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November 23rd, 2010
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Chiricahua Mountains 1

My dad is very interested in Arizona’s history, especially that of the Apaches, so he was really excited about going to Portal. I think mum was too! 😀

We set out early on Tuesday morning, stopping off at Benson WTP and Willcox Twin Lakes to see if there were any easy birds en route. Willcox gave us great views of a gathering flock of Sandhill Cranes, several thousand strong. As we left we were able to draw up alongside a friendly Lark Bunting for a few nice photos.

Sandhill-Crane-Willcox-Twin-Lakes-10-1123-01Sandhill-Crane-Willcox-Twin-Lakes-10-1123-02Sandhill-Crane-Willcox-Twin-Lakes-10-1123-05Lark-Bunting-Willcox-Twin-Lakes-10-1123-02Lark-Bunting-Willcox-Twin-Lakes-10-1123-03

I haven’t spent much time in the very northeast corner of the Sulphur Springs Valley, something I plan to put right as it’s a striking area with great birding potential.

Mum’s recent knee surgery meant there was no chance we’d be able to walk the mile and a half to the ruins at Fort Bowie in Apache Pass in the Chiricahuas, so we enjoyed the scenery instead as we crossed over the pass and headed along the eastern side of the Chiricahuas. Dad was thrilled with the views of Cochise’s Head, which we’ve seen previously from the other side of the mountains at Chiricahua National Monument.

Sulphur-Springs-Valley-10-1123-04Sulphur-Springs-Valley-10-1125-02Entering the small town of Portal is always an exciting moment. The name Portal is self explanatory when coming from the east – it really is the entrance to the mountains.

We were staying at one of my favorite lodges in Arizona, Cave Creek Ranch. The wildlife at the ranch is always impressive, but we were stunned by our first introduction this afternoon. As we pulled up in fading light, someone was clearly watching something of great interest in a tree by the main house. We pulled alongside to ask what it was – a White-nosed Coati! Ten seconds later, having abandoned the car and dug out the big lens, I was getting photos of this rare and splendid animal. A great way to end a big day.

Coati-Cave-Creek-Ranch-10-1123-01Coati-Cave-Creek-Ranch-10-1123-02Coati-Cave-Creek-Ranch-10-1123-03

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