Biodiversity Tours

WHITE MOUNTAINS NATURE EXPEDITION
JUNE 11, 12 & 13 – 2018

Join RAVENS-WAY WILD JOURNEYS as we venture into the heart of Arizona’s spectacular White Mountains. Escaping the June heat of southern Arizona you’ll enjoy 3 days of relaxed Naturalist Saunters, exploring one of the most remote and wildest areas in the state.

Naturalist, Wildlife Biologist, Ethnobotanist, & Wilderness Survival Instructor Vincent Pinto will be your guide during this cool, forested retreat. You don’t need to be an Olympian to join us, as the roundtrip, slow-paced walking distance for each day will be about 3 miles – tops!

The focus of this trip is to observe, enjoy, and learn about all facets of Nature found in this incredible region. After reading the description of the White Mountains Nature Expedition below please feel free to e-mail or call us with any questions or concerns.

WHITE MOUNTAINS HABITATS

Given its unique geographic location at the intersection near the northernmost Sky Island, the Mogollon Rim, The Colorado Plateau, and the vast Gila region of New Mexico, the White Mountains harbor a wide range of habitats.

The higher elevations are renowned for their vast coniferous and Quaking Aspen forests, where a myriad of cold-adapted flora and fauna thrive. Spruces, Firs, Douglas Firs, Pines, and Junipers abound in many places and are joined by a variety of deciduous species as well. Recent burns have opened up much of the forest and have benefited a number of species, including Elk.

We’ll journey into the heart of the forests, enjoying their cool recesses, while searching for wildlife, wildflowers, and stunning scenery. High elevation meadows provide variety and open expanses where wildlife spotting is prime.

Water abounds in the Whites and supports many lush riparian zones. Natural marshy areas or cienagas – rare throughout the rest of the state – allow aquatic species to thrive locally. Perennial rivers gush through mountain canyons, lined by high elevation deciduous trees.

These linear oases abound with wildlife. Regional ponds and lakes – some natural, some human-made – provide habitat for open-water wildlife species. Our routes each day are heavily skewed towards watery habitats given the dearth of moisture and heat in most of the rest of Arizona in June!

Lower elevations provide a stark contrast in plant communities to the dark forest up above. Juniper/Pinyon woodlands mark the transition from high to low and support their own plant and animal species. Vast grasslands hold the promise of encounters with Pronghorns and Prairie Dogs, among others.

Throughout all of these and other habitats our forays will include scenic vistas, providing incredible opportunities for seeing the grandeur of Nature, as well as for incredible photographs.

 

WILDFLOWERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subalpine, woodland, riparian and grassland wildflowers abound in June, providing a colorful palette to each habitat we explore. Many of these species are rare or absent in southern Arizona.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While admiring various blossoms, we will keep a keen eye open for visiting Hummingbirds, Butterflies, and other pollinators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, Vincent is an experienced Ethnobotanist and will readily share his knowledge of many useful White Mountain plants.

Whether they are used for food, medicine, tools, or any number of other purposes, you’ll gain incredible insight into the bounty of these native species. This knowledge will help you understand how generations have thrived in the White Mountains.

MEXICAN GRAY WOLVES

Within the White Mountains we’ll venture into the expansive Blue Range Primitive Area, while searching for the elusive Mexican Gray Wolf – reintroduced into the region nearly 2 decades ago. The Blue Range comprises a key set of critical habitats that sustain this endangered species. During past expeditions Vincent has been fortunate to see a Mexican Wolf scavenging at a carcass, find both tracks and signs of el Lobo, and listen to their haunting howls reverberate through the forest. During the day we’ll be in prime habitat and search for both packs and lone Wolves. At dusk and by night Vincent will attempt to “howl up” some activity via vocal imitations. This is the only place in all of Arizona you are likely to encounter a Mexican Wolf and Vincent will strive to maximize your chances.

OTHER MAMMALS

One reason that Mexican Wolves have been successful in the White Mountains is its abundance of prey species. In particular the region hosts one of the largest Elk populations in all of Arizona. In June bull Elk of various age classes will be “in velvet”, growing new antlers, while cow Elk can be found with young calves. A wilderness explorations to the Whites virtually guarentees memorable Elk encounters! Mule Deer abound in variety of habitats, as do Whitetail Deer. Collared Peccary or Javelina are perhaps relative newcomers to the area, as they were scarce-to-absent during the 1800’s it seems.

Pronghorn inhabit the scenic grasslands that punctuate parts of the White Mountains region. Our daily journeys will take us to wildlife rich areas, where we have excellent opportunities to see these and other native species. All of these hoofed mammals help to support other predators as well, including healthy populations of Mountain Lion, American Black Bear, Coyote, and (at least formerly) the Jaguar. A female Jaguar was shot by a “sportsman” in 1963 within the White Mountains, the hunter claiming he thought it was a large Bobcat.

