Rocky Mountain National Park – Day 1

Recently my friend Dia and I took a long weekend to visit Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) near Estes, Colorado.  We have talked about going there for about 5 years.  Finally our schedules came together and we were able to go.  I have long wanted to visit this national park.  The photos I’ve seen from there are just stunning.  Water everywhere!  (Unlike New Mexico LOL!)

It took us about 10 hours to drive there, due to the many stops made at Starbucks 🙂

11900

Kelly and Dia getting their Starbucks fix!

We arrived at the entrance sign to Estes Park late in the day.  Of course, we had to take a pic there of us in our matches dresses.  🙂

20170720_182240

We made it!  Don’t you love our matching dresses!?  🙂

There were several Black-Billed Magpies around and one was happy to pose for me on the sign.  I guess they are no longer a nemesis of mine LOL!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Billed Magpie

We knew it was going to be crowded every day there as we were visiting during peak season.  So we made plans to go to bed early and get up very early to beat the crowds.  It proved to be a great plan as we found when we were leaving the trails that’s when most people were heading out.  Doing this allowed us to visit the spectacular park with minimal intrusion of other people.  There’s nothing more discouraging to a photographer than to have a beautiful setting for a photo crowded out with masses of tourists.

Dia has been to RMNP a few times in the past.  I had never been before.  So I followed her lead on what to see first.  Her favorite drive is up Old Fall River Road.  A one-way dirt road that climbs to the highest point in the park.  When I looked at the map, I realized a couple of the waterfalls I wanted to photograph were on this route.  Yay!

Our first stop was at the Allivial Fan Falls.  This waterfall was created by a major flood due to a failure in a dam upstream.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Alluvial Fan Falls

Heading up Old Fall River Road, we saw so many beautiful sights.  Everywhere you looked, it was a Kodak moment. Dia drove my Jeep so I could take photos.  She loves driving my Jeep – especially off road.  🙂 At one point, Dia almost ran over a marmot who had no fear of the Jeep.  Evidently he’s used to tourists feeding him as they pass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kelly and her Jeep (not her husband’s Jeep) 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia and Scarlett enjoying the drive up Old Fall River Road

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Marmot

I especially loved this little waterfall at the beginning of the drive.  There was no formal trail, just enough of a path to view the water closer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Further up the road we came to Chasm Falls – another waterfall on my “must see” list.  What a beautiful waterfall coming through the narrow canyon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking downstream

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett, Kelly & Dia

Scarlett loves water – so of course we had to let her play a little before hitting the road again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett enjoying the falls in her own way 🙂

Soon we were climbing higher and higher.  The views expanded.  Just glorious!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorgeous views from Old Fall River Road.

We eventually rose above the tree line.  Beautiful!  We came across patches of wildflowers.  Everything was so green – way different from New Mexico.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just before reaching the RMNP Alpine Visitor Center, we came across more marmot.  I liked how this one posed nicely for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Marmot

The views at the visitor center overlooking a glacial cirque were truly breathtaking.   The grasses were so lush and the snow provided a beautiful contrast to the photos.

20170721_083842

Glacial Cirque

There is a hike from the visitor’s center that takes you to a peak.  It was tough going considering there was very little oxygen at 12,000 feet above sea level.  The views from the top were amazing.  I love exploring!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trail from the visitor’s center.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Breathtaking views!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Where’s Starbucks???!!!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Views of the visitor center from the top of the trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia, Kelly and Scarlett at the top!

After a brief stop at the Visitor’s Center, we decided to take the drive to Grand Lake.  We wound our way back down the other side of the mountain.  At the bottom we took a short hike to stretch our legs and enjoy the beautiful weather.  I saw several sparrows in this area but only managed to get one pic of a Savannah Sparrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Such a lush valley of green

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These squirrels found a good home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia happy with her Starbucks! 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was the only butterfly I saw that day. Terrible photo as I didn’t have my birding lens.  I believe this is a Mormon Fritillary

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Savannah Sparrow

As we made our way toward Grand Lake we saw a turn off for Lake Irene.  What a serene little lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lake Irene

