Friday, March 22, 2013

Las Brisas Del Mar

Ring-bill Gull
Who knew a gull could inspire so much happiness?  Growing up with gulls, I found them to be full of aggressive mischief and poop.  But on a recent outing with Kathie, this gull changed the way I felt about our day.  It was a difficult morning for me.  I had a hard time focusing.  I was tired.  And frustrated.  Essentially, I was not on top of my game.  What's worse was that I didn't get great shots of my lifebirds or any bird in general.  This was the only bird shot I was pleased with(above).  Kathie saw that I was not my usual self and was very kind and patient.  I've been pushing myself to do better, but as we all know and experience, we don't always have it our way.
Roosevelt Lake-no people
In times like these, I have to remember to breathe and just take it all in.  I used to do this but my brain is wrapped around birds birds birds birds.  Plotting.  Planning.  Scheming.  Ultimately, it has changed me.  Not all for the good.  I understand why many birders get irritated on the trails now.  Too many people will spoil a day quickly.  Such was the case when Kathie and I went to Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  Now Las Aventuras took you there about 2 years ago.  It was an amazing place.  And it was actually my first time taking pics of hummingbirds (which aren't really so good looking back on them:)  That's the fun part about having a blog. We watch ourselves grow as writers and photographers. I can only answer for the photography:) We have to start somewhere.  There were birds and oh so many of them.  But do you think any of them would work with the photographer???  Not on this day.  Terrible shots would be taken of the Williamson's Sapsucker, the Warbling Vireo, and Verdin nest!  The lighting was all wrong.  And hawks were hungry making everyone hide really well.
The Apricot Trees at El Presidio.  Each blossom is a fruit. 
So the biggest thing we looked forward to(the Boyce Thompson Arboretum) turned out to be the worst idea.  Sure I got lifebirds, but they came without awesome photos.  There were too many tourists screaming and shouting along the trails and THAT was frustrating.  I am a lister, chaser, photographer, and do enjoy the counts(as long as they aren't Northern Shovelers!:)  But I am chaser and photographer first.  We didn't dip on any of our birds this day, but I did dip on the photos and that made me frustrated.
Sabino Canyon near the dam-no people
So it made me rebel several days afterwards.  In fact, Kathie and I both had it up to our necks with people spoiling the birding mood and we went off and did our own thing.  When we arrived at Roosevelt Lake, it was like the dawning of a new day!!!  Except that the sun was was the realization that we had a long drive back home! But what a truly magical and a great way to end our day.  Yet we both were sad that we chose to bird at Roosevelt at the end of the day instead of the beginning.  Live and learn I guess.  The days that followed made us focus more on the road less taken(by tourists) and our trips were unforgettable....and people-less.  And the glorious birds!!!
My Red Baron Peach Tree
But meanwhile, back in my garden at El Presidio.  Spring has arrived.  My peaches and apricots are blooming.  The winds have changed.  No longer are the cold breezes present.  And with this change marks the beginning of spring here in the Old Pueblo.
Lucy's Warbler -no people!
Kathie and I would both continue to bird together and alone.  But we grew wiser about our planning and we birded before the great masses of people came full force.  In Tucson, it's high season for tourists.
Great Egret as the sun sets at Agua Caliente Park-no people
Migration has really been an exciting time for us.  Sometimes it came from watching the Turkey Vultures blast off in the morning at Ft. Lowell park.  Or listening to the new chorus of bird songs around the city.
Turkey Vulture-I'm in a wash alone
This Lark Sparrow below tweeted and fanned his voice like a bug to catch that lucky lady to begin their new lark sparrow family. Good luck buddy!
Lark Sparrow-a guy with a dog was at the park....a sign to go home
Families begin.  Rookeries form.  And all around us is this wonderful harmonious song that is carried forth on the warm winds.
The Circle of Life.  Great Blue Herons land for the night around Roosevelt Lake
The Sandhill Cranes of winter have mostly gone and left these fields empty once again.
Whitewater Draw-no people
During one afternoon after work, I stood in the middle of Sweetwater as thousands of Yellow-headed blackbirds flew around me. The wind from their wings brushed against my face and made me smile.  Again no people were present.
Yellow-headed Blackbirds at Sweetwater-no people
And the gull over the water reminded me why I bird.  It's not always about finding the lifebird or getting the shot.  Sometimes it's about taking it all in.  Kathie has that part down.  I still work on it. When I saw the gull, I felt energized again and excited.  This bird is the symbol of my hometown from Wisconsin and it reminds me why I moved to Arizona many years ago. In my own way, I'm that hometown gull who found his way into the deserts and canyons. On this night, I saw something incredible.....a majestic gull flying over a desert lake.

