My Blog’s 4th Annivery and Scarlett’s 4th Birthday

It’s been awhile since I last posted on my blog. I apologize for that. I have had terrible internet connection for months now. No fun writing and uploading photos when it takes you hours to do anything.

But I finally have fast internet at home so it’s time to start blogging again.

In March I celebrated my blog’s 4th anniversary and Scarlett’s 4th birthday!

To celebrate I decided to take the 4-hour drive to Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area. I have seen photos of this place for years and have always wanted to see it.

I left the house at 5 am so I could get there close to sunrise. On my way I had to stop and take a photo of the moon setting over Cabezon Peak. The blue hour light was beautiful.

Moon setting over Cabezon Peak

It took me quite a while to find the right place to park to see a particular hoodoo in the vast wilderness area. Try as I might there’s really not much information on the internet about this area. So it took turning up and down a few faint dirt roads to find the right spot.

Finally I was positive I was in the right spot. I was searching for the Alien Throne rock formation. It is very unique and difficult to find. Which is probably a good thing because it seems very fragile.

Scarlett and I started walking out into the middle of nowhere heading toward some hoodoos about 3 miles away. The first cluster of hoodoos we came across wasn’t very large but were unique.

Small hoodoos to begin with

We then wandered to the next cluster. It was a little larger. I especially liked one formation that looked like an angel with its wings spread.

Angel rock formation in upper left

I realized we still had further to go. Scarlett ran ahead enjoying the morning hike.

Scarlett running ahead to the main area of hoodoo formations

I finally made it to the main hoodoo area. It was quite large. I enjoyed walking around all the crevices and ravines looking at all the uniquely shaped rocks.

Big piece of petrified wood in the foreground
Beautiful hoodoo sculptures

After about a hour of searching I finally found the Alien Throne. You can see it is quite unique. It’s about 12 feet high and very fragile. It might stand for another 100 years or it might topple in the next 100 days. Sadly by the time I located this rock formation it was almost high noon. So I didn’t get very good photos of this area.

Alien Throne

I wandered around here for about another hour then headed back to the car. On the way back the sun had finally lowered some in the sky and the clouds were becoming more interesting.

The photo conditions were improving

By now I had been hiking for about 4 hours. All of a sudden I see Scarlett crazily digging in the sand and barking. I was wondering what the heck was going on.

Scarlett started barking and digging

I soon realized that she sensed cool wet sand just under the surface. I guess she had gotten pretty warm hiking all that time.

Finally getting down to the wet sand

After she exposed a big enough area, she lay down on that cool wet sand. She was happy as could be even with a nose full of sand. Silly Scarlett!

Silly Scarlett!!!

I finally talked her into continuing on to the car. Next thing I now she’s all barking happily and playing with something pretty big. When I got closer I saw she had a big cow bone. Silly Scarlett indeed!!!

Scarlett was thrilled finding this old cow bone.
She wanted to just stay there and chew on it.
Scarlett thought she was going to take that prize home…after all it was her birthday!

Once back at the car I decided to check out another area of hoodoos nearby. When I first came upon the hoodoos it was breathtaking. Hoodoos as far as the eye can see. Even Scarlett had to stop and take in the view.

Scarlett and I couldn’t believe the view!

I made by way down into the arroyo to explore all the side canyons. By now the sun had lowered in the sky and some clouds had rolled in. It made for some better photography conditions.

Hoodoos everywhere!
Beautiful skies!

With the better lighting the side canyons photographed beautifully!

My pretty girl!

After hiking a couple of hours, Scarlett and I were tired. I had planned to stay until sunset to get some pretty photos of sunset and blue hour. But by this time I had hiked 12 miles. I was tired and it was still 1.5 hours until sunset. I realized I shouldn’t have gotten up early to go out there. I would have been much better off leaving mid-day.

While sitting in my car deciding if I wanted to stay until sunset, I saw a herd of horses coming towards me. Of course, I just had to get out and take photos of them! I love photographing horses. These guys were pretty wild so weren’t too cooperative for photos. But I still enjoyed seeing them.

I loved this photo
Navajo Horses

I finally decided I wasn’t willing to stay for sunset. The sky just didn’t look like it was going to be worth staying. The clouds seems to be getting too overcast.

About an hour into my drive home, I noticed the sun setting and decided to pull off and take a photo.

As I stood there watching the sun set, I realized it was actually going to be a spectacular shot.

Glorious!!!!!

