On Friday afternoon, we went for a drive and hike and saw some cute javelinas. This was the first pair we saw.
Then we ran into this bunch.
The babies were so cute!
Glad there aren’t any packs of these getting into our garden though.
The wildlife around here seem to love all the things we are building. It’s housing (temporary, we keep reminding them), as well as a place to play. We have flickers constantly trying to nest in the new house, and a colony of rabbits have taken up quarters under the adobe bricks. Every morning we lie in bed and watch them come out and play on what will someday be the patio.
The other day we were working in the afternoon, and I asked if he thought the bunnies stayed under the adobe during the day. “Probably,” he said, and so I bent down and stuck my face in one of the dark passageways between two skids of bricks. Imagine my surprise to see two big glowing eyes looking back out at me. I backed up quickly.
When I told Brad that I wished he’d seen those eyes, he said, “It was much more fun to see your reaction.”
Last night, just before sunset, the bobcat came around. Apparently, she was quite interested in the adobe. At first, she was trying to get under the pallets, where there are undoubtedly rabbits and mice that would make a tasty treat. When she couldn’t fit, she decided to climb on top.
The sandbags holding down the tarp were like big cat toys.
After play, some time to rest.
And finally a big stretch before moseying on.
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.
We also saw a lot of beautiful wildflowers, which have begun to come up with the monsoons.
It’s hard to believe that it’s almost the beginning of July, but here we are. I’ve been traveling a lot this month, which has meant not a lot of big work on the house, but I’m now home for a long stretch. With some big work projects completed, we are now full steam ahead on the house.
After two months, the fires are now finally safely far from us, though our thoughts are with those who are now affected by them. The firefighters’ camp has moved north. It was strange to see them all cleared out in just 24 hours.
Just as the fire updates stopped coming, we began getting warnings of impending flooding. It’s a little hard to think about that since we haven’t had rain since last year, but the big monsoons are due any day now. In fact, I am writing this on a plane going back home and heard from Brad yesterday that we got our first sprinkle of rain. (I was in Philadelphia, and it rained there, as it often does. I had an overwhelming urge to run into the middle of the street and dance in the rain.)
The weather has been extraordinarily hot at home, hotter than it ever got last year. It has been between 105 and 110, and even the evenings have not been as pleasantly cool as they usually are.
The garden is thriving in the heat, except for the eggplants. The more I read about them, the more I think they don’t thrive in any conditions we are likely to have; they seem to be very sensitive to heat, cold, wind, and other variations. Ours are doing ok, but not exactly thriving. The tomatoes, on the other hand, are going crazy. At last count, there were over 50 fruits. I think we will be canning sauce and salsa soon. Brad has put in another bed for more garlic, and I look forward to having an even bigger and better garden every year.
The deer around the house each evening are getting more numerous and less shy, especially as it is so hot and dry, and we have water for them. Brad has won the latest round of battles with the bees in the front tree, but the war remains in question. (Any suggestions on getting bees out of a tree are welcome.) We have not seen even one rattlesnake this year. In fact, my only snake sighting was a very small garter snake that was nearly on top of my shoe one morning we went walking. Both the snake and I were quite startled by each other.
When the first rain comes, we will anxiously scout about for all the wildlife that seems to appear at that prompting. velvet mites, our lovely turtles, frogs, and whatever else might spring from the ground. It’s an exciting time that first rain!
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.
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).
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!
(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.)
Happy holidays to all of you! It’s been an exciting week here, as you’ll see below. Also, we saw a lovely pair of golden eagles this week. What a treat.
If you already saw some of this on FB, skip to the last minute or so, which is new. Also, as usual, if the video is chunky, press pause and wait a couple minutes before resuming playing.