Birding in Southeastern Arizona – Days 4 & 5

Our last two days in southeastern Arizona were spent in the Greaterville and Sierra Vista areas.

We spent one whole day exploring the mountain area near Greaterville.  Tim was determined to find some gold on this trip.  This area was known for some good gold in the early 1900s.  Tim spent the day in the bottom of an arroyo.  While he did that, I explored the hills around him.


Tim metal detecting

Nearby there was a small pond.  It really seemed to attract the birds.  There were a pair of Killdeer on the shore.   And several Acorn Woodpeckers were hanging out there too.  There were some large trees at one end of the pond, and I scared a Great Horned Owl out of them when I walked under the branches.  He flew too far away to follow for a photo.


Acorn Woodpecker




Lewis’s Woodpecker


Cordilleran Flycatcher

There was a very tame Mockingbird hanging out by our vehicle.


Northern Mockingbird

I kept hearing birdsong I didn’t recognize.  When I finally saw the bird that was singing, I got very excited.  It was a Bridled Titmouse,  a new bird for me!


Bridled Titmouse

While watching this beautiful Titmouse, a band of Bushtits came through.  I got a nice photo of a male Bushtit before they moved on.


Flying overhead was a gorgeous Red-Tailed Hawk.


Red-Tailed Hawk

Tim spent hours digging holes in that arroyo.  And it paid off!  He found several pieces of gold.


Tim’s nuggets

On our way back to our hotel, I spotted something in the dim evening light.  I made Tim turn around so I could see if my guess was right.  I thought I saw a Great Horned Owl sitting on the ground.  And I was right!


Great Horned Owl

The next morning we were to head home.  We got an early start, so I asked Tim if we could spend about 30 minutes at a B&B in the area.  This particular B&B had had sightings of the Lucifer Hummingbird.

The yard of this B&B was full of birds.  I could see why too.  She had so many different types of food for the birds as well as several water sources.  I hadn’t been there 5 minutes when the Lucifer Hummingbird showed up.  Sadly, he landed on a feeder right above my head.  I managed to get one terrible photo before he flew off.  And I never saw him again while I was there.  😦  But I was still excited.  Such a beautiful bird!  And a lifer for me!


Lucifer Hummingbird

But I wasn’t to be disappointed at the short view of the Lucifer Hummingbird.  Because right after seeing him, I saw the Magnificent Hummingbird.  And boy was he truly magnificent and a lifer for me!


Magnificent Hummingbird


Magnificent Hummingbird

Another lifer quickly showed up to feed on the grand buffet.  A Mexican Jay!


Mexican Jay

There were lots of other birds in that small yard.  A very shy Scott’s Oriole came to feed on an orange.  And several Yellow-Rumped Warblers came for the suet.


Acorn Woodpecker


Gila Woodpecker


Scott’s Oriole


Yellow-Rumped Warbler


House Finch


Green-Tailed Towhee

Sadly, we couldn’t stay long at the B&B.   I could have easily spent an entire morning sitting in my chair there with my camera glued to my face!  LOL!

On the way home Scarlett needed a potty break.  So we stopped in at Steins, New Mexico.  It’s a neat old ghost town.  It was closed to tours, but I was still able to enjoy looking at the old buildings from outside the fence.  It is a nicely preserved town.


Tim spotted what looked to be an old still for making moonshine.


While photographing Steins, the train came through 🙂


We had a wonderful long weekend exploring southeastern Arizona.  I hope we get to go back again someday!  Looks like Scarlett had a great time too.  She snoozed the whole way home.


Scarlett was one tired dog!



20th Anniversary Trip – Day 5

It was finally time to leave Winnemucca, NV.  Tim found 3 nuggets over the last couple days, so he was pleased.  Upon further reading on the internet about the Rye Patch area, we learned that in September 2015 they had a nugget hunting rally in the area.   This place is small, about 2 square miles.  Last year they had over 600 people out there over a 3-day period swinging metal detectors looking for gold.  So for Tim to find two nuggets there makes you realize he’s pretty good at finding elusive gold.

