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Latest news from Cave Creek Ranch

The Ranch is open to day visitors from 8 AM to 4 PM.   $5 per person.   Groups of more than four people must call in advance.

NOVEMBER 6 2012 NEWS

Toll Free Number

We have a relatively new Toll Free number: 855-558-2334.  The long distance connection problems we’ve been having for 24 months continue.  So if you call us and the phone doesn’t seem to ring or answer, please try the above number.  It’s from AT&T, and is supposed to go through different switches that may not be subject to the issues that prevent many of our calls from getting through.

Rainfall

The monsoon rains were good, with over 10 inches, but there has been no rainfall since September.  While Portal and the San Simon Valley around Rodeo had enough, the higher elevations had less, so the creek is not running at the Ranch.  The grasses that had grown tall with all the water have gone to seed, and it’s fun to identify the many beautiful varieties of grasses native to this area. 

Fall Color

The leaves around the Ranch have been turning for a couple of weeks.  The pomegranates are golden, the  redbuds a very clear yellow, the sycamores turning bronze, and the grasses are pleasing shades of red and tan. The cottonwoods are still a very contrasting bright green, but they’ll become a brilliant yellow in a few weeks.  Farther up canon the big tooth maples are turning from green to yellow to orange to a vivid shocking pink – quite a progression!  Temperatures are still in the upper forties at night and lower seventies during the day.

Birds

Fall birds are arriving, with new species appearing every few days.  Recent arrivals include White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Lincoln’s Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Pine Siskins, Western Bluebirds, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Cedar Waxwings, and a Painted Redstart,  which last bird usually winters at the Ranch, adding to the atmosphere with its vivid appearance and cheerful calls.  Sandhill Cranes have been returning in large numbers to nearby valleys. 

This may turn out to be an irruptive year for Evening Grosbeaks, which have been seen in Portal in small flocks for the first time in more than fifteen years.

Hummingbird numbers have declined with the tail end of migration,  but we’ll have a few Blue-throateds and Magnificents throughout the winter.  There are still several Anna’s and Rufous.

The resident birds continue in daily attendance: the flock of twenty-five or so Acorn Woodpeckers, Mexican Jays, Western Scrub Jays, Bridled Titmice, Lesser Goldfinch, Arizona and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, House Finches, Pyrrhuloxias, Gambel’s Quail, and the marauding Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks.

We had an exciting visit from a Rough-legged Hawk a few weeks ago, which perched for hours in several easy-to-watch locations, and gave many guests (including me!) their best views ever of this dramatic hawk.

Butterflies

Butterflies are the most visible insect at the moment, attracted by the late-blooming Mt. Lemmon Marigolds we have in the garden.  There won’t be many bugs from now until the next monsoon, July and August being the months for them.  So fall and winter are nearly perfect, outdoor-wise, with comfortable days, cold nights:  ideal hiking weather.

Mammals

We’re seeing fewer Bears, perhaps they’re seeking out dens for the winter.  Foxes, coyotes, the bobcat, and skunks are all present. 

Friends of Cave Creek Canyon

Our local Friends group has been busy with creating a Native Plant Garden at the Ranger
Station, and after months of design, preparation, and plant acquisitions, the Garden is in! We had two work days in the past month to lay out the paths, line them with stones, compact the paths, and dig holes and plant the plants. We'll have another work day next week to trench for the watering system -- even native plants will need a season or two of water to get established. Then we'll get plant identification tags, and you will be able to identify plants you see in the Canyon in the Garden! The local community has been very active -- over twenty volunteers of all ages have contributed much time and talent. More information can be seen at www.friendsofcavecreekcanyon.org.

Maybe we’ll see you here soon!
Reed Peters

 

SEPTEMBER 19 2012 NEWS 

Toll Free Number

We have a new Toll Free number: 855-558-2334.  The long distance connection problems we’ve been having for 18 months continue.  So if you call us and the phone doesn’t seem to ring or answer, please try the above number.  It’s from AT&T, and is supposed to go through different switches which may not be subject to the issues that prevent many of our calls from getting through.

 

Monsoon Rains

The monsoon rains have been good, with almost 10 inches: over 4 inches in July, 2.6 in August, and almost 3 so far in September.  The creek is running well at last, and everything is green. 

