Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Patagonia, AZ and the not so fun drive there!

On the short drive from Huachuac City, AZ to Patagonia just before Sonoita, AZ I heard a very loud noise.  It sounded as though something had hit my roof.  While in Mission, TX I had a new air conditioner cover installed as my old one had a hole in it.  So my first thought was the cover was not installed well and had come off.  I slowed down immediately, but there was no place to pull off for several minutes.  I eventually got off the road and did not see anything at first – the air conditioner cover was in place.  Then I noticed some wires on the roof that were not hooked to anything.  I stuck my head out the emergency hatch and saw that I was missing a solar panel.  Yep, one of my solar panels had blown off.  It was windy that day, but not as bad as I have been in.  I believe the gust were up to 35 mph and I was driving about 55.

After getting to the campground (only another 15 minutes or so), I quickly set up and then drove back to see if I could find the panel.  I missed it at first, but on the way back spotted it about 6 or 7 feet off the road.

I was very lucky that nobody was around me at the time and that it didn’t hit my car that I tow.  The  panel doesn’t look too bad in the above picture, but it was bent slightly and was cracked all over.  After looking back on the roof again, I think I know what happened.  It appears that one of the screws had come out of one of the brackets.   (I don’t know if you really call it a screw, they are basically large screws with a handle that you can screw in by hand – I’m calling them screws)   Three of the brackets were ripped off the roof and were still attached to the above panel.  But one of the brackets was still on the roof.   On my trip to Huachuac City, AZ I had to drive past some construction and for 2 – 3 miles I was on the rumble strips quite a bit.  I am thinking that maybe the screw was loose and riding over the rumble strips was so rough it made the screw come out.  Then several days later when there was a strong enough wind gust it blew off.  Again this is a guess.  Below is where the panel was, you can see the one bracket and the area were one of the other brackets was.

Unfortunately, when this panel blew off it blew into the other panel and broke it.  It was still working slightly, but I ended up having it removed  (when I got to Tucson) as it was so fractured that some of the glass was coming off.  So now that I am headed to Utah where I planned on dry camping (no hookups), I have no solar panels.    Since I don’t dry camp as much as I thought I would, I am debating what I am going to do.  

I didn’t let this stop me from doing what I wanted to do in Patagonia.  One of my trips was to Patagonia State Park.  I hiked several miles while there.  I had hoped to see the Elegant Trogan while there, but apparently he took the weekend off!  I did see several other birds, including a Wilson’s Warbler-

I liked his little black cap!  One of the rangers had warned me that I might see cows on the trail.  On my first hike ( I did the trail 3 times), all I saw were cow pies.  But on the second trip a cow decided to block the trail.  After that I saw quite a few cows and bulls.


I met several birders and enjoyed talking and walking with one couple for a while.  I turned around at one point and thought this was funny.

There were several birders looking all around and they were all missing the red Vermillion Flycatcher that is in between the 2 people on the cut tree limb in the middle of the picture.  The lady on the left eventually saw him.  But I have learned these are common around here, so they might have been ignoring them.  I still really liked them and saw a couple today while hiking! On my last hike there, I learned that a mountain line was spotted  just off the trail about an hour after I got off the trail the previous day.   He was eating a cow and the people that I talked to had gotten several pictures of it.

I also went to Patton’s, a local house known for all of the birds.   Currently the house is vacant and for sale, but volunteers still keep the feeders full.  Apparently when the people lived there they enjoyed having bird watchers come into their yard and watch the birds.  They set up a tent and chairs for all visitors.

There were quite a few birds, including several types of hummingbirds.  I was told that in a few weeks there would be a lot of hummingbirds there.   Some of the hummers I saw -

Broad Billed Hummingbirds -

Violet Crowned Hummingbird -

Black Chinned Hummingbird -

There were other birds, but the hummingbirds were what interested me the most.

