Alaska Birding, Sightseeing & Gold – Part 3

This is my last installment of my Alaska trip. It has been fun writing this blog series on my trip. I had forgotten all the wonderful birds and sights I had seen while there.

On one of the days, I hitched a ride with one of the owners to go into town. I knew of a couple of ponds that looked promising for bird sightings. When I arrived I was not disappointed! My first sighting was of a Wilson’s Phalarope. I love these little birds.

Wilson’s Phalarope

I soon saw a Glaucous Gull – a lifer for me!

Glaucous Gull

Then to my delight I saw a pair of Red-Throated Loons (another lifer!). I got to watch them do a mating dance together. So much fun!

Red-Throated Loon

Also at the pond were several pairs of Artic Terns (lifer!). They loved hanging out on an old piece of mining equipment. They were so tame I was able to get very close to them for photos.

Arctic Tern

While birding at the ponds, another birder drove up and stopped to talk to me. It was obvious he was a birder by all the high dollar camera equipment in his car!

He was specifically looking for the Slaty-Backed Gull. The Nome area is known for this rarely sighted bird. I told him I hadn’t seen one but I had only been there for a short time. He glanced around, seemed disappointed in what was there to see and drove off down the highway.

To my delight and his loss, not long after that two Slaty-Backed Gulls flew overhead. They were there then gone. I barely got a photo but I did. Lifer!

Slaty-Backed Gull

After that excitement I decided to cross the highway to walk along the beach and see what might be about. I saw a Common Raven eating some kind of shorebird. He posed briefly for a nice portrait photo.

Common Raven

Then a Ruddy Turnstone came walking by me. I followed him for some time taking lots of photos. The thing I’ve noticed about the birds in this area is their lack of fear of people. It’s a wonderful thing for a birder!

Ruddy Turnstone

Also on the beach was a Glaucous-Winged Gull.

Glaucous-Winged Gull

Back at camp I was excited to see it was King Crab for dinner. Yum!!! They get them live in town and butcher them in camp. I kinda of felt sorry for the crab…well, no I didn’t.

Here’s me holding up my dinner. You can see some of the gold mining equipment behind me. I have to say, the entire time at the gold camp I looked like crap. Ah well! I was too busy having fun outside to take time to do my hair or makeup.

While checking out the crab another lifer showed up for scraps. A Mew Gull.

Mew Gull

While the husbands were busy searching for gold, one of the camp helpers took the wives out sightseeing. I’m so glad they offered that because otherwise I would not have seen some of the beautiful sights within the area.

The first place we visited was called “The Trains to Nowhere”. These trains were brought in to haul gold from the hills back in the late 1800s. When the gold played out, they brought the trains down to shore to take them away. But for some reason they decided not to ship the trains back to their originating destination. So for the last 100+ years they have sat on the shore of the Bering Sea rusting away. I thought they were very picturesque!

Trains to Nowhere

While driving there we passed by a large patch of Fireweed. These flowers are so pretty. They are also tasty. The locals make Fireweed jelly and it’s delicious.

Fireweed

I also had some opportunities to photograph the coastline again.

Bering Sea

While driving down there, the girls knew I was looking for any birds. They were helpful in seeing some of the sea birds hanging out in the bays. I got another lifer here – a Common Eider. The birds were quite a distance away, but I managed to get a good enough photo to identify them.

Common Eider

Another trip we took was to Teller, Alaska. It’s about a 75-mile drive there on a lonely dirt road. It took us almost 3 hours to get there. It is a tiny little town on the Bering Sea inhabited by about 100 Eskimos. We went there to see if they had any of their art for sale. We were told you could get some nice handmade items for a fair price. It was to be the only shopping I did on the entire trip.

The drive was very picturesque. We went from sunny, to rainy, to snow to sun again. Crazy weather. I got a nice full rainbow after one of the spells of rain.

Rainbow of the Tisuk River valley

We also crossed several large rivers. So much water! I’m not used to that living in New Mexico.

Sinuk River

We arrived in Teller and it was a miserable day. But it was worth the trip to meet the locals and buy beautiful handmade items directly from the artist. The people there were very friendly.

Bering Sea at Teller
While waiting for the local artists we walked the coastline
Thomas Weyanna carved this little bird out of Walrus Tusk
Donald Weyanna holding a carved Whale Rib inlaid with Caribou Antler. And I look like crap again. It had rained and snowed on me and the wind was blowing 40+ mph. Ugh!

On the way back we stopped at the bridge crossing the Sinuk River to see if there were any bears feeding on the running salmon. No bears but I got another lifer! A Green Sandpiper!

