Shorebirds in Port Aransas, Texas

This is a big category.  There were so many different kinds of shorebirds when I visited.  Of course, I wasn’t complaining. 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorgeous sunrise on the Gulf Coast of Texas

I visited the beach a couple of times at sunrise.  This proved to be a good idea as the terns were hanging out on the beach grooming before taking off to eat breakfast.  I saw a nice group of terns one morning with a lifer among them – the Sandwich Tern.  I wonder how it got its name???

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sandwich Tern

Also in the group were Royal Terns (gorgeous birds) and a juvenile Black Tern.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Royal Tern

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black Tern – juvenile

While driving along the beach I saw a group of Black Skimmers fly by feeding.   Such a unique bird. You’ll notice the upper beak is shorter than the lower enabling it to skim the water while flying fast.  I never saw any sitting still, so I was happy I managed to get one decent photo of one flying.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black Skimmer

As always on the beach, lots of seagulls!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Laughing Gulls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Laughing Gull

One variety of birds I just love are the sandpipers.  When I was little living in the Philippines, I called the sandpipers “step and pecks” because that’s exactly what they do!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Sandpiper

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sanderling – I love this photo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ruddy Turnstone

One day at the beach, I witnessed a very disturbing sight.  I was looking at a particular bird that seemed different from all the Western Sandpipers around.  So I went to grab my camera.  When I turned around to take a picture, I didn’t see it.  That’s when I noticed some grackles that were ganging up on something.  I took a couple quick pics with my camera to see what they were attacking.  I realized they were attacking the bird I wanted to photograph!!!  What!?!  I didn’t know grackles would kill anything.  I thought they were scavenger birds.  I put down the camera and went to see if I could save the little bird.  Sadly,  I was too late 😦  I now hate grackles…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This Great-Tailed Grackle is attacking a Sanderling, which is trying to fight back. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The grackle was just too big to fight off.

20170518_124832

So sad……

Out at Charlie’s Pasture I sat quietly on a shaded bench for about an hour.  Different varieties of birds would come and go from the pond.  The highlight of that particular visit was when a large group of American Avocets flew in.  I had never seen a large group in breeding plumage feed together before.  It was like a beautiful ballet.  They were a synchronized group that chattered constantly among themselves.  It was a real delight to watch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Avocets

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Avocets in a beautiful synchronized dance

Another day at Charlie’s pasture I got another lifer – Gull-Billed Terns!  They were quite a ways away so getting a decent pic was a challenge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gull-Billed Terns

In great breeding numbers was the Least Tern.  I searched in vain for any babies, but never did see any.  The parents were clever enough to not feed any while I watched.  They would land and just sit – waiting for me to leave.  Oh well……

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Least Tern

A favorite every time I visit the coast is the Brown Pelican.  These birds are so unique looking.  They are a joy to watch fish as they dive into the water and fill that giant bill with fish.  The Brown Pelican during breeding season has beautiful coloration. On this trip, I got my most favorite photo I’ve ever taken of one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brown Pelican

I was excited to find Dunlins on several of my outings.  They are a lifer for me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dunlin

There was such a variety of marsh and shorebirds everywhere I went.  It was such a joy to see such unique birds!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Greater Yellowlegs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Necked Stilt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stilt Sandpiper

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wilson’s Phalarope

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Willet

While hiking around Charlie’s Pasture, I noticed a couple of plovers.  One in the very far distance was a Snowy Plover.  Happily one close by was a lifer for me.  A Wilson’s Plover!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Snowy Plover

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wilson’s Plover – look at all the bands he’s wearing!

I love birding at the beach during spring!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Horace Caldwell Pier at sunrise

 

 

 

 

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 With My New Camera!

For the past few years I was using a Nikon 1 V3 mirrorless camera for all of my birding photos.  While I loved that camera when I had plenty of light, I was always let down with any photos I took that were in low-light conditions.  The sensor in the camera just couldn’t handle low light, high ISO conditions.

