What was hoped to be a hike in the mountains at Cochise Stronghold turned out to be a bust because one of the washes had too much water for a safe crossing.
A side trip through a campground that had in previous years had a wildfire showed that nature can make a stunning comeback, with the spring grass bright green with evidence of the previous wildfire still evident.
As we were leaving the area we came across this beautiful setting with some white tail deer frolicking in the tall grasses. Sometimes busts turn out to be winners!
One of my personal favorite photos in a long time, sheer luck with the timing and setting.
The Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area is about 15 miles north of Douglas, Arizona and the Mexican border.
We passed fields with Sandhill cranes foraging as we drove south to the site.
As we arrived the first wintering birds we found were the ubiquitous snowbirds and their RVs, all with out of state license plates. Fortunately we were able to find a place to park and start the short hike down to the wetlands.
The area is known as a winter home for the Sandhill cranes but other wildlife spend time here as well, including this Northern Shoveler ducks.
The cranes all take off at dawn and return around noon. We arrived about 11:30 so most of the birds present were Snow Geese, with a few of the cranes hanging out in the background.
A short time later a hawk flew over, causing the geese to take off en masse. It was an impressive sight and sound.
Eventually the Snow Geese settled back in, and the show of the thousands of cranes returning began.
Each wave appeared to settle in different areas around the wetlands.
Wave after wave kept returning. They estimate there are 20,000-30,000 cranes in this area.
Some settled in close enough for very clear photos (with a 400mm lens) of their resting spots.
The cranes are scheduled to leave in March, but if you have the chance to check out the scene before then it is a very impressive sight.
While most of Arizona is known for the hot desert landscape there are places where in just a few miles, or feet in elevation, that changes completely. One of those areas is Ramsey Canyon near Sierra Vista, less than 10 miles from the Mexican border in the Huachuca Mountains.
Because of a spring feed stream, high canyon walls and an orientation facing northeast, the canyon has numerous sycamore and maple trees – very un-Arizona like.
The creek bank has even more wetlands vegetation.
The Ramsey family had settled in the canyon around 1900 and over the years built a couple of cabins.
As you hike through the preserve and climb up just a few feet above the stream you quickly go back to more typical Arizona landscape.
While in some spots the desert like landscape is integrated with the wetlands.
The canyon is home to lots of wildlife.
The trip back down the canyon to the visitor center returned us to the colorful foliage. Ramsey Canyon is a great destination for a different look at Arizona.