San Rafael Valley

The San Rafael Valley Located South Of Patagonia Arizona Has Been Set Aside As A State Park.

San Rafael Valley Photograph

The San Rafael Valley stretches out before you as you come over the pass on the road from Patagonia.

After visiting the town site of Harshaw, we returned to the intersection that would lead us into the San Rafael Valley. The road goes over a pass and then at the top you have a vista open up before you. The San Rafael valley located south of Patagonia is a verdant grassland that has been set aside as a state park. The grassland stretches to Mexico and this valley is the actual headwaters of the Santa Cruz River which flows into Sonora, Mexico

San Rafael Valley Picture

This is the river bed of the Santa Cruz River. The headwaters start here in the San Rafael Valley.

and then back north toward Tucson eventually flowing into the Gila River. The Valley was originally an old Mexican Land Grant, San Rafael de la Zanja. The last owners were the Greenes who maintained the Valley as a cattle ranch. The property was purchased by the Nature Conservancy in1998. In 1999, The Arizona State Park Agency purchased 3557 acres and designated it a State Natural Area. There are other cattle ranches in the area and you will encounter cattle as you drive through. You can click on the link to view a map of the San Rafael Valley.  The area is so photogenic that the San Rafael Valley was the location set for a number films including Monte Walsh, Oklahoma!, and Tom Horn.

San Rafael Valley Photo.

A lone tree stands as a sentinel on the San Rafael Valley Plain.

The State Natural Area is closed to the public because of the sensitive and fragile environment. The grassland is unique because it hasn’t had evasive plants introduced into the area and the goal is to provide safe keeping the San Rafael Valley in its natural state. There is a road that runs through the area and there are places that you can pull over and view the wildlife and birds. On our trip we didn’t encounter any vehicles on the road with the exception of a FEDEX truck. Guess they deliver even WAY off the beaten path.  There are opportunities to see prairie birds that are unique to the area. We did encounter birds as we drove through but had no time to identify them or to shoot any photos. The Tucson Audubon has had trips into this IBA and one of their blogs describes the experience.

San Rafael Valley Photo

The headwaters of the Santa Cruz River Start in the San Rafael Valley and flow into Mexico before returning to the US.

Hawk in Flight photo

We surprised a hawk as we were driving on the road to Hwy 83.

We finally crossed the Santa Cruz riverbed as we were traveling through the valley. During the monsoon season be cautious as there are many washes beside the river that may be flowing. Don’t take the chance to cross them as you might be swept away. We came to another junction that would have taken us south to Parker Canyon Lake and Lochiel or east to Canelo Pass and on into Elgin. Since we had been to Parker Canyon Lake we decided to head up the Canelo Pass Road, FR 799. The road to the pass gave us some spectacular views toward the west and the Santa Rita Mountains. The roads are well maintained though rough in spots and there are many signs to let you know which direction you can choose. We did spot wildlife on the road and surprised two hawks as we were driving by.

Hawk Photo

The second hawk that we saw sat and posed for us until finally it decided we weren’t leaving so it did.

After this wonderful day of birding and sightseeing, Angie and I finally found ourselves back on Arizona 83. We headed north to Sonoita and Elgin. On the way we checked the time and decided we could stop and sample some wine. We like many of the wineries but since it was a Wednesday and later in the day our options were limited. We chose Kief Joshua as our stop.  We have known Kief ever since he opened his tasting room and he is always happy to see us. He has even been a guest at the B and B and has referred his patrons to our b and b.

We had an enjoyable day doing a loop trip to Patagonia for some great birding, scaring up a few Southeast Arizona ghost towns, viewing and traveling through the San Rafael Valley and finally wine tasting in Elgin. This is just one of many loop trips you can make when you stay at Down By The River B and B. Make your reservation today to have some fun in Southeastern Arizona.

Southeast Arizona Ghost Towns

Southeast Arizona Ghost Towns A Few Are Located A Short Distance South Of Patagonia.