 I must remember to pay attention to the direction of the wind.  Going against it is most unpleasant and creates more work. Yet when I move with the momentum, I float effortlessly like the gull over water. In other words, sometimes it's just best to stay home and not bird:)


  1. Oh My God... Chris!! I didn't even read the whole thing because when I saw that picture (the circle of life) with the Herons. I was dumbstruck!
    The sky, the tree, the wings, the beaks, the color. It's a masterpiece!

  2. Thanks Jeanne:) That was one of my favorite shots. It was too dark for bird pics but light enough for shadow shots:)

  3. I love the shot of the egret at sunset. Amazing. It's not always easy to enjoy the peace in nature with noisy people around.

    We continue to grow grasshopper. :)

  4. Lovely "circle of life."
    Experience is experience. What you live one day you won't the next and there is always a time for reflection on the spot or back home. There is always a plus in anything we do.
    Have you read and seen the book "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Bach??

  5. Chris, I can understand your frustration about tourist and screaming kiddies ruining your outing. Would it be better to be out earlier to avoid the larger crowd? I wish I had photos of all my life birds but, it does not always work out that way. I love all your photos in this post. Happy Birding and have a great weekend!.

  6. Love your shots of Roosevelt Mountain & Sabino Canyon~so beautiful! I too have had my share of live & learn experiences!

  7. people-less is a good thing. some beautiful shots, here!

  8. We all have off days Chris. You have some great photos in this post. I love the apricot blossoms. Nothing at all springlike here except for an abundance of robins.

  9. Hi Chris, Even when I'm not 'birding'--I HATE being around lots of people, especially tourists... We stay away from the Smokies during the 'season' for that reason. AND--I remember in 2011 when we went to the Grand Canyon in June.. GADS--talk about tourists--by the bus-load. The Japanese people about ran over us. Talk about RUDE....

    Glad you and Kathie are learning to stay away from people when you are birding... Great set of photos.

    Don't punish yourself when you are 'not yourself'.. We ALL go through times like that.. It's just part of life....

    Hope you are having a great weekend.

  10. Całe zycie się człowiek uczy. Praktyka czyni mistrza. Dzisiaj masz piekne zdjęcia nie tylko ptaków, ale i cudowne widoki.Pozdrawiam.
    The whole life of a person learns. Practice makes perfect. Today, you have beautiful photos of not only birds, but also wonderful views. Yours.

  11. Chris, I guess I am the odd duck because I've always love gulls.

    This: "In my own way, I'm that hometown gull who found his way into the deserts and canyons." made tears come to my eyes because I relate totally.

  12. you may have been ticked off, but your writing is singing. Reminds me to appreciate how lucky we are to have wild open places to ourselves.

  13. Chris, so glad you found your gull and your bliss! Roosevelt was magical and perfect and I can't wait to go back. Keep writing from your heart.

  14. Happiness for a birder is finding what you seek and capturing its beauty- right Chris!
    Cheers :)

  15. Oh my what a truly fab post this is Chris, you have some wonderful and varied images here, the last is truly inspirational. Do you realize that when you're not so happy with your images your words take over beautifully. I've missed hearing your views on life and birding in Arizona, will keep my eyes 'peeled' for more :)


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