At the very start of our vigil, Christopher spotted a fledgling Short-tail flying to a snag on a nearby ridge, prey clutched in its left talons. The buffy youngster perched for awhile, gazing around at the wide world, with no attempt to eat the prey it was carrying. Eventually the young hawk flew, and that was the last we saw of Short-tails for the day.
Pine Satyr, in the U.S. only found in the Chiricahua and Huachuca Mountains (Photos by Narca)
However, it was only the start of an interesting wait, high on the ridge. Hilltopping butterflies––Colorado Hairstreaks, Pine Satyrs, duskywings, cloudywings, sulphurs, blues, Weidemeyer's Admirals––lit in the Gambel's Oak and nectared at Penstemon.
In the U.S. Mexican Chickadees only inhabit Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains and New Mexico's Animas Mountains.
Eventually I wandered farther up the trail (although "trail" may be overstating it!) and found a good vantage point for a closer view of a ridge where the Short-tails like to perch. Several large, lichen-draped snags below my feet were home to a bustling family of Red-breasted Nuthatches, a pair of House Wrens, a family of Yellow-eyed Juncos, and the occasional Mexican Chickadee.
Young Yellow-eyed Junco
As I hiked back, a sudden insect-like buzz announced the presence of a Twin-spotted Rattlesnake. The species is very rare in the US, and the Barfoot region is known for harboring one of the finest populations. Indeed, we hope that the Coronado National Forest plan will grant their habitat here some additional level of protection.
And still we wait for the Short-tails...