After Angie and I had visited the Paton Hummingbird Haven and had lunch we decided against returning to Down By The River B and B directly on Arizona Highway 82 but to rather take a back road that leads into the San Rafael Valley. This drive will take you close to some Southeast Arizona ghost towns. The San Rafael Valley is south of Patagonia and is accessible by Harshaw Road on the east end of town. The road is paved up to the turnoff to the old ghost town of Harshaw. We traveled about 2 miles on the gravel road to the right passing cattle and driving through a beautiful sycamore and oak forest. We finally came to a sign that pointed left to Harshaw.

Southeast Arizona Ghost Town Picture

The road to Harshaw, a Southeast Arizona ghost town, passes sycamores and oak trees.

The town was the original site of a cattle ranch owned by David Harshaw. Hawshaw returned to cattle ranching after leaving the army in the 1870s. He settled south of Patagonia after being run off by Tom Jeffords for illegally grazing his cattle on Apache lands. While raising cattle in this area he found silver ore. He made a mining claim and named the mine Hermosa. The town was founded prior to the ore deposits that were found

Southeast Arizona ghost town ruins can be found in Harshaw.

Southeast Arizona ghost town ruins can be found in Harshaw.

in Tombstone in the late 1870s. The silver deposits started to fade by 1881 and the town burned in 1882. Harshaw’s main street stretched for a mile and had a newspaper, Post Office, saloons, boarding house and many other businesses. There is a gravesite at the town also. Over the years the mine restarted and stopped numerous times until by the 1960s everything was abandoned and it reverted to just another one of the Southeast Arizona ghost towns. The town site is now part of the Coronado National Forest. There are ruins to see and explore but we only made a cursory look of the town site.

If you continue down that Forest Road 49 you will encounter other Southeast Arizona ghost towns. These are old towns that grew up around mines and include Mowry, Washington Camp, Duquesne, and finally Lochiel which is located on the border of Mexico. Mowry is the oldest with the mine dating back into the 1850s. The other towns were mining in the late 1800s. We looked at the time and decided that we wouldn’t be able to make that trip since we started too late to be able to explore the area like we wanted. There are cautionary signs on the road in this area and you don’t want to be here after dark because of the illegal aliens and the drug smuggling that happens in the area at night. Instead of exploring more Southeast Arizona ghost towns we decided instead to head back and continue into the San Rafael Valley.

Harshaw townsite picture

Harshaw town site has ruins for exploring at this Southeast Arizona ghost town.

Birding at Paton Hummingbird Haven

Birding at Paton Hummingbird Haven – Put It On Your Bucket List

Birding at Paton Hummingbird Haven

The White Breasted Nuthatch is one of the many birds you will see at the feeders.

Birding at the Paton Hummingbird Haven is a great activity no matter what type of birder you are. Amateurs as well as the experienced birder will be awed by the variety of birds found at this one location. Click here to see the activity. I did a blog earlier on the history of the Paton Hummingbird Haven. This portion will go into what we saw and did after we arrived. Upon arriving at the property we found the gate open and parked in the shade of a large tree. Arizona people tend to find shade first and if it is close to where you want to be, all the better. Entering the gate we headed toward the unassuming house. The caretaker was watering and we took a little time to talk with him. Angie continued talking while I went on to find the seating area and check out the birds.

Birding at paton Hummingbird haven picture

Bridled Titmouse were flying in and out of view, They did stop at the tree feeder long enough for me to get this photo.

No one was at the Haven when we arrived so I picked out a spot to set up my camera and tripod then began shooting photos. The layout of the area allows for birding to happen all around you. You are not able to take everything in and so there are opportunities in other areas that you don’t know about. The forest is to the west, and seed feeders are to the north and south. To the east is the house with the hummingbird feeders hanging from the eaves. You are within 50 feet of seed feeders in the seating area under the tent. The hummingbird feeders are closer and if you wish you can get a chair and sit within 5 or 10 feet of the hummingbird feeders.

