St. David Cienega
I talked about the history of the St. David Cienega, a remnant of the massive marsh system that was around the San Pedro River in my last blog. To reach St. David Cienega you must make a right turn onto Cary road from Escalante Rd. You can drive in all the way to the parking lot or park at this intersection and walk in about a mile. Cary Road ends at the old corrals. Alongside Cary road is the old rail bed of the Southern Pacific line that ran down to Douglas. The tracks have been pulled up in the last 4 years. You can walk on the rail bed and look for spikes that were left behind when the crews pulled up the rails and ties. You are elevated above the road using this route so it allows for a view that is not as obstructed as the one on the road. There are also some photo opportunities of old abandoned houses and ruins that can be seen along the way.
The St. David Cienega has no visible trail from the parking lot into the cienega. Looking over the area, we noticed the corrals were dilapidated and coming apart in places. It was a nice setting for some photography and the backdrop view of the Dragoon Mountains was ideal with the afternoon sunlight. There is an opening in the fence where you can reach an information board with a map. The St. David Cienega is managed by the BLM. The map shows you where the Cienega is in relation to this location. We headed south toward the cienega. The St. David Cienega is surrounded by a mesquite grove and you have to find your way around to get to a path that you can follow into it. We finally reached a spot where we could approach from the west side of the mesquite grove and eventually found a path leading to a spring fed pond. The pond has reeds and cattails growing in it and has been enclosed with a fence.
As we looked around we could see movement in the brush. The grasses and reeds are so thick that you can’t see the birds but you can hear them. We spent time looking around the pond and viewing the area. After a period the birds started to come out of hiding so we could photograph them. We did find some primitive paths that had been made by prior visitors or animals. We followed these paths eastward into the cienega for a better look at things. We spent about 30 minutes looking around and taking photos and then we started heading back to the corral.
We were rewarded on our return trip when we spotted tracks in a sandy area. I took the photo and determined them to be Coatimundi
tracks. As we got to the corral an American Kestrel flew overhead, landing on a tree branch to pose for a photo. On our walk back to the b and b, we also had the chance to photograph Loggerheaded Shrikes, female Vermillion Flycatchers, lesser gold finches and other birds. All in all an enjoyable winter afternoon hike. Now we will need to do it again during the spring and summer to see what the changes will be like in the area. We offer a word of warning for those that wish to venture into this area. The grasses are thick and tall. This cienega is a perfect habitat for snakes so watch your step and keep an eye and ear out.
This is also going to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes so make sure you use insect repellant and sunscreen.