Chiricahuas - Sep 2007
 by Henry Detwiler

Suzanne, the girls and I spent four days in the Chiricahua Mountains for her birthday 
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.border  

Early on Sep 1, 2007, we headed out to Cave Creek Ranch to enjoy some cooler weather, forests, mountain scenery, and of course, birds! A stop at the Aztec feedlot sludge ponds on the way yielded the usual suspects--Least, Western, & Baird's Sandpipers. Farther along at the Wilcox ponds were lots of Wilson's Phalaropes. A side trip to Apple Annie's Orchard was great for peaches, Asian & Bartlett Pears, and red delicious apples.


Becky & Adriana
Becky & Adriana

acorn woodpecker
Arizona Woodpecker

We entered Portal and Cave Creek Valley via New Mexico due to heavy thunderstorms and running washes. Once at Cave Creek Ranch we met Tony and Shela, checked in, caught up on bird stories, watched the birds at the feeding station, and enjoyed a short walk.

blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated Hummingbird


blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated Hummingbird

The next morning I snapped some of the beautiful Blue-throated Hummingbirds with my camera, as they buzzed about the feeders and the juniper tree. Also at the feeding station were a number of other local residents: Canyon Towhee, Black-chinned & Rufous Hummingbirds, Bridled Titmouse, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Curve-billed Thrasher.

white-tailed deer
White-tailed Deer
Also on the grounds of Cave Creek Ranch were a nice variety of mammals. Several deer made good use of the feeding station, as did a herd of javalina, a skunk, and a number of rock squirrels.

We drove up towards the high country, and not far beyond the Southwestern Research Station, had to stop to let this hooded skunk meander across the road. Up at Ruster Park we enjoyed the pretty display of wildflowers carpeting the sun-lit hillsides. Some of the flowers attracted Painted Ladies and Little Blues (butterflies).

painted lady butterfly
Painted Lady

Rustler Peak

hooded skunk
Striped Skunk

Lots of common forest birds were about, including Hairy Woodpecker, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Hepatic Tanager, Yellow-eyed Junco, Pygmy Nuthatch, and Brown Creeper. We ate a nice picnic lunch in the cool of the forest, and then took a leisurely stroll.

After dinner that night we took our flashlights to the feeding station and waited for the long-nosed bats to come and slurp sugar water with their thick tongues from the hummingbird feeders. With patience and luck I got a few photos of the action. long-nosed bats
Long-nosed Bat

On the way down the mountain we stopped at the George Walker House and visited with Winston as we watched the procession of Magnificent, Rufous, Black-chinned, Anna's, and Calliope Hummer's drinking at their feeders.

rufous hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird

george walker house
White-winged Dove & Black-headed Grosbeak

Black-chinned Hummingbirds at George Walker House

canyon towhee
Canyon Towhee

Back at the Ranch, I set my sights on photographing the Arizona Woodpecker family that calls the area home. These have got to be the tamest Arizona Woodpeckers I've ever seen, allowing me to approach within 10 feet before moving up or around the tree. And of course, they really liked Tony's peanut butter bark spread.

arizona woodpecker
Arizona Woodpecker

Before dinner I spent a while surveying the diverse flock of birds that frequent Dave Jasper's feeding station, and then shot the breeze with him for a while. He had some fine stories about wading through his wash when it was running fast & strong.

gambel's quail
Gambel's Quail

calliope humminbird 
Calliope Hummingbird

As we rambled on, lots of hummers fed at his window feeders righ in front of us, including this Calliope Hummingbird.


Pyrrhuloxia and Northern Cardinal


Dave's feeding station adjoins a wash and situated in a nice brushy area--perfect for towhees, finches, and quail. He has regular Crissal Thrashers, too, but I missed them on this visit.

The next morning we headed out shortly after breakfast, and spotted a nice Mohave Rattlesnake crossing the road. Of course I stopped for photos, but then the silly beast slithered underneath the car. I tried to get it to leave using a 1x6 I found next to the road, but managed only to give myself a few splinters. Finally, I backed up a bit, and with Suzanne's hand signals, drove around the beast.

We stopped once more at Apple Annie's on the way home, and finally rolled into Yuma at dinner time. The end of a fine, long weekend!

Mohave rattlesnake
Mohave Rattlesnake

Mohave Rattlesnake
Mohave Rattlesnake

rock squirrel
Rock Squirrel

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