December 30, 2016 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

My Campsite at Imperial Dam LTVA

My Campsite at Imperial Dam LTVA

First Two Weeks at the Imperial Dam LTVA

It’s been a while since the last post and that’s because there really is very little to post about. After my two week stay just south of Quartzite, I drove down Route 95 for about an hour and  cut across the Yuma Proving Grounds to the Imperial Dam Long Term Visitors Area ( LTVA ) and paid my $40 for a 14 day stay. You have two fee options here, $180 for a 5 month permit or $40 for a 14 day permit. The fee covers your use of a top notch water fill and waste dump area, as well as trash dumpsters located at several locations within the boundaries of the LTVA.

There are a lot of folks scattered all around this very large area, but you can usually find a spot with a reasonable amount of privacy if that is what you are looking for. There are no utilities provided here, but there are rest rooms ( only near the main checkin area ), that I have never checked out so I have no idea what they may be like, and there also is a ” Liberry ” here where you can trade out paperbacks, and there is an amazing selection of books in that small repurposed Airstream.

One of the Neighbors

One of the Neighbors

Very, very quiet in the spot I found and I am doing a lot of reading, working on producing my BluRay slide shows, and even doing a little painting. With Yuma, Arizona, only about 20 miles away, I am also taking advantage of this location to get some long put off projects done, such as replacing my rear slide out topper fabric and installing some window awnings.

Sunshine is plentiful and in the first two weeks here, I have only had to run my Honda 2000 generator twice, my solar system keeping up nicely with my daily electrical needs.

Sam on Hummingbird Watch Duty

Sam on Hummingbird Watch Duty

I have set up my hummingbird feeders so I can monitor them through the front windshield, and though I do have takers here, a pair of Costas and 3 or 4 Annas, there just isn’t enough constant activity to bother getting serious about any hummingbird photography. Sam has picked up a new bird watching hobby though.

Sam

Sam Enjoying Her New Pastime

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

I found these ” test tube ”  hummingbird feeders online and thought they would work great for hummingbird photo setups, but wasn’t sure how the hummingbirds would receive them. Turns out, they prefer these to the much larger traditional feeders I have. I bought a large syringe at Quartzite that I use to fill them and with the limited number of hummers here, I only have to fill them once a day.

Desert Tray-full

Desert Tray-full

I also set up a tray feeder on the side of the RV near a large spreading ( unknown to me ) desert tree. Traffic to it has grown steadily in the week I have had it out there, a large flock of house finches, a couple different sparrows…

Eurasian-collared and Mourning Doves

Eurasian-collared and Mourning Doves

… mourning and collared doves, gila and ladder back woodpecker …

Sage Thrasher

Sage Thrasher

… plus a few others I haven’t identified ( I think this is a Sage Thrasher, a new bird for me ), but nothing terribly colorful or interesting enough to set up the photo gear, yet enough activity to enjoy watching. So, essentially, I am just goofing off, accomplishing nothing, and enjoying the peace and quiet of the desert while living very inexpensively, saving up to pay for this next year’s traveling ( maybe another Alaska trip ? ).

So, unless something exciting comes along, it probably will only be a couple of posts a month until I leave the desert in March. Hope everyone is having a Happy Holiday Season!

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December 10, 2016 Quartzite, Arizona

Desert Sunrise

Desert Sunrise

Home Sweet Home, Back in the Desert!

Home Sweet Home in the Desert

Home Sweet Home in the Desert

My new home for two weeks, in the Roadrunner 14 day stay BLM area, about 4 miles south of the town of Quartzite, Arizona.

Home Sweet Home in the Desert

Home Sweet Home in the Desert

Anyone who has ever been in Quartzite for the RV Show probably wouldn’t associate this place with peace and quiet, but at this time of year, and in this particular location, peace and quiet it is, with almost total isolation, just the way I like it. My closest neighbor is a quarter of a mile away and all I can hear, day or night, is the sound of the wind. Weather is just wonderful, 70 and sunny by day, 40’s at night, just Paradise after the miserable cramped conditions at the Birdwatchers RV Park back at Bosque del Apache.

I left Bosque on December 2nd and headed west across the mountains to get here. Was a little bit nervous about snow at the higher elevations along the way here and did see a lot of snow covered ground, but, fortunately, the roads were clear and dry and I encountered no problems on my two day trip. I overnighted at Walmart in Payson, Arizona Friday night and arrived here in Quartzite where I filled my gas and propane tanks in town then drove the 4 miles south to this location.

Desert Sunrise

Desert Sunrise

Nothing much to photograph here other than the wonderful sunrises and my main goal for my two week stay here is to get all my Bosque del Apache crane and geese shots processed and to get them and a couple other wildlife slide shows completed on BluRay disc.

Desert Sunrise

Desert Sunrise

Desert Sunrise

Desert Sunrise

Desert Sunrise

Desert Sunrise

I have ventured into town a couple times to pick up various odds and ends for the RV at all the “outlet” ( flea market, junk ) stalls set up around Quartzite, but otherwise have been pretty much a home body here and simply have enjoyed the long anticipated solitude of the desert.

