Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 10, 2009

Boyce Thompson Arboretum Demo Garden

Filed under: Boyce Thompson Arboretum, favorite places, Non Birds — Tags: — richditch @ 6:24 pm
Demonstration Garden at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Demonstration Garden at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

One of my favorite places in central Arizona is Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It is a state park about 60 miles east of Phoenix, three miles before reaching Superior along U.S. 60. It is a lovely place that offers a wonderful alternative to the hot open desert landscape around Phoenix, and it is a favorite location for birders from both the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.

A loop trail starts just below the visitor center entrance, goes through a small Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden where a hybrid Violet-crowned x Broad-billed Hummingbird has been hanging out for the past couple of years, crosses Silver King Wash (almost always dry), leads through the Cactus Garden and up slope to the small Ayers Lake. It then crosses over the ridge and follows a switchback course to the wooded canyon of Queen Creek (which might actually have water in parts of it almost any day of the year). The trail passes through the stand of eucalyptus trees, across a footbridge, past the drover’s shed and finally to the picnic area below the visitor center.

Just beyond the picnic area is the Demonstration Garden – a place I always check out on every visit. This small area has the best flower gardens, and on the right day it blazes with color. Two features are always worth as much time as you can spare: a “courtyard” shown in the top photo with a small recirculating bowl water feature; and the small recirculating brook with tiny waterfall on the east side against the wall to the picnic area.

Both of these spots are magnets for the local birds, and with patience you might see: a family of Lucy’s Warblers; Yellow-breasted Chat; Brown-crested Flycatcher; Bell’s Vireo; Lawrence’s Goldfinch; Black-chinned Sparrow; Northern Beardless Tyranulet; Western Tanager; and many other birds attracted to the precious desert resource of running water.

Photography can be difficult at either spot. The water bowl is surrounded by flowers and other vegetation that can block a clean view of the bowl, so try to get shots of birds as they queue up in the tree above. The waterfall is shaded by low shrubs and can be very dark, so even shooting at ISO 800 won’t give an exposure above f/5.6 at 1/4oth second in many cases.

Some of the birds I mention here are shown in galleries at my web site, where you can also read another article about Boyce.

I lead a few birdwalks here each season, along with other volunteers. See the Bid Sightings page at the official website for the arboretum.

The two photos in this post were taken at the Demo Garden on April 18, 2008, with a Nikon D70 and Tokina 12-24mm lens at 12mm. ISO 200, 1/125 @ f/10 and 1/250 @ f/10.

Demonstration Garden at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Demonstration Garden at Boyce Thompson Arboretum


1 Comment »

  1. cool article, rich, and i enjoyed the link to photos of “el Catrin” our one-of-a-kind hybrid hummbird. i hadn’t seen the first JPG you have on that page; nice shot. he’s still there, i pointed him out to two visitors today (1/10/09); also to sam campana from AZ Audbon. she was here late in the afternoon — and hadn’t seen him before. thanks for the great posts, rich, and for your volunteer work at BTA!

    Comment by ~pw — January 10, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

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