Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year of Beginnings

Hello all!!!  Happy New Year!  Well it will soon be:)  I'm having a blast out in the field on my time off. And it's because of this change in my life that I won't be able to blog everyday like I have for the past 2 years.
Osprey at Kennedy Park, Tucson
It has finally caught up with me and I'm finding that the daily writing etc is impossible:)  I will be posting when I get the chance and of course reading all of your work.  It's one of the reasons why I started blogging .... to network with all of you.
I want to enjoy that part again without worrying about posting once a day.  There's a lot to look forward to next year at Las Aventuras and I am so excited for the schedule coming up, but you'll have to wait and see all the happenings that will be going on.
For now, I wanted to share with you....finally!....a most accidental and wonderful thing....the Osprey.  After many many outings trying to find this bird in Tucson, it came out of nowhere while I was searching for a Horned Grebe.  No Horned Grebe.....but who cares!  The Osprey was the star of the show.
I also got closer to the Western Grebe than I have been able to since my search for them.  Las Aventuras has a trek coming up from outside of the state of Arizona.  I hope you'll join me as we discover even more birds than before.......I'm not going anywhere:)  I'll just be out in the field A WHOLE lot more:)
Western Grebe
My goal for this next year is to add about 150 more birds to my list.  I think it's achievable.
So how about something new?  How about the Hooded Mergansers!  There were 18 on this day.
Hooded Mergansers at Sam Lena Park
The males(or drakes) look like aliens while the females look quite the opposite....but still....striking.  Both genders made me do a double take.  They look so different from each other!  How could they both possibly be the same bird??!!!  And yet they are.
Las Aventuras isn't going anywhere in the blogoshere, it's just doing what it does best....exploring strange new life and new civilizations and boldly forcing me to go where I've never gone before.  Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year in Review-Photography

Moon over the Grand Canyon
Photography is one of my favorite things to do.  It's always looking for that right angle or interesting feature.
Christmas lights create an abstract blur that I call, "Holiday Rush"
And it is challenging in many different ways....night shots, moon shots, lightning shots, fire shots, abstract shots, blurred water shots, shooting into the sun(careful) and oh so much more.
Lighting is some of the most challenging.  500 shots later and I finally get the one I  want. There are tricks to this and I don't like being outside while it's all going on.  
Some bloggers love to write and others love photography.  I am the latter of the two.  
Fire.  I love the various shades of this fire cloud  as it is blown into the air at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. 
I love being out in the field.  Sometimes I get stuck doing things I don't always enjoy.  But I always bring my camera and it keeps me occupied. It forces me to find the interesting:)
This particular image captured a scary feeling I had as a child at my Grandparent's house while reading about dinosaurs
The zoo, for example, was one of those places I didn't really want to visit.  So I took how I felt(haunted/sad) and transferred that feeling into the photography.  Then I manipulated the above image to create that look.
I love the colors of the orange and blues.  Taken at the Pima Country Faire
One of my favorite things to shoot are fire dances.  It has a  magical quality to it all.
These fire dancers look to be spirits as they whirl fire in different directions. 
And no matter how hard I try to resist, the moon is always fascinating to me.  While on a bird outing, I spied this plane passing by this large spacial object.
Then there was the sun and moon eclipsing.  Dragonflies, in a wonderful spiritual moment, perched on the branches perfectly as the moon blocked some of the sun and reflected off of their wings.
Night shots can frustrate people but when they turn out, it's really quite something the fireworks below.
I love this shot below. It was taken at the House on the Rock.  It was drenched in red.  With some selective toning, we were able to distinguish the various shades of red.
Capturing flowers on camera isn't as easy as it looks.  But sometimes.......they turn out magical.  Rosemary really captures the images wonderfully.  Somehow you've got to imprint the human feeling onto the flower to make the pic POP!  Sometimes a flower will inspire me to do those things.  Other times, I just look at the flower and say to myself, "Ooo, that's pretty!".  And take the pic without thinking.  That's where I have my challenges:)
And another feature I worked with on photography was the process of aging a shot to capture that feeling of childhood.  These were some of my favorites this year.  Hope you enjoyed.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Year in Review-Birding

