June 11, 2013

How did it get to be June already?  I see our last post was in early March, too long ago!

We had a good spring season, with all the usual mammals and birds putting in their appearances.  A highlight for some guests in early May was seeing three mountain lion cubs crossing the Portal Road near our entrance.  The guests were returning from dinner, and the cubs were curious — one turned around and sat down to look at them!

We had some bird excitement in the canyon a few weeks ago with a Slate-throated Redstart seen for four days at the Research Station.  This bird’s range is from South America to the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico.  I believe this was the 8th Arizona record for the bird, and imagine my surprise when I looked it up in Rick Taylor’s Checklist for Birds of the Chiricahuas  and saw that it was seen by Sally Spofford at the Ranch in 1978!  We’ll certainly be adding it to the Ranch list.

The bears have come out of hibernation, and we’ve adjusted our bird feeding to make our feeders less interesting to them.  No more suet and peanut butter are out, and the jays and woodpeckers seem to have adjusted to eating more jelly, judging by the increased consumption.  Scott’s Orioles and Black-headed Grosbeaks are also jelly eaters, as well as the occasional Summer Tanager.   So far, the strategy is working, as we haven’t seen a bear since changing our menu last week.  Let’s hope it continues.  One of the bears, I’m happy to report, is last year’s Polite Bear, famed throughout Portal for his exemplary eating habits.  He carefully tips hummingbird feeders to drink all the nectar, opens suet cages to extract the entire cake, and tilts seed feeders to let all the seed run into his gullet, all without damaging anything!

Clouds are starting to appear, and we’re hoping, as we do every year, for a good monsoon.  The forecast is for rain this Thursday and Friday, so we’ll see.  June is our warmest month — as soon as the rains begin at the end of June or early July, the temperatures fall.

The Forest Service has been doing a lot of trail work (there are 230 miles of trails in the Chiricahuas!), and many of the trails are in great shape.  While there is always trail maintenance to be done, the fire two years ago added much more work.  It’s very good to see the progress.    More soon,

Reed