We came across this family group of Coati while driving down Cave Creek Canyon. We saw a medium-sized animal with a long tail run across the road ahead. Driving slowly to the crossing point we could see it in the long grass on our left. After a coupel of minutes we saw two more but couldn't get a good view. At this point we looked to our right and realised that the trees were filled with about thirty lovely animals we later learned were coati.
We watched them for quite some time and they seemed unconcerned so I got out of the car to take a closer look. One of the females became uneasy as I approached her and sent her young one higher into the tree then started to descend in my direction. Not wanting to upset her too much I moved back to the car and she seemed happier then. Apparently we were quite lucky to have seen so many so close but family groups like this, composed of females and young, are the norm. Males lead a solitary life when not mating.
Putting out water in the desert is a sure way to attract wildlife. Coyotes usually appear around dusk and visit the village at night but this one called for a drink from the birdbath in broad daylight. Photograph by Jack Newton.
While we were walking on the outskirts of Portal one morning these two deer came clattering down the road. They walked into a nearby track then disappeared into the undergrowth.
They weren't bothered by our presence; I guess we didn't look much like hunters.
When we arrived at the Sky Vilage in January 2005 Ray Brooks told us he had just seen a Mountain Lion cross the road as he drove his daughter to the airport.
We came across this paw print on Norrick Peak while looking at the sites where large telescopes will be installed. We didn't see a lion but we live in hope.
This little creature joined us outside Starizona's astronomy shop in Tucson while we were observing the Sun through a PST.
Lizards can be seen basking in the sun on the rocky sides of the canyon. They come in a variety of colours and can be seen chasing and occasionally fighting each other.
Although cattle are not present in their former numbers they do still graze the open range. The nearby town of Rodeo was a major railhead where cattle were rounded up and shipped back east.
Javelinas look like wild pigs but are in fact collared peccaries. This one came scrounging for food at the bird-feeding station while we were sitting there. It seems that he is well known around the village and is an old male who has ben turfed out of the herd. We saw him outside the Portal store later in the week.
We have seen other javelinas usually in small groups at a distance. We saw children's books telling the story of the Three Little Javelinas which was similar to our Three Little Pigs (even though javelinas are not pigs).
Traditional methods of rounding up and catching cattle are still practiced close to the Sky Village. The cowboys we met here were just as keen to preserve the unspoilt beauty of the area as the astronomers.
The first time we visited Rodeo airport there seemed to be no-one around except for a very large german shepherd running loose. He tunred out to be a big friendly softy by the name of Taggart. As we made friends with him Rick Chamberlain appeared and made us welcome. If you visit the airport for one of Rick's (very reasonably priced) aerial tours you'll get to meet Taggart.
Across the San Simon valley just a few miles away live several hundred wolves in the Wolfsong Ranch. This is a refuge for wolves and wolf dogs that I've visited a couple of times.