Anniversary 2016 – Southern Arizona and Elegant Trogon

This year we took our wedding anniversary trip to southern Arizona. We had fun in Bisbee and seeing sites, but for birding the highlight was getting a good photo of the Elegant Trogon. More on that later.

If you read last year’s anniversary trip post you know that Mary Ann was recovering from a broken ankle, which limited our hiking. This year she was recovering from a broken toe! However, she did well and it didn’t slow her up too much. I told her if she doesn’t want to go on anniversary trips she can just say so, instead of breaking bones 🙂 .

The first leg of our trip was from home to the San Pedro River. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive, and we got there at about 10 am. The San Pedro River is a riparian area in the Sonoran Desert. We stopped at San Pedro House, which is a Riparian National Conservation Area (RNCA). It’s a great spot. We’ve been there before and saw a lot of birds. This trip we didn’t see a lot, and I wasn’t able to get many pictures of what we did see, but it’s always a worthwhile stop.

In the afternoon we headed to the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee Arizona, which was about a 20 minute drive. Bisbee is a former mining boom town that is now home to artists and tourist attractions. The Copper Queen Hotel was built in 1902 at the peak of the boom times. We wanted to be able to say we stayed there at least once. They have preserved a lot of the old stuff and mining memorabilia, which was pretty cool. On the other hand ‘historical’ doesn’t have to mean ‘run down’, and the Copper Queen hasn’t been maintained well. We can say we stayed there, but I doubt we would again.

Bisbee is a pretty cool town. The houses are perched on the hills, and there are many staircases all over the town to traverse the hills. It is home to artists and ‘characters’. I think that to live there you have to prove you are certifiably loony 🙂 . Just kidding – the people were nice if eccentric. We had dinner at a restaurant called ‘Thuy’s’, which serves Vietnamese cuisine. It was small and not fancy, but the food was excellent. We hiked around Bisbee, including some staircases, and wound up at ‘Old Bisbee Brewing Company’ for a beer.

Our plan was to go early the next morning to Ramsey Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains, and stay that night in Sierra Vista. We changed that plan when a birder at San Pedro House told us about Huachuca Canyon. It is on the Fort Huachuca army base, but he said we were guaranteed to see the Elegant Trogon. To get to the canyon you have to first stop at the fort’s visitor area and get a pass. We got a little later start than we planned, and didn’t see the Trogon.

We stayed Thursday night at the Sierra Suites in Sierra Vista. It was a nice place: big room, decent breakfast, good price, etc. We had planned the next day to go to Patagonia Lake State Park, but since Huachuca Canyon was so nice, and we had the passes, we decided to go again, but get there earlier, hoping to see the Trogon. It paid off, because I got a bunch of pictures of the Trogon from close up (I published two below).

In addition to the Elegant Trogon, we saw some other birds that can only be found in the U.S. in SE Arizona. The range for these birds is mostly in Mexico, but overlaps the U.S. in this small region in SE Arizona. Examples that I photographed on this trip are: Elegant Trogon, Gray Hawk, Magnificent Hummingbird, Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher, Painted Redstart, Arizona Woodpecker, Brown-crested Flycatcher.

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  1. Aaron Joseph Lester
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Dasylirion acrotriche, most likely, is a type of yucca, if you’re ever in a pinch- say, the zombie apocalypse has forced you to run for the hills, run for your lives, you can eat those white flowers.

    • Joe
      Posted June 14, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Aaron – good to know the name, and I’ll keep it in mind for the Zombie Apocalypse! Is this like a ‘century plant’, where the plant lives for many years before it sends up the big shoot in the middle, and then dies after that?

  2. Ricci
    Posted June 14, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Nice trip and pics are great, but don’t know which are the Elegant Trogon

    • Joe
      Posted June 14, 2016 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Hi Ricci. Each picture has a caption below it which describes the picture. The caption gives at least the bird name and the location, and sometimes some other commentary. The Elegant Trogon pictures are the 3rd and 4th in the gallery.

  3. Mary Jill
    Posted June 15, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    UNBELIEVABLE PHOTOS!! I had to shout that! You are an amazing photographer and I assume VERY patient. I never see any birds setting still! And if I did, I would not be able to capture their spirit like you do.

    I know now why that Trogon is called Elegant Trogon. A beautiful, elegant bird. Thanks for sharing, Joe. And Happy Anniversary!

    • Joe
      Posted June 18, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Thanks Jill! Sometimes it does require patience – we can’t have the birds pose for us :). But it is fun.

  4. Teresa
    Posted June 18, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Love your pics, Joe! I especially liked the flicker feeding her babies.

  5. Lisa Hueser
    Posted June 19, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Joe, those are beautiful pictures. You are so talented. Thanks for sharing them. Tim and I really enjoyed looking at them.

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