Believe me, by the time the sun set I was was crying about all the wonderful photos I could have gotten at the hoodoos with that beautiful sky in the background. 🙁

The sky was on fire!

But overall Scarlett and I had a fun day exploring. She definitely enjoyed her birthday outing. And she got to sleep the whole way home!


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. 

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!

 

San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden

While in San Antonio last June, I visited the Japanese Tea Garden.  It’s not a very big place, but it’s very unique.  This site was initially a limestone quarry that opened in 1840.  Many of the buildings in San Antonio during that time were built with the stone from this quarry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Entrance to the gardens

In 1880 it was changed to a cement quarry.  At this time a kiln was added to the site, which still stands today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Old kiln door

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kiln stack and buildings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Such unique craftsmanship

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Living quarters for the laborers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More openings for the kiln

By 1917 the cement plant had shut down.  The City Parks department of San Antonio launched a program to convert the old quarry into a Japanese Tea Garden.  Prison labor was used to shape the quarry into a complex that included walkways, stone arch bridges, an island and a Japanese pagoda.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Restored pagoda, gardens and pond

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What a wonderful idea for an old quarry.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Quiet beauty

In 1919, at the city’s invitation, Kimi Elzo Jingu, a local Japanese-American artist, moved to the garden.  Him and his wife maintained the garden, lived in the garden and raised 8 children.  Kimi died in 1938 and in 1941 the family was evicted from the garden due to the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment of World War II.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Arched path built by prison labor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Such beautiful landscaping

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bridge to the kiln stack.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Japanese Tea House up above.

For years the garden sat in neglect and disrepair, becoming a target of graffiti and vandalism.  In 2005 the city started restoration on the pagoda-like pavilion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The roof was rebuilt in 2005. 

In 2007 restoration began to restore the ponds and waterfall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View from the pagoda

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Path to the waterfall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved the waterfall!

All work was completed by 2011.  The Jingu family members still alive returned for the public re-opening.  In recognition of the garden’s history, it has been designated as a Texas Civil Engineering Landmark, a registered Texas Historic Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wonderful paths

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hidden paths

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So peaceful

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Walkway from the gardens to the zoo nearby

I am so glad this precious gem of history has been saved and has been restored to its previous glory.  It was a wonderful place to visit.  So peaceful and beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved walking these paths

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If I lived here, I would visit often!

Scarlett enjoyed touring the walkways as well.  She was curious of the Koi fish and they looked like they were just as curious.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett was fascinated by the curious koi 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love the colorful koi fish

I’m so glad I decided to visit the gardens.  I would have been sad if I had never taken the time to see such beauty that has been restored to its former glory.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This flower was as big as my head!

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Muscovy Ducks

All the while I’m photographing birds, Scarlett was kicked back relaxing and watching all the people and birds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Miss Scarlett

And Squirrels!!!  She was on high alert when she spotted the squirrels!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett keeping a sharp eye on the squirrel nearby.

The squirrels kept on eye on her as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Staring contest between the squirrel and Scarlett

There were some other small birds about.  But overall it was pretty quiet for them.  So I ventured over to Converse Lake.  It’s a more wild lake.  You pretty much can only walk along one edge of the lake.  The rest of it is overgrown.  Because of this, the smaller birds tend to hang out here more.  I got 2 lifers at this lake!!!  A Rusty Blackbird and a Couch’s Kingbird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rusty Blackbird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Couch’s Kingbird

The Mute Swan I saw last time I visited was joined by his lady and their two new babies.  Adorable!  I’d never seen baby swans before.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mute Swan male

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mute Swan female and babies

Here are some of the other small birds I saw around this lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kildeer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scissortail Flycatcher

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Crested Titmouse enjoying a bird drip fountain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

House Sparrow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brown-Headed Cowbird female and male

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Painted Bunting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eastern Phoebe

While photographing the little birds, I heard a commotion behind me.  I looked across the open field and saw a Red-Tailed Hawk had caught a White-Winged Dove.  Surprisingly a Northern Mockingbird harassed the hawk until it took its breakfast elsewhere.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Tailed Hawk being attacked by a Northern Mockingbird

One delight while visiting Converse Lake was that the water lilies were in full bloom.  Just beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of my favorite photos of the visit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One thing I noticed about San Antonio is that there is a huge population of Black Vultures.  These birds are huge and were everywhere I went in great numbers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ewwwww……

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black Vulture

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

mmmmmm…armadillo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Must be tasty as a squabble broke out over it

There are always lots of White-Tailed Deer around the San Antonio parks.   I really liked this photo I took of a doe enjoying the wildflower field.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White-Tailed Deer

There were a few other blooming flowers about, but not many as San Antonio was experiencing a drought.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Honey bee enjoying the clover blooms

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This squirrel appreciated the water put out for the birds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ahhhhhh…..

