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The grace of nature

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Today, we took in a deep drink of the beauty here — the golds, fuschias, and scarlets of the wild flowers; the huge, towering rocks hoodoos; the music of mountain streams swelled from the monsoons; the company of good friends; the exhilaration of knowing that life is sometimes very good.

 

(more pics here)

With a friend visiting, we drove through the mountains to the Chiricahua National Monument. It’s a short trip we’ve made several times without ever ceasing to be amazed at the surrounding beauty. The land changes radically with the season, the amount of rainfall, the light, and even our moods and the company we have along. Always, it makes me pause and wonder why I spend so much time worrying about things that don’t really matter.

Truly, this kind of beauty, the people we share our lives with, and the stewardship we exercise over both are the things that are essential.

Oh, and today I saw my first bear in Coronado. I’ve heard many stories about how plentiful bears are here. I’ve wanted to see a bear for a long time. This morning, I decided today would be the day. And thanks to Brad’s eagle eyes, we saw a bear.

It was a magnificent bear. Seen through the trees and across a small stream, it was just the distance from which I’d like a see a bear — close enough to get a good look, far enough to make both me and him reasonably comfortable. It was a large bear, larger than I’d expected, with a full, healthy coat and a solid rump. He looked at us, loped a little further up the hill, and then turned to take another look.

image credit: cogdog (Alan Levine) – CC BY SA

 

We have seen the trogon!

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

When people come to Portal to birdwatch, the elegant trogon is the treasured sighting everyone hopes for.

After almost three years of living in a world-renowned birdwatching area, we have gone on our first birding expedition, thanks go our friends Sukon and Michele and a new birder friend Elaine. And we saw and heard the trogon!

We spotted a wide variety of other birds as well, most of which I can’t remember, though a list has been recorded. My favorites were the red-faced warbler, the lesser goldfinch, and the lucifer hummingbird. (In fact, we saw something like seven different types of hummingbirds.) Thanks to great tutelage from our friends, we might even be able to do some birding with other visitors in the future.

Very exciting to us on this trip was that we ventured into the national forest for the first time since the fires and found that there was not as much damage as we feared. Many trees were burned, but not killed, and a lot of undergrowth has begun to grow back.

birding

We also saw a lot of beautiful wildflowers, which have begun to come up with the monsoons.

Who goes there?

Friday, January 7th, 2011

An owl landed on our water tower this evening. For those of you who have an idea of how big our water tower is, this picture gives you an idea of how big the owl is. Bigger than the bobcat as Brad pointed out.

IMG_1510

It’s been pretty cold here this week (in the teens at night and 60+ during the day but cold when it’s windy). I’ve been working on filling cracks in the new slab this week so we can cut it, which needs to be done before framing.

Other than that, we’ve been busy with the paying job…making ebooks, doing a social media project (can you imagine? someone paying me to tweet and facebook), and building an online course (which I’ll be teaching in a couple weeks).

How we spent Christmas

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

We got up early Christmas morning (actually set an alarm if you can believe that) and headed down to Whitewater Draw where we’d heard there were a fair number sandhill cranes.

It’s about a 75 minute drive, and we got there at about a little after 9. There are some very pretty ponds there, and we saw some cute ducks, a beautiful bright red bird ( possibly a flame-colored tanager), and a lot of raptors, but no cranes. By 10:30 or so, we started hearing the cranes. (You can often hear them long before you see them. They fly very high and have a loud, though oddly pleasing, call.)

Before long, we could see flocks of 100+ birds overhead, and in the distance, many thousand were visible (with the lovely new binoculars Brad got me for Christmas). After 45 minutes or so of flying, they finally started landing. And landing and landing and landing.

By my very rough estimate, there ended up being between 10,000 and 20,000 on the ground. (They say there are as many as 30,000 there at times.) It was so amazing. For the most part, the birds just sat close to one another making their noises, but every once in a while something made huge numbers of them lift off. Wow!

More pictures here.

(If anyone is interested in coming to see these cranes, the season is roughly Nov. through Feb. Not the nicest time of year here, but certainly more temperate than the snowy north.)

A mew in the night

Friday, October 8th, 2010

At 3:00am this morning, I was awoken by a kind of constant whiny mewing just outside my window. A kitten? I didn’t think so since there are no feral cats around here that I know of and the sound was too small to be a bobcat. Maybe a baby opossum, some kind of rodent, or even a baby skunk?

I listened to it for awhile becoming more insistent and clearly irritated. I woke up Brad.

We went to the window. It seemed to be almost directly against the house, but we couldn’t see anything. We turned on the outside house lights and got a flashlight. Still nothing. But the mewing continued.

Finally, Brad ventured outside (in his underwear…quite a sight, and it was cold). What he saw was a spade footed toad….being eaten by a much smaller snake.

snake-frog

The snake looks big in this zoomed up picture, but the snake was only the thickness of a fat pencil and less than a foot long. We think it might have been a juvenile nightsnake but we’re not sure.

No sign of either party this morning.

Wildlife

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

The monsoons seem to be bringing out the animals. Yesterday, Brad saw mule deer, the bobcat, and a coyote. Then this morning I saw this beautiful coyote. They are very shy and normally not to be seen, though we sure do hear them yipping at night! It’s lovely.

coyote

Wise old owl

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

The great horned owl that frequents our front oak has been there everyday this week.

owl

owl2

More bobcat photos

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

A lot of animals this morning. There were cows all over the road this morning. It was a challenge getting past them. About ten minutes after I was on the property, they had a mini-stampede up the road and away. Curious, there were deer standing near the cows, but on our side of the fence. They ran way as soon as they saw me.

The bobcats were all on the property today. When I drove up, one was inside the wire protecting one of our trees. It quickly scampered up a small mesquite tree. The other kitten ran off into the brush looking just like a kid off to fetch mom… sure enough, mom and the kitten wandered back about five minutes later.

I noticed the kitten in the tree had a small animal in its mouth; a bunny I think. It was small enough that I believe it caught it itself. On thing that dawned on me is that the bunny escape holes probably keep mom out, but these not these kittens. -sigh- It’s a hard world.

bob kittens

Thursday, August 6th, 2009


The big oak tree at our front gate has become the favorite playground for the local bobby twins. Mom was around, but I could not get her in a picture. The pictures of the bob kittens are the best to date. I hope you like them.

-brad

(look how long their legs are)

thar be turtles!

Monday, June 15th, 2009

No, it’s not talk like a pirate week… I’m just excited to finally see a turtle.

We been hearing about the desert turtles since before we moved here. There are signs warning you not to run them over. There are roads out here are named after them, “Turtle Run”. There are even signs proclaiming love for the turtles. I never see them though… until yesterday.

I was driving back from our property when I saw a rock in the road that looked a lot like a turtle. I stopped to take a look and indeed, it was a turtle. Wow! I have a hard time believing they survive out here. It seems so hostile and they’re so small.

Here’s what one looks like in the road.

And here are a couple of close ups.

(In this picture, I crossed a line and he scrunched up.)

It was another interesting day for wildlife. I got a couple of nice vulture photos.