 

Wildflowers

I was up on the Crest Trail on Sunday the 16th, and the wildflowers are spectacular.  Entire mountainsides are yellow and gold from a distance, with millions of composite plants blooming.   Sometimes it was impossible to see your footing on the trail, the flowers were shoulder height and completely obscured the trail, and you had to push through them.  While a huge proportion of the flowers were the composites, there were also salvias, penstemons, paintbrush, etc., and the sight for mile after mile induced a sense of wonder. 

 

Fall

Down at the Ranch, the leaves have not yet started to change, which should be at its peak at the end of October and early November.  Hummingbird migration is still in full swing, with birds arriving in waves every few days, then tapering off, then more arrivals.  They should be coming through until mid-October.  After that we usually have several Blue-throateds and Magnificents spend the winter with us.   Fall migrants are beginning to arrive.  The first Spotted Towhee of the fall was here yesterday, soon to be joined by many more wintering birds.  The first Sandhill Cranes have arrived near Douglas, and by November there should be over thirty thousand.

 

A pair of trogons visited the Ranch two weeks ago, sampling the wild grapes along the creek.  They’ll be back when the pyracantha berries ripen in November and December.

Temperatures are delightful, upper seventies during the day, lower fifties at night.  No rain is forecast for the next ten days, but we’re always hoping.  When it was raining almost every day last week, the cliffs above us were often swathed in mist which moved and changed constantly; it was very beautiful.

 

Few bugs will be around from now until the next monsoon, July and August being the months for them.  So fall and winter are nearly perfect, outdoor-wise, with comfortable days, cold nights:  ideal hiking weather.

 

 

We’ve been having bears visiting nearly daily, eating One-seed and Alligator Juniper berries.  One is a good sized bear with glossy black fur, known around Portal as the “Polite Bear”, as his visits to feeders are remarkable for how little damage he does.  He tips the hummingbird feeders to drink from them, and opens the lids of tube seed feeders to empty the contents into his mouth.  I’m looking forward to hibernation time!

We’re seeing fewer Bears, perhaps they’re seeking out dens for the winter.  Foxes, coyotes, the bobcat, and skunks are all present. 

 

 

Maybe we’ll see you here soon!

Reed Peters

 


 END OF JULY 2012 NEWS 

Toll Free Number

We have a new Toll Free number: 855-558-2334.  The long distance connection problems we’ve been having for 18 months continue.  So if you call us and the phone doesn’t seem to ring or answer, please try the above number.  It’s from AT&T, and is supposed to go through different switches which may not be subject to the issues that prevent many of our calls from getting through.

Monsoon Rains

We’re having a good monsoon season, with about 4 inches of rain this month.  It has come in many smaller or medium rains, perfect for soaking in. Much of the rain has been in Portal or below in the valleys, which have greened up.  The higher elevations have had less so far, so the creek isn’t yet running at the Ranch, although there are pools. The flowers all over the mountains are spectacular, perhaps due in part to the ash fertilizing done by the fire last year, and also perhaps to more light getting in places where the fire thinned or eliminated the canopy.  Species that hadn’t been seen in years have reappeared, and regular species are more abundant.

The grasslands between here and Douglas are also greening, and we saw 13 pronghorn antelope a few days ago returning from a jaunt to the Slaughter Ranch and Guadalupe Canyon.  That canyon was wonderful – we saw gray hawks, varied buntings, common ground doves, four kinds of kingbirds, and even a white-eared hummingbird.

Recovery from last year's fire

The forest in the Chiricahuas is recovering from the fire at different paces.  In some places that were grim and ashy last year, but with the trees intact, the past year has been almost miraculous, with rampant undergrowth and flowers, and the trees putting forth much new foliage and branches.

In places where the fire was moderate to heavy, and trees seemed dead, many of them have bursts of foliage coming from their bases, surrounded by grasses and wildflowers.  Even where there are stands that are dead, the undergrowth is coming back with the new light coming in.

Birds are back

All of our usual species of birds are back, and in their usual places.   Owls are getting quiet at this time of year, and red-faced warblers are appearing in the lower canyons preparing to depart in August.  We’ve had a couple of wild turkeys visit the ranch this month, and we’re taking the feeders in at night so a very polite bear (he tips the hummingbird feeders carefully to drink from them, and is fairly careful with the other feeders) doesn’t get them. Trogons are still feeding young up-canyon, and a blue-throated hummingbird is sitting on her second clutch of eggs outside an upstairs bedroom of the Ranch House.  For the first time we’ve had young phainopeplas here, usually they’re a mile or two down-canyon.


Maybe we’ll see you here soon!
Reed Peters


Reservations and Information: 520-558-2334, email info@cavecreekranch.com