As we left Irene Lake we saw a bunch of folks looking into the dense brush along the road.  We figured they’d spotted something good.  And indeed they had – a moose!  Actually two moose – a mother and calf.  They were a ways away and in dense brush, but I managed to get a couple photos.  I’d never seen a moose before!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Moose with calf

We also saw some nice bull Elk along the road.  One was really enjoying the good life of summer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Very healthy bull Elk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Enjoying summer

Near Grand Lake I spotted an Osprey nest.  It’s always a good day when you see a bird of prey.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Osprey

Grand Lake was very touristy and actually not in RMNP.  So we turned around and decided to drive the Ridge Road back to Estes Park.  Once again we were in store for more stunning views way above the tree line.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Click, click, click….I took over 5,000 photos on this trip! Yikes!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Expansive views

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love the high alpine meadow flowers – so small and delicate.

20170721_141647(0)

Dia and Kelly

At one point we saw a nice herd of elk.  They were grazing in the high meadows well above 11,000 feet.  They have a very picturesque home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett was enjoying all the sights and smells.

20170721_145853

So many smells!!!!

We stopped at one pullout to view a glacier.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hmmmm…look at my Jeep keys precariously dangling from Dia’s hand….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Glacier at 12,000 feet.  I love the blue pool of water in the lower right.

While taking photos, Dia noticed a little brown bird hopping just below us.  I quickly got my birding lens and was happy to see it was a Brown-Capped Rosy Finch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brown-Capped Rosy Finch

Further down the road we stopped at another pullout.  There were lots of folks feeding the birds and squirrels here.  I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take close up photos of the rather tame squirrels.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What a cutie!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

excuse me…you have something in the corner of your mouth…

But I was thrilled to see a Clark’s Nutcracker here looking for handouts.  I’ve only seen this bird once before several years ago in Santa Fe.  I’ve heard them a few times since then, but never saw them for a photo.  So it was great to see this bird close up!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Clark’s Nutcracker

The views from this location were beautiful.  You could see the entire valley below.  You can even see the Alluvial Fan Falls area we had visited in the morning.

20170721_151838

It was a full day of fun!!!  Off to bed early for another full day of exploring!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These flowers were extremely tiny!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birds, Butterflies, Bees and more

Over the past few weeks I’ve been out and about enjoying the hot summer weather.  I try to hike every chance I get, which hasn’t been near as often as I’d like.

I went through Stanley a few times in the last couple weeks driving to Santa Fe and other places for work.  I hadn’t been here birding in a while so it was a nice change of scenery.  As always there’s the ever present Western Meadowlarks singing on all the fence posts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Meadowlark

There are always Swainson’s Hawks about in great numbers.  I managed to get a few nice photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swainson’s Hawk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swainson’s Hawk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swainson’s Hawk

Here are some of the other birds I’ve seen there lately.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blue Grosbeak

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Vesper Sparrow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Tailed Hawk – juvenile

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Curve-Billed Thrasher

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Loggerhead Shrike

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brewer’s Blackbird – female

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brewer’s Blackbird – male

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Horned Lark

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Barn Swallow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bullock’s Oriole

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lark Sparrow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lesser Goldfinch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cassin’s Kingbird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cooper’s Hawk

The highlight of my Stanley trips though would have to be finding the Ferruginous Hawk’s nest.  I had found them out there a few years ago but their nest got taken out by strong winds.  They abandoned that nesting spot and I never figured out where they ended up.  Then one day recently I saw one sitting on a telephone pole.  He let me get pretty close for photos.  Which got me this awesome pic!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ferruginous Hawk

But then I started thinking maybe he didn’t fly off because there’s a nest nearby.  Now there are very few trees in Stanley as it is mostly comprised of crop farming.  But there happened to be a short, stumpy tree right near this telephone pole.  Now from the street you couldn’t even see the nest.  But when I walked to the other side of the tree, I saw almost fully fledged young ones.  I was thrilled to have found them again.  Now I know where to look next spring.  I’m thankful I found these guys before they left the nest this year.  In all I saw 3 young ones, but one was always shy for photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ferruginous Hawk – juvenile

