Out of the Den and into my World

The three little kits.

The three little kits.

Lots of animals make an appearance in our little corner of the woods.  We routinely have elk, deer, jackrabbits, Abert squirrels, chipmunks, ground squirrels and even had a porcupine or two.  We have been visited by black bears, coyotes and a mountain lion.

Lately we have been keeping up with our newest neighbors, the fox family.  Now that the kits are out and about, we see them daytime and evening.  I’m sure they are out at night, as well.  The babies have been learning how to climb trees.  There are only two kinds of foxes that climb trees, and these Gray Foxes are one of the two.

Many times a day the crows alert us to the movements of the foxes.  Whether crossing our neighbor’s yard, or moving around in ours, the crows chase the foxes and make quite a racket.  We live on two and a half acres and the farthest corner of our land is almost inaccessible because it is so rocky.  This is where the den is located.  For many years, ground squirrels, skunks, and other tunnel-making animals have lived in this old rock quarry.  At some point last year, these foxes took up residence.

We didn’t notice them until the kits were old enough to be outside of the den, and the whole family began sitting out in the sun for extended periods of time.  Now that we are alerted regularly by the crow alarm, we have been taking time out to sit and watch quietly as they go about their day.

A member of the Crow Alert System on duty.

A member of the Crow Alert System on duty.

In the evening the foxes eyes are wide open.

In the evening the foxes eyes are open wide when they come out of the den.

Frequently they watch us watching them.

Frequently they watch us watching them.

Their actions remind one of cats.

They remind me of cats in some behaviors.

Off on an explore

The adventurous baby is off on an explore.

The crows have been chasing this adult

The crows have been chasing this adult all around the yard. The other adult has climbed a nearby tree.

Foxes move very quickly

He makes a decision and moves quickly.

The adult fox scales a tall Ponderosa effortlessly

Clearly an experienced climber, he scales this tall Ponderosa effortlessly.

He cooly checks to see if we are still watching

He coolly checks to see if we are still watching. In the photo below, you can see the tangled branches about 20 feet above the ground on the right of the tree where he was perched in this photo.

The two adult foxes are in this pine tree.  This old tree has witches brooms of branches from old infestations of dwarf mistletoe. These make great nesting spots for birds.

The two adult foxes are in this pine tree. This old tree has witches brooms of branches from old infestations of dwarf mistletoe. These make great nesting spots for birds. The crow in the nearer tree was silent but clearly concerned.

 

 

A Hike Along Rocky Ridge Trail

Rocky Ridge trail signsAn easy and enjoyable hike near Flagstaff, Arizona, Rocky Ridge trail  is actually a section of the Arizona Trail.  It is 2.8 miles in length and climbs from 7,191 feet to 7,587 in elevation.  The trail begins at Schultz Creek parking just off Schultz Pass road and passes through warm south-facing juniper and pine forest with an interesting mix of cacti.  Along the upper reaches of the trail you find Gambel Oak and more Ponderosa pine.  Besides hikers, this trail is a frequent single track route, connecting to Oldham trail, Brookbank trail,  Mount Elden Lookout road, and can be used to access Flagstaff through Buffalo Park.

Rocky Ridge trailFor a quick hike today, I entered the trail at the 2.3 mile marker, partway up Mount Elden Lookout road, and headed south toward the Schultz Pass trailhead.  The trail lives up to its name, and although having some very smooth stretches, passes through many rocky areas as it follows the base of the Dry Tanks Hills near Mount Elden.

Best and Biggest Things Come in Small Packages

Arizona’s iconic Saguaros respond to the seasons as do other Sonoran Desert plants, but they have a unique system for coping with desert heat and uneven moisture.  During the rainy season their accordion-pleated sides expand to hold as much water as possible for the dry times ahead.

Lots of spines protect the Saguaro from hungry animals

The expansion areas run between columns of spines

Once the desert temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the mature Saguaros begin to produce abundant waxy white flowers.

Blossoms crown the saguaro stem and arms

Blossoms crown the saguaro stem and arms

The Saguaro flowers open at night and are pollinated by bats, then birds and insects the next day.

The Saguaro flowers open at night and are pollinated by bats, then birds and insects the next day.

Three-inch-long fruits quickly form where the flowers were.

Three-inch-long fruits quickly form where the flowers were.

Sometimes hungry birds accidentally knock the fruit from the cactus

Sometimes hungry birds accidentally knock the fruit from the cactus.

Birds peck open and eat the fruit.

Birds peck open and eat the fruit.

The fleshy interior of the fruit is a rich red when ripe.

The fleshy interior of the fruit is a rich red when ripe.

The largest cacti in the world come from these tiny unassuming seeds.

The largest cacti in the world come from these tiny unassuming seeds.

 

 

Slidefire in Oak Creek Canyon

Smoke filling the Flagstaff sky today from the Slide fire. Photo by Amy Dryden

Smoke filling the Flagstaff sky today from the Slide fire. Photo by Amy Dryden

Two weeks ago we camped with our tent trailer at beautiful Cave Springs Campground in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona.  We have lived for decades in the area, but never actually camped in the canyon previously.

Yesterday, Tuesday, May 20, a devastating wildfire started in the canyon south of the Cave Springs Campground, and has been whipped along by high winds. Twenty-four hours later it is estimated at 4500 acres and has topped out of the canyon and approaches Flagstaff, Arizona. ABC News 15, reports at this time the fire is zero percent contained. (Air15 fire photos at the link)

Work of Art

Work of art or Art of Work

What does art mean to you?

A beloved statue from Bisbee Arizona’s past is more than just a metal image of a mine worker.  To many who grew up in Bisbee it embodies the hard-working father, husband, brother, son or friend who spent his life underground in the local mines. It is a tribute both to those who survived and those who did not.

Bisbee's Iron Man, now painted copper, for the mineral wealth of the mines.

Bisbee’s Iron Man, now painted copper, for the mineral wealth of the mines.

Iron Man

The plaque at the foot of the Copper Miners Statue at the top of this page.