The brisk cold winds of change came soon after my return to Arizona. One week after the warm border searches, it was time for some mountain fun. Winter had indeed arrived to Southern Arizona.
|the snowy Huachucas|
|A Loggerhead Shrike at work. It's Vole dinner|
|My favorite tree in all of Arizona. It's old and ancient. Someday I'd like my ashes to be placed around this very large tree. I call it the Heart Tree. It's at the center of Ramsey Canyon, one of my top ten favorite places in Arizona.|
In the soft crunch of snow beneath my shoes, I watched a Coati run towards me on our now shared route. We both stopped for a moment and watched each other before he turned off and headed towards the nearby abandoned cabin.
I very much like the cold. I don't like the eternal gray skies that can sometimes come with the snow, but I do prefer the frosty temps over the hot sweltering ones of our summer months.
One path leads to another. I stopped in the nearby grasslands and hiked some more. Birds were present, but I was more interested in quiet reflection. Things are changing. I can sense it coming and I need to be ready for those changes.
|Lesser Goldfinches mob the thistle feeder|
|The Violet-crowned Hummingbird-an established resident of Tucson Audubon's Paton's Center for Hummingbirds|
My reflections continued into the Ciénagas Grasslands near Empire Gulch where I walked alone against the biting wind. I strayed into the old abandoned buildings looking for owls and other goodies. This is another top 10 favorite spot for me in Arizona. There are 3 grassland sectors in this general region.....the San Rafael Grasslands, the Ciénagas Grasslands and Buenos Aires Grasslands. ALL are spectacular!
And as for my new state bird? Yes, I achieved my goal. I found that rare stinker of an American Bittern that has been hiding out for several months in Sierra Vista. The bird would have silently flown off had I not heard the rustle of reeds nearby. I was able to get everyone onto the bird before it disappeared into the far distance. I'd like to thank our group leader Bill Brown for the opportunity to bird this spot in depth. He did an outstanding job with everyone involved. And it's always a plus working with people who are kind and friendly. Bill is as we say in Wisconsin "good people". Leading a bird tour isn't is as easy as it looks as I'd soon get to experience personally. But that story is for next time.
|American Bittern in flight during our Sierra Vista EOP walk|