The San Simon Valley is a broad valley bordered by the Chiricahua Mountains on the west and the Peloncillo Mountains on the east. Prior to introduction of agriculture and grazing the valley actually had a river known as the San Simon River that flowed north to south. Strangely enough, it is still shown on the maps but is nowhere to be seen in person.
Please enjoy some of the photos taken while exploring the area.
The view driving up to Rucker Canyon: a more southern access into the Chiricahua Mountains from the San Simon Valley
We had a couple of big rains the last week of July and had incredible views of Wynn Falls from the Herb Martyr Rd in Cave Creek Canyon.
We had the great fortune to see a nesting pair of Thick-billed Kingbirds. This was a new bird for us. These birds typically breed in Mexico.
Note the yellow crown on the top of the head- very few of our bird reference books even mention this
It seems like this was one of the last Ash-throated Flycatchers we saw. One of the benefits of staying in an area over a long period of time is to experience the seasonal transitions. We were able to witness the full breeding cycle of the Ash-throated Flycatcher from nest building to fledging the last of their young.
We continue to enjoy seeing the hummers out on the trail and at the feeders. The feeders definitely provide a better opportunity to study some of the individuals' characteristics and get photos to study later. The juvenile and female Hummingbirds are a challenge to identify because of the similarity of markings across species.
The Black-chinned Hummingbirds are one of the most common in the high desert.
A young Black-chinned male- note the purple gorget forming on the throat
A male Blue-throated Hummingbird out on the trail. We tend to see and hear the Blue-throated Hummingbirds in riparian habitat...not so much at the feeders. The Blue-throats are one of our biggest hummingbirds at 5 inches.
Immature male Magnificent Hummingbird transitioning into adult plumage
A young male Broad-billed Hummingbird... look how broad the bill is at the base
A view of the back. The blue tail feathers are an identifying characteristic.
A young male Costa's Hummingbird...note the purple coming in on the throat and the top of the head.
The Rufous Hummingbirds....once they find your feeders they are fierce protectors of their turf, fighting off other hummingbirds from trying to come in and take a drink. Bob originally had 4 feeders in the tree outside our window but added a fifth to try and give some of the other species a chance to get a drink :-)
Young Rufous Hummingbirds; it is very difficult to tell the difference between an immature Rufous male and an adult female.
Once the monsoon rains begin, the valley floor grasslands come alive...birds and insects everywhere!Typically, 10 months out of the year, you will never see or hear certain species of the grassland sparrows. Once the monsoon season hits, Botteri's and Cassin's Sparrows start singing and establishing breeding territories.
These Botteri's Sparrows were singing their hearts out- they are here to breed and take advantage of the life giving monsoons.
Cassin's Sparrows are differentiated from other grassland sparrows by the streaking on their flanks.
We even got views of Grasshopper Sparrows on our way into Rucker Canyon. Note the yellow lores on the head to distinguish it from a Botteri's Sparrow.
We are seeing large flocks of Lark Sparrows. Our bird books indicate they will winter in Mexico.
The Scaled Quail
Young Swainson's Hawk at rest
Young Swainson's Hawk in flight
We are always listening and looking for Bridled Titmice...they usually have a variety of birds feeding and traveling with them and can be a great way to see unusual migrants.
Young Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
An adult and young Grace's Warbler feeding in the pines.
Female or immature Grace's Warbler
It seems like where you see Townsend's you will find Hermits.
Male Hermit Warbler
We are still seeing some young birds......Young Painted Redstart...its belly has still not turned red
Young Canyon Wren...look at that short little tail
A young Hermit Thrush
We found an adult and young Spotted Owl near the Pinery Campground.
Adult Spotted Owl
Male Bronzed Cowbird
This Canyon Towhee was making a call like a Juniper Titmouse....they are not shy and can be found typically in the lower elevations.
We were luck to see this Abert's Towhee. Unlike their Canyon Towhee cousins, the Abert's Towhee tends to be very shy and usually stays well hidden under bushes.
Western Scrub Jay
It can be a challenge to differentiate between young Cardinals and Pyrrhuloxia. The Pyrrhuloxia has a much thicker bill and with a different shape.
Male Adult Cardinal
Adult male Pyrrhuloxia
Mexican Fox Squirrel
Javelina love acorns among other things....
We saw this baby Bobcat on the east side of the Peloncillo Mountains with 2 other siblings.
Turtle & Hawk