[Tweeters] Tucson area recs? Long Reply

Hank Karen karenhank at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 13 09:28:44 PDT 2012

My wife and I went to Tucson last month and had a great time.  Here are some places that we would recommend.
Madera Canyon is east of Green Valley which is south of Tucson.  There are a couple of B&B's there that cater to birders.  The owners are very friendly.  We didn't know about them so we didn't stay there.  Yet we were able to take advantage of the birding.  One of the places has multiple feeders set up and car parking right in front of the feeders.  The Elegant Trogan can be seen in Madera and in fact one spent the winter outside the other B&B.  There are hiking trails up into the mountains at the end of the road in Madera Canyon.  When we were there the mountains still had snow.
The place that we loved most was the town of Patagonia.  It is a funky cool town with 4 nearby birding opportunities.  Patagonia Lake State park was featured in the movie The Big Year.  There is a small entry fee, but it is worth.  Upon entering the park if you go as far right as you can, you will find a birding trail.  We saw many interesting birds there.  By the way, the store at PLSP made great, reasonably priced sandwiches.  The second birding place near Patagonia is a private residence in Patagonia that is open during daylight hours 7 days a week.  The place is named after the former owners, the Patons or Pattons not sure.  If you stop at the Info. Office in Patagonia which doubles as a bike shop they will tell you how to find Patons.  You park outside the fence at Patons and walk into the backyard.  The Patons have passed and currently there is a caretaker...a cool guy from Mississippi and his wife.  He really knows birds, is super
helpful and friendly.  Further down the road from Patons is the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve.  Again, there is a small fee, but it is good for 5 days and is worth it.  There is a resident Western Screech Owl as well as many other birds.  Also, you might see a Javelina or two.  The fourth Patagonia birding spot that we were told about at the Info. Center was a highway rest stop/ pull out on the highway between the town of Patagonia and PLSP.  We didn't go there.  What could be so good about a rest stop I thought.  Well, we met experienced birders from Alaska who had just been to the rest stop and had seen a Black-capped Gnatcatcher.  My wife and I are begining birders and were so overwhelmed by what we had seen that we didn't realize the the Black-capped Gnatcatcher is a rare sighting.  We never did go the the rest stop.  The guy from MI recommended birding around Sierra Vista and Ramsay (sp?) Canyon.  SV is the hummer capitol of the US,
or so it says.  We intend to go back and stay in SV.  The only other really good birding spot that we went to is Sweetwater which is a water treatment facility on the western edge of Tucson, which is not easy to find in any circumstances, but was even more difficult to find because roads were closed due to construction.  It was worth it.
We also went to spots that had interesting birding and other features that made them interesting.  They included the Desert Museum (a hummer house...much like a butterfly house,,,with nesting hummers and a free flying Harris's hawk demo...as well as coyotes and javelinas), Sabino Canyon (saw a gila monster in the wild crawl unde a bush...interesting hiking), the Botanical Gardens & Tohono Chul.  The last two places had interesting gardens.  Tohono Chul had a nice restaurant.  Two birding places that we went that were less productive were Aqua Caliente (NE of Tucson) and Santa Catalina Park (north of Tucson), but still interesting.  Also, toured the Empire Ranch which is north of Sonoita which is north of Patagonia.  Saw some interesting birds and animals on the drive into the ranch...plus the ranch has an interesting history.
Finally, I would highly recommend two nonbirding sites.  One is Mission San Xavier del Bac between Tucson and Green Valley.  It is the large white mission west of the interstate.  Take the free tour.  The other may have been my favorite place we went on the whole trip.  It is in Northern Tucson and is free...DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.  It is the former home of Ted DeGrazia, an amazing artist.  You may read gallery and get the totally wrong impression.  It is a home in the desert that DeGrazia built that now houses much of his art work....totally amazing.  Tubac is an artist town near Green Valley that is more like a tourist trap...didn't really like it.  Did like the Wisdom restaurant south of Tubac on the service road parallel to the interstate.  Very authentic Mexican restaurant. 
As I said my wife and I are beginning birders.  We had a great time.  I would send the list of birds that we saw and where we saw them if you would like.  Have fun.
Hank Heiberg
Carnation, WA

From: Jeremiah Alexander <jkalexan at u.washington.edu>
To: tweeters at uw.edu
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2012 10:31 PM
Subject: [Tweeters] Tucson area recs?

Hi all,

I'm headed to the Tucson area for a week of hiking and birding in SE Arizona- very excited.  I bought the "finding Birds in SE Arizona" guide but if any has recs on places to go I'd love to hear off list from real people!

Jeremiah Alexander
Seattle, WA

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