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Patagonia Lake State Park Campground - 2 members in 3 triplogs have rated this an average 4 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Mar 11 2019
DbleDutch
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 Photos 191
 Triplogs 63

male
 Joined Dec 10 2009
 Tempe, AZ
Patagonia Lake State Park CampgroundTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Car Camping avatar Mar 11 2019
DbleDutch
Car Camping3.50 Miles
Car Camping3.50 Miles3 Days         
2 Days   22 Hrs   22 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Spent some relaxing days at Patagonia Lake SP. Birding, walking, lounging. Reservations made 3+ months ago and both the Sweetheart and I were under the weather for the trip. The kayak or daypacks never came out :( Just a couple strolls along the Lake, Creek and campground. The pipevine swallowtails were quick in the breeze and tough to get a clean pic. Same with the vermilion flycatchers and a juvenile hawk yet to be identified. Heavy rain our last night but cleared for us to pack up between showers in the AM. Maiden voyage for a towed vehicle and all the equipment performed well. The Toad came in handy to explore some local roads and geocache...car hiking :?
Culture
Culture
Campsite HAZ Rides
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Nov 21 2018
cactuscat
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 Routes 58
 Photos 2,427
 Triplogs 378

47 female
 Joined Oct 15 2002
 Safford
Patagonia Lake State Park - Birding Tra, AZ 
Patagonia Lake State Park - Birding Tra, AZ
 
Birding avatar Nov 21 2018
cactuscat
Birding1.77 Miles 31 AEG
Birding1.77 Miles   2 Hrs   9 Mns   1.05 mph
31 ft AEG      28 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
My only previous visit to PALA had been for work, helping out with their annual Mariachi Festival. I kept wanting to come back to hike and bird - it is the state's #1 hotspot on ebird, after all ... 318 species! - but had only spent time at Paton's and the Sonoita Creek Preserve on my trips to the area.
My main target for this day was to get my first Green Kingfisher (GRKI), to complete the trifecta of North American Kingfishers - a feat that up until my RIKI showed up in October, would have only been possible in South Texas. The GRKI is the smallest (only 7-8 inches), and hardest to find since they are easily overlooked - perching on roots and small branches very low to the water. The fish they eat are only 1-2 inces long, so they have to be close to the water to even see them. The only place in the US they can be seen regularly is South Texas (like the RIKI),and the Arizona population is considered to be accidental, or "rare stragglers" - though they seem to be increasing.
Spotted a White-tailed Kite swooping low over the road and on down a wash just before I reached the town of Patagonia ... nice start to the day. I'm pretty sure I've seen them a couple times before, but this was my first good enough look to count, so it was Lifer number one for the day. :)
Once I arrived at the Park I went straight to the Birding Trail - it starts with an informational kiosk which has a list of the most recent sightings, among other things. Next is a very nice little seating area with several nectar and seed feeders and a view of the lake - I am immediately envious of this and wish I had one at Roper. Very soon the trail goes down a hill and through a gate and then you are at lake level. It doesn't take long to see why this is such a favorite place of so many birds - it's an amazing habitat! The trail meanders through bosques, along marshes, and across washes, and there are often several paths to choose from if you are trying to stay close to the lake ... the choices get more numerous and indistinct the farther you go. Many cow patties to dodge, and occasional cows. Not sure why they are allowed to be here - would be much nicer if they weren't!
The GRKI has been seen regularly near the mouth of Sonoita Creek, so as I got closer to that I tried to check the shoreline more often. I was stooped under a low tree, scanning, when a lady in a kayak spotted me and called out (loudly, three times :-$ ) "Is that you, Bill? Hello?" I finally turned and as I said "I'm not Bill", I saw a small Kingfisher fly past silently! My only impression was "small" - couldn't discern color or anything. I was really hoping that wouldn't be my only glimpse as I proceeded on towards the creek after the bird.
Reached the creek, took a quick look around, and then a break amid the mooing sounds coming from just upstream. When I resumed hiking I started upstream, but only went about 20 feet before I stopped to scan the likely perches upstream and spotted my GRKI right away! :D She was perched in the shade so I couldn't get great pics, but good enough, and I watched her dive for fish several times. After a few minutes she flew back downstream right past me and perched a little closer to allow for slightly better pics, saw her actually catch and eat something this time. She is so freaking cute - like the descriptions say "like a sparrow with a heron's bill" ... adorable. Eventually she flew back along the shore and out of sight, but this time she was calling so I got to hear her too - sounding more like an insect than a bird. Lifer number two for the day.
Super happy about this success, I started heading back when it occurred to me that since I had been lucky enough to see RIKI and a BEKI the day before, that I had just now scored all three US Kingfishers in less than 24 hours! Certainly the first time that's been done in Arizona, and not even possible anywhere else except S. Texas - cool! :DANCE:
I was strolling along happily watching the Yellow-rumped Warblers, Bridled Titmouse, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, etc when I approached the wash/creek that I had crossed earlier on a small wobbly log and kept my feet dry. However this time there were 10-12 cows spread out around the area blocking my route. I tried to get around, but it was way too bushwacky ... tried to get around another way - more cows. Dang I may be here a while! Two birders showed up on the other side and we waved and shrugged at each other. Eventually I got bold and slipped past the gentlest-looking cow and quickly waded straight across the water - no longer trapped, but stuck with wet feet for the rest of the day.
Chatted with the birders - I had met Babs before when she came to Roper to try for the RIKI - and gave her directions to the GRKI ... we parted ways as she and her friend were preparing to get wet feet and cross through the cows.
After I finished the hike I went exploring around the rest of the Park - checked out the campgrounds, marina, climbed the bridge, visited the Visitor's Center (more envy on my part - their VC is fanatstic, inside and out!). A very nice day here, and a great Park to visit when it's not too busy ... if it weren't for the (rather rowdy) crowds that this large lake attracts in the summer, it would be an ideal place for me to work.
Very happy with my day, I decided to forgo any further stops on the way home - but still scored another White-tailed Kite as I drove past Las Cienegas on Hwy 82. 33 species all together - which I believe is my best day by the numbers.
Fauna
Fauna
Green Kingfisher
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Dec 03 2017
chumley
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 Guides 75
 Routes 667
 Photos 13,172
 Triplogs 1,417

