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2015-10-26 Tubac Arizona

Map or route from Sierra Vista to Tubac Arizona.From Sierra Vista I set my sights on the Santa Cruz River Valley. The path most scenic took me through Patagonia, a town well known to birders. I’ve passed this way in the past, but not given it the time it deserves. This trip would not be different. At the southwestern end of town, at the edge of a grassy park sit two picnic tables under shed roofs. There is a sign as you drive by that says “Roadside Table”. This location has numerous connected stories about unusual birds that have been discovered nearby. I made it a mission to spend some restful moments there and hope for some special bird tom grace me with a visit. Little bird activity did I observe this day. Timing is everything, and my timing was sub-par.

Permanent water in Sonoita Creek, which drains this valley into the Santa Cruz River system, is at the heart of what makes Patagonia special. The residents of this community have reason to be concerned about the future of their ‘permanent’ water. Controversy surrounds a mining operation upstream at the base of the Santa Rita Mountains trying to use mass quantities of water (450,000-700,000 gallons per day). Battle lines are being drawn.

Back on the road, I continued to my targeted destination … Tubac. On reaching the town proper, I found it to be full of unexpected character. There were numerous art shops, some restaurants and other store, and an historic district. History tells us that this was the first Spanish settlement in Arizona and that among its first residents was Juan Bautista de Anza Bezerra Nieto. Bautista pioneered overland routes throughout the Southwest and into California.

This was another town worth more than the limited time I could give on this visit. My plans here was to find birds in their habitat. I’d read accounts of birds found in the area called the “Tubac Bridge” and I began looking for this place. I soon found a road called “Bridge Road” and where it crossed the Santa Cruz River. There were foot trails that followed the water coarse. But I would have been at the base of some very tall trees looking up, and I knew it would not yield any worthwhile images. I moved on. I found a dirt track the followed the valley northward and past some overgrown adobe ruins. There seemed to be a fair amount of bird activity along this path and I followed it, making frequent stops along the way. Rufous-Winged Sparrows, another ‘common’ Arizona bird was on my targeting list, and they proved abundant here. Also present were Northern Cardinals, Pyrrhuloxias and Green-Tailed Towhees. While I was parked, gathering images, I stepped out of my rig to find a five foot snake stretched out behind the Samurai. Had I decided to backup, I’d have squashed it. After capturing a few images I found a small branch and massaged its back until it decided to move off the road and into the brush.

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