Early Spring on the Mountain: Wild Turkeys, Running Water, and Blooming (Pussy) Willows
It is still winter in the desert, although our warm February might make one think otherwise. The weekend of March 5th/6th in Summerhaven showed early spring, along with changing weather that is now bringing snow.
I have written about wild turkeys before. In late winter and early spring they seem to hang out in the village itself. Last Saturday evening at least a dozen turkeys were strutting along Tucson Avenue near Retreat, and as darkness fell, they slowly took off and landed in the firs and pines on the east slope, uphill from Sabino Parkway. These are large birds, not agile flyers, who look carefully before leaping into the air, and work pretty hard to get to the lower branches of the trees. They then methodically hop branch by branch into the higher reaches, where they bed down for the night.
Saturday night was too dark for photography, but I got up early Sunday morning, and caught them still "in bed" on the branches against the western sky as it lightened. Both photos below taken with a Canon 7D Mark II, Sigma 150-600 C series lens, high ISO, slow shutter.
These are large birds (did I say that already?). They look down a long time before they head to the ground, a gliding flight that looks more like a controlled fall. Unfortunately I could not catch any in flight. Pretty dark this early in the morning. The images below, taken a bit later, show that they made it in one piece, ready for another day of foraging.
Willows and Water
Sunday morning brought more sun that I anticipated, and a walk down Sabino Parkway toward Marshall Gulch showed blooming Willows, and running water.
There is an abundance of Willows along Sabino Parkway, with the male flowers in evidence. Many thanks to Frank S. Rose, master of all flowers and trees of the Catalinas, for help in identifying the flower below as likely salix lasiolepis. These are commonly called Pussy Willows, and they live in abundance east of the Rockies, as well as in Summerhaven.
Sabino Creek running down through Summerhaven is full, thanks to runoff from January snows.
Water is also prominent coming out of the walls of the canyon toward Marshall Gulch. One of my favorite spots is the west wall just south and downhill from the forest service gate on Sabino Parkway (which is still locked right now, although the sign states it should be open after March 1st! ). Image below:
That's early March on the mountain! Stay tuned, more to come as the weeks go by.
Henry Johnson, photographer and author of this site. For more detail, see About