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South Fork of Cave Creek #243
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mini location map2022-05-19
23 by photographer avatarcactuscat
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South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking3.00 Miles 200 AEG
Hiking3.00 Miles
200 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Woke up early but delayed my hike up South Fork for a bit - last time I got there too early and the birds weren't that active in the shady canyon until the sun started to hit. I walked around the campground area seeking the sun for awhile instead.
It was still early and I was the first vehicle down the road, I think - since I found a tour guides headset in the middle of the road - not run over, and still working. Probably from an owling trip the night before.
I was the only car in the parking lot - last year there were a dozen or more. One hiker caught up with me - looked like he might be going much farther, a hiker not a birder. Scott's Orioles were singing and being beautiful everywhere, along with many flycatchers, and happily I heard and saw a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher - only my second one ever! As I got back to the lot and continued walking up to the bridge, which is always a good spot, I ran into a large group with their guide ... five or six cars parked haphazardly, blocking the road. Blew past them and kept walking to get back to my peaceful solitude - only to be passed by another tour group - these in two vans, going too fast and kicking up dust ... and stopping in the middle of the road. I'm glad the canyon is less crowded, but not a fan of this new influx of guided tours ... at least they hit and run, not lingering too long in one spot. Had another nice chat with a couple I met down the road as we walked back up after the tours departed (bathing us in road dust again).
Back to camp to load up and get going before it got too hot.
I took a quick detour to the Thick-billed Kingbird nest spot on Cathedral Rock Road. As I was parking and hoping I was in an acceptable spot, far enough off the narrow road and not blocking anything so as to not annoy the residents, a car pulled up next to me and I thought she was going to tell me not to park there - instead, she greeted me with a big smile and said "that Thick-billed is just back there at the top of the Sycamore". I love this about Portal! She mentioned she just lived down the road and I said "lucky you" and asked if it was ok to park where I was. I searched the sycamores for a few minutes but didn't find the bird - thought I might have seen it fly off - but when I turned back around, there was the lady again ... at least 70 years old and walking down the hot dusty road with her cane to come invite me to her house and bird her yard! I hesitated because I really intended to get going, but after I talked with her for a few minutes I accepted her invitation and was so glad I did! She has an amazing property there - an old spanish-style house with thick adobe walls and saltillo tile - dark and cool. She said it was 110 last summer, but never got above 80 in the house even without using her ac - that's how houses need to be built in AZ! We sat together for an hour and had a lovely birding session in her yard - got all three orioles, more Western Tanagers than I've ever seen in one place, and several first-of-year birds for me, and some of the best photos of the trip. She is quite the fun and interesting person and I'm glad I've made friends with another Portal local ... will definitely visit her again. Oh, and I got the Thick-billed Kingbird when I went back to my truck - life bird #327!
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