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We Visit Carroll Dwayne Littlefield
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We Visit Carroll Dwayne Littlefield

We Visit Carroll Dwayne Littlefield

Posted from Seattle, WA May 9, 2013, after return last night from New Mexico and Arizona.


Last Saturday Carroll Dwayne (CD) Littlefield, Delia and I headed East over the pass to visit the old homestead of Shorty Miller.  Shorty was a Depression-era rustler, no relation to present owners of the big ranch to our west. In the spring it’s possible to hope for rain in the Peloncillos, but it’s more likely to blow dust and this is what the White Cliffs looked like as we took off hiking at 6:30 in the morning.

We had been counting birds beginning as soon as we got there on Friday and were at 36.  A Spotted Towhee watched us take off from high in an Alligator Juniper.     Over the pass and heading into Lee’s Canyon we ran into some activity and picked up a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Painted Redstart and a Red-faced Warbler (new for me on the Ranch, but no pics for most of these).   Here’s our whole bird list for the trip, starting here:

1.   1.    White-winged Dove

2.   2.    Broad-tailed Hummingbird

3.   3.   Black-chinned Hummingbird

4.  4.     Black-headed Grosbeak

5.  5.     Chipping Sparrow

6.  6.     Lazuli Bunting

PPenstemon pseudospectabulis

7.    7. Mexican Jay

         8. Black-chinned Sparrow

9.     9.  Lucifer Hummingbird

10.   Dark-eyed Junco

11.   Black-throated Gray Warbler

12.   House Finch


The Broad-billed Hummers were mostly visible at the feeders, where they were fighting with a large contingent of Broad-tailed Hummers headed for the Rockies.

13.   Turkey Vulture

14.   Mourning Dove

           We  got to the Lee Place around 11:30.  Lee was a hero for liberty against government repression, i.e., a bootlegger.  Here’s is one of his corrals, and he also built a really nice dam.

      15.  Yellow-rumped Warbler

16.   Rufous-crowned Sparrow

17.   Red-tailed Hawk

18.   Swainson’s Hawk

19.   Bushtit

20.   Bewick’s Wren

21.   Hepatic Tanager

22.   Juniper Titmouse

The California Sisters were out and about.

23.   Crissal Thrasher

24.   Curve-billed Thrasher

25.   Spotted Towhee

26.   Green-tailed Towhee

27.   Black-throated Sparrow

28.   White-crowned Sparrow

29.   Lincoln’s Sparrow


After the Lee Place, the trail follows Miner Canyon through the spine of the Peloncillos.  That’s CD and Delia ahead of me.  CD is the author of “Brids of Malheur” and is a Sandhill Crane expert and is conducting bird transects on the ranch.

30.   Ruby-crowned Kinglet

31.   Violet-green Swallow

32.   Cassin’s Kingbird

33.   Broad-billed Hummingbird

34.   Townsend’s Solitaire

35.   Scott’s Oriole

36.   Western Screech-owl

37.   Ash-throated Flycatcher



This Ash-throated Flycatcher was after an insect and didn’t mind that we were close by. She/he got it.

38.   Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

39.   Red-faced Warbler

40.   Painted Redstart

41.   Cordilleran Flycatcher

42.   Brown-headed Cowbird

43.   Great Horned Owl


There was some standing water in Miner Canyon.  It’s always thrilling to find water in the outback of the Peloncillos.  Once some BP agents drained a water-jug CD (a citizen, of course) had positioned for his return trip.  Not a way to treat human beings, regardless of immigration status.

44.   Montezuma Quail

45.   Canyon Towhee

46.   Warbling Vireo

47.   Wilson’s Warbler

48.   Lark Sparrow

49.   Western Scrub Jay

50.   Common Raven

51.   Bridled Titmouse

52.   Cassin’s Vireo

53.   Virginia Warbler

54.   Gray Flycatcher


We got to Shorty’s around mid-day.  This is what remains of his house.  The bedsprings survive also.  It never ceases to amaze me how much tougher people were less than 100 years ago.  You can see Shorty never was asked “Do you want fries with that?”  He was maybe 17 miles of rough road from town, and that town was Rodeo, New Mexico.  They say he had his own secret path for getting there, and lots of cleverly-designed branding irons that could be superimposed on other brands to make a cow look like his very own, at the risk of sounding here like I’m romanticizing cattle-rustling.

