Southeast Arizona has two rainy seasons, winter when storms come from the Pacific across California, and Summer when a Monsoon pattern is set up by high pressure spinning clockwise over Four Corners, bringing moist air up into Arizona from northern Mexico. The Monsoon Season by the calendar is June 15th to September 30th, but may start anytime in June or early July, and may extend well into the fall. The storm above was on the evening of August 8th. This image was taken near North Upper Loma Linda Road, facing north toward Oracle. I was lucky enough to get a flash of lightning toward the center of the image.
The wet summer fills up Sabino Creek, below, image captured in Marshall Gulch, just north of the picnic areas. The creek continues to gather water on its way down to Sabino Canyon, where summer water levels can be very high.
On this day we parked at the end of the dirt road which leads east off of the highway, just south of the Palisade Visitor Center, then walked south. If you go early during the summer, try not to wake up the campers! The view below is looking south from the trail, with the Tucson Valley to the right.
Birds on the ridge this day included the male Western Bluebird, below, and the juvenile below him:
The juvenile has a drabber appearance, but definite blue on the wings.
Another good place for birding is North Loma Linda Extension Road just west of the General Hitchcock Highway. On July 14th we walked west and then north just past the corner of North Ajo Avenue, and spotted the Cassin's Kingbird, below.
[Who was John Cassin? Click here to find out.]
As I watched him move around, I thought he was going to take off, so I hit the shutter to get a burst of images. He started to take off, but changed his mind, and resumed his perch. 7 images, in order, below. He begins to lift his legs in frame 3.
On the same walk, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher:
And a Lesser Goldfinch, likely juvenile:
And, an American Robin, juvenile. Lots of young ones this summer.
Other July birds of Summerhaven/Mt Lemmon:
A Cordilleran Flycatcher, near North Loma Linda Extension Road.
A Black-headed Grosbeak, North Tucson Avenue near Retreat.
And below, Hummingbirds at the wild flowers on North Tucson Avenue. I find identifying Hummers difficult, my best guess is that these are females, either Rufus or Anna's, or maybe one of each!
I have posted on Wild Turkeys in the past year, and wanted to update the saga with some recent family photos. The 2016 brood has become old enough to wander around foraging with the adults, and we discovered, as of August, they are all roosting as families in the pines near the village. Below, a mom with her chicks in tow, looking for accommodations for the night.
Having chosen the tall pines trees just up from Sabino Creek in Summerhaven, the mom prepares for her launch, while the last chick in line watches:
"Yup, mom is gone, guess I better get ready to take the leap downhill."
Mid-flight, pumping those wings, heading for the branches of the downhill pines.
Successful landing while the sun is still up!
Finally, the family picking spots for the night.
That's it for now. Hope you have had time to enjoy the mountain this summer - if not, come visit, summer is still "showing" and fall follows! Bear Wallow should be beautiful in October.
August in the meadows near Radio Ridge.
Henry Johnson, photographer and author of this site. For more detail, see About