Earth Notes: The Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience

May 23, 2012

As the weather gets warm, it’s an inviting time to get out and observe wildlife. In other seasons too there are creatures to see and hear—ducks nesting on summer lakes, elk bugling in the fall, and bald eagles overwintering.

In northern Arizona, the state Game and Fish Department has put together a new source of information to help find the best places for wildlife observation through the year. The agency and several partners have launched a project called the Arizona Watchable Wildlife Experience, or AWWE for short. Thirty locations within thirty miles of Flagstaff are featured; each offers probable sightings of everything from herons, to pronghorn, to leopard frogs.

First stop is the website. There you’ll find brief descriptions and directions, maps and GPS coordinates, and audio and video to plan your trip and find out about related events. At some of the actual locations, you’ll find benches, trails, and posted information; at others you’ll be on your own to discover what’s there.

You won’t need much equipment—maybe binoculars, a field guide, and a camera. With a little patience and silence, you’ll soon learn the best habitats and seasons for seeing certain animals. When Sunflower Flat west of Flagstaff holds water in spring, American widgeons ply the wetland. Bald eagles fish Lake Mary in winter. And in summer, a walk around Kendrick Park may bring sightings of pronghorn and mule deer.

Whenever you go, the thrill and awe of watching Arizona’s wildlife will be all yours.