Sunday, June 30, 2013

Great Egret: One of Nature's most Photographable birds

No matter what the background, Great Egrets stand out beautifully. Here's one with weeds in the foreground, water in the background, yet all the attention goes to the Egret. Taken at Whitewater Draw in Southeast Arizona.

Great Egret

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Great Egret V

Next a wonderful Great Egret Photo taken early one morning at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge on the Arizona side of the Colorado River. I love how the sunlight broke through to "spotlight" the Egret. I also how the pure white --- whitest white plumage.

Great Egret

Friday, June 28, 2013

Great Egret: Still More

Continuing with my Great Egret "5" Star Photos comes this one from Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, Arizona:  I love the contrast and the detail of the Egret:

Great Egret

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Great Egret III

Great Egret photographed at Christopher Columbus Lake, Tucson, Arizona:

Great Egret

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Great Egret - II

Continuing with my "5" Star Photos in general and the Great Egret in particular, here is one taken at Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson:

Great Egret

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Great Egret: The Most Photographable Bird in Nature

Great Egret: The Most Photographable Bird in Nature? Well, maybe. There are many very colorful birds -- especially the "birds of paradise" found in New Guinea. And yet, the pure white plumage of the  Great Egret provides such a wonderful contrast to everything -- anything -- in nature that photos just jump off the page when you look at them.

So, next in my series of "5" Star Photos is the Great Egret. It is so beautiful and photographable that I have more "5" Star Great Egret photos than any other bird. Here's the first -- and my favorite:

Great Egret: Agua Caliente, Arizona

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bears, Pronghorn, Elk, Oh My .....

It's still just a matter of luck.

The strategy for the Wildlife Photographer is to put yourself in the place with the most potential. If you want to find and photograph a bear, then looking in downtown Tucson probably won't yield a positive result. Neither would looking in the Sonoran Desert. Mountainous areas with trees provide a much higher potential. Bears like leaves, berries, nuts, bugs found on and around trees etc. 

So while I was in Flagstaff the last couple of days, I got up just before dawn and off I went in search of bears. First, the San Francisco Peaks and second Mount Elden. Both of these are areas where I have found and photographed bears before. So I put myself in areas with the most potential. 

Still, it is a matter of luck! I saw one bear charging across the 4x4 mountain road (up Mt. Elden). By the time I got to that spot he was nowhere to be found. I searched the area for a while but without seeing him again.  Had I been there 15 seconds earlier I might have gotten a much better look  .... even a photograph. Had I gotten there 5 seconds later, I wouldn't have seen him at all. Right place, right time ... just not exactly the right moment in time.

"Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them." Daryl Zero.

Although I did briefly see the Bear, and I saw and photographed some Pronghorn and Elk, my best photo of the two days was unexpected, a very nice male Hepatic Tanager:

Hepatic Tanager

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Great Blue Heron - IV

Another "5" Star Great Blue Heron photo from Agua Caliente:

Great Blue Heron

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Great Blue Heron - III

It's really a treat to be able to get Up Close and Personal with wildlife. Great Blues sometimes provide that opportunity. This photo taken at Christopher Columbus Lake in Tucson:

Great Blue Heron

Monday, June 17, 2013

Great Blue Heron: II

Continuing with my "5" Star Great Blue Heron photos we come to one I took along Patagonia Creek here in Southern Arizona:

Great Blue Heron

Friday, June 14, 2013

Great Blue Heron -- Part I

We have finally arrived at the Great Blue Heron. Living in the Northwest for so many years and with the abundance of water, herons were fairly easy to find. In fact, in some places, like Padilla Bay, when the tide went out, hundreds of Great Blues could be seen. However, even in Southern Arizona, we find Great Blue Herons. This photo taken at Agua Caliente about four miles from our house:

Great Blue Heron

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel

Next up in my series on "5" Star Photos is the Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel. This little chipmunk looking squirrel is typically found in several of the Western mountain ranges. This particular one was at the very top of Mount Elden just outside Flagstaff, Arizona (9,000 feet). He was very curious about me and seemed to want his photo taken. I obliged and took a bunch. This is one of the ones I like:

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gilded Flicker - Part II

We have 50 or more large Century Plants on our property. I'm not sure how it got its name (century plant) because it typically only lives 20 to 30 years. It is an agave with leaves up to 7 feet long and very sharp points at their ends. (Drawn blood several times over the years).  It flowers only once and at the end of its life.  The stalk shoots up what seems like overnight. I know of no other plant (at least in North American) that grows so quickly.  It can reach up to 26 feet high in a matter of weeks. The stalk produces a cyme of yellow flowers. At its base the stalk can have a diameter of five inches and is as strong as a tree trunk. The plant then dies but typically leaves "babies" near its base. 

The stalk provides viewing platforms for a wide variety of birds. In addition to the Gilded Flicker (below) I have photographed Northern Mockingbird, Black Tailed Gnatcatcher, Gila and Ladderback  Woodpeckers, Mourning and White Winged Doves, Red Tail and Coopers Hawks, Cardinals, Phainopeplas, Pyrrhuloxias, Orioles, and others on these stalks.

As you can see from the photo you can get a lot of detail:

Gilded Flicker

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gilded Flicker

Up next on my series of "5" Star Photos is the Gilded Flicker. The Gilded Flicker although similar to the Northern Flicker which can be found throughout North American is only found in Southern Arizona and the extreme Northwest corner of Mexico. It is not nearly as abundant as the Gila Woodpecker so we see them just a few times a year here at The Azure Gate. They are strikingly beautiful though. 

Gilded Flicker

Monday, June 10, 2013

Gila Woodpecker, can you say "Noisy"?

Alphabetically speaking after Gila Monster comes Gila Woodpecker. 

So, today a male Gila Woodpecker photo taken here at The Azure Gate. This is one of those strange dichotomies where 1) it can be a rather annoying bird, but 2) is only found in Southern Arizona (in the US) so could be a "life bird" for a great many birders. It is though, a woodpecker and frequently seen in suburban areas. Oh, and frequently heard pounding on gutters or anything metal. He's got quite the personality to match. He will be drinking from one of the hummingbird feeders when I walk by. Then he'll fly up into a nearby Saguaro and squawk at me incessantly. As soon as I leave he's back on the hummingbird feeder. Oh well, he has to eat to.

Add caption

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gila Monster --- II

I have one other "5" Star Gila Monster Photo. This one was taken here at The Azure Gate. I was sitting in my office when I saw something slowly crawling across the driveway. So I grabbed my camera and went to see. Yep, a Gila Monster. He continued to the center of the driveway where we have a 125+ year old Saguaro that used to have a Creosote Bush under it. I had cut away the Creosote so it left a little "chair" for the Gila Monster to sit on. I laid down (several feet away) and took the following photo:

Gila Monster

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Gila Monster: Docile but Deadly

I am up and about after my cochlear Implant surgery. The external equipment (processor and remote) won't be added until the surgical area heals completely. So, still six weeks before I can start hearing again. 

In the meantime, I will get back to my posts of "5" Star Photos.  Continuing alphabetically we come to the Gila Monster.  Although its venom is just as deadly as a rattlesnake, the Gila Monster is a shy, docile, slow moving lizard that secrets its venom from its lower jaw into its prey as it chews. So, the more it chews on its prey, the more venom. 

Dr. Ward, of Phoenix, an old practitioner in the valley, says: “I have never been called to attend a case of Gila monster bite, and I don’t want to be. I think a man who is fool enough to get bitten by a Gila monster ought to die. The creature is so sluggish and slow of movement that the victim of its bite is compelled to help largely in order to get bitten.”
—Arizona Graphic
September 23, 1899

We have at least one that lives on our property though we rarely see it. (every two or three years). It stays underground most of the time. We have had guests see it twice so far this year -- although I haven't.

The Gila Monster is protected so it is illegal to pick up, keep, or kill one. The photo below was taken at Saguaro National Park where there have been two Gila Monster bites recorded in the Park's history. Neither resulted in death, but in both cases severe vomiting, pain, and swelling occurred, resulting in hospitalization and treatment.

Gila Monster

Monday, June 3, 2013

Giant Swallowtail -- II

Seeing the Giant Swallowtail from this angle gets a completely different view. Such is the case with many (most) butterflies. This photo was taken outside of the Tucson Botanical Garden:

Giant Swallowtail

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Giant Swallowtail

Our flowers not only attract hummingbirds, they are also a heaven for butterflies. This Giant Swallowtail is one of several that visit us Spring through Fall:

Giant Swallowtail

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Gambel's Quail

Sometimes a photo is just outside the door -- no need to drive and search for hours. Here a male Gambel's Quail sits atop a dead cholla cactus just asking to have his photo taken. I was willing and here was the result:

Gambels Quail