Birding Blog Archives

April 16th, 2011
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Fossil Creek

Having been there for the first time last year, I took the opportunity while I was in the area and went back to Fossil Creek which is just west of the small community of Strawberry, Arizona. It’s a very scenic area.


Fossil Creek

Over the course of about 12 miles the dirt road skirts the edge of the valley before plunging down to the river. It’s a surprisingly forceful river, fed by the most productive springs in Arizona which pump thousands of gallons a minute. In 2009 this beautiful creek was federally designated a “wild and scenic river” and thus afforded a good level of protection.


Fossil Creek


Fossil Creek


Fossil Creek


Fossil Creek

Gorgeous. The reality, however, is that Fossil Creek is quite popular with an interesting range of people. Last time I was there I was with a film crew, two celebrities and a load of kayaks. This time, on a nice spring weekend, I encountered large families, camping students, swimmers, boy scouts and someone in a wet suit with a snorkel, whom I imagine was studying aquatic animals of some kind. I think as a consequence, there wasn’t much bird life evident, so I concentrated on other critters.

I had the chance to find some butterflies you don’t always see in SE Arizona. A couple were new ones for me.


Sagebrush Checkerspot


Zela Metlamark


Ares Metalmark


Two-tailed Swallowtail


Variable Checkerspot

Likewise, the dragonflies and damselflies were species associated with larger rivers, so not readily available around Tucson.


Canyon Rubyspot


Canyon Rubyspot


Red Rock Skimmer

Insects continued to provide entertainment on the ground. These tiger beetles were splendid.


tiger beetle sp.

And the reptiles weren’t bad either, mostly one species, Ornate Tree Lizard.


Ornate Tree Lizard


Ornate Tree Lizard


Ornate Tree Lizard


Ornate Tree Lizard

I can definitely recommend a trip to Fossil Creek. The next time I go I’ll try to make sure it’s a weekday and I’ll spend more time exploring down river from the area I’ve so far covered.

Back in Payson, it was fun to watch the squirrels cross the roads like tightrope walkers.


Arizona Gray Squirrel


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