Green Sandpiper

The whole time I was there in Nome, everyone but me had seen the Rock Ptarmigans in the area. I was so upset that I hadn’t seen any. This would be a lifer bird for me.

Can you believe on the trip home from Teller, which was my last day in Nome, I finally saw a Rock Ptarmigan! Yay!

Rock Ptarmigan

All the while I was birding and sightseeing, Tim was busy hunting for gold. When I got back to camp, he had me follow him to a hole he had been digging. It was 4 feet deep! Sadly no gold in this whole.

Tim by his monster hole. And look how good he looks. It’s maddening! Men can look good even in the worst conditions.

While my husband was looking good digging for gold, this was me. LOL! Do I look tired or what!?!

Bundled up against the cold rain and wind!

But he did find gold on the trip. Here’s a pic of him with his nuggets. He found the most gold that week at camp. He was pretty happy.

Here’s a picture we took on the plane. Admiring his gold!

Sadly we had to head home. As we were flying out of Nome I got a beautiful sunset from the plane.

Alaska Sunset above the clouds

As we flew into Albuquerque, we were greeted by the summer monsoon rains as we headed for the hot summer days in New Mexico.

Monsoons over New Mexico

I hope you enjoyed my adventures in Alaska. It was a fun trip for us!

One of my favorite photos of the trip. My handsome husband looking for sea glass along the shore of the Bering Sea at midnight




Alaska Birding, Sightseeing and Gold – Part 2

The next day we flew to Nome to stay at a gold camp in the hills above the town. The terrain here is way different than Anchorage. No majestic mountains or old forests. Just rolling hills and tundra along the Bering Sea. That’s not to say it isn’t beautiful, quite the opposite.

The scenery in Nome was beautiful! I especially loved the Fireweed!

We arrived with several other visitors to the gold camp. Getting everything in the van (including ourselves) was a real challenge.

Tim trying hard to get the last suitcase in the van

We arrived mid-day so we had lots of time to settle in and then get out and explore. This far north in the summertime, it only gets dark a few hours a night. So at 8 o’clock it seemed like noon.

That’s the gold camp AKAU (Alaska Gold) at the top of the hill

We each had a our own ATV to explore. We quickly headed out – Tim to find gold and me to find birds! It didn’t take long for me to find some lifers. It looks flat and uninhabited but there were birds everywhere!

First bird sighting – Golden-Crowned Sparrow

While I birded I saw my husband Tim busily searching for gold with his metal detector.

Tim detecting for gold

I would call out “I got another lifer!”

Hoary Redpoll

He was still searching for gold…

Still searching….

“Wow! Another lifer!” I exclaimed

Common Redpoll

Tim was still searching….

Digging another target that wouldn’t be gold…

“There are so many birds! I got another lifer!” I cheered

Fox Sparrow

Hmmmm….Tim finally got a gold nugget! I was so happy for him!

Hard work getting gold – this hole had a little nugget!

We were having a great time! The day was warm and sunny. Soon we started getting tired and headed back for dinner and some sleep. The sun didn’t set until 2:30 am and was up again by 6 am.

Sunset at 2:30 am

The next day was another beautiful sunny day. Tim went off with some other guys to hunt for gold along a river. I stayed at camp and happily birded. I’m not very adventurous riding an ATV, and it sounded like a challenging drive for the guys.

This day turned out to be one of my best birding days of the trip. I birded for hours and saw so many species of birds. Some new ones and some old friends.

Olive-Backed Pipit
Lincoln’s Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Not the best photo but the only photo I got of a lifer – Northern Shrike
Least Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Another lifer! Arctic Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler

One of my favorite sightings was of a Northern Waterthrush. He was very curious and a great singer! I have seen this bird once before and only had a terrible photo. This time I got so many good photos! And he got so close to me I had to back up to get any photos.

Northern Waterthrush

Another exciting sighting for me was the Bohemian Waxwings. There was a whole flock of them feeding at a small pond. They didn’t seem to mind me at all. It was so much fun watching them dart out to get a bug and then land again to look for another. Such a stunning bird!

Another lifer! Bohemian Waxwing

While at the pond with the waxwings, I noticed a Semipalmated Plover. And to my delight it had two babies that looked like they had only recently hatched.

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover juvenile

At another little pond nearby I saw a phalarope. It took me awhile to identify it as it was clearly a juvenile. But I finally realized it was a Red-Necked Phalarope – another lifer!

Red-Necked Phalarope

I loved exploring the little ponds. So unique and so much bird life.

I especially loved the little flowers that looked like something from Whoville 🙂

Whoville flowers 🙂

Something large caught my eye flying overhead. I quickly headed over to where I thought I saw it land. As I approached I heard a hawk giving warning calls to me. To my delight I saw it was another lifer for me. A Rough-Legged Hawk – and it had 2 babies!!!