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Sonoita Hangmans Loop, AZ 
Sonoita Hangmans Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 03 2017
chumley
Hiking7.68 Miles 522 AEG
Hiking7.68 Miles   3 Hrs   28 Mns   2.35 mph
522 ft AEG      12 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
After spending the previous day exploring the western side of the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, I opted for the east side today. I'd spotted Hangmans Canyon on the map and decided I wanted to check that out too.

Unfortunately, I realized that there was no way I was going to find time and energy to check out Ash Canyon, Coal Mine Canyon, Coal Mine Spring, George Wise Spring, and an enormous reservoir just a mile and a half northwest of Patagonia Lake -- all of which looked fairly interesting in satellite photos.

So I set out from the east end of the State Park with my free SNA permit in hand. The park map online calls this the Sonoita Creek Trail, but that's on the west side of the park. Signage here calls it the "Patagonia Lake Birding and Hiking Trail". I was amused to see people sitting on a bench 100 yards from the trailhead with a camera lens so large that needed it's own support leg ... zoomed in on the incredibly natural hummingbird feeder about 50 feet away. People make fun of me for enjoying walking so to each their own I guess! :lol:

The trail drops down to the floodplain and zigs around the east end of the lake before coming to the banks of Sonoita Creek. I was surprised to find a bridge that crossed to the north since it isn't part of the trail system to go this way, and the bridge couldn't possibly survive even the smallest rise in creek flow. Nonetheless I was happy to keep my feet dry as I headed up the hillside and back into the desert.

I headed back toward the lake on an old abandoned road that leads to the point where Hangmans Canyon enters the lake, directly across from the park's day use area. This is a scenic area with very cool geology.

This was a good day for wildlife encounters. The previous day I had close visits by two great horned owls in flight and one red-tailed hawk, in addition to two javelina. Today I encountered a jackrabbit that was so large I actually for a moment thought it was a deer. For reference, it was larger than FOTGs Cupcake ... but not quite Blanco sized!

Interestingly, not 5 minutes later, I actually saw two white-tails, followed a bit later by 3-4 more, and two others near the end of the hike. I also spooked a herd of javelina about halfway up Hangmans. These were a noisy bunch as they scampered up the hill and I realized it was the babies that were making all the racket. They were no bigger than a football, but I'm not sure how young that makes them. Sorry no photos. :(

There was ample cat scat and I was nearly certain I'd run into one -- given the abundance of prey in the area, but I was happy to be seen rather than to see on this day!

Hangmans wasn't quite as exciting as I had hoped, though there are segments of very interesting geology. The hiking was a bit tedious as much of it is sandy but there are some better cattle trails on the grassy shelves to the sides of the main drainage. It would be something to see these canyons with water in them.

I hit an old road and headed east toward a drainage with a windmill and tank that took me back down to Sonoita Creek. I considered heading upstream to explore a ways, but despite the pleasant hiking and nice trail along the creek I opted instead to get back to the trailhead and begin the trip back to the valley but not before a little tourism at the lake.

Over the two days I saw 4-5 areas with signs of migrant trash or toilet areas, but none seemed recent and I'd think that the proximity to the state park might limit that kind of traffic here.

This was a good second day follow-up to exploring the area.
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Bridge
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Autumn Foliage Observation Light

dry Hangmans Canyon Dry Dry
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Highway to hell
average hiking speed 1.7 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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