There are a lot of different ways to go bird watching-while walking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, from your vehicle, and I've even done bird watching while horseback riding. Another method is to combine birding and biking. I have really enjoyed getting back into biking over the past year, and it is pretty easy to combine the two.
Recently, I have been riding segments of the recently completed Prescott Circle Trail. This past Saturday I 'knocked out' segment six-and just about knocked myself out in the process! If you have the 'Guide to the Prescott Circle Trail' book, you will see that the trailhead for segment six is just off of Senator Highway, south of Goldwater Lake on one end, and the Turley Trail trailhead on the other end .
This was probably the hardest segment I have done thus far, and honestly, now that I have biked it, I will share with you that I don't recommend it! I think you would be safer and enjoy it more if you hiked this segment of the Circle Trail. The ride was much more challenging than I had anticipated, and took longer than I had planned.
As I ride on the Circle Trail, I am constantly on the lookout for animals and birds. This past week, in a five-day time frame, I saw three different snake species! I narrowly missed running over two of the snakes, but was able to avoid them at the last moment.
I have seen innumerable cottontail rabbits, and I've heard far more birds than I have seen. When biking I do not carry my binoculars with me, but instead rely on my hearing to 'see' birds. I keep in my mind a list of the different bird species I'm hearing so I don't have to stop each time I see a bird. Fortunately, this time of year birds are still singing a lot, so it is easy to know what birds I'm riding past even when I don't specifically see them.
My biking trips have taken me through a variety of habitats including Ponderosa pine forest, pinyon/juniper, chaparral, grassland and along lakes. Each habitat supports bird species that prefer the specific habitat where they are observed.
My goal is to bike the entire Prescott Circle Trail, and I would also like to hike it at some point. I feel so grateful to live in such an amazing part of the country where the wonder and beauty of nature surrounds our community. If you would like more information about the trails in the Prescott area, I invite you to stop by the store as we have trail maps available.
In last week's column, I mentioned how each year I start getting reports of rufous hummingbirds showing up between the last week of June and the first week of July. On Monday, June 29, I saw my first male rufous hummingbird of the 'fall' season. While the official first day of fall is still almost two months away, this is an example of a species already on the move-southward! This little guy was right on cue time-wise, and many, many more will follow over the next eight to ten weeks.
The month of July is such a great time of year-the days are already getting shorter, the monsoon rains have started, we are experiencing higher humidity and lower temperatures, the creeks run briefly after monsoon storms, and the sunsets are downright amazing. It is hard not to like this time of year.
Until next week, Happy Birding!
Eric Moore is the owner of Jay's Bird Barn with two locations in northern Arizona - 1046 Willow Creek Road in Prescott, and 2360 State Highway 89A in Sedona. Eric has been an avid birder for 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.