There are three more areas that you might miss when birding at the Paton Hummingbird Haven. The ground has activity where birds have knocked seed out of the feeders. There is also a feeder that is located on a tree that attracts woodpeckers and nuthatches to name a few.  But also look up and you will see hawks and vultures flying overhead. Great photos are yours for the taking just have a little patience because Lady Luck is sitting right there. In the first 20 minutes I was having a field day with shooting pictures. I didn’t know if these birds were here for a little while and then would leave not to be seen again for hours. After that I tended to focus on more quality photos.

Birding at Paton hummingbird haven picture

Northern Cardinals were in the area. Both the male and female made an appearance

birding at Paton Hummingbird Haven

This Broadbilled Hummingbird was one of 5 species we saw at the Paton Hummingbird Haven during our time there.

As people arrived to the tent, the birds would fly off but return relatively quickly once they are seated. We met several other birders during the time we were there and everyone was pointing birds out to others. Identification was easy for many birds but in my case I would rather take the pictures and then sit at the computer so that I can see and compare. For me it is much easier to find a bird when you have time and aren’t savvy enough to pick it quickly out of a book. I believe that we saw almost 30 different birds along with 5 different hummingbirds while we were birding at the Paton Hummingbird Haven.

Biirding at Paton Hummingbird Haven

The Blue Grosbeak was easy to spot at various locations while we were view the birds at Patons.

200 + photos and three hours later we were starting to get hungry. We decided to go out to get lunch. We wanted to go to the Velvet Elvis for pizza since we have heard so much about it. But alas they are open Thursday to Sunday only. Instead we went to the Gathering Place. The sandwiches were very good and for dessert get one of the homemade cookies. They were oh so good!  After lunch we decided to take another route home to Down By The River B and B. The next blog will be about the San Rafael Valley and our adventure there.

birding at Paton Hummingbird Haven

I photographed four different species of birds all in a tree at the same time. White winged Dove, Brown headed Cowbird, Blue Grosbeak and Bronze Cow Birds

Paton Hummingbird Haven

Paton Hummingbird Haven – A Birders Paradise

The open gate at Paton Hummingbird Haven picture

The open gate at Paton Hummingbird Haven

Paton Hummingbird Haven  is a short day trip from Down By The River B and B that will take you through wine country and into the rolling hill country of Patagonia. This drive is very scenic with scattered oak trees dotting the landscape after you leave Sonoita.  The Paton Hummingbird Haven started as the home of Wally and Marion Paton in 1974. They found this ideal spot located on a quiet back street with a wooded area surrounding the property. Over the years the Paton’s developed the site to attract birds and butterflies. The property was covered with hummingbird and seed feeders.

Over the years bird watchers would gather outside the yard to look at the birds. The Paton Hummingbird Haven was a draw and the Patons finally allowed the visitors to enter the property to better see the birds. They installed a tent cover

The Paton Home at Paton Hummingbird Haven Picture

The Paton Home at Paton Hummingbird Haven

and placed seating under it to give the birder some shade and allow them to relax while viewing the activity. The Haven also had a plastic tote that contains birding identification books for the use of the birders. That is a nice thing to have if you forgot your copy. There is also a white board where people put down what they have seen. The site became famous all over the world for the opportunities to see a large variety of birds in a single setting. With reports of over 200 species of  birds having been seen in the yard over the years, this location is probably the highest number that have been recorded anywhere.

The tent awning and seating are for birders to use at Paton Hummingbird Haven.

The tent awning and seating are for birders to use at Paton Hummingbird Haven.

When Barb and I opened the B and B in 2005, we had heard of the Paton’s site in Patagonia but with all the things you have to do to provide a good B and B experience for your guests we never were able to visit the location. Many of our guests have told us about this venue and raved about the many birds that they had seen. This past year I  had heard that the American Bird Conservancy, The Tucson Audubon and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours were working together to purchase the site from the Paton heirs. The goal was to purchase the property and to be able to maintain this fantastic birding experience for future birding enthusiasts.

Bird list photo

White board Bird List is available for birders to add their sightings at Paton Hummingbird Haven.

