Arizona’s Willow Tank has been one of the best bird watching sites in the Portal/Rodeo area outside of Cave Creek Canyon. It was our first stop. The one acre pond yielded Ring-necked Ducks, and Dan was able to photograph a family of White-collared Peccaries (Javelina).
Landscape photography was the target for the rest of the morning and mid-day. A drive up Cave Creek Canyon yielded incredible views of the rugged rhyolite mountains. The subtle hues of tan, pink, green, and yellow were almost breathtaking. The sun did not rise over the canyon walls until near noon further muting the canyon colors. A short hike in the foothills provided a different view at each turn of the trail.
The road to Paradise zigzagged upward on the switchbacks through the high desert mountain roads. We reached the George Walker House at Paradise near noon, and began observing the Mexican Jays flying in and out of the feeding station area. House Finches and Lesser Goldfinches were gorging on the seeds that had fallen to the ground. A Spotted Towhee and Yellow-rumped Warbler were seen among the shadows near the watering area. And lastly, an Arizona Woodpecker arrived near the suet on the old tree standing guard near the house.
Following the visit to Paradise, we returned to Cave Creek Ranch and photographed a few new birds including Cedar Waxwings, Nuthatches, and White-winged Doves.
Hoping the Elegant Trogan would make another appearance in the Pyracantha Shrub, we waited patiently. Sure enough, at or near 2:50 PM, the same time as the day before, the young male made an appearance, and offered a close, open pose. I’m a happy camper now.