Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Backyard Flower Garden

The bees and the butterflies are in heaven
 This was mostly Walt's design - I helped with the color, but mostly his work and design
I love the interplay of yellow and purple in the summer with purple being such a cool color.
 One of our favorite finds was the Blue Sage which has really spread beautifully
All of these are perennials and will come up again next year, which means we have to do some thinning out this winter.  Walt's looking to start a garden in the front yard.  Wil keep photographic steps of that!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

These Birds Are Amazing

Both Walt and I had a lot of fun with these birds and hopefully, there will be more


Just outside the facility, not connected with the other birds was a female ladderback.   Thankfully Walt had set my camera on a quick speed with allowed me to get the bird flying off.  This gal loves stripes!!!

First up is a grey hawk.  You know you hear hawk, particularly around our neck of the woods, and you think chickenhawk, and although they are fun to see and photograph, these different hawks are really beautiful.  Hopefully, we captured that in these photos.  This lady was in a beautiful silver grey shade.


 When she starts flying they are really gorgeous.  They make it look so effortless, you really get the idea you could be Icarus too!



 I had never seen these hawks before - even in my bird book, and now I know why.  These are more of a tropical bird and their northern boundary is the very most southern part of the US.  They aren't seen north of there unless they are in a zoo or something.  They are absolutely gorgeous. 
 Perching is a great way to see their size and color, but....
 They are really beautiful in flight
 Like all raptors, they are most elegant when they are soaring, especially when soaring right towards you. 
I love this as their "fingers" seem to stretch out to grasp the wind to be carried by the wind. 
 They actually hunt in families with the Alpha-Female being the head of the clan.  Junior may kill something, but the lady in charge will be the one who eats it!  However they do work together to hunt food, and here's an example of how they practically overwhelm their prey.  They all want to help out, and of course, they all want a little tidbit!



Monday, December 31, 2018

Some Birds

We lucked into some birds today!
We found this Great Horned Owl.....
 Who was flying around.....
 ....and started flying toward us....
 ....and Walt just happened to have his camera handy!
 And Claire got one too!
As if that wasn't great enough, there was a Harris's Hawk.  Tuscon is the northern boundaries of the Harris's Hawk and they like to hunt in groups which are a lot of fun to watch.  This guy lit close to Walt so being prepared like any good Boy Scout, he got a primo shot!!!
Even the morning started out well today.  The morning sunlight on the cactus close to where we're parked with the RV. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Nature - The Great Restorer

A friend posted this article on Facebook the other day and it's a great read, especially if you haven't been out in the wild lately.  Even if it's a visit to your local nature sanctuary or park, it's worth the time to take in nature that can give back so much.

 Whether we're simply driving down the road and spot a couple of hawks on a pole.....
 Or get stopped by a pair of coyotes....
 Or in constant amazement over the beauty of the Ocotillo in bloom.....
  Or the Ocotillo's blooming leaves....
 To create almost a halo around the Saguro....
only to end on a beautiful peaceful blast of color.

Each day out seems to bring its own peace.  One of the special things about the desert is that it's simple.  It's also cruel, unforgiving and is always dangerous, but with caution and a little planning, the simple peace and


Friday, December 28, 2018

Wile E. Coyote

I'm a rancher's daughter and for years I felt that coyotes were the personification of the worse animal on the universe, and I still they can be devastating to the rancher.  They can kill, damage and maim a rancher's profit in no time. 

At the same time, they are so dang intoxicating that it's hard to avoid them.  When we are out in the wild and meet up with one, I instantly am charmed. 

This little guy was in a very wide draw that crossed our road.  He walked right in front of us then stopped in this draw.
 Whenever this happens these animals always have a look on their face like "Are you a carnivore?  So am I.  Maybe we should hunt together!" 
 I can totally see how ancient man would not only be drawn to this animal, but want him to be a part of his pack.  And as far as the coyote is concerned, it's a good deal for him, as he can get the leftovers from the human's meal - better than having to hunt alone for his daily meal!
 Alas, as much as I would love to make friends with these guys, they are in the wild and to domesticate them or even try would kill them (or me!), so I have to admire from afar.  And pretty soon they get bored with looking and asking us for answers when there are no answers forthcoming....then it's time to check out!
Coyotes mate for life, and this one had his mate he was actually waiting for and after they caught up with each other, they decided we were boring (we had no food), and off they went!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Artist's Light

Light is the heart and soul of an artist.  The first and best advice I got from an art teacher was "paint the light!"  And he was right - light is everything.