Recently Angie and I decided to plan a day when we had no guests and make a day trip to Paton’s and see exactly what everyone was talking about. With that in mind we set out early one morning to head for Patagonia. The trip took us a little over an hour but the scenery is magnificent. We enjoyed the drive and once we were in Patagonia we looked for 4th Ave, made a right turn and went to Pennsylvania St. Turning left we drove to 477 Pennsylvania and parked in the shade of a large tree. The Haven has a caretaker that waters the yard and keeps the feeders filled. This is a constant job for one person. He told us that he goes through more than 20 pounds of seed a day.  There is more to learn about this great place and so the next blog will go into the experience that we had looking at the birds during our stay at the Paton Hummingbird Haven.

Birders at Paton Hummingbird Haven

Birders at Paton Hummingbird Haven taking their pictures.

Cochise County Birding Hotspot

Cochise County Birding Hotspot and Down By The River B and B a perfect match

San Pedro River

The San Pedro as it leaves the northern boundary of the San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area

A Cochise County birding hotspot is the San Pedro River at the National Riparian area which is adjacent to Down By The River B and B. Birders come to this locale to see the birds only found in this part of the Southwest and not other parts of the country. When you visit a Cochise County birding hotspot, one thing everyone wants to see is a Greater Roadrunner.

The Greater Roadrunner is in the Cuckoo family. This bird is a fascinating to watch and is rather canny as it hunts.  Unlike the Loony Tunes character that is chased by the coyote but always outsmarts him, the resemblance stops there. The Roadrunner doesn’t eat bird seed but instead it hunts its prey including lizards, other birds and snakes. Roadrunners have been known to kill rattlesnakes. We have seen a roadrunner carrying snakes and lizards through the breezeway at the b and b.

Since Cochise County is a Birding Hotspot, there are many young birds around that the Roadrunner will

Roadrunner picture

The Greater Roadrunner is a frequent guest at Down By The River

go after. Gambrels Quail on high on the list. We have quail on the property and we leave the brush for cover so that the Quail have a place to hide and raise their young. When we first opened I had a symbiotic experience with a Roadrunner. When I walked on the property, a Roadrunner would follow me and wait for me to scare a lizard or snake out of the brush. He would stay about 4 feet away but just close enough to be able to make a quick dash for dinner.

Generally the Roadrunners are solitary but we did have a group of five together in the yard one day. We don’t know why they were together unless it was a mother and juveniles that were learning to hunt. We have also had one Roadrunner roost in strange locations around the b and b. The Roadrunner would roost on window sills against the window of a room. On other occasions a roadrunner would roost on the mantle of an outdoor fireplace and on a wood

Roadrunner roosting picture

The Roadrunner roosting at Down By The River a Cochise County Birding Hotspot.

decorative piece that was 9 feet off the floor. When we spotted the Roadrunner in those locations we wondered how he got there. Very seldom do you see a Roadrunner leave the ground in flight.

It took us a while but we finally saw the bird run leap and fly up to the roost at dusk and settle in for the night. So when you want to visit a Cochise County hotspot and see Roadrunners, plan your trip to Down By The River and see what we have to offer. Our bird list will give you a idea of what you can see during the year around our property. Additionally we are centrally located and therefore you only need to do short day trips to all the Cochise County hotspots.

Roadrunner picture

The Greater Roadrunner sometime follows me to see what I scare up for dinner while I am walking through the brush.

Southeast Arizona B and B Recipe

The Southeast Arizona B and B Recipe is always desired by our guests at Down By The River B and B

quiche picture for our southeast Arizona b and b recipe

This Southeast Arizona B and B recipe is the one we use for our Sweet Italian Sausage, Tomato and Basel Quiche.

Our Southeast Arizona B and B recipe is an integral part of the gourmet meal plans that we prepare for our guests. After our guests have enjoyed  their breakfast at Down By The River B and B, we get asked by many if they can have the recipe. They also ask “How hard it is to make?” We do give our recipes out to our guest when they ask and we put them up on the blog so that they are able to read them. Amazingly, none of our recipes are difficult but a few take some longer prep times.

We also serve another side with the quiche. Sometimes we do one of our French toast creations, or specialty pancakes or waffles.

