As the Canyon Wren inspected my binoculars, I pondered the meaning of it all. Somehow we made it. And thank the bird gods we did. I'm not sure what we would have done had we been alone.
This trip showed signs of trouble from the start. Kathy's truck met a river for a road. We tried to get around the river but got stuck in the mud. And later it happened again! But this time in the Cocospera river! Had it not been for Jim's tow cable, I'm not sure we would have gotten out.
As we hiked down the trail, we noticed a new road cutting through pristine desert habitat. This ranch? Was it even protected anymore?
I still noticed the birds. They were all still there. But something was different this time.
|female Varied Bunting|
And this time around, there were more cattle. Once upon a time, the ranch owner was sensitive to the number of cattle on his land. But it seems he has lost this battle as well.
The old couches sat outside on the patio now as if to be taken away at some point. There the Canyon Wren sat.
I watched an adult Cliff Swallow feed the baby.
At night, we walked muddy roads discovering more bugs than reptiles. I thought more about betrayal. Maybe this is how the rancher also felt. He thought he could trust the Mexican government to do the right thing. He thought he could trust the conservation groups to keep his efforts going. And in all his efforts, he kept running into obstacles.
|A sleeping Pacific-slope Flycatcher|
Hummingbird migration was at full force.
The Canyon Wrens jumped onto my chair. I had a good laugh. How many people struggle to see these wrens when they come to visit? Sure, I often hear them but to have them come right up to me was a nice change. Talk about an armchair tick!
And I continued counting birds while running into more cattle. No decision is ever simple. More cattle equals more money. It's obviously where the cash is made. But surely there is a way for conservation to be equally profitable beyond the hunting sector?
For years, I tried to believe that the ranch owner was trying to make a difference. And I think at some point he did maybe try a little. During our last visit, we witnessed things on the ranch that seemed to be reversing the conservation trend.
I fear that soon there will be no one coming to do research at this ranch. I understand that people need to survive and make money. I also know that the people on our end work their tails off to do excellent research. They have offered to help expand the organization but it has been met with lukewarm reception. People like Kathy believe in this place. She always has.
Our glue, Ms. Kathy, can't keep this going forever. She has been the organizer for all these trips for so many years. Both she and her daughter have spent MANY hours prepping for these trips so that people could experience the ranch. It has been a magical journey and I've met some of the most incredible people. But sadly, it looks like those days are coming to an end as the ranch owner ends his conservation attempts to protect the Cocospera Riparian area.
As I look out at the ranch one last time, I wonder what will happen. Only one weekend before this trip, I had heard a speaker talk about this rancher and what an amazing job they both had done creating this conservation friendly ranch. There were half truths spoken. Old conversations with the ranch owner about this speaker suddenly surfaced. I watched the audience believe his every word. In the back of my mind, I heard the rancher's voice. And I listened intently to what this man had to say. What the speaker didn't tell his audience was that he is not allowed back on that rancher's property anymore because he betrayed the rancher's trust. Again, the word "betray". To me, this speaks volumes about the relationship issues between conservation groups and ranchers. I can't speak for the ranch owner as I have never been a ranch owner. I've not been in his
But here's the kicker. Who speaks for the wildlife on this ranch? Who will protect them if no one cares? The bird gods must have heard my troubled thoughts because several days after our trek, I received a letter requesting the use of one of my photos I took on the ranch a couple years ago of the Crawford's gray shrew. Jim was looking under wooden panels on a cold cold day and discovered this tiny mammal. Perhaps these organizations will put Aribabi on the conservation map and help this ranch owner out? Only time will tell. How does that saying go? One step forward; three steps back.
I have watched "change" happen all around me in the desert. I've silently watched the major characters in conservation interact with their audiences and also between their egos. Three Betrayals I have learned during this past month of August. A betrayal of land, friendship and intent. I remember a time before birding when everything was so black and white. When birding entered my life, it fused itself into my being and changed everything. And I changed. I can't save the world but I can be the best citizen scientist possible. I have to believe that we, as the shepherds of this planet, can do better. Until next time.....