One day I went to Glorietta to go hiking.  On the way there I stopped in at Lamy.  I had heard there was a Vermillion Flycatcher there.  As soon as I parked and got out of the car I heard him singing.  Such a beautiful bird!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Vermillion Flycatcher

The trail was very pretty and cool being up in higher elevation and treed.  But there were lots of wildflowers and butterflies about.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Field Crescent

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mylitta Crescent

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Checkered White

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Pine Elfin

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spring Azure

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rocky Mountain Duskywing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western-Tailed Blue

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pearl Crescent

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hmmmmm…not sure what this one is

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cloudless Sulphur

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Reakirt’s Blue

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Common Checkered Skipper

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Purplish Copper

I heard lots of birds on the trail, but I only managed to get one bird photo – an Evening Grosbeak.  Such uniquely colored birds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Evening Grosbeak

There were lots of bees out among the flowers.  New Mexico has hundreds of different types of bees.  So I’m always amazed when I see a variety while I’m hiking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pretty red butt bee among the daisies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Loving my new camera – took this hand held

I saw this fly land on the trail in front of me.   This guy was HUGE! Way bigger than most flies I see.  I’m dubbing him the Batman fly as I think he looks like Batman with those dark black wings and body.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Batman fly 🙂

Just before leaving Glorietta, I came across a flock of Cliff Swallows gathering mud to build their nests.  It was fun watching them gather up the mud and fly off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cliff Swallow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cliff Swallow

I’ve been in the Sandia’s off and on.  One day I specifically went to Capulin Spring.  I’m still so disappointed in the work they did there over the last year or so.  The birds are so skittish there now and there’s no natural cover for them or me.  So though I heard a lot of birds in the trees, I only saw a few that were brave enough to come to the spring while I was there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Tanager

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Flicker

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cordilleran Flycatcher

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hermit Thrush

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

I’m ready to get out there some more!  I love summertime!!!!

 

 

 

 

Wonderful Spring Birding with a New Lifer Sighting

First off, let me just say, I LOVE my new camera!  I’m definitely still in the learning phase, but it’s performance is superior to my old setup.  It’s a joy to use, and I’m very happy with my images.

Not too long ago, we had a spring storm blow through and it dumped 12 inches of snow at my house.  The birds were not very happy about this event, and neither were my plants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bleeding Hearts

A Cooper’s Hawk was hanging out at my bird feeder hoping for a meal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cooper’s Hawk

The hummingbirds were happy I had feeders out for them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

I think the only one happy with the snow was Scarlett 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My sweet Miss Scarlett

Thankfully the snow melted the very next day, and the temperatures returned to the mid to high 70s right away.  I got to go out hiking several times this week.  I visited Tingley Beach a couple days after the spring storm.  The Rio Grande was raging and flooded most of the bosque trails.  But it was worth trudging through it to see some new spring birds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ash-Throated Flycatcher

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Green Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Baby Mallard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Summer Tanager

I have lived in the Albuquerque area for over 20 years.  And during that time, I have never visited Sandia Lakes or Shady Lakes (they are next door to each other).  So one day I decided to check out the lakes.

Sandia Lakes was very nice.  Beautiful lawns and cottonwood trees and three separate lakes.

20170503_124417

Sandia Lakes with the Sandia Mountains in the background

The first bird I saw was a Lark Sparrow (first one I’ve seen this year).  He was singing way up high in a tree.  Then I saw several Canada Geese with their babies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Canada Geese

While watching the geese, I saw something that looked different.  I quickly realized it was a Western Grebe.  We don’t see them often in our area, so it was a real treat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Grebe

I saw a pair of Say’s Phoebes busily hunting for bugs.  I soon saw why they were so frantic to find bugs.  They had three babies squeezed into a tiny nest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Say’s Phoebes

I saw lots of Black Phoebes as well.  They are such beautiful birds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black Phoebe

While walking around the lake, an Osprey flew overhead.  I thought to myself that he might be part of a nesting pair.  This was confirmed recently by my friend Joe.  I’m definitely going to have to check out their nesting progress.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Osprey