I never did get very good photos of the adults. But I got some great photos of the babies. I was lucky to see them because within the next day or so they had fledged and left the nest never to be seen again.

Rough-Legged Hawk juveniles

While exploring the area I came across a big male Muskox. I had heard not to get too close as they can be very dangerous. Thankfully I had my 800mm lens and could get a decent photo without it knowing I was doing so.

Muskox

I definitely had a wonderful day exploring. So many bird sightings and beautiful scenery.

I drove to the top of one of the hills on my cute red ATV. Epic 360 degree views!

One day Tim and I drove our ATVs into Nome. I’d never been to the Bering Sea before and was dying to take some photos. It’s not a very picturesque beach like so many out there. But I still found it beautiful.

Bering Sea
The sand in the foreground is very unique – it’s crushed garnets! You can believe I brought home a little bottle of it!

One of my favorite photos of the trip I took just outside of Nome. It is a preserved gold mining dredge. Such wonderful lighting at midnight 🙂

Nome Dredge

I hope you enjoyed all of my photos of the great birds and scenery I saw. Stay tuned for Part 3. Lots more to come!



Alaska Birding, Sightseeing & Gold – Part 1

At the end of July 2018 my husband and I took a long anticipated trip to Alaska.  I took sooooo many photos.  It has taken me this long to edit my photos and post in my blog.

Village of Nome in the distance on the Bering Sea

Our trip was to stay at a gold camp in Nome, Alaska.  While Tim prospected for gold, I was going to do photography and birding.  Yay!

We flew first to Anchorage and stayed a couple nights.  We wanted to have one full day to drive the Seward Highway and play tourist.  As it must always be in Alaska, it was cloudy and rainy.  But we still went out to explore.

One of the many stunning views on the Seward Highway

I got my first new bird while parking for breakfast.  It was sitting on a light post.  A Glaucous-Winged Gull.  These gulls are quite large, much larger than the Ring-Billed Gulls at home.

Glaucous-Winged Gull

As we left Anchorage, our first stop was at Potter’s Marsh.  It’s a fabulous birding spot with lots of boardwalks through a shallow marsh. A very scenic place to bird.

Beautiful views from the boardwalks at Potter’s Marsh
Kelly doing what she loves most – photographing birds!

While there, my husband Tim spotted a moose deep in the grasses.  How exciting!  It’s only the 2nd time I’ve seen a wild moose.  Not a great photo, but still a great find!

Moose

I saw quite a few birds here.  Most familiar to me back home but still a joy to see. But I also got some new birds – which is even more enjoyable!

Red-Necked Grebe
Northwestern Crow

Sadly, I saw a pair of Trumpeter Swans as we started down the Seward Highway.  This was a new bird for me, but I couldn’t get a photograph.  That highway is busy and narrow with very few places to stop.  So I was unable to get a photo.  🙁

We did stop at a few of the pullouts to take some scenic photos.  So Beautiful!

One of the scenic stops along the Seward Highway – it was very windy!
A pretty little waterfall on the side of the raod

We stopped at one place to hike a beautiful trail along a river.  Though it was cold and rainy, it will still so beautiful to get out and explore.

Tim and Kelly at a beautiful lake below a huge glacier
I love hiking on boardwalks

We stopped at a gold mine to see if we could pan a little gold. It was a beautiful place and I did find a few flakes. 🙂

Kelly panning for gold
Tim talking to the owner while enjoying the stunning views

We had dinner in Anchorage. While searching for a place to eat, we came across a popular fishing hole right in town. The salmon were running and the people were catching them one after another.

Salmon fisherman in Anchorage

Sadly, we only had the one day to explore the Anchorage area. We left the next day for Nome. My next post will be about all the fabulous new species of birds I saw while staying in Nome.

Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge

A couple of weeks ago I had to go to Las Vegas, New Mexico, for work. I decided to take a little time to see what might be at the local refuge. It was a cold, windy day so I wasn’t too hopeful of much being around.

Most of the small birds were hiding from the wind. There were a few Western Meadowlarks about but definitely weren’t interested in getting their picture taken.

Western Meadowlark

With the cold wind, the Canada and Cackling Geese were hiding out in a low-lying pond. You don’t usually see these two species hanging out with each other. While we have difficulty distinguishing the two species, they definitely know who’s who!

Canada and Cackling Geese

In the distance I saw several Northern Harrier’s searching for lunch.

Northern Harrier

What was out and not shy at all were Red-Tailed Hawks. They were all juveniles. Such beautiful birds! And they let me get close and take as many photos as I wanted. What could be better than that!?!