Smaller carnivores include Common Gray Fox, Bobcats, Northern Raccoon, White-nosed Coati, Ringtail, Striped and Western Spotted Skunks, Long-tailed Weasel, and American Badger. There are even recent reports of the hyper-rare Black-footed Ferret in the region – a species that was once thought entirely extinct! A regional specialty mammal we’ll search for is the Northern Water Shrew, whose next closest population is much further north in the Rocky Mountains. This diminutive hunter seeks much of its prey by swimming, otter-like, under water! Mountain and Eastern Cottontails join their larger relative, the Black-tailed Jackrabbit for the area’s Lagomorph contingency.

Dense forests shelter reclusive American Porcupines, often detected first by their feeding signs. American Beaver thrive in some of the streams and wetlands of the region. They are a keystone species that favorably alter the habitat for a variety of other wildlife. 3 species of Chipmunks call the White Mountains home, where they are joined by their cousins the Red Squirrel and Abert’s Squirrel. Gunnison’s Prairie Dog colonies present perfect opportunities to observe these beloved and animated rodents, including their many behaviors.

BIRDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birds will be abundant and varied during our White Mountains expedition. Many high elevation species inhabit the region, some of which are rare or entirely absent from the Sky Islands. Northern Goshawk, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Dusky Grouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Saw-whet Owl, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Mountain Bluebird, Mountain Chickadee, Clark’s Nutcracker, Pinyon Jay, American Crow, Gray Catbird, American Dipper, and Pygmy Nuthatch are among the species we’ll seek in a wide range of habitats. Various aquatic habitats promise waterbirds as well.

REPTILES, AMPHIBIANS, AND FISH

The White Mountains provide a transition zone from southern Arizona species to those more typical of the Colorado Plateau and further north. Greater Short-horned Lizard, Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake, Narrow-headed Garter Snake, Arizona Treefrog, and Apache Trout are among the fascinating species that we may find.

BUTTERFLIES AND OTHER INVERTEBRATES

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite their small size invertebrates numerically dominate the other wildlife species groups mentioned above. Thus, we will seek to learn about those who cross our path during this 3-day Nature Adventure. In particular high elevation butterflies call the White Mountains home, including: Old World Swallowtail, Spring Azure, Mormon Metalmark, Weidemeyer’s Admiral, Arachne Checkerspot, and Zephyr Hoary Comma. Vincent will also discuss rare and highly localized aquatic invertebrates as we encounter them.

STARRY SAFARI & EVENING PROGRAMS

After dinner on the first and second nights Vincent will lead you on a combination Astronomy Night and Wolf Howling/Wildlife Spotting tour to several key locations near your lodge. There you will learn about Wolf ecology, Owl natural history, various Summer constellations, and any visible planets, including Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.

LODGING

Lodging options are very limited in the White Mountains. RWWJ suggests Hannagan Meadow Lodge located in Alpine, AZ. at 9,100 feet elevation. They offer Rooms and Suites for individual and double occupancy in their main lodge. Rates from $85 – $130/pp/night. In addition, they offer Rustic Log Cabins for single, double, and shared lodging amongst larger groups of friends. Cabin Rates range from $160 – $200/night/per group. For details visit: www.hannaganmeadow.com Or call: 928 – 339-4370 You have to make your reservations directly with them. We suggest you make your reservation as soon possible to ensure availability.

MEALS

Hannagan Meadow Lodge Cabins have kitchens which give participants the possibility to bring their own food. For participants staying at the rooms without kitchens, Hannagan Meadow restaurant at the Lodge offers Breakfast & Dinner a la Carte. Alternatively, there are restaurants in Alpine: Bear Wallow Cafe – visit: BearWallowCafe.com or Call: 928-339-4310 There is also a Safeway in Eagar, AZ. where there is a gas station we will be using during the trip. Given the daily explorations in the wilderness, we suggest that participants bring their own food for lunches in the field.

REGISTRATION

1. Please be advised that every Participant needs to complete a WAIVER & REGISTRATION Form. To download please click here: WAIVER  & REGISTRATION FORM

Please include any pertinent medical issues and current medications on a separate page, as well as valid Emergency Contact information.

2. Please send both Registration Forms back to us along with your Tuition to:

RAVENS-WAY WILD JOURNEYS LLC
P.O. Box 393
Patagonia, Arizona, 85624

RWWJ DEADLINE FOR MARCH TRIP: May 1, 2018

TUITION

The Tuition for 3 full Day & Evening Programs with an expert Wildlife Biologist, Professional Birder, Naturalist, Ethnobotanist, Wilderness Survival instructor, and Amateur Astronomer as your guide is $395 per person, and it is paid directly to RWWJ by check in the mail.

LODGING DEPOSIT

The Lodging deposit is paid directly to the Hannagan Meadow Lodge to hold your room or cabin. The Deposit will be applied to your invoice, which has to be paid upon Check-Out.  Please register with RWWJ and for Lodging with Hannagan Meadow Lodge to guarantee your spot.