September 13, 2019 A Search for Foliage Yields Turkeys and Butterflies

I took off very early this morning and headed up to Florida, MA and Rowe, MA., driving the back roads looking for any sign of early fall foliage color. Usually the swamp maples and other trees near water turn way before the overall colors arrive in October, …

… but in over 100 miles of driving today, I found just a couple of trees that had started to turn. Well, it is still very early and they have had a very dry summer up here, so I will just have to wait and see what happens a little later.

One thing I did find were wild turkeys … everywhere!

Every time I have gone out I have spotted flocks of wild turkeys, really don’t ever recall seeing many, or any, around here when I was growing up.

I passed many fields of ready to pick corn …

… and some very suspicious looking new farm crops, that I have to assume might be hemp?? since there were signs around these fields saying ” This is not WEED”.

Not finding much on the back roads I headed south to Deerfield, MA.  and bought some delicious fresh sweet corn at a roadside farm stand. I know it was fresh since the farmer was just unloading the corn from the back of his pickup as I pulled in.

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory

So, since I was in the area, I decided to visit the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory , a place I happened to discover by accident many years ago when I lived in NH.

I am not going to attempt to identify all these butterflies since I didn’t take notes while I was there.

There are feeding platforms with over ripe bananas as well as these colorful glass feeder bowls, scattered throughout the exhibit.

In addition to the butterflies, there is quite an assortment of exotic flowers …

… in the enclosed butterfly exhibit …

… as well as a few colorful birds ( ones that don’t eat butterflies, I presume).

If you are ever in the area of Route 5 in Deerfield, MA, I highly recommend stopping by to visit this place, located just a short distance from I-91.

 

April 2, 2015 Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

Chiricahuas
Chiricahuas

Exploring the Chiricahuas

After an afternoon and night of being not so gently rocked in the motorhome ( my impression of this area is that it tends to get a little breezy ), I loaded up the Prius and headed west towards Portal to see how far up in the mountains my no clearance vehicle could climb.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Chiricahua Dawn
Chiricahua Dawn

Just a beautiful blue sky morning as I drove west on Route 533 ( Portal Road ) towards the small town of Portal, Arizona, reported to be a birding hotspot.

Chiricahuas Afternoon
Chiricahuas Afternoon

( Just throwing in this image taken on my way home in the afternoon, from pretty much the exact same spot, to show the atmospheric changes over 7 hours of climbing around in the mountains. Very different sky, still an absolutely gorgeous day ! )

Chiricahuas
Chiricahuas

Turns out the town of Portal is really just an assortment of small buildings scattered over several miles along Portal Road. A few lodges here and there, a small Post Office and Library located at the end of a short dead end street. I as yet have not discovered where folks around here shop for groceries or even fill their gas tanks. I seem to be a long ways from anywhere out here.

Heading Into the Chiricahuas
Heading Into the Chiricahuas

Stunningly dramatic scenery as you drive along this road and start heading up into the Chiricahua Mountains.

Rugged Chiricahuas
Rugged Chiricahuas
Rugged Country
Rugged Country

The terrain suddenly gets quite vertical on both sides of the road as you start the climb.

Rugged Country
Rugged Country

The road slowly passes through a canyon following the edge of a stream with a lot of evidence of some pretty serious flood damage. The canyon walls are steep and one side is bathed in the morning sunlight …

Fallen "rocks"
Fallen “rocks”

… while the other is in deep shade. These interesting “rocks”, obviously fallen from above for they don’t resemble anything in their immediate surroundings, are gigantic. Just look at the trees behind them probably 80 – 100 feet tall. This is some very dramatic country ! The flood damage has actually closed a couple of the side roads and campgrounds here.

Rugged Chiricahuas
Rugged Chiricahuas
Rugged Country
Rugged Country

You have to notice the oaks and pines in these images to begin to grasp the sheer verticallity and height of these canyon walls.

After exiting the narrow canyon, I stopped at the Southwest Research Station and checked out their hummingbird feeding area and saw my first Blue Throat, one of the largest of the North American hummingbirds. For some reason, all the nectar feeders here are protected by what all but looks like sheep fence cages making photography impossible.

Since the gravel road to this point was in pretty good shape I decided to continue on up the Mountain Road and see how far I could make it towards Rustler Park, located at 9000′ elevation. Though the road got a little rough in places, and you do have to ford a couple streams, the Prius had little trouble handing the road all the way to Rustler Park. A forest fire blew through the campground at Rustler park, and what once must have been a very pretty campground nestled in tall pines, now looks like a barren, charred war zone. While the burned pines remain standing on the slopes above the campground, all the trees have been chopped down within the campground for obvious safey concerns, leaving  only chewed up blackened earth throughout the grounds.

9000' Turkeys
9000′ Turkeys
9000' Turkey
9000′ Turkey

On my way back down the road from the campground, I was a little surprised to see two foraging wild turkeys picking their way through the woods at 9000′ elevation, must be a pretty hardy race of turkeys.

The View from 8000 Feet
The View from 8000 Feet

As I headed back down the mountain, I took this one shot to show the potential grand vistas that would be seen from this road if only there wasn’t so much air pollution killing such distant views, something I have noticed seems to be prevalent everywhere I have been in Arizona. What a shame.

Arizona Cloudscape
Arizona Cloudscape

Back on a much lower elevation, there was a very different look to the skies as I headed back to my campsite at Rusty’s RV Park. I took the dogs with me today to give them a change of scenery and tomorrow I plan to head back into the mountains without them so I can hike a few of the trails and perhaps get some bird shots.

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March 24, 2015 Sierra Vista, Arizona

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

Drawn Back to the Birds at Ash Canyon B & B

Rising early, once again I headed south to the Ash Canyon B & B to see if any new birds had yet arrived. I arrived around 7:30 AM on yet another beautiful, warm, blue sky Arizona day.

Ash Canyon B & B Driveway
Ash Canyon B & B Driveway

Don’t let the driveway scare you, the B & B is located just a short distance off Route 92. You turn west on Turkey Track Road off 92 and follow it out until it ends about a quarter mile in at this simply incredible bird viewing venue.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Ash Canyon B & B
Ash Canyon B & B

You will see the sign as you come to the gated end of the gravel drive.

Ash Canyon B & B Gateway to the birds
Ash Canyon B & B Gateway to the birds

Parking spaces for birders are clearly delineated and a collection jar hangs on the back side of the wrought iron gate. Be sure to drop your $5 in the jar, although there is nothing to stop you from adding a donation of any size to your price of admission, I’m sure you will agree it is well worth the price.

Ash Canyon B & B Hummingbird Garden
Ash Canyon B & B Hummingbird Garden

Just inside the gate there is a hummingbird garden with flowers and feeders to attract the many different species of hummingbirds found here as well as butterflies. Unfortunately for me on this trip, since it turns out that I am a little early for the big show, Mary Jo hasn’t yet hung all the nectar feeders ( since the hummers aren’t here just yet and the nectar feeders have to be changed and cleaned very few days ).

Ash Canyon B & B The Veranda
Ash Canyon B & B The Veranda

Mary Jo keeps a library of books for identifying birds and more, as well as a small refrigerator with drinks, on the shaded veranda. This area gives viewers a chance to get  out of the sun and I am sure is quite welcome a little later on in the season.

Ash Canyon B & B Morning Birdwatchers
Ash Canyon B & B Morning Birdwatchers

When I usually arrive, early around 8 AM, I generally have had this area to myself, but by late morning, it tends to fill up a little. On this particular day, there happened to be a delightful group from England here admiring North American birds. I have always been a sucker for the British accents and got a kick out of chatting with these friendly bird watchers.

Ash Canyon B & B The Veranda Afternoon Shade
Ash Canyon B & B The Veranda Afternoon Shade

Some of these folks shifted over to the veranda in the afternoon. As you can see from these two images there are plenty of chairs around, all with a great view of the many feeders Mary Jo keeps filled with food. On all three occasions I have been here this spring, Mary Jo has been out with her guests, providing identifications of the many species of birds and animals drawn in here. She is incredibly knowledgeable, as well as friendly and accommodating to all. If you look closely at the first image, you will notice a woman who just happens to have a parrot perched on her shoulder, and that woman would, of course, be Mary Jo.