While driving around,  I came across this sign.  I had to turn around to take a picture.  Don’t you wonder how this creek was named???

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Really?????

One morning I arrived well before sunrise.  I came across this Little Blue Heron fishing.  I loved the colors and lighting of this photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Little Blue Heron

It was nice getting out early every morning and seeing some fun bird sightings.  I actually got a 3rd lifer, but sadly my photo is just too poor to post.  I saw a Brown Boobie.  I never dreamed I would see this bird in San Antonio.  It was a rare sighting indeed.  Sadly, it was on the far side of a lake with no way to get closer.  My lens just couldn’t get a clear pic, though the markings are clear enough to identify it for me.  Someday I might see one to get a better photo!  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This doe found a nice place to sit out the day’s heat

Birding in Eagle Nest NM

On my last day at Red River I drove to Eagle Nest, NM, to do some birding and photography around Eagle Nest Lake.  It was a cool morning after evening showers.  As I drove along the highway, I came across a small herd of elk.  Always a welcome sight!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Elk herd

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They have mostly lost their winter coat.

When I arrived at the lake, it had a layer of fog over the water.  I thought it made for a picturesque scene.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eagle Nest Lake

A lone boat of fishermen was on the lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fisherman on Eagle Nest Lake

There wasn’t much bird activity out over or on the water.  Just a few Canadian Geese flying by.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Canadian Geese

There was a lot of bird activity around the lake.  Most notably swallows. There are very few trees around this lake.  So a house nearby was a top pick for the swallows nests.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swallows coming and going from their nests in the eaves.

As all birders know, swallows are fast! Trying to get a pic of one on the wing is very difficult.  But once I realized one of the species of swallows was a Tree Swallow, I was determined to get a pic.  This was a lifer bird for me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tree Swallow

There were other birds along the shore of the lake.   Most of them were shy so it was difficult getting very close for any photos.  But I managed a few.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Meadowlark

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Bluebird female

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Winged Blackbird female

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western-Wood Pewee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brewer’s Blackbird

While walking along the lake shore, I came across a half eaten jalapeno.  Where else but New Mexico would you see that?!?  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Only in New Mexico…

After spending some time around the lake, I decided to go exploring around Eagle Nest to see some of the sights for photos.  I came across the ruins of the old lodge.  I wish I could have gotten closer, but it was gated inside private property.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Old Eagle Nest Lodge

There was a unique gate post nearby that looks like live hawks and eagles use it frequently for a perch   🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While driving around I came across a Turkey Vulture enjoying a deer carcass.  Not much left, but still enough for a small meal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Turkey Vulture

I then decided to visit the old ghost town of Elizabethtown.  Not much left but a couple of buildings and a few old vehicles. My creative spirit just couldn’t seem to do much with the buildings….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Old barn

So I moved on to the old vehicles.  I loved this old car.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This used to be a high end car back in the 30s

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, I had to get a pic of the old and the new 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But my favorite vehicle was this really cool old truck!  Isn’t it great!?!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Love this!

Of course, I just had to get Scarlett to pose next to it.  Her picture didn’t come out so great as she was distracted by the horses nearby.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Miss Scarlett

The horses were right across the street enjoying a lush pasture.  This Palomino was a real beauty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Enjoying spring in the mountains.

Sadly it was time to head back home.  The road back to Red River is very scenic.  This particular day had awesome clouds with New Mexico’s signature blue sky.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Highway to Red River

Memorial Day weekend was coming up.  As I was driving home I passed by this very moving Memorial Day tribute.  It was very emotional seeing our American Flag blowing in the wind with signs saying how many of our countrymen had passed in our country’s wars.  Their lives have paid for our freedom in this wonderful country of ours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Memorial Day Tribute

Coming back through Taos, I stopped at a place where there’s a couple more cool trucks.   One of them I’ve posted before, but I can never resist photographing this vehicle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love this truck!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful Taos country!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had a great time visiting Red River.  It had been years since I had been there last.  It’s always a joy getting out and exploring God’s beautiful country.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red River Hiking – Day 2

On Day 2 we hiked to Middle Fork Lake.  It was a tough hike.  You climb 1200 feet in elevation in 2.5 miles.  Pretty steep and that was with switchbacks.  But the hike was beautiful.  We followed a stream called Middle Fork Red River up the canyon to the lake.