I came across a pair of Black-Capped Chickadees that were acting very agitated.  I never did figure out what they were so upset about.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Capped Chickadee

As I was walking through the grass between lakes, I saw a Killdeer doing its “I’m injured, follow me” routine.  So I knew there must be a baby nearby.  It was acting pretty desperate, so I thought it must be very close.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Killdeer trying to lure me away from its baby

When I looked down, I realized it was only a foot away.  I almost stepped on it!  Yikes!  It never did move.  I took a quick pic and then quickly moved away.  Soon I heard the baby calling for its parents.  It was nice to see them all reunite and be assured all was fine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

baby Killdeer

I then headed over to Shady Lakes. What a beautiful place!  It has several ponds all covered in beautiful lily pads and lined with irises.  The ponds are stocked with different varieties of fish.  But I was there for the birds.

20170503_141511 (2)

Shady Lakes

As soon as I stepped out of the car, I saw a Black-Crowned Night Heron sitting beautifully on an old log.  I then realized there were several of them gathered there.   Fabulous!  They are used to people so they let me get pretty close.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Crowned Night Heron

I walked around the ponds and admired all the beautiful blooming lilies and irises.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I noticed a moth feeding among the irises.  These moths often get called hummingbirds by people when they don’t look too closely.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White-Lined Sphinx Moth

The turtles were enjoying those big lily pads!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My last hike was up to the Cienega picnic area.  The forest service blocks the road for cars until mid-May.  So you have to hike along the road to get to the upper picnic area.  My goal was to try and find the Northern Pygmy Owl that has been seen nesting there.  Now I have made this hike several times both last spring and this spring with no luck seeing that owl.  Well, this time I was successful!  This is a lifer bird for me!

He was calling repeatedly on a lower branch in the aspen tree where he’s been seen nesting.  All the songbirds in the area were very agitated and were trying to scare him away.  It was a wonderful sighting!

For those of you not familiar with this owl.  He’s very small,  only 6 inches from its head to the end of its tail.  So you can see why he’s so difficult to find.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Pygmy Owl

I decided to hike over to Bill Spring since I was in the area.  A Hermit Thrush was enjoying a bath.  And a baby was in a tree nearby.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hermit Thrush

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hermit Thrush

A Western Tanager (my first of the year), briefly showed himself deep in the trees near the spring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Tanager

I hadn’t been at the spring long when a Cooper’s Hawk flew in chasing a chickadee.  After that, the birds were scarce.  So I started hiking back to my car.  I saw lots of Black-Headed Grosbeak singing and squabbling in the trees.  I’m guessing they were vying for the attention of the females.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Headed Grosbeak

I’m thrilled spring is here.  I’m looking forward to getting out again and seeing what other beautiful spring birds have arrived.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birding in Southeastern Arizona – Days 4 & 5

Our last two days in southeastern Arizona were spent in the Greaterville and Sierra Vista areas.

We spent one whole day exploring the mountain area near Greaterville.  Tim was determined to find some gold on this trip.  This area was known for some good gold in the early 1900s.  Tim spent the day in the bottom of an arroyo.  While he did that, I explored the hills around him.

DSC_7584

Tim metal detecting

Nearby there was a small pond.  It really seemed to attract the birds.  There were a pair of Killdeer on the shore.   And several Acorn Woodpeckers were hanging out there too.  There were some large trees at one end of the pond, and I scared a Great Horned Owl out of them when I walked under the branches.  He flew too far away to follow for a photo.

DSC_7611

Acorn Woodpecker

DSC_7603

Killdeer

DSC_7428

Lewis’s Woodpecker

DSC_7493

Cordilleran Flycatcher

There was a very tame Mockingbird hanging out by our vehicle.

DSC_7567

Northern Mockingbird

I kept hearing birdsong I didn’t recognize.  When I finally saw the bird that was singing, I got very excited.  It was a Bridled Titmouse,  a new bird for me!

DSC_7828

Bridled Titmouse

While watching this beautiful Titmouse, a band of Bushtits came through.  I got a nice photo of a male Bushtit before they moved on.

