Atlanta Botanical Gardens

In early April I flew to Atlanta to surprise one of my best friends, Kelly, on her 40th birthday.  She had no idea I was coming, so it was a wonderful surprise for her.

Her local friends put on a fabulous party for her.  It was first class! They even got her an ice sculpture!!!  I also stayed up the longest I ever had.  I got up at 3:30 am to catch my flight and when I landed I immediately went to the party.  Things didn’t wrap up there until 3:30 am and then we had an hour’s drive to Kelly’s house.  I don’t think I went to be until after 5 am!

20180407_204859

Kelly & Kelly

20180407_193400

Me with Bob Dylan – one of Kelly’s favorite artists

Another friend named Angie also flew in to surprise Kelly.  The three of us used to work together here in Albuquerque, but eventually Angie and Kelly moved away.  Thankfully we have kept in touch and manage to see each other periodically.

The day after the party, the three of us wanted to do something together.  But nothing too adventurous since we were slightly hungover and short on sleep.  It was a pretty nice day so we decided to visit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  I’m so glad we went.  We strolled and visited and enjoyed beautiful scenery.

20180408_184158

The day we were there was the last day of an orchid show.  They had over 400 variety of orchids on display.  Stunning!  I had no idea there were so many varieties!

20180408_231304

Angie, Kelly & Kelly

20180408_161645

Kelly & Kelly

The show was held in the Conservatory.  A very large building that had several types of climates.

20180409_155827

Conservatory

20180408_160827

Conservatory

Here’s some of the stunning orchids we saw.  I could have posted so many more than this!  🙂

20180408_164110

I never would have guessed these were orchids.

20180408_164638

This one looks like the head of a cobra snake.

20180408_162911

Stunning colors and patterns

20180408_161600

Gorgeous!

20180408_172349

Interesting pattern

Touring the conservatory was just amazing.  Everywhere you looked, there was something unique.  No niche was left without some kind of plant.  You wanted to walk through slowly so as not to miss some little treasure.

20180409_161531

20180408_231453

These strands are roots of plants planted 30 feet above in the ceiling.  I loved this!

20180408_170358

All of these colors are on one plant. 

20180408_165206

20180408_164256

I thought this looked like the mouth of the Kraken!  Arrrgh!!!  🙂

20180408_163534

There were many varieties of pitcher plants.  Fascinating!

20180408_162601

These stripes looked painted on.

20180408_153616

Outside, we walked along an elevated footpath that offered stunning views of the gardens and you felt like you were walking in the tree tops.

20180408_232313

Elevated path.

There were wonderful statues throughout the gardens.  One of my favorites was of a bust of a woman.  It will be a living statue in the warmer months.  But for now, she’s bare but still beautiful.

20180408_175417

Fat, lazy frog!

20180408_160230

Adorable statue of a boy catching frogs.

20180408_160018

Creative fountain.

20180408_153921

I really liked this deer statue.

20180408_152621

The living statue.  I hope to see this woman transformed with living, blooming plants.

We visited the children’s garden.  Kelly hates snakes, she didn’t want to walk on this path.  LOL!

20180408_175226

 

A little gnome was trying to get my attention 😉

 

20180408_232839

psssst!

The grounds were just beautiful.  I can only imagine this place in the warmer months.  It must be spectacular!

20180409_16080520180408_19382120180408_19405320180408_181020

20180408_172623

The pink tree is dead.  They painted it to give it a second life.

20180408_17252020180408_17242020180408_170810

20180408_170616

So creative!

20180408_161107

I liked the perfect pine tree

20180408_152449

One of my favorite photos was of the English garden area.  Just beautiful!

20180408_233318

English Garden

I think we only saw maybe a 1/3rd of the gardens that day.  It’s a huge place. It was still pretty cold in Atlanta.  But there were a few blooming plants and trees outside.

20180409_155344

One of my favorite blooming trees – the Dogwood

20180408_161045

Azaleas!

20180408_160512

Not sure what this flower was, but this is exactly what it looked like.  Seriously!!

20180408_15581420180408_15465020180408_154149

20180408_151749

Stunning Japanese Maple

We came across these vivid azaleas.  Such striking colors!

20180408_152720

Can you believe these colors!?!

20180408_152759

The trees in Atlanta are so tall.  I’m not used to trees that big.  Things are more stunted out here in the desert.

20180408_15591020180408_153207

I have a confession to make about this post.  Can you believe I didn’t bring my camera with me to Atlanta?!?  I was only going for 3 days and the forecast said rain the whole time.  I just figured we wouldn’t get out so didn’t want to keep up with my camera.  I was grieving for it!!!

My purse I used looks like a camera.  So Kelly took a picture of me acting like I’m taking a photo with my camera purse.  That’s how desperately I was wanting my camera!

8591

So what did I use to take these photos?  My phone!!!  Our phone’s cameras have improved tremendously over the last few years.  I was real pleased with what I captured.  I hope you agree!

I’m planning on visiting again in August.  I will definitely be bringing my good camera then!!!

20180408_232404

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

Small catch but tasty!

There were a several other waterfowl on the lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mottled Duck

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mottled Duck babies – so adorable!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blue-Winged Teal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck baby – beautiful markings!

I watched a Green Heron hunt for fish.  He didn’t care that I was only a few feet away.  He got so close that I couldn’t focus my long lens on him.  I had to keep backing up!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Green Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Green Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Green Heron

While walking around this lake, I briefly saw a Cooper’s Hawk try to catch some Blue Jays.  I heard the Jays squawking about it, but never got any photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cooper’s Hawk

There were some other birds around the lake that allowed me to take their photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Golden-Fronted Woodpecker

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Cardinal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Kingbird

One of the highlights for me at this lake was a very sociable Spotted Sandpiper.  He let me get within a few feet and take a number of photos while he groomed.  In the past when I’ve seen these birds, they fly away before you can get a decent shot. So this was a real treat for me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spotted Sandpiper

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spotted Sandpiper

One morning I walked along Mud Creek.   It’s only about a mile from my parent’s house, so I got there at sunrise without much effort.  I loved this sunrise shot with Texas Bluebonnets in the foreground.

20180419_074329

Texas Bluebonnet Sunrise

The foliage was thick in this area, but I managed to get a few bird shots here.  Mostly there were Northern Cardinals and Carolina Wrens.  But a Black-Crested Titmouse was busy singing from the tree tops.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Crested Titmouse

On my last day in San Antonio, I visited McAllister Park.  What a wonderful place.  Miles of trails in a park consisting of over 750 acres in the heart of San Antonio. There were lots of birds but very difficult to spot them.  What I saw the most was White-Tailed Deer.  They were everywhere!

Scarlett just couldn’t believe her eyes!!  🙂

20180424_080252

Look mom!  A deer is right there!!!!

While hiking along a road in the park, I was passed by a man riding a bike.  He stopped in front of me and threw out grain for the deer.  I think he does this often, as they seemed to recognize him.  One in particular let him pet her.  When he rode off, several of them followed him for awhile.  What a wonderful connection with nature!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White-Tailed Deer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How sweet this deer trusts this man and calls him friend.

At the southern end of the park is where I got most of my sightings and photographs.  A beautiful Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher posed for me then flew and showed off his seldom seen red feathers under his wings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful coloring under the wings.

Here are the other treasures I got at the southern end of the park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carolina Chickadee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Mockingbird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Summer Tanager Female

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black Vulture

The highlight of my bird sightings during my visit was at McAllister Park.  While trying to photograph a Carolina Chickadee, I heard a noise behind me.  When I looked, I saw a Barred Owl sunning himself in the top of a tree.  A lifer sighting for me!!!  And so beautiful!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Barred Owl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Barred Owl

My last birding opportunity of my trip was a stop in Clovis, New Mexico, to check on the Great Horned Owls in Ned Houk Park.  They had successfully raised two young ones, and they were far enough along to leave the nest.  They kept a sharp eye on us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Horned Owletts

Just before leaving I managed to find one of the parents.  Such wonderful birds owls are.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Horned Owl

A Lark Sparrow and a Western Meadowlark were singing happily for us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lark Sparrow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Meadowlark

Scarlett enjoyed her visit at the park.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My sweet Scarlett

So while it was a sad visit to San Antonio, I found solace walking among the beauty God has created and seeing so many of his wonderful creatures.  I know my dad would have loved to see these photos.  The Texas Bluebonnets were always a personal favorite. I know he is at peace now and waiting for me in Heaven.

In memory of my dad:

Joseph Mathew Welch, Jr.  Born April 28, 1935.  Died April 18, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scarlett turns 3!

