Big Horn Sheep Release

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hopefully these bighorn sheep will make Leonard Canyon and the surrounding area their new home, and thrive and flourish in their new environment.

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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.

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You can read AZGFD’s news release here …. https://www.azgfd.com/bighorn-sheep-restored-to-historic-habitat-near-tucson-payson/

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They are not Buffalo

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You know you are retired when you start doing Bison Workshops for fun!  The first thing I learned, is they are not actually Buffalo… all American ‘buffalo’ are actually Bison.

Bucktooth_IR.jpg There are two herds being re-introduced into Arizona that are direct descendants of original bison that roamed the plains in the 1800’s before their virtual extinction.  One is in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is a growing herd.  The other is managed by the AZGFD at Raymond Wilderness Area outside of Flagstaff.

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We learned how to identify the boys from the girls.  Beside the obvious, the boys have a more thick curly fur on their foreheads, and their horns curl in.

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We were told that these big guys were a relatively young herd, and none more than 3 years old.  I can only imagine them when they ‘grow up’.

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We got this amazing opportunity to literally see them up close and personal… and it was a real thrill…. one that I would do again in a heartbeat.

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Thanks to Mike and Deanna for joining us on this fun adventure.

For more bison pix, see my post… https://kritterspaw.com/2018/11/10/bison-are-back/

Oak Creek, Sedona AZ

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It’s fall in Northern AZ.  With all the snow (all 10″ between 2 storms) and wind we have had, most of the leaves have fallen to the ground on the Rim… so time to explore fall colors in other parts.

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Sedona along Oak Creek makes for a fine diversion.  The aspens were in full yellows and the ferns varying shades of reddish brown.  It was the kind of scenery that gives you pause as it takes your breath away.

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The cascading waters just added to it’s peaceful serenity.  It’s hard to beat scenery like this.  Arizona is truly a magical place.

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One that we are fortunate enough to call home.

 

Great Whites

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I thought I had seen it all… at least most of the animals there were to see.  (Though I still have never seen that elusive mountain lion.)  The other day we even got the opportunity to see a Ringtail Cat.  Which was super cool.  I didn’t get a photo, alas… they are nocturnal.  I felt fortunate enough just to see this odd little weasel-like creature with a raccoon-ish big stripped tail bigger than his body.  (You can see a photo of him here…  https://kritterspaw.com/2018/10/30/ring-tale/).    But I digress.

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The other day, we were outside and this ‘swarm’ of white birds was circling overhead.  They settled in the tree in our front yard!  Moreover, they stayed!

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I’m guessing they were migrating from here to there… where ever the here and there are.  But in transit, they needed a rest, and found a good spot right here!  Wow!

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I can tell you, I got little else done that day!!!

So, they appear to be Great White Egrets… while they are ‘common’ birds…. they certainly aren’t common in our front yard here in the mountains.  So I was delighted to have them find rest at our home.

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They were here… then they were gone.

I was happy to entertain them… or moreover, have them provide my entertainment, albeit for a short respite.

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First Snow

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We had already scheduled a trip to check out how fall colors were coming along when we got 6″ of fresh heavy snow.  The cold snap helped the colors along, bringing out brilliant reds in the maples, and golden yellows among the oaks.

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The ground was covered with a blanket of fallen color on the fresh white snow.  It was a thing of beauty to walk among nature and all her glory.

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We even found these fresh bear tracks leading through the forest, who surely must have been enjoying the cool weather and the awesome environment we were witnessing.

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For more Fall Color photos check out my blog here…  https://kritterspaw.com/2018/10/20/snowfall/

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It’s A Boy

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If you remember a post I did a little while back about Pat’s Fawn (https://kritterspix.com/2018/09/17/pats-fawn/), we’ve been fortunate enough to see it a few times and kinda watch it grow up, which has been a real joy.   It’s starting to loose it’s spots.

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But it’s still playful and skittish… and wonderfully fun to watch.  Mom still dotes on her… except, apparently it’s a him.

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I caught a glimpse of a little bump on his head where his antlers will be soon.

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We can still call him Spots though, right?!

Mountain Wildlife

One of my favorite things about living up north in the mountains is the wildlife we get to see.  I never saw wildlife in the big city.    Here on the mountain we see a wide variety of species.

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Like this elusive fox.  I have seen fox on occasion, but have struggled to get a good shot.  This one was no exception, taken in the dark with a high ISO, spotlighted with a flashlight.  I had a hard time focusing in the dark, even with the flashlight… and today’s camera’s aren’t intended for manual focus.

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We also saw this curious raccoon.  He was searching for grub.

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We watched him (her?) for quite awhile (albeit difficult in the dark)…. another animal we rarely see, particularly as they are nocturnal.

Incidentally, the fox came at the same time… but didn’t stick around.  The fox seemed quite put off by the raccoon, and quickly circled the raccoon then made haste and left.  Pity, I would have liked to have gotten a better shot.