On Monday, our store was ground zero for the severe weather event that hit Prescott. When I wasn’t standing out on the sidewalk watching the storm, I was on my computer looking at doppler radar on the Weather Underground website. The intensity of the color on the radar map showed the storm was directly over us.
My first love is bird watching — I admit that I am fixated with birds. However, I think my second favorite interest is weather. I am a self-proclaimed weather geek. I love chronicling weather events. I think it would be a blast to be a storm chaser.
Monday’s storm was one of the most intense storms I have ever experienced. Between the rain, hail, and wind, it was downright exhilarating! As soon as the storm let up, I donned my water-proof jacket and headed out the door to do my version of “stream chasing”.
I love checking the water level in our creeks after a downpour. I first checked Granite Creek where it flows under Sixth Street, by the entrance to Granite Creek Park. The water was a chocolaty brown as it raced under the road. I then drove to the Watson Woods Riparian Preserve trailhead, at the intersection of State Highway 89 and Rosser.
The creek was running hard and rising fast. I stuck a stick into the sand at the water’s edge, and watched the water quickly rise well beyond the stick as the width of the creek expanded rapidly. I stuck another stick in the sand, marking the new edge. Soon, I stuck a third stick in the sand as the creek continued to rise. It was impressive.
My next stop was Watson Lake, as I wanted to check the level of the lake. From there, I went over to check the flow of Willow Creek. By comparison, it was maybe five percent of the volume of Granite Creek, as the watershed for Willow Creek is smaller than Granite Creek’s.
At this point, I decided to go back to Watson Woods Riparian Preserve. It couldn’t have been more than thirty minutes since I’d left there, with my sticks in the sand. When I got back, I was astonished by what I saw.
My sticks were long gone, and the creek was probably between 250-300 feet wide. The creek was a raging river, carrying logs, branches, and all kinds of debris. I stood in amazement, watching the sheer power of moving water, going completely over the banks of the main channel, and finding new channels.
I then decided to hike to the red foot bridge where it spans Granite Creek, shortly before the creek empties into Watson Lake. By now, I was soaking wet from the waist down, but I felt joyful and happy to be in nature, witnessing the wonder of the natural world.
As I spent time in Watson Woods, I couldn’t help but wonder how birds survive the intensity of such storms—especially the destructive hail. However, as the storm passed, I saw a belted kingfisher, a great blue heron, mourning doves, great-tailed grackles, and ravens. Seeing familiar species was reassuring. Nature is resilient, and our feathered friends instinctively know what to do to survive.
As a reminder: As part of our month-long anniversary celebration, the free photography exhibit is now open to the public for judging. I invite you to come check it out and vote for your favorite pictures. We will announce the photography contest winners at noon on Saturday, October 29th, at our 19th Anniversary Celebration Open House event.
Until next week, Happy Birding!
Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, Arizona Field Optics, and Hallmark in Prescott, Arizona. Eric has been an avid birder for over 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at email@example.com.