2023-03-19 Gardner Canyon Road

Rufous-Crowned Sparrow - Aimophila ruficeps
Gardner Canyon Road leaves AZ-83 four miles north of Sonoita and ascends the eastern slopes of the Santa Rita Mountains. I stopped there to spend the night and see what birds I might meet.
Canyon Towhee - Melozone fusca
Gardner Canyon birds did not disappoint.

Knowing I’d be returning to Tucson after exploring some of southeastern Arizona’s birding Meccas, I left without the full tour of most of its local specialty locations for meeting birds. I camped two nights at a “Dispersed Camping” site along Gardner Canyon Road, four miles north of Sonoita. I was headed to Patagonia, but decided to linger and get caught up with my blog activities and take it easy for a bit. I took a batch of pictures when I arrived on Sunday. 

Back in 2005, while touring southern Arizona in my Suzuki Samurai (yes, I still have it!), I traveled the complete length of this road. It is doubtful I’d have attempted navigating the full length of this route in my RV, but I could have easily gone most of the way. Less than a mile down this well-used gravel road, I halted my initial advance when I realized my cell service vanished. If I had the Starlink internet system installed (it has been ordered), I’d have certainly tested the road much further. But since I had work to do that required the internet, I found a quiet place less than a mile from AZ-83, where the cell service, though weak, was sufficient.

Not one to waste an opportunity to look for birds, before I turned around, I stopped and sniffed the air. Initially, I might have believed the desert scrub was devoid of much bird-life. But as is often the case in such locations, a little patience and quiet observation proved otherwise. As I listened for familiar voices to jog my memory of bird songs and calls, the first ones I heard were Curve-Billed Thrashers and Green-Tailed Towhees. Later, Black-Throated Sparrows, and Rufous-Crowned Sparrows joined the chorus.  

While I collected images of the birds just mentioned, I could hear wheezing calls from the slopes of a nearby ridge. It took me a while to recognize it as a Gray Hawk. About the time I remembered the author’s voice, a pair of these hawks sailed over me, on patrol to survey their territory.

When I got around to setting up camp, I had two days worth of images to process, and as many stories to tell. I published my tale of Tucson’s Sweetwater Wetlands, but fell short of spinning the yarn about Gardner Canyon Road, though I got all my images processed and ready to add to the story.

Now it is Tuesday, and I find myself in Patagonia, with yet another day’s worth of blog work to do. But today’s yarn must wait its turn.

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