Upper San Francisco Peaks: goshawk, grouse, high elevation regulars
7 Aug 2011, 2:44 PM,
Upper San Francisco Peaks: goshawk, grouse, high elevation regulars
I took advantage of the tranquil weather this weekend to visit the high country of the San Francisco Peaks in Abineau and Bear Jaw Canyons.

Perhaps the best bird of the day was on the drive to the trailhead - a beautiful NORTHERN GOSHAWK near the intersection of FR 151 and FR 418. On the hike itself I turned up only the expected species, including red-breasted nuthatch, hermit thrush, Clark's nutcracker and Lincoln's sparrow. At the highest elevations yellow-rumped warblers were exceptionally numerous and included many juveniles (this was especially true in upper Abineau Canyon, above the Waterline Road).

On my way down I was exploring a bit in Upper Bear Jaw Canyon (above Waterline Road) and was very surprised to find extensive well-preserved debris from a crashed airplane. I was unaware of wreckage on this part of the mountain (I'd heard about a different crash site near the Humphreys peak trail). Back at home Google suggests that this is the remains of a 1944 crash of an Air Force B17-G Flying Fortress (which would fit with the "Boeing" stamp on some of the wreckage I found). Anyway, I found this all interesting, but also a bit spooky out in the woods on my own. Just as I was trying to keep my nerves settled, a DUSKY GROUSE chose to flush, which really scared the bejeezus out of me (I thought it might be a cast-member from "Lost" popping out from behind a tree!). The grouse flushed to a perch where I was able to enjoy nice looks.

It was great to enjoy the Peaks in August under clear skies!



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