Gone to the Birds

Anna’s hummingbird hovers

We’ve seen so few big animals, I’ve had to resort to taking pix of the birds! We’ve driven to the rim and seen very few elk or deer. With all the fires, smoke, and lack of water, maybe they’ve taken up residence someplace else.

Woodpeckers forage for bugs

No matter. We always have all sort of birds to divert my attention.

Western Bluebird and Acorn Woodpecker vie for kernel of food
Western Bluebird, female

Living in Northern AZ we get quite the assortment of forest birds. I’ve never been much of a bird watcher, but I may have to take it up!

Schnebly Hill Vista

We love to explore the back roads and take in the fabulous views we find along the way. We have traveled the Schnebly Hill Road on numerous occasions over the years.

Schnebly Hill road

The 12-mile road cuts between Flagstaff and Sedona. If one didn’t know better, they might think it a short cut. In reality, all the wind and lack of rain has continuously deteriorated the road.

Sunrise at Schnebly Hill Vista

You may know the road – it’s that really rough road the Pink Jeep Tours drives through out of Sedona. The bumpy road from Sedona to Schnebly Vista traverses over rugged rock shelf terrain. It takes around an hour to go just 6 miles, dependent on how much one wants to beat up your lifted truck or Jeep. It is not suited for passenger cars.

Little mouse collecting food

We even caught this industrious little mouse foraging through a cactus. It’s wonderful the things you see if you get out there. You can see more of my mouse pix here … https://kritterspaw.com/2021/06/11/industrious-mouse/

Sedona city lights from Schnebly Hill Vista

We were delighted to have some clouds for some beautiful sunsets and sunrise.

Oregon

We love fresh seafood… and the water. Living in AZ, that means if we want to get our ‘fix’ we have to go East Coast or West Coast. West Coast is closer and a fairly easy drive, so we made the trek to Oregon to get our ‘fix’.

We had a lot of blue sky, windy days, but enjoyed the scenic drive down the coast, stopping along the way. Many of the shops and restaurants are closed (permanently or temporarily), and others only open at 25% capacity. So we mostly enjoyed buying fresh caught seafood from the local fishermen, supporting their trade and enjoying fresh fish while camping out.

The winds made the seas pretty rough and walking on the beach quite blustery, but we did manage to get in some scenic views, wooded walks, and take in some local wildlife.

Maybe next time we’ll do the East Coast, and plan a longer visit, perhaps once things settle down.

Check out more pix here … https://kritterspaw.com/2021/04/21/oregon-coast-2/

Little Horn Sheep

It’s not very often we see big horn sheep. But this past week we went out to take pix of the snow and ran into a herd of big horn sheep, including 7 babies. Woohoo!

I can probably count how many times I have seen big horn sheep on 1 hand. They are one of the less common big animal encounters. We were lucky enough to not only see big horn sheep, but babies… and in snow on top of that. It was like a 3-fer.

It made my day, if not my year! I was very happy to have a positive jolt of goodness in what has been a difficult time for us personally. You take joy where you can get it.

I guess we need to get out more!

We Got Snow

Storm brewing on the horizon over Moqui Draw
Snow coats trees over Moqui Draw

After a long dry monsoon season and cold barren winter our forecast seemed bleak. We were desperate for some precipitation and moisture for our thirsty forest. The weather guys swore we were really in for it… Monday, no Tuesday, wait maybe Thursday, or Friday. Nothing. For sure Saturday. It seemed everyone else started getting it, but we were passed by. Flagstaff was getting pounded we heard. Hmmm. We got maybe 4″, and were waiting for this monster storm.

Snow clings to trees in the forest outside of Flagstaff after January snowstorm.
Elk grazes in Northern AZ

Finally, Monday the storm hit. Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, we finally got some much needed snow. It came and came, yay! We figure we got around 24″ all together. It’s hard to say exactly, as the winds were blowing so hard, drifts were high, and actual measures were difficult to estimate.

Snow collects in depression outside of Flagstaff, AZ
Elk roots around into fresh fallen snow

No matter. We are happy to have it. I guess good things come to those who wait.

Snowy road outside of Mogollon Rim.
Snow coats the trees after a Northern AZ winter storm.
Snow falls over previous burn area.

