It's not a bad idea. There are quite a few excellent compact cameras. Sadly there are much fewer AA choices than there used to be, so a camera with another battery type is likely to serve you best. Pentax seems like the last company that's still trying to produce a nice camera that uses AA's, but that's a DSLR and much heavier than what you're looking for.
You said you wanted something durable. Are you looking for something that's ruggedized? Crush resistant, waterproof and probably more tolerant of cold temperatures? They weigh a little more and the picture quality suffers somewhat, but it might be worth it if that means you're more likely to get the shot. The worst thing is seeing a critter, and having to pull a camera out of its protective case and watch the shot fade away before the camera is ready to shoot, or missing all kinds of spectacular weather pictures because you don't want to get your camera wet.
The cameras in this comparison report may be slightly outdated, but it's a decent place to start: