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Going Home, Day 13 -- March 14, 2012

Lordsburg, NM to Casa Grande, AZ.

We had a big breakfast in Lordsburg, then headed out early with a bit of frost atop the car. We drove to Portal, Arizona, and birded around town, finding such species as Lark Bunting, Pyrrhuloxia, Black-throated Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, and Acorn Woodpecker. We then drove up into the Chiricahua Mountains and visited favorite birding sites in Cave Canyon (Mexican Jay), South Fork (Bridled Titmouse), and Rustler Park (Yellow-eyed Junco). The area had been burned by a big fire in 2011, but the intense burn was spotty, so the forest that remains is a patchwork of blackened hillsides mixed among thriving green forests. We drove over the mountains and down to Chiricahua National Monument, where we spent the late afternoon. Finally, we stopped for a few minutes at the Wilcox Playa (about 2,000 Sandhill Cranes!), then put petal to the metal and drove all the way to Casa Grande on the south side of Phoenix, Arizona, arriving well after dark.

Day 13
Chiricahua Mountains as seen from New Mexico
Day 13
Portal town
Day 13
Mom holding down the porch at the Portal Post Office
Day 13
Cave Creek Road
Day 13
Travel Caution: unusual highway sign
Day 13
South Fork trailhead: the heart of world-class birding
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Grounds of the Southwestern Research Station
Day 13
Road over the mountains (note burned trees on right)
Day 13
Rustler Park
Day 13
The campground burned in May 2011
Day 13
Entrance to Chiricahua National Monument
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Main road at Chiricahua National Monument
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Burned landscape in Chiricahua National Monument
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Chiricahua National Monument campground escaped the fire
Day 13
Wilcox Playa: water and grasslands in the desert
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Ducks on Wilcox Playa
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Many of the 2,000 Sandhill Cranes
Day 13
Few of 2,000 Sandhill Cranes

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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