Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hummingbird yawning

We have a resident pair of anna's hummingbirds. They hang out by my office most of the day. Sometimes they chase each other around, sometimes they drink from a couple of nearby feeders, but mostly they just sit and occasionally clean themselves. They don't mind me getting close enough for a photo, but they do sometimes become impatient when I have to clean and fill their feeders. They'll either sit on a tree branch pouting or they'll "buzz" me. I am looking at him now while I write this blog.

prickly pear bobcat

So, now from Northwestern Colorado back to The Azure Gate B&B in Tucson. In the past week we have had a visit from our "resident" young bobcat, a lone javelina, yipping coyotes each night, and our female cardinal feeding her youngster. A cooper's hawk caught one of the mourning doves and sat in a mesquite tree by the pool plucking feathers, after which he drank water from the bird bath. We have very nice guests from Alaska and Scotland with us this week. Both couples have been greeted by mother nature with 100 degree temperatures and, lots of birds, rabbits, lizards, etc. to keep them happy. Today's breakfast is "Thai Steak and Eggs" in honor of our sweet daugther-in-law from Bangkok who lives with our son in Hawaii. Off to prepare.

Monday, September 28, 2009

bull moose at 10,000 feet

So, there I was, driving over Cameron Pass (10,279 feet) in Northwestern Colorado just before dawn and I happen to see three bull moose in this meadow. This was the larger of the three. The other two still had some "velvet" on their antlers. One tried scraping the velvet off by rubbing agains a road sign. Eventually other people stopped: locals, tourists, and photographers. I chatted with a couple other photographers as we watched the moose eating for about an hour until the moose disappeared into the forest. The three moose were in the same spot the following morning, but not the third morning. The third morning was the first day of hunting season, and somehow the moose knew it.

bull moose croaking

Same bull moose as yesterday. This was the first -- and only time I have seen a bull moose "croaking." I was thrilled to capture it in a photo. Like elk, it happens only in the fall. It is to "announce" his availability for mating. However, the sound is nothing like that of an elk. It is a softer, quieter sound, and I heard it only once during the 5 1/2 hours I spent with him. Interestingly, there was a bull elk 800 - 900 yards away that I could hear bugling as I was photographing the moose. It reminded me of the multiple sounds and sights of the Azure Gate. More of that later.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

searching for bull moose

I am often asked about having the patience to photograph wildlife. As a general rule I don't wait in a spot in hopes that an animal I want to photograph happens by -- even if it is an ideal spot and there are animal tracks and scat around. You could wait for days.

But, here is the kind of patience that pays off -- sometimes. This bull moose, a cow, and a yearling were lying down in a meadow about 300 yards away, and I wasn't going to be able to move closer. It was about 6:15 am. I thought, why leave and look for a moose that is 20 yards away? I have found three moose right here. So, I decided it was worth the wait. By 7:00 they were up and moving around -- a bit closer. By 8:00 they were lying down again. By 9:00 they were up and still closer, yet still too far for a good photo. It was't until 11:45, 5 1/2 hours after start that I was able to take this photo. I was happy. It was probably the largest bull moose I have seen in the wild. And, I was in awe!

jousting elk

Here we have two bull elk "jousting"; a ceremonial activity during the "rut." I watched as these two elk slowly approached each other, locked antlers, turned one way, then the other, again, and again, then released and slowly backed off. It wasn't violent as is the case with the bighorn sheep rams. Once finished the elk went back to eating as if nothing else had happened. Again, you can see how the neck is swollen. While I have seen "jousting" before, it is an amazing act of nature I never tire of.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bugling Elk

Hello friends and welcome to The Azure Gate Blog.

Oddly enough, our first Blog will not be about Tucson. There will be plenty to write and share with you about our Bed and Breakfast, Tucson, and Southern Arizona. Christine and I had a wonderful trip to Miller Canyon and I took several hummingbird photos we'd like to share with you.

During the summer we take time off to see family and friends, and I like to take some extended photography trips (sometimes outside of Arizona).

I just returned from a photo trip to Northwestern Colorado where the Moose and Elk were quite willing to be photographed.

First. It is elk mating season. Bulls make eerie "bugle calls" to the females (cows). For those of you who haven't heard this sound, it is an almost painful screeching or crying often echoing across the meadow, valley, or canyon. As you can see from this photo, the bull's neck seems to change shape -- not too dissimilar to male salmon while breeding. This bull had about 15 cows around him. A younger and smaller bull occasionally charged the big guy -- but, no contest. The big guy would even chase a female who got too close. Guess he wasn't finished "strutting his stuff" and wanted center stage.