Sonoran Audubon Society


SAS Field Trip – Lockett Meadow @ Lockett Meadow
Sep 12 @ 6:30 am – 5:30 pm

Lockett Meadow is a high altitude meadow on the east side of the San Francisco Peaks that is surrounded by Spruce, Fir and Aspen. It exists because of the eruption of the original 19,000 foot volcano that blew out to the northeast just like Mt. Saint Helen did leaving the present day five peaks around the edges of the original volcano. The road into the meadow enters through the gap blown out by the eruption. The meadow today is one of the most beautiful spots in Arizona with a campground, pond and trails leading to the Inner Basin(the middle of the old volcano) and along the North and South Pipeline Trails that go around the mountains. The pipeline that gives Flagstaff half its water is actually under the trail.

The elevation of the meadow is around 8500 feet and thus we will be looking for high altitude birds that usually are here during the summer. Over the years I have led hiking and birding trips many times here and I’ve seen all the following birds but not on the same trip. Clark’s Nutcracker, Steller’s, Pinyon and Gray Jay, Northern Pygmy Owl, Mountain Chickadee, Nuthatches(all three), Townsend’s Solitaire, Hermit Thrush, Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Plumbeus Vireo, Graces, Black-throated Gray, Yellow-rumped, Yellow Warbler, Red Crossbill, Red-naped Sapsucker, Hairy and Three-toed Woodpecker. I’m sure there are other more common forest birds that I saw that I haven’t mentioned. There have been some trips where I didn’t see any of the above, like when the wind was blowing 50 to 60 miles per hour. You just never know whether you’re going to get skunked or hit the jackpot!

We will be walking around the meadow for about one mile and then up the Inner Basin Trail for about a half mile. You can always stop and wait ( and bird watch) until the group returns. I would rate this trips difficulty to be a 3 ( on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being most difficult ) because of the 2 mile total distance and the high altitude. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots. This time of year it’s a good idea to have a rain poncho along. Also bring a sweatshirt and a windbreaker just in case a cold wind occurs. Please bring a lunch since we plan on eating lunch there.

The road into Lockett Meadow requires an SUV or high clearance vehicle since it is a gravel/dirt road that changes condition all the time. If you have such a vehicle and can drive please let me know. This trip is limited to 12 people in three cars.

We will plan on leaving Lockett Meadow around 2 to 3pm and arrive back in Phoenix by 5:30pm at the latest.

Meeting place and time: 6:30am at Frys Electronics, 31st Ave and Thunderbird, NE corner of Parking lot near trees. 2nd Spot 7:00am at McDonalds, Carefree Hwy and I17 ( NE corner).
Contact Dan Bohlmann at 602 938-8244 or

SAS Field Trip – Estrella Mountain Park & Program @ Estrella Mountain Park
Sep 14 @ 7:00 am – 9:30 am

Estrella Park is located along the Gila River and adjacent hills. The habitat is diverse, varying from desert scrub flood on the flood plain to riparian vegetation dominated by salt cedar (tamarisk species) and some Gooddings Willow. The park itself has Velvet Mesquite and some large Blue Gum species which support nesting by raptors. Irrigation has increased the number of birds seen. The hills south are made of ancient metamorphic rock, exposed plutons, and produce thermals which are friendly to soaring vultures and other species. Expect a variety of bird species and further diversity during migration. Specialties include Vermilion Flycatcher, Red-tailed Hawks, Osprey, Yellow-rumped Warblers, White Pelicans and shore birds when the river flows. Species numbers can be as high as 65.

The walk is approximately 1 to 1.5 miles in length covering 2.5 hours along level terrain. Meet at the Visitor Center at 7:00 am.

Difficulty Level (2) due to its length.

Program to follow at 9:30 or 10:00 “Canaries in the Coal Mine”

No registration is required, but be sure to check the park website for times and any last minute changes that might have occurred.

SAS Field Trip – White Tank Mountains Park & Program @ White Tank Mountains Park
Sep 21 @ 7:30 am – 10:00 am

This habitat is dominated by Upper Sonoran vegetation. Species include Palo Verde, Ironwood, Creosote Bush, Jojoba and numerous cactus species, most notably the Teddy Bear Cholla, barrel cactus species, and the dominate Saguaro. Lack of water sources limit bird species. Woodpecker types dominate. Expect to see 15-25 species. Specialties include Rock Wrens, Cactus Wrens, Phainopepla, and Gila Woodpeckers.

Meet at region 4, Ford Canyon Trail

This hike takes an hour to 1.5 to 2 hours and covers  .5 to 1 mile. Some short areas of uphill (less than 35 yards) may be on a trail.

Difficulty Level  (1).

Program to follow at 9:30 or 10:00 “Cryptic Birds of the Night”.

No registration is required, but be sure to check the park website for times and any last minute changes that might have occurred.

SAS Field Trip – Clear Creek Campground (New date) @ Clear Creek Campground
Sep 27 all-day

This campground has been an excellant place to bird in the past because it has all the ingredients that birds love – flowing water, lots of trees, bushes to hid in and seed bearing flowers. I’ve led birding trips here a number of times over the years and its always been fruitful during the late spring and early fall. I was just looking at a trip report from May 4, 2011 and we saw Tanagers(Summer & Western), Warblers(Yellow-rump, Lucy’s, Yellow & Wilson), Hawks(Red-tailed and Common Black), Vireos(Warbling, Bell’s & Plumbeous), Flycatchers(Brown-crested, Vermillion & Ash-throated), Hummingbirds(Black-chinned, Anna’s & Costa’s), Orioles(Hooded & Bullock’s), Black-headed Grosebeak, Lesser Goldfinch, Western Kingbird, Northern Cardinal, Phainopepla, American Kestral, Rock Wren, Pine Siskin, Robin, Northern Flicker and numerous Gila Woodpeckers. There were other more common birds like starlings and cowbirds that we would like to forget that brought the number of species up to 43.

For quite a few years there was a family of 6 Blue Grosebeaks that we would see, but the last few times we couldn’t find them. Also there was a campground host for a number of years that were very friendly toward us and had bird feeders up and invited us to watch the birds with them. They also welcomed us to stroll around the camp and look for all the birds we could find. Also on the east side of camp there is a trail that follows Clear Creek and is very scenic and is loved by the birds.

The meeting places will be at Fry’s Electronics at 31st Avenue and Thunderbird (NE corner of the parking lot at 7:00am) and at the McDonalds at I17 and Carefree HWY ( NE corner east of gas station ) at 7:30am. Please bring a lunch.

Difficulty is a 2 walking around the camp for about a mile.

Bring a lunch so we can eat together.

SAS Field Trip – Cave Creek Regional Park & Program @ Cave Creek Regional Park
Oct 5 @ 7:30 am – 10:30 am

This habitat is dominated by Upper Sonoran vegetation. Species include Palo Verde, Velvet Mesquite, Creosote Bush and numerous cactus species, especially the Saguaro. Lack of water sources limit bird species. Expect to see 15-25 species. Specialties include Phainopepla, numerous woodpecker species, gnatcatchers, Curve-billed Thrashers, Black-throated Sparrows and Cactus Wrens.

The hike begins at the visitor center (unless noted otherwise) and takes approximately 1 hour. The trail does go through some washes, thus some uphill sections are involved, but they are short.

Difficulty Level   (1)

Meet at the Visitor Center.

Program to follow at 10:00 am at the Visitor Center “Owls”

No registration is required, but be sure to check the park website for times and any last minute changes that might have occurred.