Backroads Day 2 - Tumacacori Route - 24 Feb 2020


Today's ride would be starting at 9:45 am, so naturally I was up at 4 am working on photos and blogs... Robin and I headed to breakfast at 6 am and saw a wonderful sunrise over the golf course. The air was crisp at 30F but skies were absolutely clear as the Sun began to rise over the mountains.

With the late start I decided to walk around a bit and see if I could pick up any birds. A pair of Song Sparrows were foraging under the hedges just outside our casita. The light was too low to get any decent pics, so I continued on to the ponds to try to photograph the dozens of American Wigeon that were swimming and whistling in the cool morning air. Again, lighting was bad, so I continued on. Eurasian Collared Doves and woodpeckers were uncooperative, so I headed back feeling a bit dejected.

Things turned around real quick when I spotted a gorgeous male Vermilion Flycatcher in the tree just outside our door! It was building a nest and providing some gorgeous photo opps in the early morning sunlight.






It was now time to head out, so Robin and I grabbed helmets and headed to the vans where we'd be driven to Pena Blanca Lake for a 26-mile ride to the Tumacacori Mission (2nd oldest European Mission in Arizona). The large reservoir was lovely and deserved a few photos before the ride. I managed to photograph a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a see a Green-tailed Towhee.




So as not to finish last like yesterday we took off first thing and headed out on the road. I wore the    Go-Pro Hero 7 on my camera harness today as I figured it would be more stable than the handle bars from yesterday's ride. I also lengthened the time to 60 sec intervals between photos, and used JPG instead of RAW (yesterday I had photos being taken every 5 seconds, so 2000+ photos was a lot to process). The Go-Pro worked pretty well!










Winds were picking up this morning, so with bumpy roads, some steep hills, and the wind whistling through our helmets we didn't stop to look for birds. I did stop long enough to photograph some of the Mexican Golden Poppies that had sprouted along the roadside. Otherwise, things were very quiet.



A Say's Phoebe was foraging on someone's lawn as we passed through town. I was too slow with the camera.

Between the wind and traffic the ride was challenging. To make things worse I started having camera issues. Below is a photo of me taking a photo of a Chihuahan Raven that was sitting on an overhead power line. Note the band of glare on the left side of the image. When I turned the camera to photograph a bird across the street the glare completely blinded the image. I couldn't figure out why.




It wasn't until we finally arrived at Tumacacori National Park that I found the reason: the 1.4X teleconverter I was using was loose and half off the camera. The tiny screws that hold the converter together had come loose and caused the converter to pull away from the camera mount. Not only that, but the camera fell off the lens that was attached to the neck strap. I managed to catch it before hitting the ground, but my thumb left a print on the sensor. Ugh...


We decided to call it a day, but before leaving we'd tour the mission. I took some photos of the mission itself, but wanted to look for birds along the riverbed nearby.



I managed to find another Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, then found a Bewick's Wren singing nearby.





A pair of Rufous-winged Sparrows flew by and stopped long enough for a single photo.


I then wandered into the orchard and found a Black Phoebe foraging in the small trees.



I then headed back to the van and Justin was kind enough to give us a ride back to to Tubac.

After a few hours of rest the party met for a ride to dinner at Wisdom's Cafe.  Everyone enjoyed a wonderful meal that included a tequila tasting and musical entertainment from Waldo Sr. and Waldo Jr.


Tomorrow we leave Tubac and head back north toward Saguaro West and Gate's Pass for a bike ride to the Hacienda de la Sol, our next stay.

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