Red-Tailed Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk

This particular hawk had already been successful getting something to eat as you can see dried blood on his feet.

Red-Tailed Hawk

While photographing that hawk, some Morning Dove came in looking all fearful of the hawk nearby.

Mourning Dove

Nothing much else at the refuge. But as I was driving down the country road back to Las Vegas, I came across one of the most beautiful bluebirds I’ve ever seen. His colors were glorious!

Mountain Bluebird

Then to my delight I saw a Ferruginous Hawk on a telephone pole. Such a beautiful bird!

Ferrugnious Hawk
There’s something intimidating about a Ferrugnious Hawk stare

One last bird I saw was a very large Common Raven. Fortunately the lighting was nice and I was able to get a nice photo of this all black bird.

Common Raven

As I was driving home I decided to stop in a Storrie Lake to see what might be about. There really weren’t any birds around. Most of them were out in the middle of the lake where I just couldn’t get a good visual.

Just as I was about to leave, a Rough-Legged Hawk came in and landed on a post right next to my car. How exciting! The daylight was waning, but I had enough light to get a few nice shots. These birds are rarely seen in New Mexico so I was delighted to get such an up close sighting.

Rough-Legged Hawk
Rough-Legged Hawk getting his feathers settled in

All in all I had two great side trips during my busy work day!

Hiking Plaza Blanca and Birding at Ohkay Owingeh Lakes

Recently I decided to explore Plaza Blanca near Abiquiu, New Mexico. If any of you have seen the movie Cowboys and Aliens, then you may remember the white rock formation that was in the scenes of the final battle of the movie. 

I have always wanted to explore this place, but never seemed to find the time to do so.  We’ve gotten some small snows this winter, so I headed out on a day that I thought there might be some snow on the trail to enhance my photos. 

It was a beautiful day and there indeed was some snow left on the ground. 

When I arrived at the parking area, I had a wonderful view of the southwest landscape showing the many beautiful layers of color.  I just love New Mexico landscapes. 

I love the New Mexico landscape

I hiked down the trail and just started exploring.  There’s not a lot of information about this area or the hike on the internet.  At first you see the large, white rock formation that is the namesake of the hike.  It is quite large and impressive. 

Plaza Blanca Formation

Next to the white formation is a large brown one.  I love how it stands alone.  Looks like something from the set of a Star Trek show. 

I then turned left along this formation and continued upstream in the arroyo.  At first it was very wide.  This is where the snow made beautiful accents to the landscape. 

Snow and shadow have created beautiful textures

I came upon several trees in the bottom of the arroyo. 

I turned around and love how the sun shone through the branches. 

That’s when I noticed the hole in the formation.  You can just see it behind the tree.  I backtracked to get some photos of this. 

Natural arch

I then saw another hole.  Of course, I just had to see how creative I could get with the “window” in the rock. 

Window rock showing Plaza Blanca in the distance

I then went back up the arroyo.  I came to a fork and decided to take the right fork as it seemed more interesting.  The rock formations were really cool.  I had Scarlett jump up on one to get a fun photo.  She’s so cute in how she will do whatever I ask. 

Can you see Scarlett?

The canyon started narrowing as I followed it.  For some reason I love hiking narrow canyons. 

The canyon started to narrow

Soon we came across water in the bottom of the canyon.  This is when I realized I had stumbled upon a slot canyon.  I LOVE SLOT CANYONS!

Slot canyon

Scarlett loved it too!  She soon started running around and playing.  She especially loved coming around the bend and jumping across the water. 

Scarlett begging me to chase her…I don’t think so!
Having fun jumping the water

This is a face of a very happy dog!

One happy Scarlett!!!

I followed the now very narrow canyon.  It was so beautiful.  The melting snow created some beautiful natural sculptures. 

We continued further up the slot canyon until the end of the line.   Well…then end for me.  I wasn’t willing to scramble up this obstacle. 

End of the slot canyon

We headed back out of the canyon.  It was a wonderful place to explore.  When I got back to the main formation, I decided to take my time and get a few photos of the area. 

After finishing up my hike I decided to go by Abiquiu Lake.  I’ve never been to the lake before.  I thought there might be wintering birds there.  But when I arrived, it was dead quiet. 

I did like the reflections in one of the coves of the lake.  So I took a few photos there before moving on. 

Abiquiu Lake

I was really wanting to see some birds on my outing.  So I headed to a place that I know I will see birds.  I went to Ohkay Owingeh Lakes near Espanola, NM. 

On the way to the lakes, I stopped to get a nice photo of the Rio Grande.  This stop always offers a beautiful view of the river.

