May 23, 2016 Sugarite Canyon State Park, NM

Hummingbirds
Attracting a Crowd

Hummingbirds Galore!

As I warned you in the last post, here come the hummingbird shots!

Hummingbirds at feeder
Lots of Action !

There are just an incredible number of hummers here, way too many to be able to count, but I would guess at the busiest times, there are as many as a dozen or more buzzing around the feeders at any given time, as well as two or three buzzing around my head and camera gear.

Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble

I have had them land on the camera, on the cable release I use for these shots, individuals have landed on my arm, my hat, my knee, and one curious bird keeps probing my shirt pocket button, mistaking it for a nectar feeder port, I assume. They will fly within a couple inches of my nose, too close for my old eyes to focus on them, then will circumnavigate my head, all but buzzing in my ears. These guys are absolutely, totally unafraid of me.

Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble
Hummingbird Squabble

Two species, Black-chinned and Broad-tailed, and I probably am mistaking one for the other at times.

Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris

Fortunately there are blue flag irises in bloom all around the campground and I have found one wild apple tree in bloom just a short way down the road, so I finally can do some hummer images with them feeding from real flowers.

Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris

Of course, I do have to stage the flowers in the immediate vicinity of the nectar feeders and also have to use an eyedropper to drizzle some sugar water onto the flowers to coax the hummers into position, but, hey, they are actually going to the flowers when all the feeder ports are occupied, and that gives me the shots I have been hoping to get for a long time.

Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbird and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris
Hummingbirds and Blue Flag Iris

Unfortunately for shooting these photos, the New Mexico winds are continually blowing up here and that makes it all but impossible to capture perfectly frozen motion of these little guys, and also keeps blowing the blooms all over the place so it is impossible to get the flowers to stay in the optimal position for good lighting on the birds, but I am happy to get what I can.

Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbird and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Apple Blossoms
Hummingbirds and Lilacs
Hummingbirds and Lilacs
Hummingbirds and Lilacs
Hummingbirds and Lilacs

A New Visitor in Camp

Grey Fox
Grey Fox

Looking out the dinette window while having supper, I noticed a new visitor to the bird feeding area this evening, this handsome little grey fox. I set out some sunflower seeds for the jays and grosbeaks and this guy is out there on the rock where I put that seed, cleaning up what the birds leave behind.

Grey Fox
Grey Fox

Pretty bold little guy, coming within 15 feet of the motorhome, and me, to pick up seeds dropped from the feeder hanging on the picnic table shelter. This is the first time I have ever had a chance to photograph a grey fox, never thought I would get one this close.

 

May 21, 2016 Raton, New Mexico

My Site at the Soda Pocket Campground
My Site at the Soda Pocket Campground

Soda Pocket Campground at Sugarite Canyon State Park, Raton

Wednesday morning, I loaded up and contined north, and upward in elevation, to Raton, just a few miles south of the Colorado border. I had checked out the campground at Sugarite Canyon State Park on Google Earth and noticed there were two seperate campgrounds, one directly off the highway that offered hookups where the sites were reservable and a larger campground a little farther north, a couple miles off the main road. This second campground did not have any hookups and was all first come first served. Figuring there most likely would be little chance of this more remote campground being full this early in the season, I set my sights on doing a little primitive camping for a week.

Soda Pocket Campground
Soda Pocket Campground

Soda Pocket Campground ( the name of the primitive upper campground at the state park ) just may turn out to be one of my all time favorite spots. There is a two mile washboarded gravel road you do have to climb to get up to this very nice secluded campground. When I arrived, there was no one there, all 18 sites were empty, so I drove around, all good interior roads, and finally chose Site #12 for my stay. There are four or five pull throughs and several backin sites that will handle a larger rig, and almost all the sites are level with mostly decent separation between sites. All have a concrete pad for the picnic table, fire ring, and shelter. Only major ding here is that there is absolutely no Verizon signal here.

Soda Pocket Campground
Soda Pocket Campground

I chose to drive straight in to my backin site to take advantage of the wonderful view down the canyon. Located at an elevation of around 7500 feet, the days are warm and sunny with temps around 80 and the nights are wonderfully cool in the 40’s.