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December 1, 2016 Leaving Bosque del Apache

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Time to Leave

Frozen Pond

Freezing Over

In the image above, you may be able to detect that some of the ducks are not sitting in the water, but are, in fact, standing on it! When ice starts forming on the ponds, then it must be time for me to head farther south. Morning temps are now regularly in the teens and, although the afternoons are pleasantly warm, I guess I have gotten enough crane and goose shots to last a lifetime or two, so it’s time to head for the desert.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

These large birds continue to fascinate me and for some reason, I don’t seem to tire of taking action shots of them as they go about their daily routines.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane Heading for Night Time Roost

Sandhill Crane Heading for Night Time Roost

Th wildly varying light conditions, above a crane taking off just before the sun sets …

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

… here one taking off in the chill of a below freezing morning, provide such variations in the birds coloring as to keep my interest up.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

This is a shot of a crane coming in to the corn fields with his landing gear still retracted. Seems odd to see them without their long legs trailing behind them in flight.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Love it when a pair of cranes are caught in flight in pretty much the same plane and I am able  to get them both in sharp focus. Because of the shallow depth of field when using the 600mm lens and shooting in these dim light conditions, it doesn’t happen very often.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane Takeoff

Sandhill Crane Takeoff

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

The above images are the last of my good action shots of the cranes greeting, and/or fighting, moves and dances, never am absolutely certain which are which.

Sandhill Crane Posing

Sandhill Crane Posing

A classic preening pose …

Sandhill Crane Portrait

Sandhill Crane Portrait

… and a closeup portrait.

Ducks Waiting to Take Flight

Ducks Waiting to Take Flight

Almost every morning that I have been here, I am out on the refuge roads before sunrise, always a peaceful place at that hour, with very few other folks out yet, the shallow ponds are just covered with roosting ducks and geese, the numbers simply astounding.

Dawn Flight, Snow Geese

Dawn Flight, Snow Geese

Just as the sun is coming up, the birds take flight and head out to the surrounding fields to forage.

Farm Fields on the North Loop

Farm Fields on the North Loop

Snow Geese Landing

Snow Geese Landing

Snow Goose Landing

Snow Goose Landing

A typical white snow goose ….

Blue Morph Snow Goose

Blue Morph Snow Goose

… and a dark morph snow goose, also called a Blue Goose, landing to forage in the farm fields on the refuge.

Tomorrow I am heading to Quartzite, Arizona, to get some much needed peace and quiet out on the desert, away from the confines of the cramped quarters of the Birdwatchers RV Park here at Bosque del Apache. I have thousands of images to sort through and process, so there probably won’t be much to report for the next couple of weeks. I plan on leaving Quartzite before Christmas to avoid the crowds there, and will be spending the next couple of months out in the desert around Yuma.

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November 29, 2016 Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

Snow Goose Explosion

Snow Goose Explosion

Weather is Getting Colder!

Snow Geese

Snow Geese

It is getting more difficult to get up and out each morning as the overnight temperatures are now dipping into the teens. The outside thermometer in the Prius actually registered as low as 12 degrees as I drove out the North Loop Road in the Refuge yesterday at 7 AM.

Snow Geese

Snow Geese

The freezing weather doesn’t seem to bother the cranes and geese as they continue to overnight while standing in the near freezing shallows in the refuge. The last few mornings they have been seen standing on, not in, the water!

Snow Geese

Snow Geese

Snow Geese

Snow Geese

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane Squabble

The increasing numbers of Sandhill Cranes has led to better opportunities to get some “action” shots as they squabble over who gets to feed where. These brief battles occur so quickly, and unpredictably, that I rarely can react quick enough to catch the action …

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane Squabble

… but every now and then, I am aiming in the correct direction and manage to catch some of  the action.

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane Squabble

Sandhill Crane With Landing Gear Down

Sandhill Crane With Landing Gear Down

My daily routine lately has been to get myself out to the North Loop corn fields just as the sun comes up, set up my tripod and pull out my rocking chair, and wait for the cranes and geese to fly in and land to forage. By 10 AM or so the action has usually peaked and the light becomes a little harsh, so I head back home and process images before heading back out to the same location to try and get the birds leaving the corn fields and heading out to their overnight roosts.

Sandhill Crane With Landing Gear Down

Sandhill Crane With Landing Gear Down

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane Flying into the Setting Sun

Sandhill Crane Flying into the Setting Sun

Though the dim light makes flight shots difficult as the sun sets, once in a while things align well and a nice shot emerges.

It really is getting a little colder here than I like and I imagine I will be moving farther south sooner rather than later, but it is a little difficult to leave the refuge just when the action is really starting to pick up. But then again, just how many more crane and goose shots do I really need ( or does anyone really want to see ).

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