A Portal to Paradise

It’s been a while since we’ve posted our adventures. Email access is sketchy and we’re here in Portal, AZ, and the local library is the place to be. Patrons walk in the screen door to be greeted with a, “Henry, how ya doin’?” from Polly the friendly librarian who lives in New Mexico and considers herself a “foreigner.”

We’re camping at an absolutely fabulous campground, Sunny Flat, a short bike ride from the South Fork of Cave Creek (arguably some of the best birding south-eastern Arizona). The campground is nestled in a valley surrounded by sheer walls of chiseled rock. A year-round stream meanders through what was once forceful enough to shape the valley, and the setting sun plays magical games no matter which way you turn.

Sooney and I rode to the nearby town of Portal to check out the scene (two old-timers playing electrified blues on a front porch) and the ubiquitous variety of remarkable birds everywhere. This is where the standard uniform is a pair of binoculars at the ready; even on the way to the latrine (passed three this morning).

Bird list will follow but, probably most remarkable, was yesterday morning’s bike ride where we stopped to follow the unique call of the Elegant Trogan. Sooney gasped and pointed to a female right across the stream, a mere 25′ from us. The male was announcing his intentions, and she demurely cooed a response. After a moment, she jumped up to an overhanging branch and, in a heartbreak, the male flew in, mounted her, and they continued to copulate for a good 15-seconds. Shameless voyeur, I was unable to detach my binoculars from the scene and failed hopelessly as a nature photographer. But that’s not the purpose of this trip, now is it?