Turkey Vulture at dawn at Catalina State Park
It's no secret.  Birding has become a big thing for me.  I've always loved travel and adding the birds into the mix was a no brainer. 
Barn Swallow near Sonoita, AZ
Earlier this year, I began to bird at a slow pace but things started to change for me when my birding buddy and friend Kathie moved back into town.
Black crowned Night Heron, Reid Park, AZ
I began to chase, list and tick all at the same time while snapping off the shots. And with a great birding buddy, I discovered how to enjoy birding even more!
Vermilion Flycatcher, Lakeside Park, Tucson
It has been a wonderful learning experience and the voyages are most memorable.
Painted Redstart, Portal, AZ
As I bird more, I'm finding better ways to make each outing a little bit more enjoyable by finding birder places to sleep at and shop while researching birds found in their areas.
Brown Pelican Tucson, AZ
Of course, this year was a big training year for me and staying home in Southern Arizona was very important.  I was but a beginner in January.  The learning curve happened when Warren challenged me to explore the world of hummingbirds.  And so I did. And it was at that time I began to enjoy the hunt.  It would become apparent during my chase for the rare Plain Capped Starthroat Hummingbird.  Some nights I could not sleep until I found the bird!
Anna's Hummingbird, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tucson, AZ
I read through journals, books and blogs researching everything.  Today that hunger has translated into a powerful sense of what's around me during my hikes.  It is incredible how much I've learned in this short amount of time.  And much of this is from my questions that no one could answer.  When Kathie came into the picture, she helped guide me.  It didn't take much time to learn as I was very eager to understand the ways of the birder.  And oh my....there is still so much more to learn!
Tree Swallow, Woodland Dunes, Two Rivers, WI
Today we are a very strong team and as we both love birding alone, we also really enjoy our birding time together.  If we're not careful we'll turn into those old and weird birder couples:)  The important thing that Kathie taught me was to count every bird on every outing and create lists.  This has made birding so much fun because now I try to find as many species as I can.  The more species you find; the higher the satisfaction of a job well done. Ebirding has been an enjoyable experience for me and now it's something I automatically do right after our outings.
Grey Crowned Crane, Baraboo, WI at the Crane Foundation
Again, along the way, I have had side missions.  The Owls(besides the Hummingbirds) were on my study list this past year and it was so much fun.
Great Horned Owlets at Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson
Because of these experiences I have learned a lot about ID'ing these birds by sound and movement.
Female Broad bill Hummingbird at Madera Canyon, AZ
Woodpeckers, Sparrows, Shorebirds and other Waterfowl have been my focus of study.

Northern Flicker at Empire Gulch, AZ
Eventually I'd like to put together a book full of birds discovered.  I'm currently at 250 birds and constantly searching for more. My New Year's Resolution is to add another 150(or more) by the end of the next year.

Northern Shoveler, Sweetwater
I attend workshops and nature talks to understand the various bird species.
Black throated Sparrow, Gates Pass, AZ
I hate searching for Warblers.  They are a real workout for the eyes.  Spotting one bounce around in the trees makes things pretty exhausting.
Female Common Yellowthroat Warbler, Arivaca Trail, AZ
Whooping Crane, Baraboo, WI
Of course, one of my goals is to see the Whooping Crane in the wild.  This summer we spent time at the Crane Foundation and learned lots.  This crane has inspired me to learn more about the habitats of birds and protecting them.  Next year will be an exciting year full of new and wonderful finds.  But I have to say that this year has been a great start! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Year in Review-Travel

 Las Aventuras took a break this year from international travel.  Why?  I discovered Southern Arizona with new eyes.
 So while I stayed home, we had such an amazing time here in Arizona.  However, we did get a chance to meet some amazing people, visit Wisconsin and bird in nearby Mexico along the Pacific Ocean.
 One our favorite spots was in Wisconsin Dells over the summer.  Wonderful weather along with beautiful forests made for a very special day.
 And in my hometown along the shores of Lake Michigan, we were able to hang out with the family.
 We even found time to visit Madison, the Capital of Wisconsin during the Scott Walker vote!
 My brother and SIL took us to the Green Bay botanical gardens which was a real thrill.
 Sometimes.  Just sometimes.  I wish I could grow some of these amazing green and colorful plants.
We did get out to Mexico though and had an amazing birding trip along the Sea of Cortez to go to the Bird Islands!
 This next year, several epic outings have been planned.  Some are in the works right now and I'll keep you updated.  I am plotting our courses for next year as are my travel buddies.
 Life is full of good people and experiences.  I believe in kharma.  Throwing bad cause out into the world is not good. But when you send out the positive vibes.......
 .......they come roaring back to you loudly full of incredible energy.  And I'm loving life.  Each day is a new adventure whether it be close to home or elsewhere.  All we have to do is step out that door:)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Year In Review-Southern Arizona

 This year, I did a lot of travel around Southern Arizona. There are almost too many places to see, but here are some memorable experiences.  Whether it be from Ramsey Canyon above or along the San Pedro River below.....
 .....or in the magical world of Portal.........
.....near Buenos Aires wildlife preserve......
 ....or watching the thousands of Sandhill Cranes at the Whitewater Draw......
 .....driving and hiking around Picacho Peak.....
 .....or exploring the skies of Kitt's Peak.......
 ......or looking down onto Tucson from Wasson Peak...... and around both sides of Saguaro National Park........
.......or trekking the arroyo in Tucson..........
......Southern Arizona is a treasure that must be seen.