Another hot weekend in June and time to seek higher altitudes to enjoy the birds and nature, Chris Rohrer and I headed to the Mogollon Rim area and some of the awesomeness of the land around the towns of Heber/Overgaard in Arizona. We had the privilege of staying in Heber and my friend Wayne Manske's cabin which made for great accommodations as well. We started out early on Saturday morning doing a little exploring of the Navajo County Park in Overgaard, which is a great place to visit and is worth a more lengthy visit sometime in the future. It was a bit too early for too many photos, but had a nice male Hepatic Tanager pose long enough for a snapshot.
After spending about an hour there, we then headed south and west out of Heber on Black Canyon Road, which has lots of really neat spots to visit along the way. Our destination was Black Canyon Lake which has always been a favorite spot of mine and it would have been but we failed in remember that this was Father's Day weekend, and this place was more crowded than ever before. Must have been the weekend to take dad out fishing. At one spot along the way, we had some Brewer's Blackbirds making quite a fuss and as we approached, they were even more agitated, and finally we discovered the reason: a fledgling Brewer's Blackbird in the grass and an adult female with some grub in its beak to feed the young one.
Brewer's Blackbird - Female with lunch for the following fledgling.
Brewer's Blackbird - Fledgling
At almost every stop we made along this road, we were entertained by Violet-green Swallows; probably one of the most colorful swallows in the United States. They are cavity nesters and readily take over any unused woodpecker nest cavities. Not always easy to spot their nests, but with enough patience, a nest can be found by observing these swallows when they approach a tree. And we did find a couple of nest cavities, and one of them would have gone unnoticed had we not been watching.
Violet-green Swallow - in nest cavity
Violet-green Swallow - Showing the green and a little bit of the violet
After arriving at Black Canyon Lake and discovering how crowded it was with families fishing all around the lake, we decided the birds were not going to be easy, so we then headed west and headed out the back way and back to Hwy 260 and then back to Heber for lunch. We did make one brief stop at Twin Springs to see what we might find and found a very cooperative and entertaining Grace's Warbler. Normally a warbler of the pines and high up in the canopy, this one paid a visit on a young pine sapling near the pond of water.
Back in Heber we had lunch and then headed west again, this time to visit Woods Canyon Lake. That visit turned into something special but it will be covered in the next blog post.