Memories of Arivaca

Vermilion Flycatcher - Pyrocephalus rubinusThose who know me well, know I love to travel. Sometimes the places I go draw me back time and time again. Arivaca Arizona is one of these places. My first visit was in 2003 and my most recent was in 2017. This region produced my first meetings with the Vermillion Flycatcher, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Cassin’s Sparrow and the Dusky-Capped Flycatcher. It has also produced some of my *best* meetings, if not my first, for other birds.

The geology of the valley forces the water in Arivaca Creek to the surface beginning two miles southeast of the rural town of the same name. Locals call this marshy zone the “cienega”. It is owned by the US Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Reserve, but it differs dramatically from the arid grasslands that dominate the rest of the 118,000 acre reserve. After passing through the cienega most of the creek’s water descends into subterranean channels until the summer Monsoon rains come. Still, because of the cienega’s topography, surface water can be found year-round there. This important resource attracts birds and other wildlife to the area. It also attracts nature lovers like me.

There is another reason I have returned many times to this area; I made an acquaintance on one of my earliest visits. That acquaintance became a friendship I value very much. My friend was a community leader in the town (population ~700) and I learned much of the local lore from her. She no longer lives in this small town, and has retired to the more “civilized” town of Green Valley 34 miles to the east. I try to visit her and her new digs as often as I can.

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