55.   Dusky Flycatcher

56.   Arizona Woodpecker

57.   Acorn Woodpecker

58.   Hooded Oriole

A Hooded Oriole and a Desert Chipmunk. 

59.   Pine Siskin

60.   Brewer’s Sparrow

61.   Peregrine Falcon

62.   Cooper’s Hawk

63.   Bullock’s Oriole   End of bird list for Ranch this visit

Shorty’s situated his homestead close to Maverick Springs, a type of natural formation called a “Tinaja,” (Spanish) that we (the Scholes) have yet to see dry up in the last 38 years.  It’s easy to miss Maverick Springs but CD and Delia always know exactly where it is.


On the way back from Shorty’s we encountered this Hernandez Horned Lizard.  When it sits still, it looks exactly like a rock—it’s about 8 inches long and is an and is an ant-specialist .  The reason I know stuff like this is that CD tells us about anything we come across, nature-wise, in a hike.


Delia and I took a trip down to the valley on Monday and continued birding all day, so our list grew some more:

64.   Pyrrhuloxia

65.   Northern Mockingbird

66.   Loggerhead Shrike

67.   Common Yellowthroat

68.   Barn Swallow

69.   Red-winged Blackbird

70.   American Coot

71.   Scaled Quail

72.   Gambel’s Quail

73.   Cinnamon Teal

74.   Lark Bunting

75.   Western Wood-pewee

76.   Vermillion Flycatcher

We found the Vermillion Flycatcher and these others at Sulfur Tank near Rodeo. 

The San Simon River used to flow through the valley named after it, now the artificial wetland at Sulfur Tank is about all the wet you can usually find.  We try to help a little bit with the cost of pumping.

77.   Virginia Rail

78.   Western Kingbird

79.   Eurasian Collared-Dove

80.   Western Tanager

81.   House Sparrow

82.   Great-tailed Grackle

83.   Cactus Wren

84.   Elegant Trogon


This is an Elegant Trogon in Cave Creek.  This bird was singing by the road, looking gorgeous in the sunlight, for Delia, but of course I had the camera.  This is one of a number of birds that are at risk of being “loved to death” by birders so we did not pursue it for a better shot.


85.   Townsend’s Warbler

86.   Brown-crested Flycatcher

87.   American Robin

88.   Hermit Thrush

89.   Canyon Wren

90.   Brown Creeper

91.   Plumbeous Vireo

92.   Grace’s Warbler

93.   Northern Cardinal

94.   White-breasted Nuthatch

95.   Blue-throated Hummingbird

The Blue-throated Hummingbird was at Cave Creek Ranch (Cave Creek Ranch has a donation jar for non-guests, so we felt fine about visiting the grounds).  We visited with Reed, the owner, who was in the midst of trying to be zen about the reawakening of the Black Bears from hibernation.   The Bear that visited the night before was not the “Polite Bear” who knows how to drain all the feeders without damaging anything.  Regardless, Reed told us, the days of leaving the feeders out all night are over till hibernation begins again next fall.


A Gambel’s Quail at Cave Creek Ranch.

96.   Lesser Goldfinch

97.   Summer Tanager

98.   Inca Dove

99.   Lesser Nighthawk

100.                        Spotted Sandpiper—camped out in the desert, hope it’s ok

101.                        Poor-will

102.                        Western Meadowlark

103.                        Chihuahuan Raven

104.                        Verdin

105.                        Say’s Phoebe  (The numbers didn’t come through to the website it should say 105.)

The Summer Tanager was in “downtown” Portal.  Not shown are the other birds in the vicinity, Bullock’s and Hooded Orioles, Northern Cardinals and Western Tanagers—pretty shockingly bright visuals for Delia and me, who are used to birding in Seattle where not so many birds sport the tropical colors.

But back Peloncillos, I tend to get reminded of a different “tropics:” Paint some black latitudinal striping on those White-tails and wouldn’t it look just like the Kalihari Desert?

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