DSC_7630

Flying overhead was a gorgeous Red-Tailed Hawk.

DSC_0667

Red-Tailed Hawk

Tim spent hours digging holes in that arroyo.  And it paid off!  He found several pieces of gold.

20170402_102324

Tim’s nuggets

On our way back to our hotel, I spotted something in the dim evening light.  I made Tim turn around so I could see if my guess was right.  I thought I saw a Great Horned Owl sitting on the ground.  And I was right!

DSC_7932

Great Horned Owl

The next morning we were to head home.  We got an early start, so I asked Tim if we could spend about 30 minutes at a B&B in the area.  This particular B&B had had sightings of the Lucifer Hummingbird.

The yard of this B&B was full of birds.  I could see why too.  She had so many different types of food for the birds as well as several water sources.  I hadn’t been there 5 minutes when the Lucifer Hummingbird showed up.  Sadly, he landed on a feeder right above my head.  I managed to get one terrible photo before he flew off.  And I never saw him again while I was there.  😦  But I was still excited.  Such a beautiful bird!  And a lifer for me!

DSC_0705

Lucifer Hummingbird

But I wasn’t to be disappointed at the short view of the Lucifer Hummingbird.  Because right after seeing him, I saw the Magnificent Hummingbird.  And boy was he truly magnificent and a lifer for me!

DSC_0707

Magnificent Hummingbird

DSC_0769

Magnificent Hummingbird

Another lifer quickly showed up to feed on the grand buffet.  A Mexican Jay!

DSC_1017

Mexican Jay

There were lots of other birds in that small yard.  A very shy Scott’s Oriole came to feed on an orange.  And several Yellow-Rumped Warblers came for the suet.

DSC_1541

Acorn Woodpecker

DSC_1513

Gila Woodpecker

DSC_1361

Scott’s Oriole

DSC_1285

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

DSC_1254

House Finch

DSC_0897

Green-Tailed Towhee

Sadly, we couldn’t stay long at the B&B.   I could have easily spent an entire morning sitting in my chair there with my camera glued to my face!  LOL!

On the way home Scarlett needed a potty break.  So we stopped in at Steins, New Mexico.  It’s a neat old ghost town.  It was closed to tours, but I was still able to enjoy looking at the old buildings from outside the fence.  It is a nicely preserved town.

DSC_5335DSC_5334DSC_5329DSC_5328DSC_5327

Tim spotted what looked to be an old still for making moonshine.

DSC_5338

While photographing Steins, the train came through 🙂

DSC_5343

We had a wonderful long weekend exploring southeastern Arizona.  I hope we get to go back again someday!  Looks like Scarlett had a great time too.  She snoozed the whole way home.

9859

Scarlett was one tired dog!

 

 

Birding in Southeastern Arizona – Day 3

Our third day in Southeastern Arizona brought us to Patagonia, AZ.  A premier birding spot!  I made big plans for some great birding opportunities.

We stayed at a B&B just outside of Patagonia.  They had so many birds there.  I could easily have spent a whole morning just sitting on the patio.  I got a couple new birds there in just the few minutes I spent on the patio.  I saw my first Broad-Billed Hummingbird – gorgeous!  And I saw a very shy Hooded Oriole.

DSC_0335

Broad-Billed Hummingbird

DSC_0392

Hooded Oriole

Here’s some of the other birds I saw that morning before we headed to our other destinations.

DSC_7419

Say’s Phoebe

DSC_8001

Northern Cardinal

DSC_8019

Lincoln’s Sparrow

DSC_8005

Gila Woodpecker

DSC_8058

House Finch

DSC_8119

Acorn Woodpecker

 

DSC_8054

Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

We stopped at a local coffee shop before heading out.  I just had to snap a quick pic of these beautiful black labs.  🙂

9881

Our first stop was at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds.  This was a former home of birding enthusiasts.   Now it is managed by the Tucson Audubon Society.  It has been opened to the public and designed for optimal hummingbird viewing.  I had hoped to see the Violet-Crowned Hummingbird, but I guess I was a little early in the season for this sighting.  I did see lots of Broad-Billed Hummingbirds.