See my other posts, here… https://kritterspix.com/2021/01/29/a-world-of-friends/ and here… https://kritterspaw.com/2021/01/27/snow-foraging/.

Best of 2020 – Animals

I like to review my year’s photos to consolidate the best of the year.

I posted my Best of 2020 – Landscape photos here… https://kritterspaw.com/2021/01/12/best-of-2020-landscape/. Now it’s time to review my animal pix. It was a good year for animals, as we saw a lot of different types.

Big Horn Sheep

We were lucky enough to see this beautiful herd of big horn sheep as we left Alstrom Point. We saw the herd in the distance, so drove ahead of them, and I walked out behind a rock to see if I could sneak up on them. I’m not sure who was more surprised when we saw each other as I crotched down from behind a ridge – me or them. It was a fantastic moment.

Coyote

Admittedly, I am not a big fan of coyote. They are scavengers and corral & hunt my precious deer and elk. So I’m just as happy not to see any. But I did this year, and got a decent photo that makes the cut.

Kit Fox

We don’t see many fox, so I was thrilled when we saw this pup this year. So cool!

Deer Fawn

All babies are cute, especially the 4 legged animal variety!

Javelina

Speaking of babies… it was super cute to get so see this affectionate family of javelina with new born babe.

Elk baby

And elk baby, or calf.

Elk bull

The next best thing to new animals (at least for us), or baby animals, are those big boys… elk bulls

Deer Buck

and bucks…

The cuter and better expression, the better!

Chipmunk

I got a ton of chipmunk pix this year, they were just too darn cute.

Deer Doe and fawn

And finally, pretty much any animal in the snow. Just wish we had more of it!

Alstrom Point

We have had more trips cancelled this year than we have gone on. Such is the year 2020.

We had put off our trip to Alstrom Point, overlooking Lake Powell, due to weather. Not bad weather, but too much blue sky! With little rain or clouds on the horizon, a beautiful typical AZ blue sky can be less than photogenic.

So when forecasts for clouds came out, we packed up and headed out. Unfortunately, there were none. While we were there, the weather forecast called for clouds the next day (when previously it had called for Clear and Sunny). So we stayed another day. All we got was more blue sky. So we headed for home.

On the way home though, we were gifted with a great little surprise: big horn sheep.

I anticipated where they were headed and stalked into them. Fantastic.

By the time we got home, we were greeted with 2″ of snow. Go figure! (Check out snow pix here … https://kritterspaw.com/2020/12/12/blizzard/)

Sometimes magic happens when you least expect it. Stay the course. Stay positive, and keep on doing what you enjoy.

The Bucks Have It

While I love when we see any animals, the most coveted are the most unique and least often seen. Big animals, boys (bucks and bulls), and babies bring the most attention due to their illusiveness.

Aside from that, gestures and action, garner more interest, like this floppy eared buck.

I try to capture their personality and individualism in their environment to share.

These animals are here and gone, so it’s important to me to make their moment shine. I keep telling ’em, smile pretty for the camera – sometimes they actually listen.

Aztec Peak

Workman’s Creek in Gila County, resides in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. It is along a long dirt road 25 miles from Young to the North; or 30 miles from Globe to the South.

View from Workmans Creek Falls
Hawk hangs out on a tree limb over Workmans Creek

The two hundred foot falls drop down to the ground below cascading over rocks along the overgrown creek bed. With little rain this season, the falls are not running.

Truck crosses workmans creek bridge

We weren’t here to see the Falls… or Workman’s Creek. We came to check out Aztec Peak, which continues on the road past the falls (if the gate is open).

Smoke from fires in the area yielded an eery hazy sky with a red sun.

Aztec Peak is the highest point in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. We were greeted by hazy skies from the smoke in the valley below. The 21,000 acre Salt Fire, the 5,000 acre Meddler Fire, the 9,000 Medicine Fire and the 62,000 acres Griffin Fire, all contributing their fair share of smoke. At night we could see the glow of the fires burning, the closest only 5 miles away from us.

The views from the Peak were terrific, though mired by the smoke and haze. It is definitely worthy of another trip, despite the long drive.