So recentlly I purchased a new camera.  An Olympus OMD EM1 Mark ii (could they have come up with any longer of a name??!!).  This new camera is a micro 4/3 camera.  It has a better sensor for low light and it has much better in-camera stabilization.  I got a birding lens to go with it that has a reach of 800mm.

Of course, I just had to take it out right away to see how it performed birding.   So I planned a whole day of birding in different locations and light conditions.  When I shot with my Nikon, I mostly used shutter priority.  So that’s what I set the new camera to.  I was less than pleased with the first photos I took that day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Meadowlark

I headed over to Owlville in Los Lunas.  I had heard there were lots of Burrowing Owls nesting there this year.  I wasn’t disappointed either – I saw lots of owls.  They are located right next to the road, so you can get pretty close sitting in your car.  I played with the settings in my camera and my results were better.  It was a lot of fun watching these little owls.  It was early in the morning and the owls were very sleepy still.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Burrowing Owl snoozing in the morning sun

They seemed to be having a hard time waking up.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Big yawn!

I just never seem to be able to get enough owl photos to satisfy me.  They just make me smile.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Love this expression.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one was a little more alert than the others.

Then I saw one on a bush.  I think this made for wonderful photos.  I really like the bokeh with my new setup.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m impressed with the details in the feathers with this new setup. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Burrowing Owl

I then headed to Belen to the Taco Bell marsh.  When you shoot there, you are looking toward the sun – always a challenge to get good photos in those conditions.  I was pretty pleased with how the camera performed though still disappointed in the end results.  I just couldn’t figure out how to set this camera.  It has a very complicated menu system that is not intuitive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Killdeer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Necked Stilt

As I was leaving the marsh, I saw someone had created a track that goes to the other side of the marsh.  Seeing as I own a Jeep Wrangler, I was pretty confident I could drive on this sandy track and be ok.  I knew if I got to the other side, the sun would be behind me making more perfect conditions for photos.  And I wasn’t disappointed!  I saw this Cinnamon Teal right away.  Beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cinnamon Teal

I then saw this Morning Dove fly in looking for nesting materials.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mourning Dove

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Getting some nesting material. 

I then headed to a rookery I had recently heard about (thanks to my friend Joe!).  Here the lighting was low due to all the shade trees.

As soon as I got there, I saw a Cattle Egret in the tree right above me trying to get just the right stick for its nest.  I was amazed at how well this bird balanced itself on that skinny limb.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cattle Egret

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It took some skill to walk on that limb.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course it wanted the stick on the very end LOL!

While photographing this egret, the owner of the home came out.  We visited for a while, and then he invited me into the yard to get a closer look.  Wow!  He was very kind and you could tell he enjoyed having the annual visitors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Crowned Night Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Snowy Egret

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The owner leaves some of the fallen sticks on the ground for the birds to use.  This Cattle Egret was taking advantage of this bounty. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is just one small view of the trees in this yard.  Look at all those nests! 

The owner told me about a Sharp-Shinned Hawk next door.  It was deep in the canopy and my camera was struggling to get a focus.  So I put the camera in manual focus and was pleased with how easy it was to change the settings and focus on the bird.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was still trying to shoot on Shutter Priority.  While I like these images, I still think this camera could do much better.  I know it’s all user error.

My next stop was in Santa Fe.  I had to deliver some supplies to a job site there, so I visited the Randall Davey Audubon Center.  I walked the trail behind the center that follows a steam in the woods.  I immediately spotted warblers!  I love warblers but they are a big challenge to photograph – especially with a new camera!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Throated Gray Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Grace’s Warbler

I spent a little time in the gardens of the center.  I was really challenged trying to focus on my subjects.  I just couldn’t figure out the settings for center focus.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pine Siskin

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Chickadee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

I could see I still needed to practice and learn this camera.

