A very rough map of the trip, including some of the major stops along the way.
Looking down on one of our favorite campgrounds - Burro Creek, Arizona
The first rarity we found west of Phoenix - Crissal Thrasher
At the same site east of Phoenix, a Sage Thrasher
At the same spot, a Bendire's Thrasher. We saw and photographed 6 of the 8 American thrashers on this trip.
Hiking toward Brown Mtn. west of Tucson
Saguaros along the Brown Mtn. Trail
Gila woodpecker on Ocotillo.
Trying out a new lens
And now a Curve-billed thrasher, Tucson area.
You know you're in the deserts of the SW when you find this bright little bird - a Verdin
Lynn and nephew Doug on the Hugh Norris Trail, Saguaro National Park above Tucson.
Looking west from the Hugh Norris Trail
A cactus wren brings a bit of nesting material to his mate.
An American Kestral closeup, at the Desert Museum
The Fairy Duster, a beautiful flower of the desert
Harris' Hawk at the Desert Museum
Curve-billed Thrasher on a saguaro
The Lark Bunting is easy to find at Pancho Villa State Park in southern New Mexico, but rare in our experience elsewhere.
A Javelina at close range, Davis Mtns, Texas.
A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Davis Mtns., Texas
A Hermit Thrush makes an appearance
A Northern Parula, very rare in Big Bend National Park
Vermillion Flycatchers are common in Texas
The Say's Phoebe, another symbol of the American SW
Starting out on one of the trails of Big Bend NP. We are trying to collect them all.
On the Marufo Vega Trail, looking into Mexico
The Marufa Vega Trail ends at the ruins of an ore transportation system
Looking east towards the mountains of Mexico.
Roadrunners are a constant source of entertainment in the Rio Grande Village, Big Bend NP
Texas Sliders, Big Bend NP
The hike to Burro Mesa Pour-off, Big Bend NP
At the top of the Burro Mesa Pour-off.
Up close with a Roadrunner
Cruising down the Rio Grande. The left bank is U.S. soil, the right bank Mexico.
Trying to find some shade.
Approaching Rio Grande Village, Big Bend NP
Hiking back to the boat put-in to pick up the truck.
Another brilliant male Vermilion Flycatcher
A female Ladder-backed Woodpecker.
A fascinating hike in the Ernst Tinaja Canyon
The Ernst Tinaja, a deep natural pool that sometimes traps animals.
Ernst Tinaja Canyon
Upper Ernst Tinaja Canyon
Sunset as we come back out of the Ernst Tinaja Canyon
HIking up Pine Canyon
On the Pine Canyon trail with new friends from Michigan.
Pine Canyon in the Chisos Mtns.
A repeat hike to the Ernst Tinaja with John and Joanne from Michigan.
A Cooper's Hawk surveys the scene, Falcon Lake SP
Northern Cardinal, Falcon Lake.
A Pyhryloxia, Falcon Lake.
A Northern Cardinal looking for a towel after his bath.
Our first sighting of a Northern Bobwhite (female), Falcon Lake. This species is threatened.
Curve-Billed Thrasher, Falcon Lake.
A male Bobwhite wonders whether to come out from cover to have his portrait taken.
An Orange-crowned Warbler, with the rarely seen orange crown showing.
A birder's bird - the spectacular Green Jay, in Bentsen SP near McAllen, TX
And for our fifth thrasher of the trip, a Long-billed Thrasher.
Altamira Oriole, Bentsen SP, TX
The Plain Chachalaca, another Mexican bird that just barely comes over the border.
Green Jays, Bentsen SP, TX
Closeup, Plain Chachalaca
Another Altamira Oriole
Long-billed Thrasher, a southern Texas specialty.
Male Altamira Oriole, breeding plumage.
It's hard to stop taking photos of these Green Jays.
A Northern Cardinal provides a nice counterpoint to the Green Jays.
Estero Llano Grande State Park, one of the best natural parks we've ever visited.
Black-Chinned Hummingbird, Estero Llano Grande State Park
A Cormorant drying its wings
Estero Llano Grande State Park
The Common Paraque sleeps the day away. If you can find them in the leaf litter, they are easy photo targets.
Couch's Kingbird, a life bird for us. Can only be told from the common Western Kingbird by vocalization.
Curve-billed Thrashers are incredible singers, rivaling the Mockingbird.
Tri-colored Heron with lunch
A Harris' Hawk watching over Estero Llano Grande State Park
Black-bellied Whistling Duck, a Texas specialty and one of the few ducks to perch in trees.
The Least Grebe is another Texas specialty
A lizard I am yet to identify.
Green Parakeets have colonized several southern Texas towns. We worked hard to find them in McAllen.
Green Parakeets with a full moon behind.
A big male Anhinga drying its wings
Eastern Screech Owl in a nesting box, Estero Llano Grande State Park
A Spiny Lizard.
Our camp at Adolph Thomae County Park
Long-billed Curlew, Atascosa NWR
Texas Ground Squirrel, a common little critter but the first we've ever seen.
A Green Jay going after some tiny tidbit of food.
A Solitary Sandpiper on a short stop at Sabal Palms during migration north. Here he is about 100m. north of Mexico.
Eastern Phoebe, Sabal Palms Audubon Reserve
At the tropical-feeling Sabal Palms Reserve. This is the southernmost point of mainland U.S., second only to the Florida Keys.
The closest I've ever gotten to a Golden-Fronted Woodpecker, Sabal Palms Sanctuary.
Caspian Terns, Adolph Thomae County Park
Photographing terns on the beach, Adolph Thomae County Park. This is an iPhone photo.
And now the piece de resistance - Whooping Cranes, one of the rarest birds in the world with only a few hundred in existence. Goose Island, Texas.
Whooping Cranes on Goose Island. Hunted almost to extinction (15 individuals) before conservation began.
The first good oportunity we've ever had to photograph a Merlin. Note feathers on his talons from a recent meal.
American Alligator, Aransas NWR
Royal Tern coming in for a landing, Aransas NWR
Whooping Cranes, Aransas NWR. This is the most reliable place to find them in winter. They migrate to the Northwest Territory of Canada in summer.
The Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America, at 5 feet.
The red skin on the heads get brighter when the birds are excited. This might be a territorial dispute or a mating display.
The best way to find and photograph Whooping Cranes is to go on the boat dedicated to that purpose.
On our return home, we stopped at Bosque del Apache, one of the most famous reserves in North America. Snow Goose (dark phase).
A Snow Goose with a smaller Ross's Goose in front. Unlike the endangered Whooping Crane, Snow Goose populations exceed 5 million.
The tough life of a retiree in an RV.
A typical free campsite. This is "Lone Rock" in Utah, the final stop on the way home.