Mogollon Rim

Some early birding around the motel added Gila Woodpecker to the trip list.

After breakfast, I checked out of the motel and headed to Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Although it doesn't officially open until 8, you can go in and us an envelope to pay. I headed for the Tavasci Marsh Trail. It was pretty birdy, even though I avoided the part of the trail next to the marsh as the trail was pretty marsh-like itself. New trip birds included Red-winged Blackbird, Abert's Towhee, Bewick's Wren, and Yellow-breasted Chat.

I'm a bit puzzled by some of the warbler songs. There's a lot of frenetic singing in riparian areas. Some of the songs are clearly Yellow Warbler, but faster than is on the tapes. I believe some of the other songs are Wilson's Warbler, including a fast 4-part song that is not on any tape I have. I haven't seen it singing this song, but when I've found a warbler near the song, it's always Wilson's. Finally, I think Lucy's Warbler should be in there too, but I don't hear anything that sounds like one (and have only seen one on the trip).

I headed over to Tuzigoot National Monument around 8 (it opens then). On the way out of Dead Horse Ranch I spotted 3 Black-tailed Jackrabbits. I ended up spending more time at Tuzigoot than expected, walking both to the marsh overlook and the ruins (less than a mile total). Curve-billed (Palmer's) Thrasher was the only new bird. I got photos of a couple of the lizards. Maybe I can ID them.

The ruins themselves were quite interesting. This is a very extensive Sinagua complex, apparently built for quiet living, not defense. This contrasts with Montezuma Castle, which is difficult to reach.

My next stop was the West Clear Creek Trail east of Camp Verde. It was an interesting drive to the trailhead, and at times I had to put the car in low and travel at very slow rate. There is camping there, and several parties we using the campground. I found a Plumbeous Vireo near the trailhead.

The trail starts on a old road to an abandoned farm. It goes through a wide canyon cut by West Clear Creek. I found it interesting that the canyon walls on one side of the trail are green with vegetation, while some of the walls on the other side are red rock. I went about 1.3 miles down to the trail, to the first stream crossing. I had hoped to go further, but the creek was running vigorously. I was not going to cross dry-footed, so I turned around.

It was fairly birdy on the way out, but most of the new birds came on the way back. A Townsend's Warbler flew across a dry wash that the trail crosses. I finally got a good look at one of the orioles. It was a Bullock's Oriole. One of a couple of small birds chasing in a bush turned out to be a Cassin's Vireo I heard White-winged Dove, but couldn't spot it. Various flycatchers were present. At one point I spotted a smallish Myiarchus with rusty wings—Dusky-capped Flycatcher. Finally, there was a cooperative Hammond's Flycatcher flitting around and calling persistently at the trailhead.

The truncated hike ended up at 2.8 miles (including birding backtracking) and little elevation change. I headed back to the main road and off to Greer. On the way to the main road, I saw a Rock Squirrel cross the road and dash up a cliff as easily as other squirrel climb up trees.

I headed up the Mogollon Rim. Road construction sometimes slowed my progress. I had originally planned to do more birding on the way, but I had also planned to visit Dead Horse Ranch and Tuzigoot yesterday. As a result, I only made one biding stop, at Rainbow Lake in Lakeside. There I added Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot, and Brewer's Blackbird to the list.

It was after 5pm when I got to Greer. Greer is the town at the end of the road, SR-373. It's a beautiful setting, mostly surrounded by national forest. There's one unpaved forest road at the north end of town that goes elsewhere. Otherwise, the roads in town either go to homes, lakes, or trailheads (sometimes all three). I am so glad I decided to stay here rather than Show Low/Pinetop/Lakeside with its crowds and traffic jams. In Greer, I can be on vacation!

Once in Greer, American Robins called as I unloaded the car. Steller's Jays and Brewer's Blackbirds were present around the lodge. Dinner was at Neon Moon, where a Broad-tailed Hummingbird buzzed by as I arrived. A check by the lodge later added Brown-headed Cowbird and Dark-eyed Junco to the list. Finally, a bird flew up and landed under the footbridge. I was surprised to see it was an American Dipper.

The footbridge crosses a rushing mountain stream, perfect for dipper, that runs into a fork of the Little Colorado on the edge of the lodge property.

So far, I have 76 species of bird for the trip, and 4 mammal species.

Greer Lodge Resort, Greer, AZ