After a successful shoot at Whitewater Draw, I wanted to check out the eagles in Pinetop / Lakeside.
Generally, their season is between November through March. But, as with all wildlife, they don’t follow a precise schedule and don’t necessarily indulge in our guidelines.
I have previously enjoyed watching eagles catch fish and hang out among the many trees around Rainbow Lake. On my recent outing I was fortunate to see a few bald eagles and a couple juvenile eagles. None seemed to be inclined to fish, and were merely hanging out.
It would appear that I was too late for this year’s season. Though, who’s to say, if I came back tomorrow I might find a myriad of eagles fishing to their heart’s content. Such is the nature of the beast.
No matter, I got a few nice pix, and a wonderful day out. It’s all good.
What do they say? Birds a feather flock together. That is no more true than at Whitewater Draw, where thousands (we heard numbers anywhere between 20,000 and 47,000) sandhill cranes flock to this lush marshland in southern Arizona.
But it’s not just sandhill cranes. The area is rich with all sorts of birds, including the blue, green, and cinnamon -winged teals, Northern pintails, red-winged blackbirds, Northern shovelers, grebes, egret, hawks and owls.
We saw birds I never heard of, like the colorful Vermillion Flycatcher and Northern Harrier.
Not to mention the very entertaining sandhill cranes.
Whitewater Draw has had increasing numbers of sandhill cranes year over year. This area is the best sandhill crane-viewing site in Arizona, and one of the largest migration sites in the country. It’s a thrilling sight to see and experience.
We had been promised snow on multiple occasions. They said we’d get 1 – 3 inches during the day, and 4 – 6″ that evening. Not to be that day, or the next, or the one after that.
I never thought I’d say it, but I’ve come to like the snow. It blows in all sorts of things, like this beautiful cooper’s hawk.
Or this little falcon….
As we feel the storm coming, the clouds and winds roll in, but the promise doesn’t come… our friends in South Carolina are soaking up the sun in shorts & tee-shirts on the beach. (This just after coming back from freezing on the West Coast, enduring incessant rains and cold temperatures on the California beach.)
We finally got our snow, about 6″. It was here and then gone. But with it, we got our animals.
We took the opportunity to go out and find them, and were rewarded with some nice shots of elk in the snow.
And big horn sheep
In the course of a week since we got back from CA, we saw deer, elk, ram, and even a coyote.
We love our deer, particularly when they bring their babies by!
Ever wonder the difference between white tail and mule deer. I know, probably not. Living in the mountains, we have had to learn the difference. Living in the valley, we never knew there was a difference. Oh, how our lives have changed – in so many ways.
The white tail deer are smaller than mule deer (affectionately called ‘mulie’s’. Generally speaking, white tails are smaller (between 130 -200 lbs full grown) vs mule deer (up to 250 lbs, and bucks can be as large as 450 lbs).
The easiest distinguishing factor is their tail. The mule deer have a black tip on the end of their tail, vs. the white tail have all tan / fur colored tails, with the inside all white.
They are a beautiful sight to see, particularly when young, innocent and full of life.
With the recent cold blast (we saw it as low as 22F) and the intense winds, we thought we better check out the Fall Colors to see where we were. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the fall colors were mostly on the ground rather than on the trees.
We’ve barely begun to run our rounds of our favorite haunts for Changing of the Leaves… but as it turns out, we may already be too late. It happens every year. It goes from hot to cold, and there definitely is a chill in the air, particularly with the high winds. It seems Winter is already here.
If you are hoping to catch the change of season…. better hurry out, or it will be the change to Snow that we will be catching next.
It’s always fun exploring new areas. We had never been to Mingus Mountain, so decided with weather coming in… it was a good time.
The campground is pretty developed, and was fairly full. But it was quiet and had a series of trails behind each campsite offering terrific views of Camp Verde and Cottonwood below.
We recall our friend Gary waxing poetic about Mingus Mountain when he used to hang glide from Mingus. Following massive rain and winds that we endured through the night and into the morning, we encountered a complete white out of low hanging clouds and fog.
We checked out Gary’s Mingus launch site and considered the courage it took to jump off this cliff into the great blue below. Ah, but I must take pause. Gary would admonish me as the ‘uninitiated’ for using such a word. A hang glider pilot does not ‘jump’ off a cliff, he flies. In fact, an experienced pilot approaches it with eagerness and exhilaration.
When we were there it was nothing but clouds – not a good day for hang gliding, but eerie and fantastic nonetheless. It was a nice spot, with beautiful views. We enjoyed the weather and all the moody scenes it provided, making for interesting photographs.
Our trip definitely reminded me that it’s fun and exciting to try new places and new experiences. It’s easy to get stuck in our doldrums of same ‘ol, same ‘ol. We need to get out more to enjoy new and different experiences.
We frequent the North Rim of the Grand Canyon much more than the South Rim, in large part because we don’t actually enter the park.
We are able to enter the outside of the Park boundaries where we can camp and mostly enjoy great views in solitude. I will admit this time we saw more people on our trip than I think we ever have before. It was a treat to meet fellow travelers who were like minded and shared similar interests.
We drove all the way to Point Sublime (for which we obtained a Back Country Permit, as it is just over the Park Boundary) and camped for several days.
Surprisingly the leaves had hardly begun to change and temps were fairly warm. Unfortunately, we saw very few clouds. By the time we got home we were welcomed with cool temps, clouds, and rain. No matter what, though, it’s always a pleasure to enjoy nature and a good view.