaro National Park and Riley & I got to see our first Cactus Wren--so cute. We also saw a pair of Harris's Hawks. Bird-watching in their front yard is very pleasant and there are lots of different birds to watch. The Gambel's Quail had had chicks hatch out very recently and they were so small and cute running about under the feeders. What fun! The cactus was in bloom--so different and so pretty. I filled up the camera memory card taking pictures.


Rachel next to unusual "totem pole" cactus

Riley, Ginny & Randy at Kitt Peak


Telescopes on Kitt Peak
Pictures of cactus in bloom

On Randy's recommendation, we next went to Ramsey Canyon, about 90 miles SE of Tucson. What a wonderful spot--so beautiful. We took the hike up to an overlook and as usual heard more birds than we saw, but we did see some good ones (full list below). The Painted Redstart is common there and we loved it. We also saw a Peregrine Falcon in flight--awesome. I'm not sure we would have been able to identify it positively ourselves, but other birders were there who could. The place is known for its hummingbirds but we saw only two, and couldn't identify them (boo). We weren't able to park in the parking lot at The Nature Conservancy so parked down the street at a Folklore place that wasn't open during the week. I saw 3 birds I hadn't seen before almost as soon as I got out of the RV: an Arizona Woodpecker, a Bullock's Oriole, and a Hepatic Tanager. Riley saw only the Tanager, though he saw a woodpecker later in the park. Actually, we knew only that we had seen a red bird, but when we got inside the park, the Tanager was on the list of birds seen recently, and looking at the picture, we were sure that was what we had seen. It was a good day for birds! The hike was good too--one mile uphill to the overlook, than a mile back. The second half was fairly steep, and I'm sorry to say I pooped out (blood sugar dropped) at the last switchback which was where we saw the Peregrine Falcon. It is evidently nesting in the cliffs there. Riley went on up to the top and took a couple of pictures so I could see what I had missed--pretty good views. This was the first place I'd been to that had a rule against eating inside the park--no people food for these birds and animals. We also saw deer and squirrels.


View from Ramsey Canyon overlook--town of Sierra Vista
Driving on to Texas, we stayed at an RV park at Balmorhea where we have stayed before and saw two new birds: Scaled Quail and Western Kingbirds. I guess one of the fascinations of bird-watching is being able to see birds no matter where you are; you can go some place special like Ramsey Canyon or just drive into an RV park on I-10 in West Texas.

We are now camped in South Llano River State Park--one of our favorites. I won't get this sent until we get to Houston tomorrow (Saturday) and have access to Wi-Fi for uploading all the pictures. The birds at this park are wonderful. We have seen many we haven't seen before including the beautiful Painted Bunting and Summer Tanagers. The Summer Tanagers are interesting with a solid yellow female and solid red adult male; male in first spring is a splotchy yellow & red. I've spent all day bird-watching--it's been great.


Lazuli Bunting & Painted Bunting

Western Scrub Jay

Last night we drove down to Rocksprings, where we took the bus tour to Devil's Sinkhole to watch the Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerge from the cave before sunset. Unfortunately, the bats waited until just after sunset to come out and we didn't get quite the show we expected. We could see them though and we had a good time, so that's what matters. The guides said the peak time to come was July and August. Don't know if we'll ever be in central Texas in those months again, but if we are, Riley and I have decided we'll do it again.


Devil's Sinkhole

Postcard of bats emerging from cave

Love to all,
Margie & Riley

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Bird Diary Tuesday, May 3, 2005 Ramsey Canyon, Southern AZ
Arizona Woodpecker
Bullock's Oriole
Hepatic Tanager
Blue-headed Vireo--female on nest
Painted Redstarts--several males
Peregrine Falcon in flight
Acorn Woodpecker
Wild Turkeys--male & female
Also, a couple of hummingbirds that we couldn't identify.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2005 Balmorhea RV Park, TX
Scaled Quail
Western Kingbird
Northern Mockingbird
House Sparrows (they're everywhere!)
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Thursday, May 5, 2005 South Llano River State Park, TX
Summer Tanagers--male (red) & female (yellow)
Painted Buntings--male & female
Eastern Wood Pewee
Purple Martins
Northern Rough-winged Swallows
Black-chinned Hummingbirds--male & female
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Chipping Sparrow
Lark Sparrows
House Sparrows
Black-crested Titmouse
Northern Cardinals--male & female
Northern Mockingbirds
Cassin's Finch
House Finch
House Sparrows--male & female
Barn Swallows
Turkey Vultures
Mourning Doves
Cave Swallows at Devil's Sinkhole
Mexican Free-tailed Bat at Devil's Sinkhole (not birds, but they do fly!)
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Friday, May 6, 2005 South Llano River State Park, TX
Lazuli Bunting--male
Nashville Warbler
Carolina Chickadee
Bewick's Wren
Canyon Towhee
Orchard Oriole--female
Western Scrub Jay
Black-throated Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Spotted Sandpiper
Orange-crowned Warbler
Summer Tanager--1st spring male (splotchy red & yellow)
Vermillion Flycacther
Belted Kingfishers--female
Inca Doves
White-wing Doves
Heard the Common Poorwill but didn't see it. Also, saw all the birds we saw yesterday.
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Saturday, May 7, 2005 South Llano River State Park, TX
Yellow-breasted Chat
Orchard Oriole--male


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