Back to reality

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Our vacation in Arizona was over and it was time to head back to Phoenix to catch our afternoon flight home to Florida. We took I-17 straight down from Flagstaff. The drive was amazing (I’m comparing it to our years of driving between Atlanta and Tampa).  I kept taking pictures through the window while Brett was driving.  Long winding road with very few billboards. My favorite sign was the picture of the elk crossing but I was disappointed. We didn’t see a single one.

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As we got closer to Phoenix, the Saguaro cactus were all along the road.

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On the plane, I saw several areas with these big circles. I’m assuming they have something to do with agriculture. Anyone have any ideas?

We made it back to reality and the hot steamy city of Tampa. I already miss northern Arizona. Some day we’ll get back there.

Skywatch Friday

Across the country for red leaves

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I had to go all the way across the county to get some fall colors. These were taken in late September in Flagstaff. It’s now the first day of November and there is still no sign of fall yet here in central Florida. Still in the 80’s which is us normal for us.

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These were taken at the Flagstaff Arboretum. We were there in a transition period.  Not a lot of flowers since spring and summer were over but the leaves were changing and it was beautiful out. We took the long trail through the woods around the park and at one point, this is the view.  If you crop the picture you would think you were all alone out in the forest.  But then you see the solar panels. Brings you back to reality. I keep saying that I could live here, well, except for the 100 inches of snowfall a year in the winter.

3 new birds at Picture Canyon

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White breasted nuthatch hanging upside down.

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Northern Flicker posing on a branch.

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My first Mountain Chickadee.  The Carolina and Black Capped chickadees don’t have the white stripe over their eyes.

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My first acorn woodpecker.

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My first white crowned sparrow. Easy to spot with those two black stripes on his head. I’m not sure what the one above it is. Some other type of sparrow.

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One of the views of the canyon as we started to notice the dark clouds heading our way.

One of my favorite places in Flagstaff was the little know Picture Canyon trail. I had read about it on some of the Arizona birding sites. It was free and we only saw one other person on the Tuesday we were there. Half way through the canyon we started to hear the thunder and did not want to be caught on the cliff so we moved pretty quickly back to the car. We got back just as it started to rain. I got 3 new birds from this canyon. I had also read there are some rare Lewis woodpeckers there but we could not find them.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing

Plants in a canyon

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Some of the plants we saw on our hike down Walnut Canyon in Flagstaff. I loved the way the dead trees looked so creepy. All twisted up, they were all along the trail. The last picture is a Steller’s Jay. We saw them at all of the parks we went to but they were so skittish. Not like our blue jays here that will get close and yell at you for not feeding them.

If you go up, you must come down.

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This was my first time on a chair lift (the sky buckets at Disney World don’t count). My husband has been on them many times but this was his first time on one without snow underneath. We took the lift up to the top and walked around for a while. It was more fun going down than up since you only see the side of the mountain going up.  Going down, you slowly see all of the area around Flagstaff. Although, it got cloudy while we were at the top so it was cold and windy going back down.

Skywatch Friday

Living on a cliff

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Besides the fact that Walnut Canyon is fun to hike around, there are old historic dwellings that were built by the Sinagua Indians that you can view. We were able to go inside some of them and tried to imagine what it was like living there so long ago. You would have to be sure-footed since most were sitting on a cliff. The view was beautiful and I guess you didn’t have to worry about cleaning the floors so that’s a good thing. The bad thing would have been no windows and no central heating.  And where’s the elevator?? They must have stayed in great shape to be climbing those cliffs all the time. If you ever get to Walnut Canyon, I would recommend taking the longer hike so you can get up close.

Birds in a snowbowl?

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It was Fall in the mountains of Arizona. Really, it was too early for fall. Even though the weather was cool the leaves really hadn’t started to change colors yet.  A hint of yellow was all we saw. This was the drive up to the chair lift at the Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff. You can take the lift up to the top of the mountain in the summer to hike around and see the area around Flagstaff. I was able to spot a few birds while we were at the top.

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I think this little guy is a Hutton’s Vireo. They are not found on my side of the country. These pictures are exactly like the ones in the Stokes Birding Guide.  If anyone can confirm that would be great.

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I was hoping this was something new but I think it’s a chipping sparrow. Very common in my area.

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These are dark-eyed juncos.  Not a first for me. I have seen a few in Atlanta. I’ve never seen one in central Florida. I’m not sure if they pass through us on their way south for the winter.

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This looks like a yellow rumped warbler. Just my luck I travel across the country and see one of the most common birds in central Florida in the winter.

It was windy and cool up on top of the mountain and the birds were skittish. I managed to see a few but the wind was blowing pretty hard to get a good picture of anything. I did see a few other birds at other parks though so those pictures are coming.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing

Flowers in Flagstaff

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Another one of my favorite places in Flagstaff was the Arboretum. If we lived close by I would have gotten an annual pass and been there all the time.  There were flower gardens, wooded trails and bird habitats. Although September is not the best time to visit to see lots of spring and summer flowers, there was still a lot of fall plants to take pictures of. I saw more little birds here than anywhere else we went. More on those later.

Rainy day funny faces

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We had a rainy afternoon during our trip in Arizona. We were already out running around so we decided to head over to Bearizona. It’s a drive through zoo that’s 30 minutes away from Flagstaff. We figured at least we’d be in the car while it was raining. Most of the animals had been injured or orphaned and had found a permanent home here.  All of the animals have huge enclosures in the middle of the woods. We drove through different zones and saw bears, wolves, bison, big horn sheep and tons of other animals. You could see them wandering around in the woods. Some were eating, some were sleeping, some were playing in the drizzle. Halfway through it stopped raining so we were able to get out and walk around the smaller walk through area. I think this was one of  my favorite parts of the trip.

Saturday's Critters