 If you would like to access other recipes that we have on the blog just go to the search mode and click the category to “Recipes”. That will bring up all the recipes that we have put out on the blog.


  • Purchased Pie dough Pillsbury or other or if you prefer make your own.
  • 9” pie  pan
  • Pinch              nutmeg
  • Pinch              cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp            salt
  • 1/4 tsp            pepper
  • 2                    small ripe tomatoes cut up into ½ inch pieces and deseed
  • 8                    eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp      basil – finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup           Italian sweet sausage precooked and crumbled
  • 3  Tbsp           milk
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp        Heavy Cream
  • 5/8 cup           Shredded Mozzarella Cheese


  • Grease pie pan
  • Set pie dough in pan trim excess crust and bake at 400o F for 10 to 15 minutes or until firm allow it to cool.
  • Put half of the mozzarella cheese on the base of the crust
  • Spread the tomatoes, sausage and basil over mozzarella leaving a small amount to put on later.
  • Place the rest of the mozzarella on the filling.
  • Place the small amount of tomato, sausage and basil on top of the mozzarella.
  • Mix the eggs, heavy cream, milk, salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the mixture over the filling.

You can prep this the day before and then place  in the refrigerator overnight to use in the morning.

Bake at 350o F semi covered on the sides but with an opening over the center of the pie. The last 30 minutes uncover the pie and let it brown.  Let the quiche rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Cook time 1 hour 40 minutes will serve 8 to 10.

Chiricahua National Monument BnB

Chiricahua National Monument – A Short Drive From A World Class BnB

Chiricahua National Monument PictureChiricahua National Monument is a sky island that is located in the southeastern part of Arizona. It is a short day trip from Down By The River B and B. This park was burned in a wildfire during June of 2011 and it will take a while for all the trees to be big and shade the trails again. But there are areas that weren’t affected by the flames and one of them is the picnic area at Massai Point at over 6800 feet elevation. Massai Point is also the trail head for the nature trail, the Ed Riggs and the Echo Canyon trails that lead into the canyon. The rock formations along these trails into the canyon are impressive.

Mexican Jay Picture

Mexican Jay was watching us eat lunch at the Picnic Area at the Chiricahua National Monument

This entire area was created by a volcanic blast 27 million years ago that was 1000 times larger than the Mt. St. Helens eruption. The 100 cubic miles of material that was ejected during the eruption covered more than 1200 square miles of the surrounding countryside.  Over time the Chiricahua National Monument terrain has eroded forming hoodoos, balanced rocks, and formations similar to what you find in Bryce Canyon in Utah. There is a difference in the color of the rocks found in the Chiricahuas, The rocks are brownish instead of the pink you will find in Bryce.

Turkey Creek Caldera from Chiricahua National Monument

The Turkey Creek Caldera that formed the Chiricahua National Monument is visible from the observation building.

From the picnic area it is a short walk to the observation building at Massai Point. From this location you can look south and see the rim of the caldera of the Turkey Creek Volcano.  The view to the west is of the Sulphur Springs Valley, Cochise Stronghold and the Rincon Mountains near Tucson about 70 miles away. There is one feature that can be seen from this observation area and it is named Cochise Head. The rocky edifice looks like a head lying down. Since the fire went through you have a better view of the feature. Looking off to the east you can look into New Mexico. The Chiricahua National Monument is a short distance from the border with New Mexico.

Cochise Head picture

Cochise Head formation can bee seen from the Massai Point Observation building at the Chiricahua National Monument.

Besides the natural features in the park, you can spot a variety of animals and birds. The Mexican Jays are always around looking for ways to steal your lunch. Ground squirrels are also nearby to clean up crumbs that may be left by picnickers. On our way out of the park we have seen bears crossing the road and deer feeding near the entrance station. If you keep an eye out there is no telling what you might see. As we were going up the canyon to Massai Point I spotted some wild flowers. On the way back down I was able to stop and get some photographs. One with the redflowers was easy to identify (the Beardlip Penstemon) but the other purplish one I had never seen before. After consultation with a friend we were told that this was most likely a type of Monarda. After searching I did find it and it is also called a Wild Bergamot or Bee Balm.

beardlip penstemon found in Chiricahua National Monument

Red Beardlip Penstemon are on the side of the road in Chiricahua National Monument.

