Category Archives: Wildlife

February 28, 2017 Ogilby Road BLM area, California

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

The Desert Begins to Bloom, Bringing Hummingbirds

Sunrise, Ogilby Road BLM Area

Sunrise, Ogilby Road BLM Area

Another beautiful day in the desert begins with a colorful sunrise. It is just about at this time in the morning that I go outside and fill the hummingbird and other feeders I have planted outside my motorhome door.

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

The hummingbirds arrive at the feeders before it is anywhere light enough to photograph, so I use this time to go out and scour the surrounding area for any blooming flowers I can find. The blooms are few and far between, but it is now only a matter of time before everything starts to pop, given the recent rains and how green everything is around here.

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Though there are hundreds of healthy ocotillos around, there are only a few here and there that have started to bloom, and these flowers are the perfect photo prop to use for these desert hummers.

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

I know there are at least three different types of female hummingbirds coming in to feed, but other than the fairly distinctively colored Rufous, I am never exactly sure who is who with these females, so i won’t bother to attempt to label their images.

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Female Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Costa's Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbird

The male Costa’s is pretty easy to identify, but seems to be the most timid of the other male hummingbirds coming in, and is always chased off by either the male Rufous or Anna’s.

Costa's Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Rufous Hummingbird and Ocotillo

The male Rufous is probably the most aggressively possessive of the feeders, chasing off all others who dare approach. He actually kind of irritates me as I wait for birds to approach and he chases them off before I can get a shot taken. After scaring them off, he retreats to the inner branches of a nearby tree, leaving me with nothing to photograph until he gets hungry again or finally decides to fly off and check out other areas.

Rufous Hummingbird and Ocotillo

Rufous Hummingbird and Ocotillo

His throat coloring is very impressive if exposed to the proper light. Unfortunately, with the sun coursing across the southern sky and the prevailing wind coming from the north, I have been unable to get a great shot of him yet ( they prefer to feed facing into the wind ).

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

And then there is the colorful Anna’s male. This guy was here a lot in the beginning but has made far fewer appearances since the Rufous arrived and staked out his claim to my feeders.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

I was here two years ago in a spot only a hundred yards or so from where I am now along the same wash and had a lot more activity than I am getting here this year. Still, I have a hard time complaining about day after day of wonderful 70 degree weather with cool nights and gorgeous sunrises, with three different hummingbird species to shoot.

Hopefully I’ll have some more shots of the male hummers next post.

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February 26, 2017 Ogilby Road BLM Area, California

Burrowing Owl Portrait

Burrowing Owl Portrait

Finally Some Opportunities to Shoot a Few Birds

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

I drove north from my campsite on Ogilby Road to check out the Cibola NWR, a refuge I have visited twice before. The fields were green but the birdlife pretty sparse at the refuge, perhaps because the migrants have already taken wing to begin their northward migration.

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl

However, the Burrowing Owls were here as they usually are, and I can never resist spending some time with these diminutive ( about the size of a pigeon )  little raptors.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbird

Back home at the campsite, the feeders I have put out are finally attracting some action, such as this male Anna’s Hummingbird,

Male Costa's Hummingbird

Male Costa’s Hummingbird

this male Costa’s Hummingbird,

Gathering Nest Material

Gathering Nest Material

this female ??? hummingbird, with spider’s silk wrapped on it’s beak,

Male Rufous Hummingbird

Male Rufous Hummingbird

and this male Rufous Hummingbird.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

The female hummingbirds coming to the feeders far outnumber the more colorful males, although this female Rufous is fairly colorful herself.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

My tray feeders have attracted White-crowned Sparrows,

??? Sparrow

??? Sparrow

??? Sparrow

??? Sparrow

along with these unidentified sparrows,

??? Sparrow

??? Sparrow

plus a few House Finches and one solitary Verdin, drawn in by the oranges I put out in the tree. Unfortunately, the little Verdin has been completely uncooperative in allowing me to catch him in action.

With my dental work complete, I hope to now be able to spend some serious time attempting to get some decent Hummingbird shots.

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January 23, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Desert Rainbow

Desert Rainbow

A Little Rain in the Desert

Desert Rainbow

Desert Rainbow

I was just setting up to do a little painting early this morning when I glanced out the dinette window and noticed some dark clouds approaching from the north. Several minutes later, a fairly brilliant rainbow appeared, so I grabbed the camera and ran outside for a few shots.

Desert Rainbow

Desert Rainbow

As the rain began falling a little harder a second rainbow started to form, but unfortunately, the wind was blowing the rain directly at the camera and I was forced to retreat inside.

Desert Rainbow

Desert Rainbow

Still, a nice way to begin your day!