DSC_0437

Broad-Billed Hummingbird

DSC_0381

Broad-Billed Hummingbird

DSC_8367

Broad-Billed Hummingbird

There were a few other variety of hummingbirds present as well.  However, they were females and I’m terrible at identifying most of the female hummingbird species.

DSC_8177DSC_0946

One of my favorite photos I took there was of this Gambel’s Quail.

DSC_8246

Gambel’s Quail

While I was photographing birds, Tim spotted this gopher busily cleaning out his den.

DSC_8533

Gopher

From there we headed to Patagonia Lake State Park.

9886

Kelly and Tim

We stopped in at the visitor’s center first.  Lots of birds on the feeders there!

DSC_8739

Northern Cardinal

DSC_8703

Chipping Sparrow

DSC_8679

House Finch

DSC_8583

Red-Winged Blackbirds

DSC_8575

Great-Tailed Grackle

DSC_8536

Inca Dove

While at the visitor’s center, we heard about a 1-hour boat birding tour.  It was only $5!  So of course Tim and I signed up! While waiting for the boat, I saw this Broad-Billed Hummingbird collecting tidbits for her nest.

DSC_8775DSC_8781DSC_8782

I then followed her and saw where she landed.  She found a good hiding spot.  I had a lot of difficulty just getting this photo of her.

DSC_9330

Broad-Billed Hummingbird

Soon we were on our boat ride.  This was Scarlett’s first time on a boat!  She wasn’t sure what to think of it, until we let her get right up front where she could see out.  Then she loved it!

Lots of great bird sightings from the boat.  It was difficult getting sharp photos while moving.  But I’m pretty pleased with most of my photos.

DSC_9265

Eared Grebe

DSC_9170

Double-Crested Cormorant

DSC_9083

Black-Crowned Night Heron

DSC_9056

Green Heron

DSC_8951

Great Egret with Neotropic and Double-Crested Cormorants

DSC_8869

Neotropic Cormorant

DSC_8845

Pied-Billed Grebe

DSC_8823

American Coot – looking warily at Scarlett 🙂

DSC_9634

Green-Winged Teal

I was very excited to get a new bird on the boat ride.  A Greater Scaup!

DSC_8983

Greater Scaup

The bird guides were quite excited to spot a Hooded Merganser female.  Evidently they are a rare visitor to the lake.

DSC_8943

Hooded Merganser

Coming back to the visitor’s center, I got this nice shot of a foot bridge in front of the marina.  I really liked this bridge.

DSC_5325

The bird guides told us of a path along the lake that is good for birding.  So we quickly headed over there before the day grew too late.  As we started the path, an Osprey flew overhead.

DSC_9414

Osprey

This was a fabulous path.  Birds everywhere!  Tim was a great spotter for me.  He saw many more birds before me.  I told him I was going to take him along more often! Here’s photos of the many birds we saw.

DSC_9914

Vermillion Flycatcher

DSC_9821

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

DSC_9645

Yellow Warbler

DSC_9668

Black-Throated Gray Warbler

DSC_9588

Hermit Thrush

DSC_9464

Cinnamon Teal

DSC_9445

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

DSC_9920

Common Yellowthroat

Tim spotted a Leopard Frog sunning himself in the shallows.

DSC_9455

Leopard Frog

We saw lots of butterflies along the trail. Hopefully I named these correctly.  Thanks to Joe on my previous post.

DSC_9762

American Snout

DSC_9754

Sleepy Duskywing

DSC_9339

Golden-Headed Scallopwing

DSC_8542

Pipevine Swallowtail

DSC_9341

Texan Crescent

There was a bird feeder station set up on the trail.  The feeders were getting quite a few visitors, including a big squirrel.

DSC_9998

Rock Squirrel

DSC_9971

DSC_9967

Lesser Goldfinch

DSC_9945

White-Crowned Sparrow

Just before getting in our car after walking the trail, we saw the Osprey fly over again.  This time he had a fish!

DSC_0051-2

Osprey

It was a fabulous birding day!  Lots of beautiful birds with a couple of lifers, a day spent at the lake and a wonderful time with my husband and dog.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birding in Southeast Arizona – Day 2

Our first full day was to be spent in the hills around Arivaca, AZ.  Tim planned on prospecting for gold while I searched for birds.  The area is very arid with rolling hills.

This day was also Scarlett’s 2nd Birthday!  🙂

DSC_7269

Happy Birthday Scarlett!

On the way to the hills, we passed through the small town of Arivaca.  Among the tall trees around town, vultures were warming themselves up for a day of soaring.  I was happily surprised to see both Black and Turkey Vultures.

DSC_6980

Turkey Vulture on the left.  Black Vulture on the right.

We finally made it to the hills.  The views were expansive.

9842

Hills around Arivaca, AZ

As soon as I got out of the truck, I heard birdsong everywhere.  I thought to myself, “this is going to be a good day!”  🙂

On my list of birds to find, was the Rufous-Winged Sparrow.  As we were driving along the road to our destination, I figured I better play its song so I knew what to look for.  We had the windows down in the truck.  When I played the recording of the birdsong, we heard one reply outside the window.  Bingo!!!  I was gonna see this new bird for me!  And almost as soon as I started exploring around the truck, I saw one singing in a large bush.

DSC_7030

Rufous-Winged Sparrow

I had a great time hiking the area.  I saw so many birds.  As barren as the place looked, it was really full of life.

DSC_7362

Black-Throated Sparrow

DSC_7195

Phainopepla

DSC_7101

Pyrrhuloxia

DSC_7085

Ash-Throated Flycatcher

DSC_7018

Verdin with soft stuff to line its nest 🙂

One bird I saw and heard everywhere was the Lucy’s Warbler.  But it was a challenge trying to get a photograph of this quick, tiny bird!

DSC_7000

Lucy’s Warbler

Another bird I heard often was the Bewick’s Wren.  But in this part of the country, it’s song is way more simplified than where I live.  So it took me a while to realize it was the same species.

DSC_7117

Bewick’s Wren

I saw a few butterflies that day as well.  Most of them were new butterflies for me.   My friend Joe will hopefully tell me if I’ve incorrectly identified any.

DSC_7357

Empress Leilia

DSC_7259

Dotted Roadside Skipper

DSC_7179

Marine Blue

DSC_7127

Pahaska Skipper

DSC_7126

Mormon Metalmark

DSC_7072

Desert Checkered Skipper

DSC_7068

Common Streaky Skipper

DSC_7057

Tiny Checkerspot

DSC_0484

Pacuvius Duskywing

Near the end of the day, we decided to move to a different area so Tim could explore a different gold claim.  I was surprised at how the area offered different birds even though we only drove a few miles.

DSC_7383

Bell’s Vireo

DSC_7382

Cassin’s Vireo

DSC_7369

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

DSC_7355

Juvenile Golden Eagle

DSC_7359

Canyon Towhee

DSC_7389

American Crow

We had a wonderful day together.  The weather was gorgeous, the birds plentiful and fun times exploring.  More fun ahead!

DSC_7368

2-Year Anniversary and 11-Mile Hike

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my blog.  I can’t believe I’ve been posting my adventures for 2 years!  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my birding outings and other adventures.

Scarlett and I have been walking a lot lately.  And sometimes my fiends join us.  It’s been a lot of fun getting out there and seeing the bosque start to wake up for spring.

My friend Joe Schelling has told me about a couple of owl nests.  So I went to find them  over the past couple of weeks.  One is a Great Horned Owl nest.  The male was difficult to find, but I did manage to locate him after much searching.  He was hiding very well in a pine tree.  The female in the nest is very easy to see.  I’m looking forward to seeing babies soon.

DSC_6416

Great Horned Owl

DSC_6587

Can you see the owl among the branches?

The other owl nest is a Western Screech Owl.  He’s located near the duck ponds at Tingley Beach.   Which brings me to my 11-mile hike.