Bee Balm Picture

Bee Balm can be found along the road to Massai Pt in Chiricahua National Monument.

After leaving the Chiricahua National Monument you have a couple of choices for returning home. One is to head south and end up on Arizona 191 and stop at Sandy’s Café for ice cream. Along that route is the Lawrence Dunham Vineyard but check to see if they will be open when you are in the area or make a reservation with them. From there take 191 north to Dragoon Road and then west to the I-10. The other way back is to go back to Willcox and the restaurants and wineries in that area. Either way it is a nice day trip for you to enjoy the majesty of nature. So check out Down By The River B and B and see why we are perfect for day trips in Cochise County. Book Today!

View of Chiricahua National Monument

View down Canyon To Sulphur Springs Valley from Massai Point in the Chiricahua National Monument.

San Pedro River Wildlife

San Pedro River Wildlife Viewing is great at Down By The River B and B

black chinned hummingbirds at San Pedro House birding area feeders picture

Two male Black-chinned Hummingbirds were at the feeder together.

San Pedro River wildlife near our b and b is more than just the birds. Being located on the San Pedro River in St. David, Down By The River B and B presents many opportunities for our guests to view wildlife from their rooms or while they are on the patio. We are frequently asked “Do you have any wildlife around on the property?” One guest asked this when we had a small deer herd not 50 yards away from where we were standing. The mule deer blend in so well that the guests never saw them until I pointed them out.

I have photographed mule deer and Javelina next to the house in the early morning. I don’t like to have the javelina around since they can be vicious when they have young around. Usually when they hear noise, you will see them quickly leave the area. We also have skunks and squirrels; you can read about an adventure we had with them one Thanksgiving. Rabbits and hares also are frequent visitors inside the patio area. Some cottontails are almost tame. I walk by them when I am doing something and can get within 5 feet while they keep eating the grass and flowers.

San Pedro river Wildlife Picture

Mule deer are frequent visitors to Down By The River.

We do have predators around also. While our b and b was being built, a neighbor spotted a mountain lion in the river that his dogs treed. We also had a young bear treed a couple of years ago by dogs at another neighbors. I haven’t ever seen track of the mountain lion but did see the bear’s tracks in the river a couple of years ago. We have also spotted a large bobcat on the property and he ignores us and keeps on walking. One time Angie and I were taking down wash from the clothes line when a grey fox came around the corner. He quickly did a 180 when he saw us. Even if I had my camera I don’t think I would have been able to get a photo of him.

San Pedro river Wildlife Picture

Javelina visit Down By the River B and B looking for mesquite pods.

At night coyotes will be howling and yipping. Sort of a reminds me of the old west movies when you didn’t know if it was a coyote or an Indian. Every once in a while you can see the coyotes on the property but they are pretty skittish around humans. We have also spotted raccoons at night on the road that leads to the river. But probably the most interesting San Pedro River wildlife we have seen is the coatimundi. Once you have seen this animal you won’t ever forget it. Click here to see a picture of a coatimundi.

San Pedro River wildlife

Cottontail rabbits are inside the patio walls feeding on flowers and grasses that grow there.

This is just a short list of the mammals that make up the San Pedro River wildlife. There are also snakes, lizards, tortoises, toads, frogs, fish, a myriad of spiders, insects, moths and butterflies.  Over the year there are 400 species of birds that can be found in the area. Down By The River is the perfect spot to view many different fauna. All you need to do is keep an eye out and have a little patience. You will get your chance to hear, see and appreciate nature. Go online and book a room so that you can partake in the viewing of the San Pedro River wildlife.

Southeastern Arizona Gray Hawk

The Southeastern Arizona Gray Hawk is found along the San Pedro River

San Pedro River

The San Pedro River is home to the Southeastern Arizona Gray Hawk.

The Southeastern Arizona Gray Hawk can be found along the San Pedro River during the spring and summer months. In the US, the Gray Hawk is a migratory raptor found in Southeastern Arizona, the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico (scarce in that location) and is a year around resident in extreme southern part of coastal Texas. The Gray Hawk can be found in Coastal Mexico down into Yucatan and into Central and South America as far south as Northern Argentina. Click here to see the map.

However, if you don’t want to travel out of the country, you can come to Southeastern Arizona to view Gray Hawks and stay at a world class b and b within walking distance to the San Pedro River. After we started the b and b, we discovered the Gray Hawks could be seen along this part of the San Pedro River. My first encounter occurred when we drove to the San Pedro and rounded the corner. We saw a hawk which quickly took off to parts unknown. We weren’t really sure what we saw and had no time to take a picture. We knew that it was a smaller hawk and thought we could identify it.

Southeastern Arizona Gray Hawk Picture

The Gray Hawk didn’t notice us at first.

After reviewing our Sibley’s, we narrowed it down to the Gray Hawk. After we read up on the habits of the bird in this area we found out that it was a migratory bird that nests and raises young along the San Pedro. Over the years we wandered along the San Pedro and saw Gray Hawks many times. I either didn’t have the camera or I could never get my camera up and focused before the bird was gone. I wanted to have something that I could show our guests when they asked if the Gray Hawk was in the area. It was frustrating for me not to have a photo of this hawk while I had many other photos of other hawks. Lady Luck was not with me many times.

Cochise County Bird Photography example

Lady Luck allowed me to spot this Gray Hawk and take a photograph of him before he took flight.

Recently, we were headed into town and I decided to grab my camera as we left. I really didn’t expect to see anything but you never know. When we came around the corner onto Escalante I saw a bigger bird on a pole. I knew it was a hawk. We stopped and I shot a quick picture through the windshield. The windshield was rather dirty but at least I would have the picture so I could figure out which bird we were seeing.  We moved up a little closer.  I opened the car door and slowly got out. The hawk stayed on the pole and I got my zoom lens focused on the bird. I had 4 shots before the hawk took off.

After we got home, I downloaded the pictures onto the computer. When I enlarged the photos I was glad to see a Southern Arizona Gray Hawk.  Lady Luck finally allowed me to get my photo after almost 10 years of trying. And to think I almost didn’t bring the camera on that short trip. Now my quest is for a picture of the Mississippi Kite that is in the area.

Southeastern Arizona Gray Hawk Picture

After my fourth shot the Gray Hawk took wing and left us behind.

Cochise County Bird Photography

Cochise County bird photography can be a challenge but also rewarding

Cochise County Bird Photography example

Northern Shoveler taking flight at Twin Lakes Birding Area

Cochise County bird photography requires good equipment, the right location, some patience but a little luck on your side is key. Knowing when the birds are active and where they can be found will give you a leg up on your quest. The San Pedro River is the Cochise County gem that lures birders from all over the world. Most of the river that flows through Cochise County is located in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Access locations to the river in the conservation area are limited. This makes the birding photography a project that you need to plan so that you can get the full benefit of your day.

Down by the River B and B- Autumn on the San Pedro River

Autumn on the San Pedro River

The San Pedro River is the last undammed river in Arizona. The river flows above ground all the way into St. David. Down By The River B and B is unique because we are the only B and B at the northern end of the Riparian Area and we have access to the San Pedro River. Because of our location, one of the four requirements is met when you stay here. Having a good digital camera and a medium range zoom lens will satisfy most situations for Cochise County bird photography. Most birders are patient and will find a location close to activity where they can wait for that shot.

The most elusive thing is luck. I have seen birds posing for their photo when I didn’t have my camera. When I did have my camera, they would fly off before I could get it focused. When I was looking north the bird would be south of me. I have focused on a bird only to have it move to a spot where leaves or branches covered it up or it would turn its head so that you couldn’t see it. Ah but then you need patience right! Well at least persistence.

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