Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gray Hawks

Over the next several weeks, I'll be presenting an exciting Birds Of Prey series from Southern Arizona.  I think I have some really exciting shots to present to you all.  One in particular is my ABSOLUTE favorite, but I won't spoil the fun.  Just get ready for it in a couple days.  The purpose of this series is to give you a little background on some of the Hawks, Owls, Falcons, and Ravens that we see around our neighborhoods.  Some are quite common while others are listed as endangered.  As we warm up here, we'll be seeing several of the birds returning to the Tucson area.  Our first feature today is the Gray Hawk.  Not a very creative name for a spectacular bird.  While doing the photo shoot, I was impressed with the grace and beauty that this hawk displays.
These birds are listed as Least Concern and can be found throughout the Riparian areas of Southern Arizona like the San Pedro River. You may find a nest in areas such as the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge. 
However, I'm going to rate this hawk in the moderate category to spot because it's found on the outside of the metropolitan area of Tucson.  It is more common to see a Red Tailed, Harris or Cooper's Hawk in town.   You'll find these birds on the outskirts.  As this month warms up, keep your eyes up for these migrating birds:)


open country and forest edges

feeds on lizards and snakes, also eats some small mammals, birds and frogs

the nest is made of sticks and built high in a tree. Lays one to three white to pale blue eggs

breeds in Southwestern United States, Mexico, Central American, and South America to central Argentina
Stay tuned for more on this series.  These posts were photographed at the 10 AM Raptor Free Flight at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.  The purpose?  To educate myself on raptors and learn their behavioral moments for photography shoots in the wild.  So far this year, I've experience a Red Tailed Hawk and 2 Cooper's Hawks in my garden.  I hope you enjoy the living desert shots and hikes that will be featured in April along with more garden updates. I'll be leaving for Mexico this Easter and hope to get some wonderful Pelican shots on the ocean.  Until then, stay tuned for more tomorrow.....

Friday, March 30, 2012

What a HOOT!

Great Horned Owl
 No words today.  Just enjoy the series of pics.  Sometimes you wish a moment could go on forever.  My hands twitched with anticipation as I held my camera.  The Great Horned Owl.

 Have a good weekend!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Chinese  Goose(domestic)
It's interesting how one area attracts several kinds of birds.  Today I stroll on the dirty side and head to Kennedy park.  In fact, while cropping my photos, I noticed water bottles and other trash items around the area.  I was in search of the Offspray .....I mean the Osprey.  Apparently this rare bird in our area has been hanging around this manmade lake for some time.
Graylag Goose shaking it up a bit:)
I drove into the parking lot and saw lots of people having dinner at the various picnic tables.  There was also some fishing going on....I like to call it the lake of make believe dreams.  It's all artificial but you might go just to think you live in a water area.  You'll see boaters on this small "pond" and people hoping to make a catch.  The "lake" is stocked:)
It's not one of my favorite places to visit and to be honest, it has been some time since I last visited.....we're talking years here. What is shocking was that there were different birds here than in other spots around Tucson which is a testiment to us all that each area is special and unique.  Mess with that micro habitat and they're gone. On a post awhile back, I wrote about Woodpeckers and how I saw many of them in one day.  Well the same thing happened to me today again....but this time with geese!!  I had NO idea that geese even stopped over here. I counted 4 different geese in the area.  FOUR! Two I've never seen before.
The geese controlled the pond....I mean lake.....and were very territorial.  The ducks followed them wherever they went. There was the Greylag, Canadian, Chinese, and something of each except the Greylags in which there were 3.  All were domestic. But not the Canadian.

I had heard the unmistakeable "HONK HONK!" and traced the sources.
I was given the heads up by another birder that some of them have cross bred.  Interesting.

So while I didn't find the Osprey, I did see several birds to add to my list for the year.

I think Geese are fascinating....the different colors and behavior patterns make them interesting to watch.  In the upcoming weeks, I have some very special photo shoots that will focus on Birds of Prey.  Before each post is released at midnight, I go over my write for the next day to make sure it's all ready to go without spelling errors.  Sometimes I miss a word or two:)  But it's always a treat to revisit my experiences at the various places.  This was a fun shoot at "the lake" in Kennedy Park:)
Greylag Goose