My next outing I went to check on the owls at Academy School.  I haven’t been there in weeks.   I figured that baby might have left the nest by now.  He had, but he was still hanging out in the same tree.  I think he needs to grow into those feet!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Horned Owl

At my home I got more practice with my camera.  Lots of good stuff showing up this spring!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lesser Goldfinch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

House Finch in gorgeous breeding plumage

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Throated Gray Warbler – the second year in a row it has come to my home

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Plumbeous Vireo

Remember that Mountain Bluebird I saved last December?  Well, he’s doing fine and is nesting with his lovely lady this spring.  I love the photo I got of her, but I just couldn’t get a decent photo of him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Bluebird – female

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Bluebird – male

I made a brief stop at Kit Carson park to find the owls there.  I had heard about them, but hadn’t had a chance to go by.  I found one adult and one baby.  The baby had left the nest and was way up high hiding well within the canopy.  So well I couldn’t get a decent photo.  But one of the parents was nicely out in the open.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Horned Owl

My last outing was to the Cienega Trail on the east side of the Sandias.  It was a cold and cloudy morning.  Very low light conditions.  By this time I had switched to Aperture Priority.  I was much happier with the results.  I also learned I can set a maximum ISO when on Auto ISO.  This is great because I know I can control the amount of noise in my low-light photos.    I think these low-light photos are much better than what I would have gotten with my Nikon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Chickadee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hairy Woodpecker

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spotted Towhee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Orange-Crowned Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chipping Sparrow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Say’s Phoebe

So all in all I’m much happier with my new gear.  I know I have lots to learn, but I think I’m off to a good start!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not sure what this little guy is…but he’s darn cute!  I saw him at the Cienega Trail parking area. 

 

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!

 

 

A Lot of Bad Bird Photos

I’ve been out walking as often as I can.  Work has been hectic lately so I haven’t had a lot of time for long walks.  But I’ve managed to get out here and there and walk and photograph birds.

The skies have been overcast quite a bit which has caused low light conditions for photography.  Added to the frustrating photography conditions, the birds have insisted on staying in the shadows and diving for cover every chance they get.  Or they were always at the far range of my lens.  It was a challenging week trying to get a decent photo of a bird.  I’m so ready for summer!

So here’s a collection of all the bad bird photos I’ve gotten lately.

dsc_4386

White-Crowned Sparrow

dsc_4527

Crissal Thrasher

dsc_4570

Red-Tailed Hawk

dsc_4587

Common Merganser

dsc_4598

Western Bluebird

dsc_4650

Hermit Thrush

dsc_4651

American Robin

dsc_4736

Northern Shoveler

dsc_4777

Black-Capped Chickadee

dsc_4815

Bewick’s Wren

dsc_4832

Sandhill Cranes

dsc_4849

Black Phoebe

dsc_4861

Dark-Eyed Junco

dsc_4865

White-Breasted Nuthatch

dsc_4879

Lesser Goldfinch

dsc_4911

Song Sparrow

dsc_4969

Northern Flicker – it snowed at my house but he didn’t seem to mind.  He groomed on this perch for some time.

dsc_4978

House Finches

dsc_4985

Spotted Towhee

dsc_5028

Kildeer

dsc_5039

Northern Harrier

dsc_5079

American Kestral

dsc_5088

Say’s Phoebe

dsc_5089

My most common view of birds lately…..

dsc_5097

Eastern Bluebird

dsc_5104

Great Blue Heron

dsc_5210

This scarecrow isn’t scaring these guinea fowl much.

I did manage to get a few decent photos.  These few stood out of the bunch.

dsc_4514

Rock Wren

dsc_4728

Ring-Necked Duck – male

dsc_4730

Ring-Necked Duck – female

dsc_4997

Belted Kingfisher

dsc_5179

Great Blue Heron – he flew fairly low right over my head.  I loved it!

