Wild+Life is a new monthly e-newsletter with news about wildlife-watching activities, wildlife natural history, habitat and research projects benefiting wildlife, fun facts and upcoming events.
In This Issue
- Walk on the Wild Side: Eagar/Springerville Wildlife Areas
- Mark Your Calendar: Dolly Steamboat Cruise at Canyon Lake
- Eyes on the Wild: Three Tips for Better Wildlife Photography
- Don’t Forget: Wildlife Photo Contest Deadline Aug. 1
- Video of the Month
Summer is a great time to explore Arizona’s high country. The area around Eagar and Springerville in east-central Arizona is particularly rich in opportunities to spot wildlife. Three wildlife areas open to the public are White Mountain Grasslands, Wenima and Sipe White Mountain. Each offers hiking trails and the chance to see everything from chipmunks to elk, plus hummingbirds, woodpeckers, songbirds and birds of prey.
Sipe White Mountain is the area’s centerpiece. Visitors enjoy trails, a day-use picnic area and a visitor center with displays about the area’s animals, plants and history. Hiking, biking, horseback riding and picnicking are favorite activities here. Many facilities are barrier-free, and there is no entrance fee.
Wildlife to watch for: At sunrise and sunset, there is a high probability of seeing elk and antelope. While elk can be found here throughout the year, fall and winter are best. Winter is also the high season for seeing bald eagles perched in trees around reservoirs. Waterfowl migrate through in fall and spring. Birds of prey, including ospreys, kestrels, hawks, golden eagles and peregrine falcons, can be spotted throughout the area. In summer, nesting birds include rufous and broad-tailed hummingbirds, Lewis’s and acorn woodpeckers and mountain bluebirds. Other wildlife to look for are gray fox, striped skunks, badgers, coyotes, mule deer, Merriam’s turkey, pronghorn antelope, and a variety of ground squirrels, chipmunks and bats.
Tip: The best birding is along Rudd Creek and in the orchard around the visitor center. Look for sora at the small pond next to the orchard.
Four hiking trails range from easy to moderate hiking difficulty. The longest is a 2.5-mile loop. The trails lead to wetlands, meadows, old homesteads and scenic vistas. Several wildlife-viewing points are located on the trails, including one with a 20X spotting scope on the High Point Trail overlook.
To reach Sipe from Eagar, take U.S. Highway 180/191 south toward Alpine. You’ll see the turnoff signs atop a mesa 2 miles from Eagar. Follow the improved dirt road 5 miles to the property. For information, contact the Pinetop regional office at (928) 367-4281.
Bighorn Sheep Viewing Tour
Saturday, Aug. 13, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Dolly Steamboat at Canyon Lake Marina
Cost: $40 for adults, $25 for children ages 5–12
Reservations are required: Call Dolly Steamboat at 480-827-9144 or book online at www.dollysteamboat.com
The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in partnership with the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, is offering a Canyon Lake cruise for the public to see magnificent desert bighorn sheep in their natural environment.
“This is a great opportunity for people to learn about bighorn sheep and conservation efforts in an area virtually inaccessible except by boat,” says wildlife manager John Dickson. “During the heat of summer, water is a scarce commodity in bighorn country. This makes summer the best time of year to view young lambs and family groups coming down to the lakeshore to drink.”
The Dolly Steamboat offers open-air decks and air-conditioned viewing areas, is accessible and has bathrooms. Light snacks and beverages can be purchased. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable light clothing and bring a camera, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and binoculars.
Wildlife photography is a pursuit that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. But many people think you have to spend $10,000 on gear to get started. While a long telephoto lens can help you get close-up shots without having to approach a bird or animal, the key to successful wildlife photography is not in the gear. It’s in the mind.
Here are three tips to help you think like a wildlife photographer:
Tip No. 1: Pay attention to the eyes. One of the most important rules of wildlife photography is to keep the subject’s eye in sharp focus. Think about where the light is coming from. A shiny spot on the eye, called “catch-light,” shows the life in the animal, giving the viewer a connection with the subject. Before clicking the shutter, see if you can see this catch-light in the subject’s eye.
Tip No. 2: Master depth of field. The ability to keep the subject sharp and the background blurry is a skill every wildlife photographer needs. Minimizing a distracting background ensures that the subject grabs all the attention. But there is no one-size-fits-all setting to create that sharply focused subject and soft background. Different situations call for different settings on the camera, so practice under various conditions is crucial. Pay attention to what works and when, so you can use the same settings when a new situation calls for them.
Tip No. 3: Give the animal room to roam. When you’re composing the photo, if your subject is facing left, make sure there is more space ahead of it (to the left of the photo) than behind it (to the right). This gives the animal room to move and still be in the frame. It’s not just so that if the animal does move, you can still photograph it. The viewer of the photograph wants to know where the animal is going, and that it has space within which to move. When composing, never put more space behind the animal than in front.
The deadline to enter our annual wildlife photo contest is Aug. 1 at 11:59:59 pm. Winners earn a spot in the 2017 Arizona Wildlife Calendar, to be published in the November–December 2016 issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine. Winners will also get cash prizes, courtesy copies of the calendar issue, and a free copy of the new Arizona Highways wildlife guide. The best-in-show photo will also be published in Arizona Highways. Don’t delay … enter today! For more information, visit www.arizonahighways.com/wildlife-photo-contest.
Arizona Game and Fish biologists came to the rescue of a young bald eagle that fell out of its nest while attempting to fly. In this video, you’ll see the nestling being returned to its home and find out more about this family of bald eagles that has taken up residence in an unexpected spot in metro Phoenix.