She tells me that the best time to be here is mid-April through mid-May, as the yard fills with the arrivals of birds that nest in the area as well as all kinds of migrants that stop here on their way farther north to take advantage of the bounty that Mary Jo provides. She stocks this feeding area year round and has been doing so for twenty years. In late August, after the monsoons, and through September is also a peak viewing period, when the surrounding area is lush with new green growth and many of the migrants are heading back south. Now I have missed both of these prime time periods and am still blown away with the number and variety of birds here, as well as with the comfortable and friendly atmosphere of the Ash Canyon B & B.  There is a wealth of information on her website, so please go and check it out.

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey

There was a new arrival here today, a male wild turkey ( Gould’s subspecies ). He wasn’t the least bit shy and wandered in only 20 or 30 feet from a crowd of admirers.

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey

Quite neat to be able to see such a colorful beautiful/ugly bird at such a close range.

Scott's Oriole
Scott’s Oriole

There seemed to be more Scott’s Orioles here today, although the Hooded and Audubon Orioles still haven’t made an appearance.

Scott's Oriole
Scott’s Oriole
Immature Scott's Oriole
Immature Scott’s Oriole

A few immature Scott’s were mixed in with several mature males.

Immature Scott's Oriole
Immature Scott’s Oriole
Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren

Though not very colorful, this tiny Bewick’s Wren was one of my personal favorites …

Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren

… lots of attitude for a small guy, and very active.

Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Red-shafted Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker

The outstanding Red-shafted Northern Flicker made another appearance.

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acorn Woodpeckers were constantly flying in and out, along with Gila and Ladderback Woodpeckers.

Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay

The large Mexican Jays were once again present in large numbers.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

Gambel’s Quail were here along with other ground feeders such as several species of sparrows  ( Lincoln, Rufous Crowned, Chipping, and others ) ….

Dark eyed Junco
Dark eyed Junco

…Dark-eyed Juncos ..

Canyon Towhee
Canyon Towhee

… and Canyon Towhees.

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher,

Orange-crowned Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warblers were present.

Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-billed Hummingbird

And lastly, although the crowd has yet to arrive, there were Broad-billed, as well as Magnificent, Black-chinned, and Rufous Hummingbirds here today. I truly wish I did not have to start heading north so soon, I would love to stay for the arrival of all the spring birds, but Oregon and Alaska await !

Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-billed Hummingbird

 

Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-billed Hummingbird

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November 20, 2014 Overton Mesa, Nevada

View through the windshield for morning coffee
View through the windshield for morning coffee

More Sunrises, Colorful Valley of Fire Sandstone, and Desert Bighorns

Image above from this morning, sitting in my recliner having my morning cup of coffee. What a way to start your day! And this happens pretty much every morning. What a life, why I didn’t start sooner …. what an idiot!

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Overton Mesa Sunrise
Overton Mesa Sunrise

Varying colors and cloud cover daily, but pretty spectacular most mornings.

Overton Mesa Sunrise
Overton Mesa Sunrise

While the east/west motorhome orientation for the solar panels doesn’t work so great with the strong north winds, it sure is nice as far as viewing sunrises goes.

Turkeys
Boys’ Club

I found these Toms gathered in the shade on the north side of the Overton Wildlife Refuge. I haven’t been able to figure out if this is a place to possibly get some bird shots or not. I can never find anyone there to ask about how exactly the place runs. Their website says the refuge is open to hunters on even numbered days, and closed to all others, yet a sign posted on their bulletin board state the exact opposite. There almost never are any cars parked in the small lot at the entrance and all the roads into the refuge are posted prohibiting vehicles. Guess I’ll try a few more times before I give up. Incidentally, there are 8 very nice primitive campsites located on the entry road to the refuge, just a few feet from Route 95. Level, partially sheltered by a screen of trees and suitable for just about any length RV. I’m guessing they are free since I don’t see any pay station. No water or dump station though and road noise could be a factor.

Valley of Fire

Desert Bighorn Sheep
Desert Bighorn Sheep

Look what I found yesterday morning! Yesterday morning I did a few miles of hiking in the Valley of Fire State Park and had one of my most productive days of photography in quite a while. Shot sandstone formations for about three hours around the Wave of Fire and then spent an hour or so tracking down a small band of desert bighorn sheep.

Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire

Took over 400 shots in all, and where I usually will quickly cull that number down to 50 or 60 to process for the 10 or 20 really good ones, I was only able to cull these down to about 200, and so am going to have to take a few days to get these images into a post.

Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire

 

 

 

 

 

Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire

Please stay tuned!

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When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !