Birding, Javalina, and Champagne!

The clouds looked ominous today but I thought I'd take my chances and mosey on up into the Canyon to look for some birds. Armed with a rough map and some intel from my neighbors, I set out for a spot owned by a local who opens his property to birders. This area is one of the best birding locations in the USA and people come from far and wide to see the variety of species found here. On my way to the birding site, I had to cross a dip in the road that had a pretty good flow of water from our recent rains. It's a good thing I have the Big Red Beast (AKA my Ram 1500!) to keep me out of trouble!

I drove through a small neighborhood of houses with each one sporting an observatory! In addition to being prime bird country, this is also serious astronomy country due to its dark sky status with many astronomers moving here to live and many visiting this RV park with their impressive telescopes.

I finally found the house that welcomes birders and after parking and slipping through the gate I wandered down a path listening to the symphony of birds chirping in the surrounding brush to find myself at a lovely area with seating just in front of a large bird feeder. What a nice setup! I snapped away happily at these Gambles Quail for several minutes when in a whoosh, every bird took off all at once. There must have been something much scarier than I lurking in the brush! I hung out for a few minutes to see if they would return, checking behind me frequently for beady eyes but couldn't see the cause of the exodus. After a short while, I decided to move along and check out another site on my list.

I drove to the sycamore tree at the Portal Library to see if my friend the owl had returned to his roost but the hole was empty. I left the truck parked at the library and wandered down the road where my map told me there were other residential properties friendly to birders. Sure enough, there were several houses on the street with feeders in the yard and signs welcoming birders. I snapped off these photos of the locals:

At the next house, there was a lovely park bench set up for birders beside a wire fenced yard containing several bird feeders. I was surprised to see 7 javelina grazing in this yard and was thrilled to be so up close and personal with this family group. I was even more thrilled that there was a fence between us because I got the evil eye from the alpha male and when I trained my camera on some birds he came right up to the fence to take a sniff of me. I was pretty surprised when I lowered my camera to see his snout mere inches from my leg! They were not aggressive, just curious, and clearly knew that the fence offered them protection. My favorite in this group was a juvenile with crazy longish hair. He was kind of punk looking!

It was time for lunch so I stopped by the Portal Cafe for a quick bite and found that they were hosting a gentleman, Eric and his associate Gina, from the local Copper Horse Vineyard. Eric was offering a Champagne Tasting and Lecture. What a delightful surprise! I'm always up for Champagne (or Sparkling Wine to be more precise!) It was a nice way to round out the day and I thoroughly enjoyed the 4 wines offered. Gina also provided homemade cheese crackers and chocolate crisps to go with our vino. Delicious!

This place has really grown on me. It's so remote but I have found such a rich, warm, and welcoming community here and it seems to surprise me with a new adventure almost every day! Who would have thought I would find this level of entertainment here in this location. Check out these demographics from, Portal Rodeo Realty:

Category Portal Rodeo
Population Approx 150 Approx 100
Elevation 4,773 4,153
Temperature Mean max. 96.3 | Mean min. 26.1 Mean max. 96.3 | Mean min. 26.1
Sunshine 358+ days/year 358+ days/year
Rainfall 11 inches 11 inches
Snowfall minimal minimal
Accommodations See QuickLinks See QuickLinks
Restaurants 1 2
Service Stations
R.V. Parks 2 (14 full hook-ups)
Community Parks 1
Emergency Medical Services Portal Rescue Rodeo Rescue
Churches 3
Library 1 Bookmobile
Schools San Simon, AZ (K-12) Apache, AZ (K-8) Animas, NM (K-12)
Medical Facilities Willcox, AZ (community hospital) 90 miles Douglas, AZ (medical center) 60 miles Sierra Vista, AZ (community hospital) 120 miles Lordsburg, NM (Hidalgo County Medical Center) 50 miles

Silver City, NM (Hospital 100 miles)

It's going to be hard to leave. I have only one more week here...

Back at the Ranch (Rusty's RV Ranch that is!) I took Dexter for a walk and caught the tail end of a rainbow. When I turned around, there was this big beautiful hawk sitting in the brush! He let me get pretty close before taking off but then landed in a piney tree right by my camper so I got another shot at him. What a way to end this day.