In addition to birding and hiking, I wanted to see some of the ghost towns in the area.  I stayed at Patagonia RV Park as the state park was full.  Just down the road from my campground were several ghost towns, in this case old mining towns.  While driving there I saw this warning sign--

I was a little hesitant about continuing on, but I decided to drive on and if I didn’t like the looks of things I would stay in my car and turn around.  I was particularly interested in the cemetery at Harshaw.  I had heard it was interesting.  When I got there, I saw 2 other tourists so I got out and looked around.  There were many graves with dates from the late 1800’s up to 1950’s.   It was an interesting cemetery on a hillside.

I didn’t go to the other towns as I was told the road got a bit rough and they recommended a 4-wheel drive.

From here, I went to Tucson.  I had an appointment in Tucson on the day I arrived to have them remove the one solar panel, check out the roof and do something with the loose cable that was left when the panel blew off.  After the appointment I headed to Catalina State Park where I currently am.  I will blog about this later after I leave Tucson next Monday. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Huachuac City, AZ

After reviewing my last blog, I realized that if you are not into birds, it was probably very boring.  But I knew that I was moving into more scenic territory so hopefully I will have more than just birds in my blog.  Warning, there will still be some bird pictures!!  I am getting more interested in these flying creatures and the area that I am in is known for their birds!

From Texas, I had planned on heading to Utah, but since it is still fairly cold in Utah I decided to spend a couple of weeks in Arizona.  I drove 6 – 8 hours every day for  3 days straight to get to my first stop in Arizona.

But first, I have to post another bird picture.  After leaving Mission, I overnighted in Boerne, Texas.  While there I was sitting in my RV and noticed some people looking up in a tree.  I saw a bird that I did not know.  He had a pink or salmon belly and I thought he was interesting so I took a couple of pictures through my dirty back window of the RV, thinking I would identify him later.  About 30 minutes later, I walked outside and noticed the bird (and his partner) were on a wire not far from my RV.  I think I spooked them and they flew off – what a sight.  Their tail was very long and split – like an open pair of scissors.  I quickly identified it as a Scissor Tailed Flycatcher.

It’s not a great picture and I didn’t even notice the long tail when I took the picture.  I found out that this bird is on the Oklahoma quarter.

From Boerne, I headed to Van Horn, Tx for another overnight.  Then on to Huachuca, Arizona for a couple of nights.  Here I visited Ramsey Canyon for a bit of easy hiking and some bird watching. 

I took their nature walk, where we learned a lot about the plants, rocks, birds… as we headed up into the canyon.  Below is a Mexican Jay that I saw just before the walk started. 


The leaders pointed out the Monkeyflower was just starting to bloom.

On the way up the canyon we heard several Painted Redstarts.  I finally got a picture of one--

They are also in the area that I am now in.  I hope to get a better picture.

I also went to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.  The first thing I saw was a bunch of Lesser Goldfinch.

I headed to the river and this is what I found --

It’s not very big, but considering this is the desert it supports all kinds of life that is not typical to the desert area.  

I saw this bird and was curious what he/she was.  I found out that she is the mate of another bird that I have posted before but I like him so much, I’ll post a picture I took at San Pedro.

The red one is the male Vermillion Flycatcher, while the one above it is the female.

A couple more bird pictures, a White Crowned Sparrow --

A Yellow-Rumped Warbler Audubon’s Population --

There is so much to learn about birds.  The yellow throat of the bird above makes him a sub-species of the Yellow-Rumped Warbler. 

From Huachuac City, I headed to Patagonia, Arizona.  I had some RV problems on my drive there (less than 40 miles), but you will have to wait until I write about that in my next blog. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mission, TX–part 2B

In the blog I posted a few weeks ago, I mentioned one of my goals while in Mission was to get a good Road Runner picture.  Well, I ended up finding a place  in the State Park where I saw them fairly regularly.  I also saw them most times I rode to Conway on the bike path.  Most of the time they would see me and run off, but a few times I watched them for several minutes.  It was interesting watching one of them catch bugs. 


