March 23, 2017 Lake Kaweah, California

Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom

Patiently Waiting on the Weather

Horse Creek Campground on Lake Kaweah, California
Horse Creek Campground on Lake Kaweah, California

Two days ago, I made the short move from Lake Success to Kaweah Lake and the Army Corps of Engineers Horsecreek Campground. I settled in on a fairly level campsite all but on the campground loop road. Fortunately, there are very few other campers here right now so I really haven’t been bothered by any traffic. I took this particular site because there are no other sites anywhere near it and it is fairly level … and level sites are pretty scarce in this campground. All the sites are primitive but there is a dump station on site, though I have yet to find any drinking water source here. Camping fee is $20/ night with a 50% senior discount making it $10. This place is probably very popular in the summer months, but with the roads up in the National Parks still intermittently closed by snow, most sites are empty right now.

Despite the very steep surrounding foothills I was able to get my rooftop satellite to lock on and surprisingly, there is a very strong Verizon signal here for some decent internet connectivity, something I have been lacking for the last several weeks.

Collapsing Arch
Collapsing Arch

Directly across the loop road from my site is a collapsing stone arch with a rubble pile of boulders below it, tumbling right down to the road’s edge.

Rock Rabbits
Rock Rabbits

And the rubble pile is home to several cottontail rabbits that are constantly hopping all over the rocks and ducking down under them every time they see the shadow of a black vulture or raven flying overhead.

Rock Rabbits
Rock Rabbits
Rock Rabbits
Rock Rabbits

Their antics are kind of fun to watch when I am stuck in the RV during the rainy days.

And speaking of rain … there has been plenty of it lately and more is forecast. I have made a couple of forays up into Sequoia National Park but can only venture in a dozen miles or so before encountering rain … or sleet … or snow … and always running into clouds ( literally ) once I get up to 3000′ elevation, and that makes any kind of photography impossible.

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras
Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

The entrance into the park is at about 800′ elevation and the sequoias grow at an elevation of 6000′-7000′. The morning I took the beautiful spring shots  ( above and below ) I ran into snow and ice just 12 miles into the park, probably no more than 15 miles from where these two shots were taken.

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras
Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

In the distance of just 15 miles of serpentine road climbing up into the park, probably no more than 8 or 10 miles as the crow flies, you go from beautiful sunny weather in the low 60’s to snow and ice and freezing temperatures … pretty amazing contrasts in weather here right now.

Kaweah River Rapids
Kaweah River Rapids

The Kaweah River runs next to the park road and there are some wonderful overlooks along the road. This is all snow melt runoff from the first good snow year in the Sierras in quite a few years.

Kaweah River
Kaweah River
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom

Redbuds are in bloom from 2000′ to 4000′ elevation along the park road and when the clouds allow, they are something to see.

Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom
Redbud Bloom

I have only made it up to the elevation where the sequoias grow one time so far and everything was enveloped in a very thick fog, actually a cloud I suppose, so I didn’t bother taking any shoots. But there are supposed to be a couple decent days coming this week and I am sure I will eventually make it all the way up the mountains and into the sequoia groves, so stay tuned.

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March 4, 2017 Ogilby Road BLM Area, California

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

More Hummingbirds at Ogilby Road

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

The gorgeous male Anna’s Hummingbird made several visits to the feeders over the past few days so I was able to get a few decent shots of this colorful little bird.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

When the wind shifted to the south, I finally was able to capture some of the wild variations of color in this birds throat and cap.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird
Immature ?? Hummingbird
Immature ?? Hummingbird

As usual, the number of females and immature males far outnumbered the colorful adult males I most desired to shoot.

Immature ?? Hummingbird
Immature ?? Hummingbird
Hummingbirds and Ocotillo
Hummingbirds and Ocotillo
Immature ?? Hummingbird
Immature ?? Hummingbird

Nonetheless, these guys are beautiful in their own right, even if not as spectacularly colorful as the mature males.

Immature ?? Hummingbird
Immature ?? Hummingbird
Immature ?? Hummingbird
Immature ?? Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird

Once more the male Rufous made an appearance also.

Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird

Note the pollen on the top of his head, obviously he has been visiting other feeding sources out in the desert.

Rufous Hummingbird Portrait
Rufous Hummingbird Portrait

With temperatures forecasted to hit 90 this week, I am going to break camp and head west to the Salton Sea and then up onto higher, and cooler, ground in Joshua Tree National Park where the desert flowers are getting ready to put on a show ( I hope ? ).

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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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