The night before when we were heading to the Mexican food restaurant, I told Tim I had seen a sign for a brothel.  He said it couldn’t be for real.  So the next morning we drove over there before heading out of town.

Sure enough, it was an active brothel! Of course, I wanted to take a picture of the sign before we left.  While we were out taking pics, the owner came out to ask if we needed anything…really??  LOL!


Brothel in Winnemucca, NV

We told him no, we were just curious.  He introduced himself as Mike and proceeded to tell us all about the place.


Mike – owner of the brothel

Next thing we know, we are getting a tour of the place.  Sadly I was not allowed to take pictures inside.  The brothel has been open nonstop since 1864 in that location.  He showed us where the original building walls were and what had been added on over the years.  It was a fascinating tour!


Sign at brothel


Tim being lured in!

He has a working girl that is 64 years old.  She even married her latest husband there at the brothel and continues to work there.  He said she keeps the lights dim so she looks better.  LOL!

We asked him about rates.  He said a basic hour, with no special requests, starts at a minimum of $400 a hour.  Some girls charge more.  If you want extras, like a party in the hot tub, it can cost $1,000 an hour.  If you want a date outside the brothel, it starts at $700 a hour. He takes 50% of the fees and then charges them room and board.  Crazy right!?!

Soon we were on our way to Ely, Nevada.  Tim wanted check out an old ghost town outside of Ely called Osceola.  The largest nugget ever found in Nevada was found there.

We saw some Sandhill Cranes in the lush valley while heading south to Ely.  I’m sure they are in the process of migrating to my home state of New Mexico to the Bosque del Apache NWR.


Sandhill Cranes

To get to Ely you have to travel the “Loneliest Highway in America”. And I survived! according to the literature I came across 🙂


Eureka was a cool old town.  It’s creation was attributed to the large silver deposit in the area.  Today there is still a large silver mine in operation.  We liked this town because it had a lot of its old buildings still in use.  We enjoyed stretching our legs and walking main street.  We also stopped in at the local saloon for fries and a root beer 🙂


Jackson Hotel in Eureka


Eureka Courthouse


Famous opera house in Eureka


Tim checking out the old mining equipment


Eureka Courthouse


Tim in front of the saloon where we had a snack

Next stop of Ely, NV.  Another great town that was started due to a large copper deposit in the area. The Kennecott Mine is still in operation today.

Before stopping for the night in Ely, we drove on through to visit the old ghost town of Osceola.  It is located in the Great Basin National Heritage Area.  It is a fascinating town.  You can learn more about the history of this area at this website  Osceola District – Great Basin Heritage.

The highest peak in Nevada is known as Wheeler Peak – the same name as the highest peak in New Mexico.


Wheeler Peak – highest peak in Nevada at 13,065 feet above sea level

When we got to Osceola the wind was blowing at 40 mph+.  Needless to say, I wasn’t too keen on spending much time out exploring and taking photos.  But we did take time to walk around the famous Osceola cemetery.

The view from the cemetery was beautiful.  I couldn’t think of a nicer resting place for these souls.


View from Osceola cemetery

There’s not much left of the old gold mining town of Osceola.  But what was left was great for photos.  Especially that old truck.  I love rusty old trucks!


Osceola Ghost town


Stone foundation of old home


Great old truck!

There is still one gold claim still in production in the area.  You can see the extensive workings from the road up the canyon.  Tons and tons of earth have been removed to get to the elusive gold in the area.


Current mining operation at Osceola


This canyon has been worked for well over a 100 years

I saw several birds as Osceola.  But with the strong winds, it was almost impossible to get a photo.  I did manage to get a couple decent pics.


Western Tanager


Lincoln’s Sparrow


Rock Wren

On the way back from Osceola, just outside of Ely is a small lake called Comins Lake and is part of the Steptoe Valley Wildlife Management Area.  Of course I just had to stop there that evening so I could photograph some birds.  By now I was in birding withdrawals as I hadn’t seen hardly any birds since we left Provo, UT!


