We’ve been getting a lot of nice monsoon rains in Albuquerque. Things have gotten really green for the desert. And it makes the morning temperatures really cool for hiking. I normally don’t hike any of the Petroglyph trails in the summer because they are just too hot even in the early morning.
Since it had really rained good Monday evening, I got up at 5:30 yesterday to drive out to the west mesa. I managed to hit the trail just before sunrise and just before moonset.
With the cool morning temps, several hot air balloons were flying over the mesa. At first they were off in the distance. But soon they were right over the Petroglyph trail above me. It’s always fun to see the balloons flying over Albuquerque.
To add to the flying balloons, the sky was full of beautiful clouds.
Soon the sun was starting to peek over the Sandia Mountains. I love how the clouds cause the rays of the sun to fan out. It just warms my soul.
I don’t usually like to have sun flares in my photos. But sometimes they are difficult to avoid. But for some reason I really liked the colorful flares in this photo.
Scarlett was having fun running up and down the trail. There were loads of bunny rabbits out in the desert scrub.
I have posted in the past about this trail and have shown many photos of the petroglyphs. This time I tried to find some I have posted before. But I don’t think I succeeded in that endeavor too well.
My favorite parts of the hike are when you get to the areas where there are loads of petroglyphs. It’s so much fun trying to find them on the many faces of the basalt rocks.
Another favorite area is at the end of the hike. You come upon a few rocks that are covered in hand prints. It’s amazing to see a hand print from someone over a 2,500 years ago!
I wonder if the people that had 6 fingers were considered special and were made shamans. I’ve noticed in many of the sites I’ve been to all over the southwest, that a lot of the handprints had 6 fingers.
A came across several millipedes in one area. I had never seen them before. It was so much fun trying to capture some images. I even touched one to get it to curl up.
I was surprised to find there were very few birds around. The morning was eerily bereft of birdsong. I had to search to find a few birds.
I came across a pretty white flower. When I looked inside, I saw a tiny green spider. It was a real challenge getting a photo of him!
Scarlett and I had a great morning walk. The trail was beautiful and the air was fresh. Nature was really showing off her best!
It’s been a few years since I hiked the Hondo Canyon trail. It’s one of the few places you can see water year round in the Sandia Mountains.
I got up early to beat the summer heat. Scarlett was thrilled to be out during the cool morning. I was enjoying the morning as well.
The first part of the hike is fairly easy and I think pretty with the rock wall and trees.
After a short while I could see the caves next to the waterfall.
Soon we arrived at the small travertine waterfall. This time of year the spring flow is very low. This created just a trickle for the falls.
I was surprised to see dozens of hummingbirds swarming around the falls. They were drinking and bathing. I was fascinated that they would actually cling to the wall of the waterfall to bathe. I stayed here at the waterfall for a good 30 minutes watching and photographing all the beautiful hummingbirds.
Sometimes I was lucky enough to have one perch nearby for a few moments.
People often ask me how I bird with Scarlett. Doesn’t she scare the birds away??? She’s so good. She just lays down and sits quietly. And sometimes she point out birds to me by staring at them.
After an enjoyable 30 minutes, I climbed above the waterfall to where the spring starts. It’s a beautiful, lush area.
After the spring, the trail really starts to climb. I had forgotten how steep this trail is. Scarlett didn’t seem to notice. She would run ahead and then wait, wondering what was taking me so long.
After the short but steep climb, the views start to open up. But difficult to see with all the vegetation.
One of the parts of the trail I like is climbing up to a small Ponderosa Pine grove. Ponderosa Pine forests are my favorite because of the openness below the canopy. This area is always good for sighting the pygmy nuthatch. I love their piping voices. I heard lots of them today, but sadly couldn’t get a photo.
After reaching this point, I decided to turn around. The morning was really starting to warm up fast. When we reached the spring on the way back, Scarlett stretched out in it to cool off. Smart girl! Of course, she loves water and looks for any excuse to get in it.
Back at the waterfall, the hummingbirds had gone quiet but other birds were out and about.
It was interesting to see a Lesser Goldfinch land on the wall of the falls and peck a the surface. I figured she must be getting important minerals from the travertine wall.
Before leaving the trail, I made Scarlett pose for me on the pretty rock wall. She loves to climb on things and pose for me. I guess she knows it makes me happy.
It was fun to get out again and seeing nature’s beauty and forget about all the stressful things in my life right now.
I haven’t written in some time. Life got busy, times got difficult, and now the world is in chaos. I realized recently that I have let myself get into a funk. I am unhappy with how things are right now. I worry how long it will be before we get back to normal. And what will normal be??? I have missed my life before all this craziness began.
I started realizing I needed to do something that will keep me from getting down. So I am going to get out more and explore. I love being behind a camera and see birds and landscapes.