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Awakening

Texas Mountain Laurel and a Black Carpenter Bee
Spring started early for us here in the Old Pueblo.  Here is another photo shoot taken on February 23 in the desert focusing on our beautiful spring show. How do you know it's officially spring?  The Texas Mountain Laurel sets forth the early signs with purple fragrant blooms. This Carpenter Bee(so named because it can burrow in wood) enjoys the nectar.  The purple flowers smell like Grape Kool Aide!!  I miss my Lilacs from home, but this plant replaced that need with it's similiarly looking purple blooms and fragrance.
We also know spring has arrived when summer hummers join in with our nesting Anna's and Costa's Hummers.  I really looked stupid waiting for this above shot.  But I got the darn thing:)
Bugs also indicate that summer is just around the corner.  I found this Pipevine Swallowtail hiding.  It appeared to have just come out of hibernation as the wings looked freshly unfolded.  The color is off because it was in the shade.  These rare beauties shimmer blue in the hot summer sun.  Count yourself lucky if you find one:)
And ohhh.....let's not forget our cacti friends.  The first signs of the cacti blooms happened this year to show up on the Pincushion Cactus.  Small delicate flowers on this personal favorite of mine:)  I'll have more cacti flowers for you coming up....
And then there are the wildflowers.  First the African Daisies, then the California Poppies, followed by the Globe Mallow, then the Desert Lupine....and so on and so forth.  The yellows and oranges appear first followed by the pinks of Parry's Penstemon, the whites of the desert Primrose and the dark blues of the California Bluebells.
The yellows of sunset as a bee gets a fill to bring back to the hive.....
And for my birding friends....well, check out this Sparrow calling from the Saguaro Cactus.  It's nesting time for a lot of desert birds.....several of which use the Saguaro cactus as their home and nest:)
So long you days of winter.  Your darkness lifts and the days become longer, warmer, and signal a change. Welcome!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dragon's Breath

 The Arizona Renaissance Festival is almost at a close!  At the end of the day on April 1st, it will all be over. You'll see acts like Barely Balanced performing throughout the day. 
 I thought this would be a neat sequence to shoot.  Look at the guys in the background.  They make me laugh.  This was a really funny performance.
 And while most people shouldn't play with fire, this group does an excellent job capturing its beauty!
 You'll see fire spectacles throughout the day so keep your eyes open for these hot performances.
On a final note, I am excited to share with you all that my work is being recognized in a book written on UNESCO sites around the world. It's all been confirmed and in January of 2013, it will be out for people to read.  It's written by a Brazilian professor who is featuring several of my pictures from the Coiba Island experience we had last summer.  Now the pics on this post are not very good, but there are better ones on the posts that follow. A lot of time and effort has gone into my work.  And it would be a lie to say that it was all terrible:)  Because it wasn't. Travel is pretty exciting stuff and this is a work of love.  There's so much more to share. Until tomorrow.....

Monday, March 26, 2012

Waiting For The Night To Fall

I had "one of those days".  In my own kingdom, I am happy, but I do not enjoy fixing everyone's problems anymore.  The days of gossip and rumours are over. TV really doesn't even interest me! But unfortuneatly at work, there are students, parents, and teachers who bombard me with the turbulent drama of the working world.  I just don't have that energy.  It may seemed detached, cold, or indifferent.......but I have come to the conclusion in my life that things will happen as they happen and that I cannot control them. And sometimes the drama from their trouble makes me feel anxious inside....and from my perspective and's not healthy.
After work, I took my camera and returned to a place that centers me and keeps me in check emotionally. And it was what I needed.  Do you ever walk quietly through a space and just listen?  I mean....really listen. I began my walk near 2 solitary American Coots and just watched them walk through the water with the sun on their backs.
Of course, the intense sounds from the thousands of blackbirds both Redwing and Yellow Headed were at times deafening!  These birds I've always glanced over on my way into the park, but today I just watched.
Slowly I made my way over to the areas inhabited by the Red Wing Blackbirds.  Loud and very Present.
There was one more still pond that had the one solitary Sandpiper.
It flew in a circle before landing.....creating silent ripples across the still water.
Yellow Headed Blackbirds covered the skies as they flew in their sunset patterns over and around my head to quickly descend and vanish into the reeds.
And there were birders. 3 to be exact.  One was a Southerner who hunted ducks and just discovered the Sweetwater Wetlands.  He was "the other" kind of birder....the one that shot ducks.  I think I understand, but I find it difficult to find beauty in killing a duck for the sport of it....and then watching them in a protected area thinking about how fun it would be to hunt them down.  I guess I use my camera to shoot pictures, but at least it doesn't kill.  He was a talkative birder who liked to say, "Amazing" a lot.  
A silent elderly couple whispered to me....wait for it:)....."There is a Phoebe over there." What is it with people and Phoebes? Is this the only place where they live?  They are a tiny(and fun to watch) little black and white bird.  It flies in small or wide circular patterns.  I tried to capture that with these pictures.
Watching this bird fly is interesting and maybe this is what draws the visitor's attention......but seriously, every birding expedition has people screaming up and down about this bird. I see them everywhere I go.  And I laugh to myself:)
Well, it is a good looking bird:)
Walking through the trees in the cool breeze, I glance Mt. Lemmon in the distance at full sunset.  The telephone poles remind me that I have to go home.  But I don't.  I listen to all the birds settle down into the reeds and the darkness take over.....and it is strangely calming.
And then the night falls and I feel better.......relaxed.