During the winter, when others are dealing with this...
We desert dwellers are out enjoying ourselves, and admiring the snow off on the horizon, not piled up in our driveways.
Its February, and I'm out on the scenic and wheelchair accessible Nursery Tank Trail in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, and yes, that's SNOW on Four Peaks! Nursery Tank Trail is a great trail with panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains, and the Four Peaks Wilderness Area in the Mazatzal (pronounced Mat-a-zel, not Matzaball!) Mountains. The trail ends at a wildlife watering hole (tank) so you'll see a nice variety of birds, and at dusk and dawn possibly a few javelina, deer, coyotes, or cottontail rabbits stopping by for a drink. Many of the mesquite and palo verde trees are loaded with desert mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum) which Phainopepla love to eat. We saw a number of male and female Phainopepla feeding on and nesting in the big dark clumps of mistletoe high in the palo verdes.
We also saw Gila Woodpeckers, White-crowned Sparrows, Abert's Towhees, Gambels Quail, a few Raven, and a kettle or two of Turkey Vultures soaring high overhead. Other birds that frequent this area of high Sonoran Desert are Northern Cardinals, Cactus Wrens, Curve-billed Thrashers, Harris Hawks, American Kestrels, Flickers, Hooded Orioles, Wilsons Warblers, Mockingbirds, Annas and Costas Hummingbirds, and Verdins.
Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)
The surface of the trail was smooth, wide, and hardpacked. Its 1.2 miles roundtrip, dotted with benches, informational signs, and one shade kiosk. Recent heavy rains had caused a saguaro and a few barrel cactii to become uprooted and topple over. If you go, check the weather ahead of time, as this is a flash flood area. Dust dry desert washes (gullies) can fill quickly and run forcefully enough to carry away entire vehicles!
So, lets try to maintain our sanity for the next 2 months, hope for a good monsoon season, and try not to get cabin fever...
Grandma (a.k.a. Shotgun-Shirley) in a desperate attempt to get to Walmart, holds grandpa at gunpoint so he'll shovel the driveway.
See more photos of Nursery Tank Trail and McDowell Mountain Regional Park by double-clicking on the photo below.