Portal AZ/Rodeo, NM & Beautiful Chiricahua Mountains, AZ
Texas week 7 (2/15 through 2/21/2015)
We paid for 2 more nights at Pancho Villa State Park (leaving on President's Day) so we could explore some more. On Sunday, 2/15, we toured the museum on the campground that explained Pancho Villa's raid from Mexico and we learned a LOT! On display was a replica of the first Aero Squadron plane (made of cloth!) used to chase Pancho Villa in Mexico after he raided Columbus, NM and killed 15 U.S. Citizens in 1916. We called ahead at Rusty's RV Ranch in Rodeo (5 miles away from Portal) and she has room! Full hookups too! We left on Monday at 9:50am on our way to the famous Portal, AZ birding area.
Rusty's RV Ranch is the nicest park I've ever seen! She has Sun Conures, Parakeets, Quaker parrots and Lovebirds in large enclosures outside for everyone to enjoy! Rusty (a woman) also has an awesome pond that meanders by the meeting place, a Koi pond with cereal the guests can feed them, bird feeders, a HOT TUB, a dog park, a duck pond (with 2 very mean domestic Geese that bit me and Bob next door one evening!), and benches everywhere! Laundry is $1 a load (dry too - so we did our laundry). My birding OCD friend Sherrie would love this place – it is laid out geometrically and each guest has exactly a half-acre of space all on diagonals! Going for a walk around the park is exactly a mile too! Rusty gave us a nice map of birding places to check out too! She had daffodils blooming by her pond. The only complaint I had was her wifi didn't work very well...
After setting up on Monday, we drove the southern end of the map through Cave Creek, which winds alongside a small stream and up the mountain. There was a flood on the East side of the mountain that wiped out 3 campgrounds and we could see the downed trees and rocks everywhere. The road was rough, and we didn't make it all the way to Turkey Creek, but we did stop periodically and walk around looking for birds and enjoying the small stream of water flowing down. I am on the hunt for two high elevation birds – the Yellow-eyed Junco and Olive Warbler :).
On Fat Tuesday, we drove the northern route after stopping at the only store around for bread, then we had a $7 lunch that included (each) 2 soup, 2 bread and dessert (to go) to support the local firefighters! After trying to find the town of Portal (I was envisioning a huge town from all the buzz about the birds), then I discovered it was a small cul-de-sac for parking, then you walk through the town and people have signs that allow you to come in and look for birds, with feeders everywhere! Everyone is very nice!
David drove to the Cave Creel Ranch and I paid $5 to sit at their 30+ feeders and watch birds. There were a lot there, nothing new YET! They had a lot of hummingbird feeders, so I sat on the porch close to one and ZOOM, right by my head went a hummer. I sat quietly and it landed on a Branch 3 feet from my head...it was LARGE. I sat and took pictures of it and it even stretched in front of me so I got some awesome shots. When I got home, I identified it as a BLUE-THROATED hummingbird! I never expected to get that one, but so thankful to God for showing it to me! I also saw new bird #11 – Cassin's Finch (a male) there. When we got home, we discussed where we are going the next day and we made a reservation for the Bonita Campground in the Chiricahua Mountains. We had visited there with Mom and Dad in 2012 but just drove through. It cost us a whole $42 for 7 nights ($6 on an ADA site, with the American the Beautiful card).
So Wednesday, we said goodbye to our Vancouver, Canada friends Bob and Verlie and left Rusty's RV Ranch at 9:10am on our way to Douglas, AZ for propane, groceries and gas (I left my ONLY jacket there, so had to call her to ask her to mail it to me!). We were stopped at mile marker 393 when the Border Patrol shut down the road due to an “immigrant in distress” for ½ hour. He was helicoptered out and we then headed North to the Mountains, arriving at Bonita campground at 4pm. On Thursday, David drove to the top of the Chiricahua Mountains and I walked to the very top to view Cochise Mountain (which looks like his head laying sideways!). I got a new butterfly too – a Red-lined Scrub Hairstreak! On the way down the mountain, we drove out so he could call Mom, then on the way back, he spotted a different woodpecker on a tree. I got a new bird – WILLIAMSON'S Sapsucker (it was a female!)! He is such a good spotter! We had an early dinner and went to bed from all the excitement :)
Friday was quiet – we drove inside the park and did some walking looking for birds and enjoying the great Pine smell that is all around. A chipmunk pair entertained us. We have no electric or water, so working on pictures can only be done when my computer is charged. On Saturday, he looked for treasures and I sat by a stream waiting for birds for a couple of hours. So peaceful!
Different birds (different habitat!) seen this week – Bridled Titmouse, Stellar's Jay (David), Lincoln Sparrow, Western Meadowlark, Arizona Woodpecker, Sharp-shinned Hawk and Green-tailed Towhee.
week 7 – David drove 412 miles this week! 4 new birds – Cassin's Finch and Blue-throated Hummingbird @ Cave Creek Ranch (best $5 I ever spent!); Crissal Thrasher at a house with feeders in Portal, AZ and Williamson's Sapsucker female @ Bonita campground in the Chiricahua;