Thursday, August 7, 2014
Exit From the White Mountains
Sunday was the day to return to the Phoenix metropolis, but before we were to depart, we took out time to enjoy a breakfast at the Rendezvous Restaurant. If one elects to dine at one of the tables outside, they can be positioned next to a hummingbird feeder. Of course we opted for one such table and we were constantly entertained with at least 3 species of hummers coming in to the feeders; Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Calliope Hummingbirds, and the tyrants of the feeders, Rufous Hummingbirds. I was most interested in the Calliope Hummingbirds, which are the smallest birds to be found in the United States at only 3¼ inches in length. I have only seen this species a couple of times in the past and never got any decent photos of a male. Seeing the males with their striped gorgets in the sunlight was really quite spectacular and special. Once again, I had to resort to a photo with a feeder in it, but that is better than none at all. Arizona is an awesome place to visit if one is interested in seeing a variety of hummingbirds! One can see more species in Arizona than in any other state in the U.S.
Although there were several Rufous Hummingbirds at these feeders, we also had one at our campsite that very aggressively defended the feeder that we hung from one of our trees.
And to add another bonus at breakfast, a Cordilleran Flycatcher was close by on the north side of the restaurant. This is probably the closest I have been able observe one of these Empidonax flycatchers.
After breakfast, we headed back to the church camp area once again and it was very active this early in the morning. We had visits from Mountain Chickadees, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Pine Siskin, and a Say's Phoebe that landed on a twig so close to me that I thought it would be too close to even focus on it for a photo.
One more short trip to the Butler Trail head before heading out and we were blessed with more Cordilleran Flycatchers. Once you get to know these birds, they quickly become very likable and always fun to see and observe. They are part of a family of birds that can be tricky to identify, but the more one sees and hears the different species, then they become somewhat easier to identify.
Traveling west on Highway 260 we stopped off a small lake to see if we could find anything unusual. Not much in the way of birds, but when we parked the car, we noticed some ground squirrels and we did happen to have a few peanuts with us. They knew immediately what we had once we tossed a few their way. They quickly ran out and grabbed a peanut and then ran under the shelter of a rock to start the feast. A chipmunk also showed up and we made sure it got to take a peanut back to its burrow as well. This is a good way to see the differences between ground squirrels and chipmunks. Chipmunks have facial stripes, whereas ground squirrels do not. Here is the Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel and the Cliff Chipmunk to compare.
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
And so our trip to the White Mountains came to an end, but none of us were disappointed in the whole trip. Tommy stayed behind for another week with his family and had much more excitement during that time. Such a great place that I think it deserves a visit every summer.