Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Running of the Gourds

Red-tailed Hawk by Phyliss Sickles

Carved gourd by gourd artist Phyliss Sickles
Who needs the Super Bowl or the Phoenix Open when we have "The Running of the Gourds"?  This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Fairgrounds in Casa Grande thousands of gourds will convene along with the people who carve them.  Among those carvers are my favorite bird gourd artists - Phyliss Sickles and Bonnie Gibson.  Carving a globular dried up plant orb into a work of art is no easy task but these ladies make it seem effortless. 

You can make a whole day of it by continuing on down I-10 to Santa Cruz Flats.  There you will see many birds not commonly found in Phoenix.  Recent notable sightings include Chestnut-collared Longspurs, Western Meadowlarks, Lark Buntings, Bendire's Thrashers, Crested Caracara, Black Vultures, Mountain Plovers, Long-billed Curlews, and Greater White-fronted Geese.  The recent Santa Cruz Flats Raptor Count included 30 Crested Caracara, 48 Black Vultures, 7 Cooper's Hawks, 165 Red-tailed Hawks, 34 American Kestrels, 4 Ferruginous Hawks, and 25 Northern Harriers.  Of note were 28 Red-tailed Hawks on the ground feeding in the freshly tilled fields, and one HARLAN'S Red-tailed Hawk was reported at the corner of Tweedy and Greene Reservoir Rds..

Directions to "The Running of the Gourds":  Take I-10 south to Casa Grande, take the Florence Blvd. exit left (east) to S.Eleven Mile Corner Rd., turn right (south) and the Pinal Fairgrounds will be on your right at 512 S. Eleven Mile Corner.

Directions to Santa Cruz Flats:  Go back to I-10 and head south, take the S. Sunland Gin Rd. exit south for about 13 miles to Pretzer Rd and turn left.   Or continue down to Greene Reservoir Rd., turn left and travel east.  There are miles of dirt farm roads to bird along.  Be sure to bring a scope!

Cardinals in Aspen by gourd artist Bonnie Gibson

Cactus Wren in Cholla and Prickly Pear by gourd artist Bonnie Gibson

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