House Finches

Full House

The tray feeder continues to attract a crowd, with the finches, sparrows, and doves feeding here pretty much all day long.  I never thought I would see this number of birds here in the desert. Unfortunately for a few of these little guys, the large number of birds now gathering on and around the feeder has attracted the attention of a Coopers Hawk who checks in on the situation several times a day and causes quite a commotion when he appears. I haven’t actually seen the hawk grab anyone yet, but there have been a couple of times when I have gone out to replenish the feeder and seen him take flight from the ground just 30 feet away. The fact that he is on the ground most likely means he did grab somebody. Cruel, but I suppose everybody does have to eat.

If you right click on the image above ( or any image ) you should be able to see a larger version of the image.

Gambel's Quail

Gambel’s Quail

Finally got a few poor shots of the Gambel’s Quail as they bob around under the feeder and scratch around the rocks.

Gambel's Quail

Gambel’s Quail

They are very wary and flush at the slightest sound or movement, so these images were taken through the glass. They are very amusing to watch as they chase off the doves and sparrows feeding on the ground with them.

Gambel's Quail

Gambel’s Quail

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January 19, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Male House Finch

Male House Finch

Time Flying By in the Desert

Yesterday I renewed for another two week stay here in the desert, been here a month now and am accomplishing pretty much nothing! Reading a few books, watching the ever increasing number of finches, sparrows, and doves at my feeder, and doing a little painting.

Though there have been a few grey, cloudy days and even a little rain, the weather here just can’t be beat! Every night, for a month now, the temperature drops to around 50 degrees, then warms back up to the high 60’s or low 70’s during the day, a wonderfully moderate range that just suits me to a  ” T “. If I had to design the perfect climate for year round living ( for me, at least ), this last month would be it. Now that we are into the new year, I am aware the temps will slowly start to rise and I will eventually be forced to move on, but for now, this is just paradise for me.

Male White Crowned Sparrow

Male White Crowned Sparrow

I’ve attached a couple of small dead branches to the side of my tray feeder so I can get some closeup shots of the birds that come in to feed. This is a male White Crowned Sparrow, one of probably a dozen or more that visit each day.

Male House Finch

Male House Finch

A male House Finch. if they weren’t so numerous, they would probably be thought of as a particularly handsome and colorful bird. probably a half dozen of these guys showed up at the tray feeder when I first put it out, now there are probably more than forty at the feeder and on the ground beneath it at any one time.

Male House Finch

Male House Finch

It took a week or so for the first doves to show up, a single pair of Eurasian Collared Doves and 4 or 5 Mourning doves. Like the Finches, the Mourning dove numbers have increased daily and now there are a couple dozen feeding on the ground beneath the tray feeder.

Mockingbird Drinking

Mockingbird Drinking

Since I am in the desert, perhaps the most popular item added to the feeder tray is this old tuna can of water. I usually have to fill this at least twice a day.

Harris's Antelope Squirrel

Harris’s Antelope Squirrel

Harris's Antelope Squirrel

Harris’s Antelope Squirrel

In addition to the birds attracted to a free meal, at least four of these Harris’s Antelope Squirrels have shown up to chow down on seeds scattered on the ground. They appear to peacefully coexist with the ground feeding birds and the birds show no sign of wariness, often feeding shoulder to shoulder with these small rodents.

And finally, last week, a small covey of California Quail discovered the seed beneath the feeder. So far they have been very uncooperative photography subjects so I will hopefully post some shots of these comical little birds next post.

Tray Feeder at Sunrise Viewed from Dinette Window

Tray Feeder at Sunrise Viewed from Dinette Window

This is the view from my dinette window where I can keep an eye on the tray feeder and it is through this window that all of the above photos were shot. As I mentioned in the last post, I have found a quiet, fairly isolated spot here at the Imperial Dam LTVA and that is definitely adding to my enjoyment of this really inexpensive spot to while away the winter. In addition to the exquisite weather, this particular spot is blessedly quiet and peaceful, no noisy neighbors, no vehicle traffic, no intrusive lights … hard to believe I could find a spot where I had nothing to complain about.

Adventures in Acrylics

Brown Pelican Acrylic

Brown Pelican Acrylic

I have finally found the inspiration to attempt to resume my painting efforts. Although I had a little success selling watercolors and oils at my art gallery back in New Hampshire, I had only sold one or two small acrylic paintings. I have to admit I just found the medium difficult to handle, thus I would always fall back to doing oils and WC’s.

But with no large, well ventilated art studio now that I am full timing, oils are kind of out of the question and I really want to try and figure out how to handle these very frustrating acrylics.

Truncas Barns and Burros Acrylic

Truncas Barns and Burros Acrylic

So I thought  I might post some ( rather sorry, kind of embarrassing ) progress shots of my venture into acrylics. My reasoning being this might force me to continue working on these paintings rather than give up in frustration as I normally would … and I am getting very frustrated at this point. But if I have a small audience waiting to see a finished painting, my sense of pride will force me to continue on until I achieve some kind of satisfactory result. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, I will get to show you a couple of decent, completed, acrylic paintings.

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