Sunday, December 22, 2013


The North Rim at sunset
As the light fades away from the year 2013, I've been looking back on so many incredible trips taken over the year.

It's a strange feeling.  I don't want this year to end because there is still so much to discover!  BUT there is so much to look forward to next year! And that makes me smile. The journey never really ends:)

Townsend's Solitaire
It transforms and is constantly redefined while we are on the road seeking higher knowledge. 

Pygmy Nuthatch
Recently, we took a co-worker friend out who wanted to film wildlife with her new camera.  That's how it all started for me.  "What's that?!" 
We had a great time and it was fun to see it all from her beginner's eyes.

Because it's more than just taking a picture.  It's listening.  Recognizing.  Seeing beyond sight.  Knowing.  While I watched her trying to fix her camera on the target, I remembered.  

My take on the Tree of Souls from the movie Avatar
I would never want to go back to those first stages, but I miss the innocence of it all.  The missteps. The thrills of seeing a common bird for the first time. They were the times when I was unknown.....just a hopeful photographer who loved hiking and finding whatever came my way. As all of this has gone on, I have become much more in tune with the birds and animals found in our area.  It isn't so much about finding our regular residents now.  It's about understanding them, their habitat and needs.  I am turning from photographer into a field scientist.  While I'm not an expert in these areas, I do want to learn more and work more with the professionals. For the first time on this trek, I will own a pair of binoculars.  I am blind(lazy eye) on my left side and the binoculars interfered with my finding the birds.  But something unexpected has happened from my birding adventures.  My brain is telling my other eye that it needs to work again.  It has caused me great headaches of late, but it's because I'm forcing my left eye to do its' job.  My eye doctor was shocked (as was I) that the eye actually is improving!

a coyote reminds me that we are all connected together in this life
A sparrow for many is a sparrow.  Just a brown bird.  I told Kathie once that I just wanted to see the bird and check it off my list.  And that was ignorant of me.  Today, sparrows are one of the most fascinating groups of birds out there!  The reason I made such an ignorant statement?  I couldn't ID them at first......they were too difficult. Today, when I see one, I get excited.

A curious Canada Goose investigates this guy's massive telephoto lens
And I watch people watch the wildlife watching them.  It is a gift to be in tune with our surroundings.  To really hear and connect with a world that would not have anything to do with our human madness.

A Great-tailed Grackle shows us his moves
Speaking of humans.  I began alone, but now find myself surrounded by beautiful people who have also become the voices of Mother Nature.  There are a few goofy ones.  Maybe I'm one of them, but it's okay. And of course, there are the know-it-alls.  But I find that everyone has something to offer in this great quest.  Alone, I could not do this at all.  I have come to accept the fact that I will need help on this planet-wide journey from time to time.

The Lewis's Woodpecker stores food away for the winter months ahead
While I despise HUGE crowds of people anywhere, I have found that the wildlife crowd is tolerable and many times enjoyable. And in this, I have found comfort.  It's a strange thing to admit, but I have found my place after all of these years being lost. I still avoid crowds though:)

Alone with Kathie, we stare beyond the field at the mysterious wonders of Picacho Peak
"Don't shoot into the light with your camera...not good for your eyes or camera!  Don't try to take a pic of an animal or bird with the sun on its' back because it won't turn out. Put your setting to "sports" for those awesome flight shots. Manual focus on the little birds."  I am still a teacher at heart. Walking on the trails of the snow-capped Santa Ritas with our new wildlife photographer friend, I remembered so much. 

Lesser Goldfinches play Connect 4. A Pine Siskin joins in their fun.
As we improve, we grow.  As we struggle with various challenges, we hope to overcome. And probably the biggest lesson I have learned this year is to help out others who ask for it. For if it wasn't for a kind hearted soul, I may have never discovered the beauty of this epic birding journey. 


  1. Chris, you have had a great year.. I love all your photos. You have been seeing so many new birds. Like you said there are many new birds for you to see next year. It is fun looking for a new bird. Enjoy and happy birding!
    Merry Christmas to you and yours! I Wish you all the best in 2014!

  2. I need a hankie for all this joy Im hearing.....
    it's emotional
    You dear friend are a gift to us all
    and I love that photo of you...
    and the photo of the
    I see the earth's profile gasping at the sky.....

  3. What a beautiful and awe-inspired post! I LOVE your opening lines. So true!


  4. A very nice post Chris. Merry Christmas! I hope the coming new year will be a happy productive one for you!

  5. You've come a long ways on this journey and it's fun to share. Like seeing you at the North Rim.
    Best news is your sight improvement. Next year can only be better.

    Merry Christmas!

  6. You often put into words what the rest of us only get as far as thinking - thanks, Chris. Good luck with your eye and the headaches too. My husband is blind in one eye too but it works greatly to his advantage in photography. He sees how the camera sees things, in 2D, while the rest of us enjoy 3D. Have a Happy Christmas and lots of birds and birding in 2014.

  7. What an uplifting summary!
    And this banner is just Marvelous and in the season spirit!

  8. I like your reflection of life and feel in a similar mood. Your photos are great and reflect the great diversity of life and your rich experiences. Happy Holidays.

  9. I've very much enjoyed your posts in 2013, Chris. They've shown much beauty, and given me much inspiration. Thank you!

    Wishing you all the best for Christmas and 2014.


  10. Preciosa imágenes.. Feliz navidad Merry Xmas.. :-)))

  11. Beautifully written Chris! I am so glad I was able to be part of this journey!

  12. This year we have realized a lot of their plans and have fulfilled many dreams. Very nice to you peeking. I wish you would come year was even better for you. Yours sincerely.

  13. The North Rim shot is utterly fabulous. Sorry I haven't been able to visit much lately. Life has gotten in the way of my blogging adventures. Your new header photo is definitely a winner too! Hope to see you more frequently in the coming year!


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