Guided up a mountain – blog 37

Apologies for the late posting of this blog – yesterday was a great day but ended with difficulties in finding accommodation, difficulties in finding a meal and impossibilities in getting onto the internet.  Never mind.

Where was I?  The last ‘live’ update you got from me was just before I went to talk to Tucson Audubon.  Paul Green (ex-BTO) who is the Exec Director of Tucson Audubon, and several of his staff, were very kind to me and made a fuss of me, and then I gave my talk to about 40 folk who had braved the heat to come out for the evening.

Rather surprisingly there was a gentleman in the audience whose daughter lives about half a mile from me at home (yes, it is a small world isn’t it?) and also the author of “Hope is  a thing with feathers‘, Chris Cokinos, who was very kind in giving me a signed copy of his book and we will, I’m sure, be in touch over the next few weeks.

The next day (this was Thursday), I went birding with Richard Fray who is a Brit from Leicester who is in love with south east Arizona and its birds, and other wildlife, and scenery (and birds, again).

Richard is a tour leader and bird guide and he took me out for free, so I would be in a slightly difficult position if I’d found him to be hopeless because what would I now write…?

Luckily, although luck has nothing to do with it, only hard work and hours in the field, Richard is an excellent bird guide.  We went up Mount Lemmon and with his help I added around 50 species to my trip list, of which about 30 were lifers for me.

Starting at Tucson and going to the top of the road at Mount Lemmon you keep passing markers telling you how high you are and you get to over 9,000ft.  At different altitudes there are different habitats and therefore different birds.  Knowing where to stop and what to look for is pretty important.  I know that if I had ‘done’ this day on my own I would have seen a  fraction of the birds I saw with Richard.

A long list of birds we saw would be quite dull for you to read but here are some highlights; ‘wow!’ birds; painted redstart, red-faced warbler, olive warbler, Grace’s warbler, broad-billed hummingbird; ‘difficult birds’; northern beardless tyrranulet, Abert’s towhee, rufous-winged sparrow, greater peewee, buff-breasted flycatcher; ‘nice birds’; Arizona woodpecker, yellow-eyed junco, black-throated gray warbler.  And there were roadrunners too!

And it was rather nice to talk about British birders, the American scene, house prices in Arizona, American food, birds, birds and birds with a fellow Brit.  Richard was good company.

We called in at a Tucson Audubon ‘birds and beer’ evening in the Sky Bar and talked more birds and ate pizza before heading back to Richard’s place for an unsuccessful search of the grounds of his house for scorpions and a few cold beers outside looking at the Arizona stars and talking birds (mostly).

A great day – a long one but a really good one.  More birding with Richard tomorrow.


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2 Replies to “Guided up a mountain – blog 37”

  1. Really great to meet you, Mark, and a pleasure to show you some of the birds of southeast Arizona. You'll have to come back another time for the rest...

    1. Richard - thank you so much for some great birding and a few laughs (more than a few) along the way too.


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