Rio Grande below Abiquiu Lake

I hiked around the two ponds at the park.  There was surprisingly few birds about.  But I managed to get a few pics. 

American Kestrel being shy
Northern Flicker
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
Song Sparrow
Canada Geese
Belted Kingfisher
Yellow-Rumped Warbler

It was nice to finish up the day with some nice bird sightings.  Scarlett and I had a wonderful day.  I highly recommend you visit the Plaza Blanca area. 

Raptor Overload

Recently I had the privilege to take photographs of rescued raptors at 3 different events!  It is a wonderful experience getting up close and personal with these beautiful birds.  Plus!  All fees associated with these events goes to help the rescued birds.

My first event was the 25th anniversary event of Hawks Aloft.  They are a wonderful group of giving, loving people.  They take wonderful care of the birds they receive through rescue.  Gladly they get to rescue and release a lot of the birds they receive.  But if they get a bird that cannot be released back to the wild, they take amazing care of these birds.  And a few times a year, they allow the public the opportunity to photograph these amazing birds of prey.

The 25th anniversary event was a wonderful evening.  We got to see and speak to many of the “behind the scenes” people of the organization.  They had several birds there, but the photo opportunities weren’t that great.  But I still had a wonderful time!

I manged to get a few photo ops of the stars.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Long-Eared Owl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Turkey Vulture

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Screech Owl – this photo gives you an idea of how small they are

They were going to have falconry demonstrations, but our unseasonably hot weather prohibited that event.  Darnit!  I was really looking forward to seeing that!

I did get a chance to photograph one of the participants – a beautiful Apomado Falcon.  The coloring of this birds is superb!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Apomado Falcon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just beautiful!

The next event I attended was with Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico.  They have an annual event known as “Breakfast with the Birds”.  They held this year’s event at the Rio Grande Nature Center in one of the areas that you normally can’t see.

It was a wonderful morning!  I got to see so many beautiful birds.  Some of the birds were injured but some were “human imprinted”, which means they associated with humans to a level that they cannot survive in the wild on their own.

Here’s some of best photos I got that morning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Screech Owl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chihuahuan Raven

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swainson’s Hawk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Kestrel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Peregrine Falcon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Tailed Hawk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Horned Owl

I liked the perspective of the next photo.  I love getting their wings when they are outstretched.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swainson’s Hawk

My favorite photo of the event was of this Barn Owl.  So beautiful! I think the coloring of the Barn Owl is so unique.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Barn Owl

While photographing the raptors, an inquisitive Greater Roadrunner came through.  He was very curious of us.  You’d think he would have been terrified of all the bird of prey around him!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Greater Roadrunner

When the event was over, I took a stroll through the Rio Grande Nature Center.  I was surprised to see some hummingbirds still hanging around.  I really liked this photo I got of a Broad-tailed Hummingbird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

And any chance to photograph a warbler is always treat!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wilson’s Warbler

My 3rd event I attended was the annual Hawks Aloft Photo Event.  They held it this year in a remote area of the Sandia Foothills.   A wonderfully quiet place.

On the way I couldn’t resist stopping to take a quick pic of this Curve-Billed Thrasher.  I just love these birds!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Curve-Billed Thrasher

I got to get some great photos of the raptors they brought.  Here’s my favorites of that event.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Harlon Red-Tailed Hawk – such unusual coloring for a Red-Tailed Hawk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Tailed Hawk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Prairie Falcon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Merlin

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Flammulated Owl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Barn Owl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Long-Eared Owl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Tailed Hawk

Near the end of the event they brought out “Beautiful”.   Believe it or not!  A Turkey Vulture can be beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Turkey Vulture – look at the size of that wingspan!  6 feet of total beauty!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful enjoying the attention.  She is one of the birds that has been human imprinted.

My favorite photos of that event were of the Long-Eared Owl, the Great Horned Owl and again the Barn Owl.  Beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Long-Eared Owl – I loved getting the fall foliage coloring in the background

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Horned Owl with attitude

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Barn Owl

I captured a couple of photos of the handler with their birds.  Wonderful people!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Handler with the Prairie Falcon.  You can tell they adore each other!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the attendees getting an introduction.  This photo gives you an idea of the size of Turkey Vultures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Someone suggested the “two old buzzards” take a photo together 🙂  Larry and Beautiful

I hope you enjoyed the many photos I took during these events!  It’s been awhile since I last posted.  This summer and fall were busy times for me.  It’s good to be back blogging!

Weekend at Pagosa Springs

Back in July my friend Dia and I spent a long weekend at Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  I had never been there before, so I was really looking forward to a long, relaxing weekend hiking and soaking in the hot springs.

