[Tweeters] I'm Richard Gere! It's Days of Heaven! Monsoon time in the SW

Ed Newbold ednewbold1 at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 27 12:24:39 PDT 2022

Hi all, 
OK, OK, the similarity to Richard Gere is related to the ultimate bad events that engulfed his character's future, not his physical appearance.
Even as our Earth and the Nature and the Creatures it holds face ever more dire threats, there can still be moments of boundless thrill at what still exists.
Delia and I drove out of Tucson in some despair. There the monsoon is failing. We began our journey to our base in the Southwest in the Bootheel of New Mexico on this bad note.
Instead of our usual route straight to St. David for a glimpse of Mississippi Kites and then to Cochise Lake in Willcox, we opted this time to detour straight south to Patagonia and then head back through Willcox and forego the productive Cochise Lake.
Not far out of Tucson the land started taking a wonderful turn toward the lush. By the time we got to Patagonia we were enthralled, we hadn't realized how rich the habitat was down there--Sonoran Desert compared to more Chihuahuan Desert of the Bootheel. At the Paton Hummingbird Center right in town we were surrounded by birds and bird song, happy to see Violet-crowned Hummers among many others, and drowned in bird song.
Next we headed for the roadside pulloff that was hosting nesting Rose-throated Becards, but made a wrong turn and photographed a Varied Bunting. Then we stopped a mile short of the pulloff, not sure where it was, and found an obliging Thick-billed Kingbird. Finally we found the right place and got a hundred shots of a Becard that are diagnostic but that's the only good thing you could say about them.
That night we stayed in town, Patagonia, at the Stagestop Inn. The guy who owns it turns out to be from Seattle. Birders should support Hoteliers who support Barn Swallows and refuse to support those who don't. We estimate over 60 Barn Swallows were relying on the Stagestop Inn for housing, building supplies, and Main-Partying-Spot. It reminded me of Old Seattle, now nearly devoid of its once-myriad Swallows.
The next morning we took the birding trail at Patagonia Lake State Park and were enchanted. "Singing" Chats surrounded us, along with Cardinals, Yellow and Lucy's Warblers and Yellowthroat, Bell's Vireos, Summer Tanagers and many others. We picked up Neotropic Cormorant, Green Heron, Painted Bunting and Common Ground-Dove and had a wonderful time, reminding us of the memorably birdy moments in our lives, like for me the time I went to the South Carolina coast in 1967.
Back in town we looked at all the trails we could take without leaving Patagonia. As we ate lunch in a picnic table in the town square we were thrilled to have two Mississippi Kites lazing high above us, our best view of Mississippi Kites ever in Arizona. And a Gray Hawk working the town square in this absurdly beautiful town.
On the drive on Route 10, Delia faced bare-knuckle driving conditions with rain so heavy it made it hard to see the traffic lanes. I-10 is known for it's semi truck densities.. Whenever we pass through Benson on I-10, we always pray for water in the San Pedro. Usually we are greeted instead with ORV tracks in dry dirt. But yesterday it was bank-to-bank and flowing like a Class 2 river.
As we headed up the canyon in the Peloncillo Mountains of New Mexico, we had to negotiate big puddles on the road. A Hepatic Tanager greeted us as we drove up to the house. Our first night, last night, it rained heavily for about an hour. We don't know whither the monsoon from here on out, this year or next, but there are clouds everywhere today and a breeze. The Agaves are blooming and we got a nice shot of our local specialty bird the Lucifer's Hummingbird.

It's Days of Heaven. Don't tell me about what's coming.

Ed Newbold, from down in the NM Bootheel with Delia Scholes.

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