Saturday, March 24, was Scarlett’s 3rd birthday! So of course, to celebrate we had to do something new and different!

On Friday my husband’s band played in Lamy, NM. It’s a little town that is basically a small railroad stop. A few of the residents recently set up an historic train car and turned it into a bar. The quarters were tight for the band, but it was a fun experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Vintage train car

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My handsome husband Tim

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brad the drummer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And Bill is on base

20180323_171627

Reverend E and the Vagrants

While watching the band, one of the locals told me about a hike nearby. They told me about a trail that followed the train tracks that led to a trestle bridge over a waterfall. Of course, I just had to go see that! What a great way to celebrate Scarlett’s birthday!

On the way there, I had to drive through Stanley. So I took the time drive down my favorite road there: Valley Irrigation Road. Since it’s between times for migrating birds, it was pretty quiet. But I did see a few local birds that hang out year round.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Flicker female

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Curve-Billed Thrasher – the breeze was ruffling his feathers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Common Raven

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Look at the talons on this Swainson’s Hawk

I came across a Say’s Phoebe busily looking for bugs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Say’s Phoebe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And he’s off to get a bug!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So graceful

I saw some cute prairie dogs and some beautiful antelope too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Prairie Dog

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Prong Horn Antelope – female in the background

The clouds were just beautiful behind this granary. I just love New Mexico skies!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Granary in Stanley.

My next town was Galisteo. I drove past a Red-Tailed Hawk hanging out on the power lines next to the highway. I turned around and managed to get a couple pics before he flew off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Tailed Hawk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hmmm…looks like he learned from the Say’s Phoebe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And he’s outta here! Showing off that red tail.

Finally we made it to Lamy. It’s about an hour drive from my home. I followed the directions I was given and eventually came to an area where I couldn’t drive any further. Time to get out and hike!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My beautiful Scarlett ready to go!

We followed along the tracks for a while.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Following the tracks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love the old glass insulators that used to be used on electric lines.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Old railroad bolt

20180324_122712

I heard lots of birds, but only managed to photograph a couple of them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bushtit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White-Crowned Sparrow

The terrain started narrowing from a wide valley. I’d never hiked next to a train track before. I kept wondering when a train might come through.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soon we came to a narrow canyon. If the train came through now, there was nowhere to go! Yikes!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett is standing where the waterfall is below. You can see there’s nowhere to go if the train comes around the corner.

I looked down below and saw a beautiful sight. A sweet little waterfall with a beautiful pool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking down to the waterfall and pool from the trestle

We checked out both sides of the trestle. A wonderful part of Galisteo Creek. I didn’t know until later that this area is called Apache Canyon Railroad Bridge Historic Site. There’s not a lot of information available about this area, but I did find out the bridge was built in 1908 by American Bridge Company of New York. It is also known as Spider Leg Bridge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett looking down wanting to get into that creek!

I just had to get down there. It was steep! I slid down the whole way on my backside! 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Below the bridge

Once at the bottom, I made Scarlett wait before I let her play. She wasn’t happy about this, but I wanted to get some pristine photos before she got water everywhere. 🙂 I think you’ll agree, this is a special little place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love this shot!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally Scarlett was allowed to play. She had a blast running and splashing!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Doing her favorite thing: running back and forth in shallow water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Headed for the deeper pool

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Such fun!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That look tells me she is enjoying her birthday hike.

The day was in the mid 60s and it was beautiful. Next thing I know, I’ve got my shoes off and enjoying the water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ahhhhhh……

Soon we had to leave. I have to say it was much easier going up than down. Whew!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One last look before leaving. So beautiful!

Not long after leaving the bridge, I heard a train whistle. Yikes! We got out of there just in time! Luckily for us, the train stopped in Lamy to let the passengers take a break. I was able to walk all the way back to the car before the train went by.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sitting in my Jeep when the train finally passed.

It was a fun afternoon!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Happy 3rd Birthday Scarlett!!!

3rd Anniversary!

Saturday, March 17, was my blog’s 3rd anniversary.  I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since I started writing this blog.  It have had a lot of fun.  When I started this blog, it was mainly for my family.  My husband and I have no family near us, so this was a nice way to share our adventures with them.

But after 3 years, I have gotten to know a lot of other bloggers.  Many of them follow this blog and I follow theirs.  I think of several of them like they are my extended family in far away places.  They have inspired me in many ways.

