Signal Peak - highest point in Yuma County


Kofa Queen Canyon 
22-23 & 26 Apr 2005
Narrated by Henry Detwiler

Suzanne, Gaby, Adriana, Veronica, and I took a camping trip to the Kofa NWR to see birds & beautiful spring flowers.  Then I went back on 26 April to get some additional flower, bird, and landscape photos.  
species -- bird list is at the bottom of the page
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.  

Friday after work we drove north from Yuma for just over an hour to reach the Palm Canyon exit on Hwy 95--just a few miles south of Quartzsite.

Adrian, Veronica, Gaby, & Henry
After driving 3.5 miles towards Palm Canyon, we took a left turn towards Kofa Queen Canyon.  As the sun was setting, we started to see good Yuma County birds such as Curve-billed Thrasher and Canyon Towhee.
We were visiting the refuge to look for a few bird species that are rare or non-existent elsewhere in Yuma County.  That night after setting up camp and eating a late dinner, we watched the moon rise among hundreds of sparkling stars.


Black-throated Sparrow juvenile in flowering Ocotillo

Rock Wren

Early the next morning, starting just after 5:00am, I listened to the dawn chorus as I laid in our tent: Canyon Towhee, Western Kingbird, Scott's Oriole, Northern Mockingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Canyon Wren, Rock Wren, Gambel's Quail, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and finally Latter-backed Woodpecker.  It was an amazing symphony!
By 6:00am the show was drawing to a close, and I emerged from the tent to see the sun shining on the surrounding peaks.  Birds continued to call intermittently: Costa's Hummingbird, House Finch, Cactus Wren, and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher.

Canyon Wren in Kofa Queen Canyon

Black-chinned Sparrow  in the shade of Ten Ewe Peak--these sparrows are not found anywhere else in Yuma County. 

Variable Checkerspot near the first saddle on the way up Indian Canyon.

Once the girls had arisen, and everyone had breakfast, we started up the trail to Signal Peak, the highest point in Yuma County at 4877'.  During the next several hours we climbed & scrambled higher & higher, first through an awesome array of lupine, poppies, larkspurs, cacti, and mariposa lilies, and then through scrub oak and agaves.

Mariposa Lilies

Gilded Flicker on a Saguaro 

Additions to our bird list list as we went up the trail were:  Gilded Flicker, Anna's Hummingbird, Common Raven, Black-throated Sparrow, and about eight Black-chinned Sparrows (one of our goals).  
We topped out at this saddle (about 3800 feet), and after talking it over with Suzanne and the girls, decided to call it a day.  
Looking north down Indian Canyon, with Kofa Queen Canyon in the distance

Rufous-Crowned Sparrow
(in Crucifixion Thorn)


Ladybug impaled on a Prickly Pear cactus spine

From this beautiful vantage point we added Wilson's Warbler, Pacific-sloped Flycatcher, an American Kestrel chasing a Red-tailed Hawk, and our only Rufous-crowned Sparrow.

As we tumbled and hiked our way back down the slope, the birds continued to call and fly by us: Lesser Goldfinch, White-throated Swift, and Townsend's Warbler.  One of the swifts buzzed Gaby & Suzanne so closely that they had to duck.

Black-throated Sparrow

Side-blotched Lizard

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Cereus Wash - off Kofa Queen Canyon

Later in the afternoon, after lunch and a nap,  Gaby and I took a walk up-canyon and located Green-tailed Towhee, Crissal Thrasher, and Song Sparrow--and several of these colorful Side-blotched Lizards.  We were going to spend Saturday night in the canyon, too, but lightning, thunder, and rain convinced us to break camp and head home!

Yuma Birding & Nature Festival, 22-23 & 26 Apr 2005
# Species
1 White-faced Ibis
2 Red-tailed Hawk
3 American Kestrel
4 Prairie Falcon
5 Gambel's Quail
6 Turkey Vulture
7 White-winged Dove
8 Mourning Dove
9 Greater Roadrunner
10 White-throated Swift
11 Anna's Hummingbird
12 Costa's Hummingbird
13 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
14 Gilded Flicker
15 Hammond's Flycatcher
16 Pacific Slope Flycatcher
17 Ash-throated Flycatcher
18 Western Kingbird
19 Loggerhead Shrike
20 Common Raven
21 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
22 Verdin
# Species
23 Cactus Wren
24 Rock Wren
25 Canyon Wren
26 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
27 Northern Mockingbird
28 Curve-billed Thrasher
29 Crissal Thrasher
30 Phainopepla
31 Townsend's Warbler
32 Wilson's Warbler
33 Black-throated Gray Warbler
34 Green-tailed Towhee
35 Canyon Towhee
36 Rufous-crowned Sparrow
37 Black-chinned Sparrow
38 Black-throated Sparrow
39 Song Sparrow
40 White-crowned Sparrow
41 Scott's Oriole
42 Great-tailed Grackle
43 Brown-headed Cowbird
44 House Finch
45 Lesser Goldfinch

Photos Henry Detwiler