||Birding near Patagonia/Sonoita
Bog Hole Wildlife Area
Bog Hole Wildlife Area lies near the headwaters of the Santa Cruz River in the Meadow Valley Flat portion of the San Rafael Valley. At an elevation of about 5,000 feet, the area receives an average of 17.3 inches of rainfall annually, mostly from monsoon rains falling July through September. The Wildlife Area is located eight miles southeast of Patagonia in Santa Cruz County and is in the Sierra Vista Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest.
The wetland and riparian habitat developed and protected in Big Hole Wildlife Area provides habitat for a variety of species. The primary management emphasis for the area is to provide nesting and resting habitat for waterfowl. In addition, the pond serves as a habitat for native fish and amphibian species.
The area provides excellent habitat for a variety of birds. Waterfowl such as canvasback and mallard visit the area. Nongame birds such as the Western screech-owl, red-tailed hawk, great blue heron, and magnificent hummingbird can also be found here. Special status species that may be seen here include Baird's sparrow, Mexican spotted owl, and Sprague's pipit.
Resident mammals include black-tailed jack rabbit, bobcat, white-nosed coati, and white-tailed deer.
Endangered native fish occurring in the area are the Gila topminnow and longfin dace. Amphibians and reptiles that may be found there include Chiricahua leopard frog, lowland leopard frog, Sonoran tiger salamander, and Northern Mexican gartersnake.
From Patagonia, head east on Forest Road 58. When you get to the junction with Forest Road 765, turn left. When the road forks, veer right (as if going to the Cott Tank drainage). Turn right on the two-track road that parallels the exclosure fence. Park at the wooden ladder marked with Bog Hole Wildlife Area signs.
Parker Canyon Lake (520) 378-0311
Coronado National Forest, Sierra Vista Ranger District
Parker Canyon Lake attracts ducks and other waterfowl as well as ospreys and bald eagles. Great blue heron, gray hawk and Montezuma quail may also be seen at this aquatic habitat. Spring warblers and hummingbirds can be seen in season. There is a campground and a maintained hiking trail which circles the lake. East of Patagonia. Free
Patagonia Lake State Park (520) 287-6965
Patagonia, AZ (northeast of Nogales)
Patagonia Lake State Park offers many aquatic recreational opportunities in addition to being a good place to find water birds. The 265-acre man-made lake attracts canyon towhee, Inca dove, vermilion flycatcher, black vulture, great blue heron, and various hummingbirds. White tail deer are often seen in the hills. The park is crowded in the summer but very appealing in the cooler months. Camping spaces are available right beside the lake to get a good view of the water birds as soon as you wake up. There is a $7 fee for day use (vehicle +1-4 adults) and a fee for camping which depends on the amenities you choose--in the $12-$25 range. Fees may be slightly higher between Memorial Day to Labor Day on weekends and holidays. Day use hours are 8 am to 10 pm; access to the park is closed from 10 pm to 4 am. During peak visitor months (summer) park closures may occur. To get there: take Highway 82 from Mustang Corners (junction of Hwy 90 and Hwy 82) through Sonoita and Patagonia. About 7 miles past Patagonia you'll see the road to the lake.
Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve (520) 394-2400
Owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy
Sonoita Creek flows through the valley between the Patagonia and Santa Rita mountains south of the towns of Sonoita and Patagonia. There are several cleared hiking trails. Some are relatively short loops near the visitor center and the longer Platts Upland trail is 3.2 miles. The preserve is open Wednesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Hours are: April-September 6:30 am-4 pm; October-March 7:30 am-4 pm. Charge is $5 per person and no pets are allowed beyond the parking lot.
If you are familiar with the Nature Conservancy's Ramsey Canyon Preserve, you may find PSCP somewhat disappointing in comparison--for the $5 price tag. The visitor center is just a bathroom and an office, and the trails are very similar to what you can see for free at the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. But if you're camping at Patagonia Lake this would make a handy little side trip.