On our way we stopped in for lunch at the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu, New Mexico.  (Pronounced Ab-eh-Q)  It was a beautiful place to stroll and the lunch was delicious.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Purple Adobe Lavender Farm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wonderful lavender!

10955

Kelly enjoying a wonderful lunch

We also enjoyed shopping in the little store.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful store

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shopping at the cafe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mmmmmmm…

As we drove down the road, we decided to pop in and check out the famous Ghost Ranch.  When people hear Ghost Ranch they usually think of the artist Georgia O’Keefe who loved to paint the beauty of the desert here.  We didn’t spend long, but I did take some time to take a few photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great old western wagon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Storms over Abiquiu Lake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Old hand-hewn log cabin

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beauty of the Ghost Ranch

As we neared Chama, New Mexico, we passed an Osprey nest.  Of course, I had to turn around to get a photo.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Female Osprey on the nest

While I was photographing the female on the nest, the male showed up with lunch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Male Osprey with a meal

We stayed at the beautiful Springs Spa and Resort.  They have 25 different soaking pools that vary in temperatures from 96 degrees to as hot as 111 degrees.  HOT!  The hottest pool was called the Lobster Pot.  I couldn’t get more than my foot in before I was yelping in pain!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Springs Resort and Spa

After checking in we decided to go have lunch and let Scarlett run around a bit.  Of course, she was thrilled to play in the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett stretching her legs after a long drive.

We ate at a restaurant across the river that had a great view of the resort.  We couldn’t wait to get in those pools!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View of the resort and the San Juan River

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looks fabulous doesn’t it?

Of course, we had ourselves a giant margarita at lunch to kick off the relaxing weekend.

10964

Yum!

One of the things I really wanted to do while staying at the resort was take night photos.  I don’t get many opportunities to do night photography, so this was a real treat to have a unique setting.

I first photographed the resort’s hotel.  Such a beautiful place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While photographing the hotel, a pair of girls were playing the outdoor chess game.  I was thrilled they consented to let me take their photo.  I think it came out nice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Outdoor chess game under the stars

From there we toured the pools.  The first pool we came to overlooked the resort.  I liked that there were some people relaxing the in pool.  I think they added interest to the view.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soakers enjoying the beautiful evening

Here’s some other shots I got touring the pools.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunken foot bridge through the warm springs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved the travertine formations that builds up with the flowing waters of hot springs

I took a few shots from the bridge across the river and from the other side of the river.  Beautiful with the reflections in the water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorgeous at night

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Definitely a special place

The next day we went on a couple of short hikes.  I really wanted to see the waterfalls in the area.  I never seem to tire of photographing water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The views during the hike were spectacular.

Our first hike was to Treasure Falls.  It’s not a very long hike, but really beautiful.   Of course, where there’s water, there is always wildlife.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

MacGuilvray’s Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Adorable chipmunk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Robin with a mouthful of moths

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Flicker digging for grubs

This year the southwest had experienced a pretty severe draught at the beginning of the summer.  Because of this, the waterfalls were pretty thin.  But I think they were still beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lower part of Treasure Falls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorgeous!

My favorite shot of the entire trip was taken at this waterfall.  I hiked all the way to the base of the falls to discover a tranquil pool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tranquil pool

To my delight, I spotted an American Dipper.  It’s always a real treat to see one of these birds.  I love how they dip and bob along the water’s edge and dive into the pools looking for food.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Dipper

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking for goodies in the falling water

The other hike we did was to Silver Falls.  Dia was my co-pilot and was responsible for finding the trailhead.  She led me on a one-hour 4WD goose chase!!! DIA!!!!!   I was so busy stressing over the drive, I didn’t take any photos! LOL!

We finally realized we had driven past the falls.  We turned around and found the trailhead.  This was also a short hike, but very steep! We followed Silver Creek the entire way.  There were small waterfalls along the trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to the main waterfall.  All I can say is WOW!  It was spectacular!  I think it was about 5 stories tall!  The sounds of the falls was almost deafening.  I can only imagine what they would look like if it hadn’t been a drought year.  Dia and I spent quite some time here enjoying the view and taking a few photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lower portion of Silver Fall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Silver Falls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

WOW!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just spectacular!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lower portion of Silver Falls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My beautiful friend Dia

Dia took a picture of me at the falls.  I look terrible after a stressful Jeep drive!  LOL!  My headband says “Jeep Hair, Don’t Care!”  🙂

11020

We spent the rest of the afternoon and the next morning soaking in the pools.  It was sooooooo relaxing.  We spent some time shopping the great shops on main street before we left town.   We found lots of goodies!

