Sunday, February 27, 2011

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

There is a gem in Southeastern Arizona: the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.

The San Pedro River flows north from Sonora Mexico and eventually into the Salt River near Phoenix. For most easterners, it would be considered a slow moving creek. But for this part of AZ, a stream that runs year round is welcome.

The slice of riparian terrain in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert in Cochise Country is an ideal habitat for migratory birds. It is a birders paradise, especially in March and April.

There is a hiking trail -- in many places it is rather formal -- that goes for miles. We hiked 2-3 miles, getting a good taste of the environment during a cool but pleasant winter day.

A good starting point is the San Pedro House. As this is managed by birders, there a plenty of feeders and birds. At any one moment there are dozens of species in the trees and shrubs around the House. I was fortunate to see a Vermilion Flycatcher, a favorite of mine. There is also a huge cottonwood tree there, allegedly the third largest in AZ.

The San Pedro riparian way provides a lovely habitat for flora and fauna that would have a tough time in the high desert if it were not for this constantly-flowing river.

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