The best photo of the bunch was of this Black Phoebe.  It let me get very close and the sun actually shone weakly helping the shot.

dsc_5010

Black Phoebe

I saw some nice wildlife on the trail as well.

dsc_4841

Coyote

dsc_4822

Red-Eared Turtle

Of course, Scarlett wasn’t concerned that photography conditions weren’t ideal.  She always makes the best of a walk.

dsc_4674

Scarlett loves to jump over logs. 🙂

A Birding Day in Phoenix

Recently my friend Valerie and I went to Phoenix to attend a scrapbooking  class.  The day of class it rained and rained and rained.  I was beginning to believe that I wouldn’t get a chance to bird on the following day.

Luckily, Saturday’s weather had improved.  The rain had stopped, but there were still clouds and a pretty strong breeze and the temperature was pretty cold, especially for Phoenix.  But I deemed it good enough to go birding.

So I headed for my favorite birding spot in Phoenix:  Gilbert Water Ranch.  It’s a fabulous place that has several water reclamation ponds and lots of walking trails.

20170121_174434

Entrance to Gilbert Water Ranch at Sunset

When I first arrived, there were three people there holding rescued owls.  Of course, I just had to stop.  It was a very cloudy morning, so the lighting was poor, but I was determined to get the best photos I could.

dsc_2430

Western Screech Owl

dsc_2432

Burrowing Owl

dsc_2438

Great Horned Owl

After enjoying the owls, Scarlett and I hit the trails.  There were bunnies EVERYWHERE!!!  Scarlett was almost overwhelmed at seeing so many bunnies and mom wouldn’t let her chase any of them.  Those bunnies were either brave or foolish.  🙂

dsc_3053

Cute bunny enjoying the weak morning sun.

20170121_092242

Mom!  That bunny is so close!!!!!

There were lots of shorebirds about. Most of them were quite a distance away, making it difficult to get good photos.

dsc_3965

Long-Billed Dowitchers

dsc_2535

American Avocet

dsc_4144

Least Sandpiper

dsc_2652

Black-Necked Stilts

I saw several egrets and herons about.

dsc_4276

Great Egret

dsc_3310

Green Heron deep in a bush.

dsc_3023

Snowy Egret

I just happened to notice three Wilson’s Snipes snoozing under a bush.  They blended in so well that most people walking by never knew they were just a few feet away.

dsc_2646

Wilson’s Snipes

Lots of waterfowl out.

dsc_4034

Hooded Merganser female

dsc_3882

Northern Shoveler

dsc_2755

Northern Pintail

dsc_2530

Canada Goose

dsc_2710

Green-Winged Teal male and female

Finding and photographing the small birds in the low light and windy conditions was challenging.  I did manage to find a few.   But as you can see, the photos aren’t that great.  It’s quite challenging to take pics of birds on little twigs swinging in the breeze!

dsc_3830

Red-Winged Blackbird

dsc_3581

Cactus Wren

dsc_3485

Verdin

dsc_3399

Mourning Dove

dsc_3078

Abert’s Towhee

dsc_3059

Northern Mockingbird

dsc_2908

Orange-Crowned Warbler

dsc_2802

Song Sparrow

dsc_2428

European Starlings

dsc_2365

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

dsc_2461

Gambel’s Quail

dsc_4350

Gila Woodpecker

dsc_4312

Curve-Billed Thrasher

My most enjoyable part of the day was when I came across several cooperative Anna’s Hummingbirds.  I had a great time taking lots of photos in hopes of catching the fire in the feathers.

dsc_3315

Anna’s Hummingbird female

dsc_3552

Anna’s Hummingbird male – you can see a hint of color

dsc_3721

Anna’s Hummingbird

dsc_3747

Those wings move fast!

dsc_3642

My favorite photo of the day!

Scarlett and I ended up hiking 9.5 miles that day!  We were pooped!  I’m sure Scarlett dreamt about chasing rabbits all night long! 🙂

20170121_151011

Scarlett sound asleep…that’s a satisfied puppy!