Of course, to celebrate my 3rd anniversary, I thought I would blog about a hiking location just outside of Albuquerque that most people don’t know about.  It’s called the San Ysidro (e-sid-dro) trails.  It’s a unique canyon in that almost the entire bottom of the canyon is exposed bedrock.  The bedrock has been eroded over time by water so all the rock is smooth.  Indentations have been created by the erosion and they hold water very well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A view down into the canyon.  If you look closely, you can see it is all bedrock.

As I descended into the canyon, I heard a lot of birdsong.  There is not a lot of water in the New Mexico deserts.  So any place that has water year round is a huge draw for birds.  Sadly, most of them were nervous of people and I wasn’t able to get photos of them.  But there was a curious Juniper Titmouse that let me take a pic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Juniper Titmouse

Once at the bottom of the canyon, I made Scarlett sit in the shade while I photographed all the different pools.  It was fun walking around and looking at all the different angles to best show off the water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The pools work their way down the incline of the canyon.  What a fun afternoon walking on the smooth bedrock taking photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After taking my photos, I gave Scarlett permission to play.  As you know, that dog loves, loves, loves water!  At first she ran around jumping over the pools.  I think she wasn’t sure how deep they were.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But then she couldn’t resist any further and jumped in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Most of the pools were shallow, but somehow she managed to pick the deepest pool and plunged in over her head.  I think it was a total surprise for her!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But that didn’t deter her for long, soon she was running up and down the slope and jumping in and out of all the pools.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett showing off her really long tail as she dives into the deep pool.

Now you see why I made her lay down and watch me take photos first LOL!  She got water everywhere!

After she had her fill of running around and splashing, we ventured further down the canyon.  The crevices in the bedrock got deeper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These are my favorite shots of my outing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, I can’t celebrate my 3rd anniversary without some great bird photos.  I haven’t been out birding for a little while, but the Western Bluebirds were very cooperative in the park next to my office 🙂  It’s always a good day when you see Bluebirds!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Bisti Badlands – Day 2 of 2

Day 2 at the Bisti started out threatening winter weather. The morning was cloudy but calm. The forecast called for 45 mph winds starting around noon. Fortunately, we got a very early start.

After taking photographs in the sunshine the day before, the Bisti looked completely different in overcast weather. The main thing I noticed about taking photos on this day was the lack of shadows. This is actually a good thing in the Bisti. On a sunny day, you have to deal with the sun shining on light rock surfaces with deep shadows. It’s tricky taking a good photo in these conditions. But with the absence of bright light and deep shadows, I was able to get some really good shots with minimal effort.

We hiked a different area of the Bisti on Day 2. We parked several miles north of the main parking area. We still paralleled the main arroyo, but we were on the very northern edge of the Bisti. Lots of hidden treasures on this hike.

There is one hoodoo (shown below) that actually saved the Bisti Badlands from the ruin of coal strip mining. In 1982 author/photographer Michael Richie published an article for Sierra Magazine of the Bisti Badlands. The main photo of his article (much like mine) caught the attention of a nationwide audience. This eventually led to our Congress designating the Bisti Badlands as wilderness area in 1985. Saving this unique and beautiful landscape for generations to enjoy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The small hoodoo on the left is what saved the Bisti for all of us to enjoy

We headed up a large arroyo and started climbing up the mesa. The views really started opening up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved the red boulders in the foreground with that amazing hoodoo in the background

You could really appreciate the magnitude of this area. Beauty as far as the eye could see.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stunning!

The further we hiked, the more beautiful the scenery became. I took so many photos. Each one more lovely than the last.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We explored the mesa for awhile enjoying the wondrous views. Since it was just Jim and I, I told him to get his camera out and take photos with me. The conditions were so nice for photography that he couldn’t resist.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jim and Scarlett enjoying opposite views 🙂

We were slowly heading toward a popular photo destination: the stone wings. These are unique hoodoos. I have wanted to see these formations for a long time. It was so rewarding to get to photograph it myself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stone wings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This wing is delicately connecting two hoodoos

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The king of wings

From the stone wings we headed to a very colorful location. Along the way I came across this unique hoodoo. It amazes me that a large boulder can delicately balance on top of fragile sands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The pedestal under this hoodoo was hollow. Amazing!