On the way out of town I spotted a Black-Billed Magpie.  I wish we had these birds closer to home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Billed Magpie

When we drove through Chama we spotted a little foal in a pasture along the highway.  We just had to stop and say hi.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia made new friends fast 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This guy was so new he still has his dried umbilical cord

The drought was about to be over on this trip.  The monsoons started in earnest on our drive home.  I stopped to take a photo of the storms over Abiquiu Lake.   Monsoons in the desert can be very dramatic!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Storms over Abiquiu Lake

All the rain made the Rio Grande turn red.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rio Grande

I hope you enjoyed reading about my lovely weekend at Pagosa Springs!  I’m so ready to go back!

 

Last Time to Bird at Port Aransas, Texas

This should be my last post from my trip to Texas last May/June.  It’s taken awhile to get caught up on my blog.

Birding in Port Aransas this last time was bitter sweet in many ways.  First off I knew it was most likely the last time I would be visiting there.  I lived in Corpus Christi from 1982 to 1994.  With my parents living in San Antonio, it was an easy drive for us to go to the beach whenever I visited them.  The last time I posted about birding in Port Aransas, my dad was still alive and me and my parents had taken a 5-day trip to the beach.  It was in May during spring migration.  I had plenty of time there to explore all the bird sanctuaries.  All the wonderful boardwalks into the marshes and estuaries were so much fun to explore.

Since that last visit, I had forgotten that Hurricane Harvey had come through and dealt a lot of damage to the coastal towns of Padre Island.  So while I was excited to visit the beach, I was sad to know my dad wouldn’t be there to join us and that all the bird sanctuaries had been destroyed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Demolition and construction was still ongoing while I visited.  This restaurant still hadn’t been addressed. 

20180817_194243

Going to cost a pretty penny to get this boat fixed.

Birding this year was tough.  I believe a lot of the birds did not linger during the spring migration because the usual areas they visited were completely destroyed.  Also, I think a lot of the local birds had left and not returned.  Needless to say, it took a lot of driving around to find any birds.  But I did manage to find a few good spots.

The first evening we were there I drove to the ferry and the walkway along the intra-coastal channel.  The damage from the hurricane was very evident here.  Huge pieces of concrete were lifted like they weighed very little.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Destruction from Hurricane Harvey

While here I enjoyed the antics of several dolphin getting dinner.  It was interesting to watch them herd fish toward the wall so they could catch them.  I spotted a mother and her calf working the wall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mother dolphin with calf looking at me

The sunset was gorgeous!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful!

The next morning was when I realized all the local birding hot spots were destroyed.  Thankfully I saw signs saying they already had funding in place to repair all the boardwalks.  It looked like their plans were even going to improve what was originally there.  Someday if I make it back there I will have to see what they did.

I headed to the beach and jetty where I knew terns had gathered in the past.  Thankfully, this spot was still favored by the terns.  The surf was rough and the birds were gathered in big numbers fishing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Terns and gulls fishing the rough surf at the jetty

I found an area where the birds were resting and grooming after tackling the rough waters.  I was able to get several good pics of the terns resting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black Tern Juvenile

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black Tern

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Forster’s Tern

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Royal Tern

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sandwich Tern

From there I headed down the road toward the big bridge going to Corpus Christi.  There is a marina there.  I’ve seen birds hanging out there in the past so had high hopes I would see some that morning.

Along the highway I saw a hawk looking for breakfast in the coastal grasslands.  I had to take a second look as I realized it was a new bird for me!  A White-Tailed Hawk.  Gorgeous!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White-Tailed Hawk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White-Tailed Hawk

I saw a Roseate Spoonbill fishing the shallows not far from the marina.  I pulled into a construction area to get closer for pics.  I managed a few photos before I was run off by the foreman.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Roseate Spoonbill

As I was driving into the marina I spotted a beautiful Osprey hanging out on the electric wire.  He let me take a few pics before flying off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Osprey

The marina was not a disappointment.  There were several birds hanging out hoping for a free meal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Crowned Night Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Blue Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Blue Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Crowned Night Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brown Pelicans

Near the marina is an area that shorebirds have liked in the past.  I drove over there to see if I could find anything.  I was thrilled to see a pair of Willets with two young babies.  I’d never seen Willet babies before.  Adorable! I sat for some time just watching this little family.  You can’t help but smile and enjoy new life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Willet juvenile

Soon though the parents grew nervous and started telling me to move along.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Willet telling me to move along

There were also some Black-Necked Stilts and a Reddish Egret enjoying the shallows.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Necked Stilt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Necked Stilt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Reddish Egret

The next morning I decided to go the Horace Caldwell Fishing Pier.  Not sure if I would see anything here, but it was fun to go there at sunrise.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Horace Caldwell Pier

