I took a couple of days off and spent some time with my ex-wife Melanie and Katie the dog, visiting friends in the White Mountains. It’s a mammoth five hour drive from Patagonia but it’s worth it, as you go through some of southern and central Arizona’s best scenery. A ZONE-TAILED HAWK drifted overhead near Las Cienegas on the first portion of the drive.
We took the dog for a couple of hikes around Pinetop. The forest was lovely and all the usual wildlife was around.
I was reminded of my first bear sighting in Arizona earlier this year when I finally saw my first ever ELK, a group of eight seen from the car moving through the trees. There was one big male with impressive antlers. Later in the day, near Carnero Lake, I stumbled upon a second group of ELK, these running through an alpine meadow. There were 13 in all with, again, a big, impressive buck at the back, barking commands to his harem. I started the day having never seen an Elk – now I had seen 21!
I spent a while at Greer but was eventually forced away by a thunderstorm. I had a brief look at an AMERICAN DIPPER and spent some time photographing the beautiful MILBERT’S TORTOISESHELLS and other butterflies along the creek.
On the way home I stopped off at Jones Water just north of Globe and found a pair of JUNIPER TITMOUSE and a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER. Another stop at The Shores on the Gila River north of Winkleman produced a flyover GRAY HAWK. This is one of the northernmost breeding areas for this species in the USA.
Another nice trip, with thanks to Melanie, Kevin, Amy, Jonathan and Lily.