We then reached an area that was full of short hoodoos known as mushroom hoodoos. Just fabulous!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I just loved walking through this maze of mushroom hoodoos

We finally reached the colorful mesa. It was so wondrous. So many colors. It was a stunning landscape. I took a bunch of photos. Here are my favorites from that area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Such rich, contrasting colors

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved the black transitioning to yellow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The black turned to yellow and then the yellow turned to red.

We decided to explore this area further. Jim hadn’t gone past this area before, so it was fun for him to explore as well as me and Scarlett. We came across another “wing” formation that I really loved.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved this stone wing

We found an arroyo that led to some more hoodoos and other unique formations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jim and Scarlett scouting ahead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just wonderful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We had lunch here and enjoyed the gorgeous views. Scarlett was having so much fun, I couldn’t get her to relax even while we had lunch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett is telling me she wants to keep going!

We decided to head to an area that Jim hadn’t explored before. It was supposed to have a formation called a Dodo Bird. Well, we weren’t sure what the Dodo Bird formation was supposed to look like, but we think this was it. Can you see it??

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dodo Bird formation

But! Just around the corner from the Dodo Bird formation was a totally awesome formation. The Twin Bonnets. Just gorgeous!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jim gives you an idea of the scale of these delicate formations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Twin Bonnets

We spent some time here photographing this fabulous formation. Scarlett was finally getting tired. She rested while we enjoyed the formations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett was finally getting tired.

While at the Twin Bonnets, the bad weather decided to come in all at once. The breeze immediately went from about 5 mph to 45 mph. Yikes! We decided it was time to head back.

Even though the weather conditions were deteriorating, I just couldn’t stop exploring and taking photos as we headed back to the car. We were about 2 miles from the car, so there were still lots of photo opportunities. 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We came across some giant stumps of petrified wood. They were amazing in the amount of detail that was preserved.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Giant petrified wood stumps

Here’s a couple of closeups of the stumps. I was fascinated by the detail that was preserved and the beautiful blue lichen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fine roots were perfectly preserved

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved this blue lichen

All too soon we were almost back to the car. I had a wonderful two days in the Bisti. I hope you enjoyed my photo tour. I can’t wait to go back again some day!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bisti Badlands – Day 1 of 2

I’ve been working on the photos for this post for several months now. Last November my husband got me a guided photography tour to the Bisti Badlands for my birthday. I used Jim Caffrey who has High Desert Photo Tours. I highly recommend him. He was fun, informative, patient and knowledgeable.

I went for 2 days and hiked about 17 miles total. For those of you not familiar with the Bisti Badlands, it is a vast area of 45,000 acres in the northwest portion of New Mexico. It was established in 1984 as a wilderness area to preserve the desolate beauty of New Mexico geology at its finest.

Because this area is so vast, you could spend days wandering and not really see many of the formations this area is known for. You could also get completely turned around and be in serious trouble if you lose your way. So having a guide like Jim was the best way to see this natural beauty. He has given tours here for years and took me directly to all the cool places with minimal energy expended.

I took over 5,000 photos during my two-day adventure. So you can imagine it took me months to cull and then edit my photos. Because the formations are so unique, I found I took several shots of the same thing. Trying to see if different angles looked better. Whew! It was a job narrowing down my choices. So get ready to see a lot of photos!

So here’s a rundown of Day 1 of my two-day hike in the Bisti Badlands.

Day 1 – a beautiful sunny day with a few wispy clouds. We headed up the main gulch from the designated parking area. Think of the main gulch as your interstate to the badlands. It can get you where you need to go, but there’s nothing interesting on it. You have to venture off the main trail to see the goodies.

This was the first image I took that day. I was in heaven from the first image to the last.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A hoodoo is a harder rock balanced upon the softer rock underneath. The wind and rain erodes the softer rock faster which creates a hoodoo.

We wound our way up and over a hill to an area filled with hoodoos. Jim said this was in a way a nursery of newborn hoodoos. And it was! The hoodoos were young and just being formed from the side of the wash.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hoodoo nursery

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can see how the young hoodoos are just starting to erode out

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Such a fascinating landscape!

From there we headed further east paralleling the main wash. We came across an area that had several “wings”. They are called wings because the rock has eroded in such a fashion that it is delicate and looks like an open wing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wings in the making.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A hoodoo “wing”. This one was about 2 feet long and only a couple feet off the ground. I had to get way down low to take this pic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sadly this wing has succumbed to the ravages of time.

