We go to the Mogollon Rim often just to look for animals. Our elk have been very elusive lately. On our most recent trip we saw a large herd of probably 100 elk.
But with all our multiple sightings, they were very camera shy and spooky… and by spooky I don’t mean scary, I mean scared. They ran at the mere sound of us, and just wouldn’t stay still for a shutter release.
I keep telling ’em… I’ll make you famous :). But they don’t listen.
No worries… I’m persistent. I’ll be back!
I was born in Phoenix, AZ… and have lived here all my adult life (despite the fact that I have traveled and lived in a dozen or so states). So we are pretty familiar with AZ, and her backroads.
But, I have never been to Tonto National Monument, until this week. It was a first for both John (who moved here when he was 11 mo. old) and myself.
Despite the fact that I was less than impressed, it was a good trip, a nice hike (which Journey was marginally allowed on), and very scenic.
We loved the view of Roosevelt Lake from the ruins more than we liked the ruins themselves. It was blue blue sky day… but made for a nice diversion for the day.
On the way to Flagstaff, we caught 2 bald eagles and a golden eagle hanging out outside of Lake Mary.
Eagles are always a thrill to see. I’m still waiting for that special opportunity of an eagle swooping down picking up a fish… but alas, just haven’t caught that yet.
In the meantime I’ll take every opportunity to just enjoy these majestic birds.
This guy looked like he had been digging around in the mud as his white head was covered in mud.
One thing I have learned… is to take the camera wherever we go. It’s when we don’t bring it that we see animals. Fortunately, this time I had it on hand and was able to get a few shots to capture the moment.
We finally got a little snow…. not much, but enough to have the animals hunker down and get out of the wind and snow. This little pygmy owl sat and gazed at the snow and watched it come in. Any time we see some of the more ‘exotic’ and rare animals, we are thrilled… and this pygmy owl was no exception.
We were just talking about how we would love to see some different animals. It’s not that I don’t love our deer and elk, but it would be nice to expand my wildlife photos. Fortunately these turkey were very accommodating.
Turkey are generally very elusive. I don’t know how many times we have spotted them and I trekked over the forest trying to chase them down, and never saw them again. Now that I think about it, that sounds pretty silly.
These turkey (we saw 2), were most likely males. You can see what looks like a tuft of elk hair sticking out of their chest, called a beard, which means they were probably males. Although, oddly, about 10% of females also have the beards. They also had blue cheeks and a dark almost metallic chest which are other indicators of a male.
Most turkey found in AZ are Merriam turkeys. However, these were the largest turkey’s I have ever seen… most we see are much scrawnier. A Gould turkey is more rare as they became mostly extinct and are only slowly making a comeback in AZ, NM, and Mexico. The Gould turkey is slightly larger than the Merriam turkey, and has white tipped tail feathers, which these have.
Whichever variety they were, I has thrilled to have the opportunity to photograph them.
While the East coast is getting hit with repeated snow storms, Arizona is getting left out of the action. Now I know most people don’t think of AZ as getting snow… but for Northern Arizona it is part of our seasons, and one we count on to get precipitation to keep our trees healthy and our forests free from wildfires. For a normal winter (October – March, or so) we would expect to see maybe 6′ – 10′ of snow. While that may not be a lot for some Eastern states, it’s about right for us. Thus far this winter, we have seen none.
That is until this past weekend. I’m happy to report we finally got some snow! Woohoo. We probably got about 8″ at our home. Having been house bound, we opted to go to the rim to check out their snow and maybe get some pix.
The rim probably got around a foot of snow. It was beautiful.
There is something special about new fallen fresh snow, clinging to the trees and their trunks. It is a magical sight. I never used to like snow – too cold. But I have developed an appreciation for it’s beauty.
… and it always tends to bring out the animals. We were lucky to see a number of elk – all of whom where quite surprised to see our Jeep slogging through the deep snow.
First it was the deer, now the elk. We love the return of the animals. It has been so dry. No rain in the past or foreseeable future. The weather is unpredictably warm. Our plants and animals are confused beyond measure. Bees are swarming late… baby animals are appearing late… and wild birds, normally migrated, are looking for food.
Winter must be near… but the weather gods aren’t cooperating. Maybe next week. In the meantime, the animals are trying to fill up on whatever food and water they can get their mouths on…. including having elk and deer in the same space.
We’ll enjoy what we get… when we get it.