At a long distance away – I believe these are Wilson’s Phalarope in winter plumage


Yellow-Headed Blackbird


Green-Winged Teal


American Coot



We had dinner at hotel Nevada. It opened in 1929, was the tallest building in Nevada well into the 1940s and was the state’s first fire-proof building.


Great historical hotel and very popular with the bikers

It was nice touring the old part of town.  There wasn’t anybody around, so I got some nice photos.  I think they turned out nice in black and white.


The main building of the railway was built in 1910.


A lot of the original constructi0n is still standing and in great condition


I loved this old truck


Engine house


Ely rail yard


I thought of my fellow blogger Donna Catterick when I took this photo 🙂

It was a long, fun, full day!  Tomorrow we head back to Utah and Zion National Park! Stay tuned!



20th Anniversary Trip – Day 4 Nevada

We were up again early in Winnemucca, NV.  Tim decided to check out a new gold area north of Winnemucca called Dutch Flat.  Evidently it was small area that produced good gold.  It was a pretty drive there.  Farm land with a river running through it with surrounding hills.


Driving north of Winnemucca to Dutch Flat

As we were heading into the canyon, we came across an old boxcar.  Not sure what it was used for, but it’s useful days are just about over.


Old boxcar

You can see the old diggings as we drove in.


Once parked, Tim didn’t take long getting his detector out to hunt for gold.  While he prospected, I went exploring and birding.  Once again, I just wasn’t seeing or hearing very many birds.  Northern Nevada is a very quiet birding spot.

While exploring the area, I noticed Tim had made his way up a hill.  I took a picture of him detecting.  When I got home and was editing my photos, I realized there was an antelope on the hill looking at Tim.  I never heard or saw any large mammals that day.  Amazing how quiet they can be.


Can you see the antelope in the upper left looking down at Tim?

The view from the area was very nice.


Expansive view!

I did manage to see a few birds in the area.


Rock Wren


Loggerhead Shrike


Sage Thrasher

I did see a lizard! 🙂  Those have been scarce on this trip as well.


New Mexico Whiptail

There wasn’t much evidence left of the old gold works in the area.


Foundation of old mill


Old foundation of large building


Old tailings pile

Tim did finally find a piece of gold.  It was a nice sized piece.  He was hoping to find more, but luck wasn’t with him that morning.


Looking hard for that yellow stuff!

After spending the morning at Dutch Flat, we decided to head back over to Rye Patch for the afternoon.  As we were driving through the farm land, we saw a coyote run by.



Tim was driving pretty quick down this dirt road.  I saw a dark spot in the open area along the road and told him to turn around.  Upon closer inspection, we saw it was a Burrowing Owl.


He was hiding out…I’m surprised I saw him from the car

I got out of the car and was surprised it let me get pretty close.


Burrowing Owl

As we hit the highway, we saw some people having fun on ATVs in the sand dunes outside of Winnemucca.


Sand dune fun!

As we turned off the highway, I noticed a hawk roosting in an old dead tree.  He was quite a distance away, but I did manage to get a good enough photo to identify him.  When I entered my bird sighting into eBird, I saw the Harris’s Hawk was considered rare for the area.  I even got an email from eBird asking me about my sighting.  They were thrilled I had a photo that showed it was a correct ID.


Harris’s Hawk

Back at Rye Patch, Tim wasted no time getting out prospecting.  Tim found another piece of gold which made him very happy.

I didn’t see any birds as it was late afternoon.  But I did manage to see another lizard!


Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard

We had just enough light to explore another gold area.  We drove out to Willow Creek in the East Mountains (creative name huh? LOL!).  We came to a locked gate and we realized someone had an active gold claim and was working the claim.  There’s a long history of people looking for gold in these mountains.  So you can see old buildings and machinery along with modern items.


Old stamp mill


Old trommel for separating gold from dirt and rocks


A new wash plant for separating gold from dirt and rocks

After playing all day, we were tired and hungry.  I was really craving Mexican food and margarita!


Ahhhhh…perfect end to a perfect day!

Stay tuned for Day 5. Lots of good stuff ahead!