This morning I got up early and drove to Los Poblanos Open Space. With the hot days we’ve had, I figured I needed to be there as close to sunrise as possible.
This morning was gorgeous! Cool and calm, and lots of birdsong.
I had fun taking some scenic photos of the open space while the sun was just rising. I had forgotten how beautiful summer could be in Albuquerque.
I decided to walk the entire perimeter of the open space before going in and bird. This way I could photograph some of the sites during the beautiful dawn light.
Since the Los Poblanos open space is irrigated all summer, it felt so lush and green.
Lots of folks were up early to walk their dogs and enjoy nature. There were a few birders out as well.
After the wonderful dawn light was past, I changed lenses and went birding. I had been hearing a lot of birdsong during my walk and was anxious to get some photos.
One of the first birds I saw was to my surprise, a Lazuli Bunting! This bird has been my nemesis for years. Never could seem to get a decent photo. Finally! I got to see this bird up close and get a few nice shots. A wonderful way to start off a birding day.
Lots of Western Kingbirds were out. They seem to chatter constantly. I love that about them. They are not shy!
In the top of a tree in the distance, I saw a large bird. I knew it was a raptor, but what kind? Once I finally got closer, I saw it was a Swainson’s Hawk. That was another nice surprise.
There were loads of Canada Geese about. They seem to enjoy the flooded fields.
Near the community garden, a few Greater Roadrunners were enjoying the morning. I never tire of seeing a roadrunner. They are so intelligent and have great personalities. It’s always a treat to see our state’s bird. The roadrunners here at the garden as so used to people. I was able to get within 10 feet of the birds and they just ignored me.
Near the end of my walk, I was astonished to see a Barn Owl fly overhead. Wow! I had to track him down and see if I could get a better photo than the quick one I took of him flying over.
I was fortunate that it decided to roost in a visible location right next to the drainage ditch. It had its back to me so was very camouflaged. It took me a few minutes to find him, but was well worth the effort. What a gorgeous sighting!
I had a wonderful birding hike this morning. It definitely helped get me out of my funk. Join me again soon on my next hike. And I will be posting photos from my Nome, Alaska, trip I took this past June!
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.
I soon saw a Glaucous Gull – a lifer for me!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Also on the beach was a 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.
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!
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.
I also had some opportunities to photograph the coastline again.
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.
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.
We also crossed several large rivers. So much water! I’m not used to that living in New Mexico.
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.
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!
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!
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.
While my husband was looking good digging for gold, this was me. LOL! Do I look tired or what!?!
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.
As we flew into Albuquerque, we were greeted by the summer monsoon rains as we headed for the hot summer days in New Mexico.
I hope you enjoyed my adventures in Alaska. It was a fun trip for us!
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.
We arrived with several other visitors to the gold camp. Getting everything in the van (including ourselves) was a real challenge.
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.
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!
While I birded I saw my husband Tim busily searching for gold with his metal detector.
I would call out “I got another lifer!”
He was still searching for gold…
“Wow! Another lifer!” I exclaimed
Tim was still searching….
“There are so many birds! I got another lifer!” I cheered
Hmmmm….Tim finally got a gold nugget! I was so happy for him!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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 🙂
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.
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.
I definitely had a wonderful day exploring. So many bird sightings and beautiful scenery.
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.
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 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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!
In the distance I saw several Northern Harrier’s searching for lunch.
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!?!
This particular hawk had already been successful getting something to eat as you can see dried blood on his feet.
While photographing that hawk, some Morning Dove came in looking all fearful of the hawk nearby.
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!
Then to my delight I saw a Ferruginous Hawk on a telephone pole. Such a beautiful bird!
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.
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.
All in all I had two great side trips during my busy work day!
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 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.
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.
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.
I then saw another hole. Of course, I just had to see how creative I could get with the “window” in the rock.
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.
The canyon started narrowing as I followed it. For some reason I love hiking narrow canyons.
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!
Scarlett loved it too! She soon started running around and playing. She especially loved coming around the bend and jumping across the water.
This is a face of a very happy dog!
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.
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.
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.
I hiked around the two ponds at the park. There was surprisingly few birds about. But I managed to get a few pics.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Western Screech Owl
Great Horned Owl
I liked the perspective of the next photo. I love getting their wings when they are outstretched.
My favorite photo of the event was of this Barn Owl. So beautiful! I think the coloring of the Barn Owl is so unique.
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!!!
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.
And any chance to photograph a warbler is always treat!
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!
I got to get some great photos of the raptors they brought. Here’s my favorites of that event.
Harlon Red-Tailed Hawk – such unusual coloring for a Red-Tailed Hawk
Near the end of the event they brought out “Beautiful”. Believe it or not! A Turkey Vulture can be beautiful!
Turkey Vulture – look at the size of that wingspan! 6 feet of total beauty!
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!
Long-Eared Owl – I loved getting the fall foliage coloring in the background