Arizona Desert & Seattle Puffins
On my trip to Arizona in May 2010 I wanted to travel without being on a reconnaissance, just a holiday and see birding friends made over the past 10 years, but by Day 2 I was so enraptured that I started taking notes for an itinerary with unhesitating joy.
Flowering Saguaro Cactus
The initial inspiration was the Saguaro Desert Museum, a zoo with such heart and soul that they average 20 volunteers per day organised, and trained to a degree we have never seen in Australia. You are greeted at the entrance by welcoming ‘greeters’. One had a Barn Owl on her arm and inside there was an absolutely gorgeous American Kestrel similarly displayed. You are so close to these birds I instantly fell in love with the place.
Their flowering cactus gardens dazzled me, attracting so many birds, as the Museum is set within the stunning Saguaro National Park. I felt like jumping on Tonto and riding off into the sunset!
But instead I am offering a trip, timed perfectly to take advantage of the US dollar.
While in Tucson we will spend a half day at Madera Canyon where there are Summer, Flame-coloured and Hepatic Tanagers, Cassin’s Kingbird, Cooper’s and Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures and Wilson’s Warbler. But the sortafter Elegant Trogan is the bird we will be aiming to see. The other half of the day will be spent hunting the Five-striped Sparrow down in California Gulch, and seeing lots of other good birds along the way.
The next day we’ll set out from Tucson south into the Sierra Vista reaching the splendid hacienda where we will be staying for the next few days. This is a joyous experience, from the gorgeous Mexican chef who cooks our evening meals, the traditional southwestern courtyard, to the afternoon fruit pies and a 50 metre lap pool, hmm heaven. The canyons hold the migrating warblers and hummingbirds, where I also saw Spotted Owl, Vermillion Flycatcher, Gambel’s Quail, Barn Owl in the grounds as well as the Nighthawks at dusk over the dam, magic. There are about eight species of hummingbird to be seen and the feeders are set in front of bleachers so sitting and waiting for the little jewels to fly in is very comfortable.
Above Miller’s Canyon
Not only are the deserts and canyons unparallelled in the south but further north the waterways off the coast of Vancouver Island are world renowned for their extraordinary beauty and wildlife. We will be staying in a cutie-pie island town in a renovated wooden house, yes with private bathrooms.
Arizona Sister by Laurens Halsey
This gorgeous place was suggested by the Washington State Audubon (birding club) who are also joining us for the weekend on the San Juan Islands and taking part in the boating trip to seek out a Tufted Puffin, Pigeon Guillemot and Rhinoceros Auklet. This is such a treat and they are so excited that the Aussies are coming that they are going to cook for us and no doubt add so much more to the trip with their local knowledge, humour and love of birds – priceless interaction.
San Juan is home to the Orcas which we are sure to see and there are also more hummingbirds here, like the huge (in relative terms) Rufous Hummer that is a copper flash across the sky, breathtaking. There is also an optional kayaking trip.
Some of their specialty species include three species of cormorant, including the Brandt’s and Pelagic; virtually all species of North American waterfowl, including Harlequin Ducks and Trumpeter Swans; easily accessible nesting Peregrine Falcons; a pair of breeding Bald Eagles for each mile of shoreline; rocky shore specialists such as Black Oystercatchers, Wandering Tattlers, and Surfbirds; a dozen species of gull, including Thayer’s; a variety of alcids, including Marbled and Ancient Murrelets and Common Murres; and a variety of smaller sought after species, such as the Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Hutton’s Vireo, Varied Thrush, Townsend’s Warbler, “Sooty” Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, and Red Crossbill.
This will be a memorable trip. If you would like to speak to me about any details, please call or email as soon as possible and I can send you out a full Itinerary and Booking Form.
$AU7560.00 per person twin share
$490.00 single supplement
Please phone Follow That Bird to check if seats are available then fill in the booking form and mail with the deposit or full payment to Follow That Bird, 3/59 Central Road, Avalon, NSW 2107. Your place on the tour is not guaranteed until we receive the payment.
Follow That Bird aims to provide a high standard of interpretive guiding on each trip to make your birdwatching holiday a special one. With small groups, attention to personal service and lots of good fun, we’re sure you will enjoy your time with us.
If you have any unanswered questions, please phone Follow That Bird on 02 9973 1865