We were traveling through the Ajo Mountain range and the main path is on the west side.  That meant that we could only do a decent shot of the sunset - not the sunrise, as the light would be behind the mountains, and although that might have made a nice silhouette shot, it wasn't what we were looking for. 

Trekking out to the mountains in the mid-afternoon the winter solstice sun is low in the sky, so it makes for some interesting shadows, but by far not as good as the sunset shadows.  In addition, we had a partly cloudy sky.  That meant we were going to have something interesting in the sky.

This is a good example.  This is great composition (large on one side, horizon not half/half) and interesting sky, but the light is a little off.  It's even taken at the right time of day (notice the long shadows which usually means golden hour (close to sunset or sunrise) which is a movie-maker's favorite time to film.  Next time you're at a movie and notice the outside shots, and how long the shadows are.   It's a great shot, but the light is not really dramatic. It's hard to see unless you compare it to something where the light is actually a masterful part of the photo. 
In this one, the light really works.  Even though most of the time you are looking at the foreground or wanting to highlight the foreground, this one, the foreground is not spotlighted but the beautiful color of the mountains is spotlighted.  What makes it extra special is that there's a dramatic shadow on the mountains that highlights the front and back of the mountain.  There's a little of that in the cacti in the foreground where the light is coming from the side with long shadows.

Photos like this are dream photos with everything coming together to make it work:  clouds to make the sky interesting, light on the foreground flowers (which happen to be located in just the right place), cacti in the background, part of the mountain lit while part of it is in shadow from those handy-dandy clouds who were so thoughtful as to place themselves just right, and if all that wasn't great enough, there's a wonderful arch in that beautiful orange stone with the blue of the sky, which colors just happen to compliment each other fabulously.  Obviously, this wasn't arranged by us, but it sure was helpful that all those components came together to make this photo really spectacular.  Thank you clouds, color in the mountains, the location of the flowers, and the sun being in the right place at the right time and the arch being there!!!!



Sometimes you're limited by simply where the mountains are located in relation to the sunrise or sunset.  You have the best light in the world but if the mountains aren't in a good position to get the light, no amount of good light will make a photo good.  On the other hand, when they are in the right place, it makes magic like the light above.  The mountains were lit, but not directly, but on the side a bit to offer nice shadowing on the mountains.  Add the interesting Saguaro cacti in the foreground and it's hard to depict the Sonoran Desert any better than this.  Walt's camera helps too!!!

The real light show was, of course, the sunset.  We were so lucky to have all these clouds in the sky, cause they reflect back on the mountain to make the landscape even more colorful than it normally is.  So colorful, that it makes the colors look fake, and they aren't at all.  This is really how it looks.  The mountains, however, wouldn't have been nearly as beautiful without those clouds.  This is the sun after it has actually gone down behind the horizon, but is shining through the atmosphere of the Earth and reflected on the clouds whose reflection is on the landscape. This happens very fast and lasts even less time than that.  What made it worse for us, was that the clouds were throughout the sky so that meant the east view was as beautiful as the west view.  We were doing 180°'s all through the sunset!!!

This was the shot that I saw all afternoon in my head...the black silhouetted foreground with the colors of the sunset in the sky.  

Something about those Saguaro Cactus in silhouette with the colorful sky simply spells Happy Trails to You over and over.




Sunday, December 23, 2018

Our First Ferruginous Hawks

So two hawks on one pole beg the question.....

If one finds a goodie, does he share it or take it for his own, and are they both looking in the same place or different places in the same field. 

In the desert, one has to wonder if this field is really that filled with rodents that it deserves two hawks on one pole.  To answer that we looked at the neighboring poles and they were also occupied with hawks.  So obviously this is a fav restaurant for hawks!

Finally one flies away - greener grass and all.....
But the other stays and finds us merely curious, but that's about it. 

He finally flew away, but circled around and came back to land on the pole again - this really must be a great place to get a meal!
As most nature parks say, left it as you found it -  not quite with 2 on the pole, but at least one returned.  The other was on another pole close by!