I don’t know what the Road Runner in the middle was looking at, but I saw them do this several times.  I thought perhaps he was looking up for an Acme Safe falling from the sky!!

In my first Mission, TX blog, I posted a picture of an owl peeking around the tree looking at me.  I thought I was special and he just liked me, but I learned he did that to other people also!  Here is a better picture of him making sure that I am leaving.

Another bird that folks around here were excited about was the Red-Naped Sapsucker because they are typically not in this area.   I didn’t see him the first few weeks, but finally spotted him and then saw him several days hard at work on the same tree.  

















Notice in the last 2 pictures the sap is running down the tree.  A day or 2 later I noticed some butterflies and bees enjoying the sap.

Another first for me was a Verdin.  

Most days, I walked, rode my bike and watched the birds.  At the Birding Center, they have several Bird Blinds. 

Some of the blinds have a water fixture where the birds would drink and bathe.  Below is a Green Jay taking a bath.

I leave here on Monday.  My original plans were to take about a week and head up to Utah.  But in looking at the weather, I decided to take a few weeks to get to Utah.  It’s still a bit cold there!!  So I am going to quickly go across Texas and New Mexico, then I will spend a couple of weeks in Southern Arizona and make my way up to Northern Arizona for a few days.   Hopefully by the time I get to Utah it will be a bit warmer!

Mission, TX– Part 2

Usually at this point, I say I am behind in my blogging.  But can you believe this?   I am actually ahead in my blog.  I had planned on doing part 2 of my Mission, TX blog after I left (which is what I typically do), but I am writing this a couple of days before leaving.  I figured I don’t have anything too exciting planned for the next couple of days, unless you count getting ready to move again, so I decided to go ahead and do it.

I went back to Estero Llano Grande and did another bird walk.  While waiting for it to begin, I saw more Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  If you remember in my last blog, I posted a picture of one.  This time 15 – 20 flew in and landed on a tree.

The day I did the walk, it was a fairly chilly morning.  The butterflies had not woken up yet.   These are Queen Butterflys.

Just around the corner from the campground is the National Butterfly Center.  I only went there once as you can see many of the same butterflies in the campground or at the State Park next door.   While there I saw this green butterfly/moth enjoying the nectar from a Lantana flower--

I looked on-line to verify what I thought the following was --

Look closely – it’s 2 butterflies and they are mating!

In my last blog, I mentioned that I was going to search for the Red-Crowned Parrots and I found them.   I would guess that 200 or so parrots flew in to Oliveria Park in Brownsville the evening that I was there.  They ate for a few minutes and then headed to some trees across the park to sleep for the night. 


Mixed in with the Red-Crowned Parrots were a few Yellow-Headed Parrots.

On the same day I saw the Parrots, I first went to Sabal Palms Sanctuary in Brownsville.  I did a bit of hiking and I saw a Crimson Collared Grosbeak.  This is a rare bird for the U.S. and many people went to the park just to see him.   It’s not a great picture, but I only saw him for 30 seconds or so and some of that time he was flying.

I saw the sign for the entrance to the Park and didn’t quite get it until I paid more attention when I left.

“Through the Fence, Over the Levee  -- No Passport Needed”??  I knew I was very close to the border but …

The above is a picture of the Border Fence.  I think this is the first time I have ever seen it and I guess I always thought it was actually on the border. In this case the park was between the fence and the Rio Grande (the border of the U.S. and Mexico). The gate was open, but there was a Border Patrol Agent beside it. 

Another day, I went to Quinta Mazatlan.  This is a 1930’s Adobe home and garden that is now a part of the World Birding Center.   While there I saw a Cedar Waxwing.  I was talking to some people there who said they were common where they live, but I think this is the first one that I have seen.


I am going to break this up into 2 parts as I have too many pictures.