Slate Mountain - Usual stuff, except for a very high Bewick's Wren
21 Dec 2012, 5:00 PM,
Slate Mountain - Usual stuff, except for a very high Bewick's Wren
I was in the mood to have an adventure in the snow today, so I took my x-country skis up to Slate Mountain, which is about 30 miles north of Flagstaff on Highway 180. In past years the mixed conifer forest on the upper part of the mountain has hosted some interesting winter finches (including Pine Grosbeaks), but this location has very rarely been reported on in recent years.

The trailhead for Slate Mt. is about two miles west of Highway 180, and the access road from the highway was closed today. I was happy to ski in from the road, and then found the old jeep road to the summit (another 2.5 miles) to be in great shape for skiing as well (a few more days of sun will make this difficult since most of the route is on south-facing slopes).

It was fairly birdy throughout. Highlights included MANY Red Crossbills, a Golden Eagle, a sizable flock of Bushtits, and a single Bewick's Wren. This latter bird caught me by surprise - it seems a tough choice of a place to winter (nearly 8,000 feet), and BEWR rarely appears in above-the-rim CBC data - I really never would have guessed this was a bird I would see today.

Looking forward to the Camp Verde CBC tomorrow!

22 Dec 2012, 10:02 AM,
RE: Slate Mountain - Usual stuff, except for a very high Bewick's Wren
That's a favorite trail of mine, too. I enjoy ascending through Alligator Junipers (north most I've seen) and Cliff Rose on the south side, then the Doug Firs and oak as the road loop around on the north slope. Good place for camping up on the little saddle that the old road crosses. Try wildflower, sunset, storm and star gazing on the treeless summit with a view of the Peaks and Kendrick over your shoulder. Bird memories: I recall a lively trailside family of Brown Creepers on a pine. Wish I'd have seen Pine Grosbeaks!

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