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beach at Port Aransas, Texas

I came across these two children fast asleep on the pier.  Their parent must have gotten them up really early to fish.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Too early of a morning for these kids

The only birds I saw were White-Winged Doves and Pigeons.  What I found curious though, was a cross between these two species.  Interesting bird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Rock Pigeons at the pier had very dark plumage.  Doesn’t make sense at a hot beach!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rock Pigeon and White-Winged Dove Cross Breed

After the pier I drove to the lone surviving boardwalk that overlooked a salt flat.  Most of the birds were too far away for photos.  I managed to see one bird closer to me.  And to my surprise it was a lifer!  A Black-Bellied Plover Juvenile.  Too bad it wasn’t an adult.  They are beautiful birds.   Even better, this is a rare sighting for the area!   I wouldn’t have believed I identified this bird correctly if it hadn’t been sighted by other birders on eBird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Bellied Plover – juvenile

I spotted a few birds flying over and managed to snap a couple of photos on the fly.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black Skimmer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White Ibis

During this trip I decided to take a ride on the Red Dragon.

While waiting to start the boat ride, I saw the local offshore fishing tour boats had come in as well.  They were hanging up the catch of the day.  Lovely Red Snappers with a few other interesting fish mixed in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nice haul for the day

It’s was fun sailing with the pirates!

20180606_185710

Kelly sailing on the Red Dragon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Arrrrrr…there be Pirates!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful boat ride

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Captain at his helm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I took the sunset tour.  We boated along the intra-coastal and made it to the lighthouse.  We got there just as the sun was setting.  So lovely!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunset over the lighthouse

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorgeous sunset!

One day at the ferry I spotted a juvenile Laughing Gull trying to swallow a whole fish.  He tried and tried to gulp that fish down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Laughing Gull juvenile

I love people watching.  I think most people do.  While there I captured a few fun moments of people watching.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Skateboarding buddies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The waiting line for the ferry was so long and slow, this girl had time to get into the back of the car and get cold drinks for everyone.  It was fun to watch her walk along with the car while digging in the cooler.

I saw lots of turtles about while birding.  I had never really seen turtles there before so it was fun to see several on this trip.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Turtle moving along

I had a great time at the beach birding and spending time with my mother.  We enjoyed sitting on the beach, enjoying the warm summer days.  And we had fun shopping and eating delicious fish and shrimp dinners.  I’m so glad we took the time off to relax after all the stresses.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

San Antonio Summer Birding

At the end of May I drove my mom back to San Antonio so we could get her house cleaned up to sell.  I stayed for about 2 weeks.  Summertime in Texas is HOT and HUMID. Ugh! Because of this, there weren’t very many birds about during the dog days of summer.  All of the migrants were gone leaving only the local birds.

In order not to die while birding, I got up at 6 am every morning to head out before it got to 100 degrees.  Yikes!  I drove to several locations during my stay.  I found the best opportunities for birds was if I visited the small lakes all around San Antonio.

On of my favorite birding spots I discovered was Live Oak Lake in Live Oak, Texas.  It was only about 7 miles from mom’s house.  It had a nice path all the way around the lake.  Believe me, you don’t want to wander off path into the grasses there.  That lake was loaded with snakes!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They even had signs saying so!

KEL15667.jpg

I thought it was a joke until I saw this!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Needless to say, I tread carefully wherever I went.  Yikes!

The resident Northern Mockingbird greeted me when I pulled into the parking lot.  I have never found a shy Mockingbird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Mockingbird

Live Oak Lake is home to lots of herons and egrets. They are used to people walking around the lake, so they just seemed to ignore me and go about their business…as evidenced by this Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.  He caught a monster crawdad!

KEL15665.jpg

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While I was photographing him, he quickly lunged and came up with the huge crawdad!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s like the size of a lobster!

There was a juvenile looking on with envy…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

There lots of Green Herons about.  In Albuquerque I’m lucky to come across one here and there.  But at this lake, there were so many they constantly chased each other trying to keep a preferred fishing spot to themselves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Checking me out 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Needed a better look LOL!

The resident Great Egret was fishing along the edge of the lake.  I saw him intent on something in front of him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Egret

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Egret

Then all of a sudden he lunged!  Fortunately I managed to get a great pic of him diving for his prey.  Sadly, he missed on that attempt and decided to move to a different part of the lake for better luck fishing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Egret fishing

There was a pair of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks watching all the goings on around the lake.  I think they are beautiful waterfowl.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

The Muscovy Ducks had some babies while I was gone for several weeks.  I saw this one mother with a huge brood!