We started the hike at a high elevation of 9,579 feet.  It was beautiful right at the parking lot.  We parked right next to the stream.

The hike started climbing immediately.  Whew! Not much air at 9,579 feet and it got thinner as we climbed.  Scarlett didn’t seem to mind though.  She was thrilled to be out on a long hike.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett and Kelly enjoying the hike.

The trail was beautiful.  I had to stop off and take photos every time we crossed the stream.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Middle Fork Red River

There were little waterfalls all along the stream.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved all the big rocks in the stream.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After about a mile climb, we came to the stream again.  And this time there was a big waterfall.  Beautiful!  I just love waterfalls.  There aren’t many in New Mexico, so when you see one, it’s a real treat!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A beautiful waterfall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rugged and natural

After taking a nice break at the waterfall, the climbing resumed.  Whew! The air was definitely getting thinner.  My legs were getting tired too.  We left the river and it was just one switchback after another.  If there wasn’t the lure of the lake ahead, I might have turned around.  I hadn’t been on a long, hard hike for several months.

Finally!  I made it to the lake.  All of a sudden you top a rise and it’s there before you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Middle Fork Lake

Well worth the effort of climbing to it.  The lake sits at 10,819 feet.  It’s a gorgeous glacial lake.  After standing there for a few wondrous minutes catching my breath, I walked down to the lake and took some scenic pics.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Middle Fork Lake

To my delight there were some Gray Jays there hoping for some treats from visiting hikers.  I had almost left my birding lens behind since it’s a very heavy lens.  But thankfully I had carried it up the mountain.  So I was able to get some nice shots of this cool bird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gray Jay

After sitting and having a nice lunch, I decided to walk around the lake.  Scarlett was thrilled when we came across a patch of snow left over from winter.  She had fun rolling and digging in the snow.  She was barking and letting everyone know how great it was.  LOL!  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett loved the snow patch!

I took a few more shots of the lake.  I was going to try and walk all the way around the lake, but storm clouds were brewing in the distance.  I figured I better start heading back down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Middle Fork Lake

When I got to the waterfall, I decided to try and climb to the upper part of the falls.  It was worth the scramble for the beautiful scene.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Above the waterfall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Above the waterfall

The waterfall was beautiful too as the light had changed since I had seen it earlier.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorgeous lighting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A wonderful part of the hike

Going down the trail was way easier than going up.  We made good time working our way down.  I let Scarlett have one more fun time in the stream before we got back to the car.  She just can’t get enough water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett enjoying the water

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My happy girl!

I’m so glad I went on the hike.  Everyone I hiked with was wonderful.  It was definitely worth the effort.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Almost back to the parking lot.  Whew!

Stay tuned for my last day at Red River.  I will be birding in Eagle Nest! 🙂

 

 

 

Red River Hiking – Day 1

I recently went on a hiking trip to Red River, New Mexico.  I love Red River.  It’s a beautiful mountain town with amazing scenery.  New Mexico has been experiencing a severe drought.  Many of our forests are being closed to safeguard them from forest fires. I think my trip was timed just before the Carson National Forest is closed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I drove through Taos and was happy to see Black-Billed Magpies busily hunting for food.  I usually get terrible photos of these birds.  But on this occasion, I had a very cooperative bird and was able to get some nice photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Billed Magpie

While in Taos I came across several Rock Pigeons enjoying a puddle together.  I thought they looked adorable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Birds of a feather….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Flock together….and enjoy a refreshing bath

I spent 3 days there and thankfully it rained each evening.  Hopefully they don’t experience any closures.  On Day 1 I drove to Red River and met up with the hiking group at the Columbine State Park trail.  This was a nice, easy trail.  I climbed about 500 feet in elevation over 2 miles.  The trail is along Columbine Creek, which is a lovely little creek.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett was happy to be on a hike and water to play in! She needed a good hiking trip.  She ran and ran and splashed and splashed.  But occasionally she used one of the bridges (after she ran through the creek!).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett

I loved how the trail crisscrossed the creek.  It always fun to walk along water – especially in New Mexico.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Only rocks here to cross the water.

There were a few flowers trying to bloom even though we are experiencing a drought.  Even a few strawberries were determined to bloom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shooting Stars

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Strawberry plant

I loved the scenery as I climbed.  The aspen trees were beautiful in their new leaves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Quakies as they are called in New Mexico

I came across one area that begged me to take some creative photos.  I love how the log crossed the small waterfall.  I couldn’t decide which one I liked best….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I liked this area so much, I had someone take a pic of me and Scarlett.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kelly and Scarlett

There were several small waterfalls along this trail.  I’m glad I was wearing my waterproof hiking sandals so I could get in the water for fun photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I eventually climbed higher and left the creek below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett ran ahead of me most of the time.  At one point I didn’t see her so I called her name.  The silly girl peeked at me from around a tree.  LOL!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett hiding behind a tree.

I had wanted to hike further up the trail, but a storm cloud had been brewing while I hiked.  At one point it started rumbling, so I figured I’d better turn around and head to the condo.  Scarlett was happy to run back downhill!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I passed a small lake on the way to the condo.  It must have interesting minerals in the water to give it a beautiful turquoise blue color.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eagle Rock Lake

Along the road I saw a beautiful little waterfall.  I just had to park and climb down the steep incline to photograph it.  Totally worth it don’t you think?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tune in next time for Day 2.  I hiked to a beautiful waterfall and a lake!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

San Antonio Birding – Dedicated to my Dad

In mid-April I went to visit my parents in San Antonio, Texas.  My dad had been getting weaker and weaker.  I knew I needed to go see him sooner rather than later.  Sadly, two days after I arrived he passed away.  I’m so thankful I was able to visit him before he passed.

20180504_221301

One of my favorite photos of me and my dad.  My wedding day on October 18, 1996.

I wanted to dedicate this post to my dad.  He always looked forward to reading about my adventures and looking at my photos.

I had taken Scarlett with me.  She was upset when dad died at the house.  And she was upset that mom and I were grieving.  So to help her and me both cope with the loss, I got up early every morning to walk and bird.   When I am out in nature, I find it a balm to my soul and a time to talk with the Lord.

There is a greenbelt near my parent’s home that I walk whenever I visit.  The first morning I was there, I took a walk on the familiar trail.  Since it was April, there were still a few Texas Bluebonnets blooming.

20180417_081857

Scarlett walking in the greenbelt.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Texas Bluebonnets

It was quiet for the most part, but I did find a couple of good birds.  One bird was singing his heart out and it took me awhile to find him.  Eventually I located him and was happy to see a White-Eyed Vireo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White-Eyed Vireo

A further ways down the trail, I saw a movement in a tree.  To my delight it was a Red-Shouldered Hawk.  He didn’t seem to mind me watching him hunt for breakfast.  So I got lots of beautiful shots of this gorgeous bird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Shouldered Hawk as I first saw him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He then moved to this great perch and posed nicely for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love the beautiful color and pattern of the feathers on his wings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Success getting some breakfast.

The next morning I went to a newly found spot called Lake Converse in Converse, Texas.  It’s a pretty little park with a semi-wild lake.  One of the first things I saw was a pair of Egyptian Geese with 10 goslings.  I think they had hatched within 48 hours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Egyptian Geese with 10 goslings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Adorable baby

One of my favorite shots was of a Mute Swan.  Such an elegant bird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mute Swan

A lot of the birds preferred to stay on the far shore of the lake – really testing the limits of my long lens.  I had hoped to get closer to the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, but no such luck.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the best photo I got of a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cattle Egret

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pied-Billed Grebe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Coot

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Coot

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Egret

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great-Tailed Grackle

As I walked around the lake, I saw quite a variety of birds.  The air was filled with birdsong.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White-Winged Dove

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Barn Swallow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Common Yellowthroat

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Savannah Sparrow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eastern Kingbird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Killdeer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eastern Phoebe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Clay-Colored Sparrow in the foreground and a Chipping Sparrow in the back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Myrtle)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lincoln’s Sparrow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carolina Wren

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Cardinal with an inchworm

One special treat was a Martin House that was in use.  Purple Martins were occupying most of the holes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Purple Martins

As I was leaving one day, I watched this Northern Mockingbird busy looking for insects.  I watched him use his wings to try and flush out bugs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Mockingbird flushing out bugs

Another lake nearby called Live Oak Lake was another treasure for birds. It had a more park-like feel to it.  It didn’t have as many birds, but was still a great place to visit. I got there very early one beautiful morning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck at dawn

20180423_080506

Lake Converse at sunrise

There was a very tame Great Egret hoping for a free breakfast from a fisherman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Egret

One a later visit that Great Egret was fishing along the lake shore.  I thought it made for a beautiful photo op.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Egret

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA