I have never been much of a bird watcher, but being retired, and living in the ‘wilderness’ has made me so much more aware of the animals and birds around me that I ever was living in the big city going to work every day.
There are so many interesting animals and birds out there, that I feel I have barely scratched the surface of being have to appreciate and identify the wide variety of species we have in AZ.
The sandhill cranes are among the more interesting migrating birds that call AZ their temporary home.
Then their are the snow geese that come for the summer – and I’m not talking about the east coasters that come in travel trailers and crowd Phoenix during Noreasters back home!
Northern shovelers with their platypus-type bills are among some of the interesting ducks we have.
Along with the pintail ducks that flock to our AZ lakes.
At Whitewater Draw in southern AZ, you might find yourself saying ‘who?’ to any number of bird species in this small, confined riparian area that serves as home to a snow bird of another feather.
While I have come to appreciate our brisk winters and beautiful snowfalls, sometimes it’s just pleasant to get ‘off the mountain’ and get a change of scenery. I suppose it’s true for anyone… even those who already live in a place other people come to vacation. One needs to get away and feel the buzz, new inputs, and varied vantage points.
Ours came this week via dropping off the mountain just north of Camp Verde to Bull Pen Recreational Area. Arizona is certainly full of hikes and trails, streams and waterways. We could have gone out to a restaurant for lunch, or shopping for things we don’t need… but instead we opted for a picnic with a view.
We live on the ridges above Clear Creek making for excellent views of both East Clear Creek and West Clear Creek all along the lengthy traversing creek. While most places requires quite a hike down hill (and back uphill) to view the creek, Bull Pen is easily accessible by dirt road. And an excellent spot for a brief getaway picnic.
We have been getting some much needed snow fall this week… just in time for Christmas. It’s hasn’t amounted to much accumulation, but we’ll take what we can get.
The snow has brought in this pair of twin bucks, who are just, pardon the pun, endeering.
They have brought a smaller little buck with them, and they seem to be hanging out together in their own little pack.
The little one has smaller antlers, but is definitely a new buck… and just as cute.
He seemed to be enjoying his first snow and the wonder of this cool white stuff dropping from the sky.
We so enjoyed their visit.
A year wouldn’t be complete without my wildlife photos that I strive so hard to capture. This year has been especially unique with some terrific ‘up-close-and-personal’ shots of a wide variety of wildlife, including bison, antelope, and big horn sheep. Picking the top shots is the hard part… what an awesome problem to have. : )
1. Antelope Greens Peak Loop near Show Low
2. Blue Heron Carneros Lake
3. Big Horn Sheep Greer, AZ
4. Mule Deer Grand Canyon South Rim
5. Mule Deer Grand Canyon North Rim
6. Bison Raymond Wilderness Area
7. Great White Egrets Happy Jack, AZ
8. Baby White Tail Deer Fawn Happy Jack, AZ
9. Bull Elk Happy Jack, AZ
10. Pygmy Owl Happy Jack, AZ
I did a Best of…. back in 2016. Not sure what happened in 2017, but thought I’d provide a couple series of Best of’s for this years photos to share.
1. Tinder Fire Of course, the most memorable (and terrifying) event of the year was the fire that stormed up our hill on April 29, 2018. We were fortunate enough to be spared… many weren’t so lucky.
2. Post Fire The post fire made for some surreal photos and devastating landscape, which I’m happy to report is starting to come back.
3. Renewal Trips to the Mogollon Rim brought new light, old growth, and peaceful respites.
4. Sublime Point The North Rim Sublime Point offered an awesome vantage point for nature’s wonder.
5. Bright Angel Point The popular Bright Angel Point along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon makes for magical scenery.
6. Maple Blanket An early October snowfall chased the fall colors off the trees creating a blank of fall color on the new fallen snow.
7. Sedona Fall Oak Creek Canyon burst with yellows and reds along the serene creek.
8. SnowMelt Snow melt creates run off among the woods of Mogollon Rim.
9. Ruins Doors This magical place overlooks the valley below as it has for centuries, seemingly untouched.
10. Ram Release While this is more an animal highlight than a photographic one… it was a special moment for us this year, to be a part of re-locating big horn sheep to their natural habitat only a few miles from us.
For more Best of 2018 check out post ….kritterspaw.com/2018/12/27/more-best-of-2018/
I remember when I used to visit my husband’s folks in Morman Lake, AZ. They would be all excited to share ‘their’ elk with us. With a binoculars in hand, if you squinted real hard, you could see the little dots of elk crossing in front of the fire house, about 1/4 mile away.
John’s mom still remembers fondly how close they got to see the elk. I laugh.
If she had any idea of how close we see the elk today!
Every once in a while you get the opportunity to be a part of something truly special. That’s how we felt this week when we got the chance to witness (and photograph) the release of 30 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep into their historic habitat along Leonard Canyon.
An amazing helicopter pilot with one eye on the sky, hands on his controls, and one eye on his precious cargo, lifted crates of bighorn sheep that had been collected from another habitat in Morenci.
By moving this selected grouping of rams, ewes, and lambs, the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep can become diverse across Arizona assuring their continued growth and health.
Not only is Leonard Canyon / East Clear Creek a historic habitat for the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, but ironically, our recent Tinder Fire makes for ideal conditions.
In the aftermath of our Tinder Fire, vegetation continues to grow back, which is full of nutrients for the wildlife that will return to our area for the new growth.
Hopefully these bighorn sheep will make Leonard Canyon and the surrounding area their new home, and thrive and flourish in their new environment.
I was delighted and honored to be part of such a tremendous and joyous event, where many hard working, caring people worked hard to bring these bighorn sheep back ‘home’. It was a beautiful thing to witness the many professionals who brought this all together through their hard work, dedication, and expertise. My sincerest thanks go out to AZGFD for allowing us to be part of this special treat.
You can read AZGFD’s news release here …. https://www.azgfd.com/bighorn-sheep-restored-to-historic-habitat-near-tucson-payson/