It looked like a great party. Folks kept arriving. The late afternoon warmth was perfect. Picnic tables were spread with barbeque fare. Big coolers held drinks that would quench thirst. Lively music played. But the small group gathered nearby, at the Besh Ba Gowah parking lot, was not invited. Would the nearby party interfere with the reason they were there? They hoped to find and identify a variety of birds. It was the beginning of another special weekend sponsored by the Noftsger Hill Inn.
Besh Ba Gowah, with its feeders and abundant native vegetation, can be a remarkable bird magnet. The evening of the party was no exception. Despite the number of people and music in the near vicinity, guests at the Inn were treated to a number of interesting bird sightings. Expected, but always a delight, a cardinal posed, quail entertained and lesser goldfinches flitted about. Unexpected was a migratory zone-tailed hawk, mimicking the turkey vultures with which it was flying. Rarer still was a red crossbill, a finch-like bird whose crisscrossed mandibles would challenge any orthodontist. The odd bill is distinctive, and perfectly adapted for wrenching seeds from pinecones.
After dinner in Globe, the Inn’s guests gathered around the long dining room table for chocolate cake—and class. After all, the Inn is the old Globe schoolhouse! This seminar was about bird migration, and was taught in an interactive game format that had everyone guessing—and laughing—at the improbable, but factual answers. The self-named Trogon team won, but not by much.
Early the next morning, Rosalie Ayala, Noftsger Hill’s incomparable innkeeper, sent the guests off with freshly-brewed bird-friendly coffee (it’s shade grown in environmentally sensitive ways), fruit and warm sweetbreads. The group caravanned up Pinal Peak, via Ice House Canyon. They stopped at Pioneer Pass, and had to be very patient as the ponderosa forest awoke with the stirrings of tiny birds and morning song. They were rewarded with the buzzing of broad-tailed hummingbirds, and sightings of a Townsend’s warbler, painted redstart, western tanager, house wren and more. On the way back down the mountain, there were several stops to add a spotted towhee, bushtit, scrub jay and red-tailed hawk to the bird list for the weekend.
The cool fresh air and pristine quiet forest in the early morning were soul-soothing to those who ventured out from the busy metro areas for the weekend. To nourish their bodies as well, Rosalie had a sumptuous hot breakfast on the table for the hungry guests when they returned. Conversation ensued, with plenty to talk about given the guests’ shared birding experiences, and finished with a review of the birds seen—about forty different kinds. For participants, it was quite a party—even without barbecue and music.
Photos by Bruce Talbert
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