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to hike the trail along the Rio Grande from Tingley Beach to Alameda Open Space.  I knew it was going to be a long hike and I needed a full day to do it.  The weather has gotten so nice lately, that I decided I was ready to attempt this long hike.  My plan was to start at Tingley Beach and head north.  Once I got to Alameda, I was going to call a cab to take me back to my car.

So a couple of days ago, Scarlett and I headed out.  It was a glorious spring day.  At the parking lot, I was greeted by loads of beautiful daffodils blooming.  So cheerful.  A wonderful way to start a day.

DSC_6659

I started at the duck ponds.  I met up with a couple birder friends there and we enjoyed watching a very cooperative Neotropic Cormorant.  He was enjoying the beautiful morning as well.

DSC_6766

Neotropic Cormorant

DSC_6789

Love their teal-colored eyes

A Pied-Billed Grebe was also enjoying the morning.   As well as a gorgeous male Wood Duck.

DSC_6690

Pied-Billed Grebe

DSC_6695

Wood Duck enjoying a good grooming

I’ve seen a particular coloring of duck over the past year.  For the longest time, I thought it was a mallard hybrid of some sort.  But recently I stumbled across a photo of this same duck on the internet.  Come to find out, it’s a Swedish Blue Duck.  Evidently it’s a domesticated duck in Sweden and over the past few years has spread among the states.  I’ve seen this duck in Utah, Nevada and now New Mexico.

DSC_6637

Swedish Blue Duck behind a Mallard female

There were lots of turtles out sunning themselves as well.  While taking photos, I guess I never realized there were so many varieties of turtles in the ponds.

DSC_6679DSC_6674

 

DSC_6671

I then left the ponds and went in search of that Western Screech Owl.  He was looking out of his hole with slitted eyes.  I guess that bright morning sun wasn’t so pleasant to him.  But I was thrilled to get a cool shot of that owl looking out of the trunk of a cottonwood tree.

DSC_6723

Western Screech Owl

I made my way along the bosque.  I saw several porcupines up in the trees.  Soon the leaves will make it much more difficult to see them.

DSC_6399

Porcupine

Not far past the owl’s nest, I came across a pair of nesting Cooper’s Hawks.  The female was way down low in the nest and was difficult to see.  But the male was calling from a branch making himself very visible.  I was pleased to get such a nice photo of him.

DSC_6801

Cooper’s Hawk

During my hike, I saw a total of four Cooper’s Hawks.  The others were not nearly as cooperative for photos.

Further along the trail, I heard this guy making odd noises.  As I came closer,  I saw him in the water.  At first I thought he needed help, but as I got closer I realized he was doing some kind of training.  Not sure what, but I guess he knew what he was doing.  LOL!

DSC_6901

Hmmmmmm……

Just upstream of this guy, I saw a Canada Goose wondering about that guy as well!

DSC_6903

Canada Goose

I happened upon a pair of Lesser Goldfinches trying to glean a few more seeds from last season’s sunflowers.

DSC_6889

Lesser Goldfinch – male

DSC_6878

Lesser Goldfinch – female

At one point I heard a bunch of Gambel’s Quail.  I only managed to see this one male as he peeked out from behind some cacti.

DSC_6454

Gambel’s Quail

At one point, Scarlett stopped and was staring into the dense brush.  All of a sudden, I saw a coyote run out from behind a bush.  I managed to get a quick pic before he disappeared from view.

DSC_6918

Coyote

Flying overhead I saw a nice Red-Tailed Hawk.  He was enjoying the thermals.

DSC_6346

Red-Tailed Hawk

I came across a few crows feeding on the ground.  They actually let me get pretty close.  Which was nice, because black birds are so difficult to get a good photo of .

DSC_6410

American Crow

I saw a few other birds along my hike.

DSC_6434

Say’s Phoebe

DSC_6614

White-Crowned Sparrows

DSC_6316

Downy Woodpecker

DSC_6256

Spotted Towhee

Five hours and 11-miles later I arrived at Alameda Open Space parking lot.  Whew!!! That was a long walk.  Scarlett and I were pooped!  But we had a great time.  It was so much fun, I think I will do it again soon!