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Back in the Canyon, we watch as a new season springs forth
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Back in the Canyon, we watch as a new season springs forth

Back in the Canyon, we watch as a new season springs forth

Posted from Seattle, WA on April 25, 2024

Fall, winter, and if there is a monsoon, summer are the best times in the Bootheel. Spring can be dusty and very very windy and is usually bone-dry.

But it’s still spring and a lot of things bloom and a lot of things fly in. This year was on the heels of a failed monsoon and then the winter rains mostly failed, but then spring rains came along and surprised everyone, perhaps saving the day a little bit.

When we got to the house, we were surprised to find no water and no internet. One of those is essential to life, I can’t remember which.

Delia got in touch with some very nice people at the phone company and we got internet. Then Delia called Elbrock, the well-drillers in the region who had serviced this well twice in the past.

That’s Bunch, the owner of the Elbrock company, pulling out screws from the roof of the wellhouse so they could drop a cable into the well. Bunch says well-houses are a thing of the past, and ours was the reason they had to bring in that big white crane. Next time there’s a problem though, they’ll just knock down the well-house which is no longer needed for this size well That will be ok with us: The Rock Squirrels have appropriated the well-house as their own all-gender bathroom.

It was stunning to see the measured speed and efficiency of the Elbrock team. When they got the new pump installed, 700 feet down, we turned on the water, and there was just a sputter.. I thought it was all over and we’d have to just call it a camping area BYOW, bring your own water and had conclueded that the water table had fallen. Bunch might have been upset, but he didn’t show it, and walked the line up to the Gravity tank that fed the house, along which he spotted a tiny wet place in the ground, found the leak in a bypass pipe and fixed it in 5 minutes and we had water. Our story had a happy ending this time. For some big cities around the world in the next ten years, there might be no heroes from Elbrock to save them.

That’s Walter, Bunch and John. And guess what, they were really nice guys!

The Cover shot is of a Scott’s Oriole with Eagle Mountain the background. Our arrival was timed with the Scott’s Orioles’ and they were nicely in force this year as opposed to last year. The Scott’s Oriole is not really a shy bird and it has in my opinion the best song in the US, just my opinion here, most people pick Hermit Thrush and some might say Western Meadowlark or a host of others. But the Scott’s Oriole in any case is the serenader of the Canyons in the Southwest, what a wonderful bird.

The Hooded Orioles came a day or so after the Scotts, and they too are not shy, but unlike the Scott’s are just a little bit crazy. The Hoodeds pairs don’t seem to want to be far from each other and they are constantly tootling around the Canyon together. We have seen the male do some spectacular parenting, carrot-and-sticking a baby off the ground where it had fallen back into the nest, which is carefully woven and provides good protection from many predators.

This is not a great shot of a Lucifer Hummingbird as color is mostly absent and the bird is prosaically on a feeder but it does show the classic and very unusual profile of this Hummingbird which is not that easy to find in New Mexico but which has been present on this property since my parents-in-law arrived in the early 70s.

This is a Rufous, there were also Black-chinned, Broad-billed, and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

We hiked up to the pass. This is the view coming down from the top looking west to the San Simon Valley and the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona. The great spring was evident on the mountain range just north of the Chiricahuas, as there was a good amount of snow on the Graham Mountains still on the 23rd of April.

It might look like the brush in this picture is all dead, but not at all. The reddish-brown foreground plants are Whitethorn Acacia, and they won’t put out leaves until around early May. There is a small amount of Mesquite on the property and the Mesquite declared summer while we were there, donning a new mantle of emerald-green leaves.

That’s looking to the southeast with Black Mountain and Baldy in the foreground and the Animas Mountains in the background. Very few people get into the Animas Mountains as they are I think wholly-owned by the Daimond A Ranch, formerly the Gray Ranch. We adjoin the Diamond A on the East as well as Clint Dunagin’s ranch, the Diamond A being a 1.3 million acre holding.

Say’s Phoebes don’t need to live near houses but they sure prefer to and will at any chance they can get. A pair of Say’s Phoebes were building a nest in the eaves. We didn’t go out the main door at night but took a side door so as not to flush them and make them easy prey for the Western Screech-Owls in the area.

This Arizona Woodpecker was at South Fork of Cave Creek in Arizona, across the valley from where we were.

We were really happy to see Burrowing Owls still present in a traditional location in the San Simon Valley. This species has been hammered and for quite a few visits we hadn’t seen them.

We visited the Lordsburg Playa. The Greater Playa was dry but there is a permanent, if there is such a thing these days pond and it had these Avocets and Stilt as well as a Cattle Egret, and Blue-winged Teal. Nice birds for the desert! Come to think of it, these are nice birds for anyplace.

Bat Conservation International came and planted 100 Agaves to help with the Lesser Long-nosed Bats that migrate through the Canyon. The majority of the Agaves are deceased, presumably though not assuredly removed for food by Javelinas. We have been watering the Agaves and we mark the ones we have watered with colored stone, a different color each visit. Here is a healthy one, Good Luck Little Agave! (I adore Agaves but it is always in my brain when hiking that a hard fall on an Agave could theoretically kill a person, I pierced my lip on one years ago and have walked more

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