We eventually came across a formation that looked more like adolescents in age. It is interesting that these formations were all grouped in a clump away from anything else. If you didn’t know they were there, you could easily miss them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Further along we meandered to an area that had some formations that looked like dinosaur bones scattered. These rocks were huge. So beautiful. I had a hard time capturing them in a photo that did them justice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved how the red plant mimicked the red mesa.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I thought these rocks looked like dinosaur bones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ok…I think this totally looks like a dragon!!!

We eventually made it to the “egg garden”. This area is called such because the rock formations look like dinosaur eggs. Who knows!?! They just might be!! Sadly, these “eggs” used to be much more beautiful. Over time they had oxidized and gotten a beautiful dark patina to them. But within the last couple of hears, a hail storm had come through and knocked off most of the patina. It will probably take a few hundred more years to get it back. But I still thought they were beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Egg garden

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A broken egg

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can see the patina well in this photo

Heading further east from the egg garden, we came across an area with petrified wood. Now it wasn’t just small pieces here and there. I’m talking entire trees!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Petrified tree

From here we entered an area that Jim call “hoodoo overload”. They were everywhere! I just loved it! It was easy to spend a lot of time in this area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was one of my favorite photos. I love the moodiness of it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jim, my guide

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stunning landscape

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s almost otherworldly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one will definitely slide off eventually

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett had a blast! I made her carry all of our water but it didn’t slow her down much!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved the red rocks scattered among the formations.

There was more petrified wood in this area too. The wood was preserved so well that you could see all the texture. It looked like wood, not rock. Amazing!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This petrified wood turned into a hoodoo and is slowly breaking into pieces

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I found it fascinating that the petrified wood looked like real wood. I had to touch it several times to make sure it truly was rock.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just unique!

From here we headed back to the car down the main wash. There was one place along the wash that had an interesting formation. The rock had so much iron it looked very rusty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Window rock formation

I had a great Day 1. Next time Day 2! A whole completely different area and views!

A Few Goodies

Yesterday I had to drive almost to Grants to meet a client.  It was a cold, dreary day.  On my way home I decided to stop in at Piedras Marcadas Petroglyphs so Scarlett and I could stretch our legs.

There weren’t any birds about, but there was an adorable, curious squirrel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Antelope Squirrel

I crept closer hoping to get a better pic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And closer still….. He let me take several photos before diving behind the rocks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just too darn adorable!

There were some hot air balloons up while I was hiking.  One of them was landing behind the mesa.  I took this pic just before it disappeared.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After working most of the day today, I managed to take a couple hours to hike and bird before sundown.  I wasn’t sure what I would see being so late in the day.  But surprisingly I saw few nice goodies.

Over the last few days we’ve had some cold, snowy weather.  A couple days ago while in town, I took a photo of the Sandia Mountains.  I love it when they are covered in clouds and snow.

20180217_204714

Stormy Sandia Mountains

Thankfully today was more sunny and warmer.  I first stopped in at a small park in Albuquerque to find a Western Screech Owl that has been seen there snoozing in a tree.  Considering 90% of the trees in the park were too small for an owl, it was pretty easy to find him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Screech Owl

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Snoozin’ the day away

I love seeing owls in the wild.  It’s always a real treat.  After taking a few pics, I moved so as not to disturb him or draw attention to him from the other folks playing in the little park.

I then headed over to Willow Creek.  I hadn’t been there in a while so it sounded like fun to go see what was about.  On my way in to the park, I spied this Western Bluebird hunting for dinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Bluebird

As I was taking photos, he saw something on the ground and I managed to get a few shots of him getting a grub.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

yummy….

It was a good find, so he took off with it to enjoy at his leisure.  Beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My favorite photo of the day

Along the trail I saw Lesser Goldfinches, White-Crowned Sparrows, House Finches and Spotted Towhees.  All of these birds were too shy to have their photo taken.  But there were a lot of American Robins about.  They were much more cooperative.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Robin

There’s one point on the trail that affords a great view of the Sandias.  I took this pic there.  You can see there’s still snow about half way up the mountain.

20180217_163731

To my delight I spied a Red-Tailed Hawk that was looking for a meal.  Such a beautiful bird!  And look at those claws!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just before leaving I saw a Say’s Phoebe looking for dinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Say’s Phoebe

He too found something to eat and quickly took off with it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That’s about it for my short afternoon walks.  But any time hiking, birding and doing photography is a time well spent.