Travel to Arizona

It was early when I drove to the airport, so early that traffic was very light. That's not something I see often in Miami! Since I was flying first-class, it didn't take long to check the bags (and they take them to TSA, rather than you dragging them). The security line was somewhat delayed. Not sure why, maybe a glitch with the x-ray. Anyway, I had plenty of time, so it didn't matter.

The plane was a little late getting away. As we were taxiing out, I spotted a couple of Boat-tailed Grackles. Soon after arriving at Dallas-Fort Worth, I saw a grackle from the terminal, a Great-tailed Grackle (first bird of the trip).

It seemed that things couldn't have been arranged more conveniently at DFW. The gate I came in on was adjacent to the gate I would leave on. Shortly before boarding time, they announced that there would be a delay as maintenance had found a oil leak. A few minutes later they told us the plane was out of service.

They now have a different plane for us. It's only a few gates away, so it was a short walk. However, this sets back the scheduled departure time by an 45 minutes, then an hour, finally an hour and 20 minutes. We got to Phoenix over an hour late. I did get 3 trip birds as we taxied out: Starling, Rock Pigeon, and Northern Mockingbird.

After getting the car, and stopping at a supermarket for supplies, I headed north. I made a brief stop at the Sunset Point Rest Area (House Sparrow), a few miles south of Agua Fria National Monument.

Agua Fria National Monument

My first planned stop was Agua Fria National Monument, where I walked the Badger Springs Trail to the Agua Fria River and back. I started getting birds before I even reached the trailhead. Phainopepla, Verdin, Wilson's Warbler, and Brewer's Sparrow were near the entrance, and Greater Roadrunner appeared as I drove to the trailhead.

Badger Springs Wash Agua Fria River
Badger Springs Wash Agua Fria River

More birds were present along the trail. Some got away, but I ended up seeing Mourning Dove, Bell's Vireo, Common Raven, Lesser Goldfinch, MacGillivray's and Yellow Warblers, Black-throated Sparrow, and an immature male Summer Tanager. Gambel's Quail called frequently from the hills. As I drove back to the main road, a Desert Cottontail dashed across the road.

I arrived at my second stop, Montezuma Castle, at 5pm. The bad news was that Montezuma Castle closes at 5, as does Montezuma Well. So much for the itinerary! Maybe I can get there tomorrow. It's been a long day already.

It didn't take long to get to the hotel. By the time I got there I'd added Eurasian Collared-Dove, Turkey Vulture, and Red-tailed Hawk to the triplist. I found some additional species there, including Great Blue Heron, Say's Phoebe, Western Tanager, and of course, House Finch.

There's a Mexican restaurant next to the hotel, and I ate dinner there. I ended the day with 26 species of bird for the trip.

Best Western, Cottonwood, AZ