|May 4 2019: Milky Way with a meteor shower|
In the past I have hoofed around on my own, but this year I opted for a guide for 1/2 day, and it paid off handsomely. She found me 3 'life' birds (birds the observer has never seen before) and finally a pleasant 45 minute visit with a pair of tropical Elegant Trogons house hunting in sycamores for the mating season (never easy to photograph.) The female did not appear all that interested in this particular offering. This is the male exploring the prospective digs.
Where we get along with our breeding Orchard Oriole and the occasional wintering Baltimore Oriole, the border states in the West counter with more than five other species including the spectacular Bullocks Oriole and the Hooded Oriole. These throw many observers off because all that orange is actually plumage adornment on these members of the blackbird family!
Southeastern Arizona for birders is not always just about birds. It is as much about place: the town of Portal, its people, the environment of the Chiricahua Mountains and the desert valley. Portal, the village, probably has 200 full time residents, some of them retired biologists who worked for a while at the nearby American Museum of Natural History Southwestern Research Station. Because of the incredible opportunities to observe the night sky, astronomers have their own village about 3 miles from the Portal store, and on the other side of a mountain which blocks any stray light from the village. At least two homes sport turrets for sophisticated star-gazing telescopes, and I am told some discoveries have been made there.
For birders there is the incredible South Fork trail of Cave Creek Canyon, a well known migrant trap, and home to one of the few colonies of breeding Elegant Trogons in North America. Butterfly enthusiasts move in during summer, and like birders, use the full range of desert floor to mountain peaks. These desert mountain ranges are called sky islands and feature flora and fauna which change dramatically with altitude. On top of all this, it is quiet, quiet enough for me to record birdsong and soundscapes, which our island definitely is not.
So, with more than enough yak now, I will shut up and let you see some of the images of this special place.
|The entrance to Cave Creek Canyon|
|Somewhere behind this outcrop a Golden Eagle pair has an eyrie|
|A lone Loggerhead Shrike scans the desert for a meal|
|Coatimundi is related to racoon|
|Urban center of Portal|
|The post office|
|Morning sun on the Canyon wall|
|The beautiful Arizona Sister butterfly taking minerals from the rocks beside Turkey Creek, high in the Chiricahua Mountains|
|The ubiquitous Cactus Wren at his command post along Highway 146 to Hachita, New Mexico|