Five Hummingbirds
Crowded Feeder

Yup, Here We Go Again, More Birds

Hoping that there just might be some birds around, I dug out the hummingbird feeders and mixed up a batch of nectar. As I stood on my stool to hang the nectar feeder from the shelter roof, I was instantly buzzed by a hummingbird that settled on to the feeder before it was even out of my hands! I guess you would have to say this looks promising.

May as well warn you, there are going to be a mess of hummingbird images coming in the next few posts.

Eight Hummingbirds
A Crowd Gathers

PairAtIrisVertCROP

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (female) and Iris
Broad-tailed Hummingbird (female) and Iris
Black-chin Hummingbird and Iris
Black-chin Hummingbird and Iris
Black-headed Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak

In addition to the hummingbirds, that I believe are Black-chinned and Broadtails, there are several types of seed eaters that came in as soon as I put out a platform feeder, among them, Scrub Jays, Stellar Jays, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and a few pests such as cowbirds and, as if I hadn’t had my fill of them this winter in Salineno, Red-wing Blackbirds.

Black-headed Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak
Stellers Jay
Stellers Jay
Scrub Jay
Scrub Jay
Scrub Jay
Scrub Jay

Also I have spotted through the motorhome windows, Mountain Bluebirds and a single Western Tananger. A gorgeous little grey fox has checked out the seeds scattered by the birds here and several mule deer have been caught browsing the grass right outside my door. A beautiful light blond black bear was walking along the road as I was taking a stroll through the empty campground Thursday morning. As I said earlier, I believe I may have found one of my all time favorite campgrounds.

All in all, this place has proven to be a very pleasant surprise! Stay Tuned.

Note: Until I once again get to a spot with a strong Verizon signal, I am unable to update the 2016 Travel Map. It may be a few weeks.

 

April 3, 2015 Portal, Arizona

Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird

Hummingbirds at Cave Creek Ranch

Last week, I had to leave Sierra Vista before the hummingbirds arrived, this week I am in Portal, Arizona, still a bit ahead of the start of the prime season for these guys, but some of them are now on the scene at the Cave Creek Ranch.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version, and to truly appreciate these little hummingbirds, you really should take a peak at the larger images.

Cave Creek Ranch
Cave Creek Ranch

Cave Creek Ranch sits alongside Cave Creek in a lush riparian environment conducive to many species or birds. They have several detached buildings providing lodging catering to  birdwatchers. Above is the view from the porch of their office building that doubles as a viewing platform for some of the many feeders they have scattered throughout the property.

Towering Over Cave Creek Ranch
Towering Over Cave Creek Ranch

Photos cannot do justice to the imposing sight of these rock formations towering over Cave Creek.

Towering Over Cave Creek Ranch
Towering Over Cave Creek Ranch

I spent two five hour sessions here concentrating on just one hummingbird feeder located alongside the walkway to the office.

Black-chinned hummingbird
Black-chinned hummingbird

The Black-chinned hummingbird is a regular here and I must have taken a couple hundred shots of this species, trying to capture their little bit of color, the purple under the chin, but they are quite drab in relation to their more colorful cousins here, so I tended to concentrate on them.

Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird

I guess I would have to consider this species, the Broad-billed hummingbird, the little jewels of the hummingbird kingdom. The irridescent blues and greens, offset by the bright orange bill, make these guys some of the most spectacular of their kind.

Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird

A hummingbird I had never seen before is the Blue-throated hummingbird. Though not brilliantly colored, his size makes him standout amongst the crowd.

Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird

This is the largest of the hummingbirds found in the United States, measuring five inches in length, with a wing span of eight inches, a giant amongst his kind.

Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though I have seen the Magnificent hummingbird once or twice in the past, I have never been in a spot where I had the chance to get some decent shots of this large hummingbird.

Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird

Thees guys are almost as large as the Blue-throated, but are definitely more colorful. The brilliant purple head is particularly difficult to capture in an image.

Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird

I am unable to use any kind of flash when taking these photos since most commercial operations like Cave Creek Ranch, understandingly,  don’t want photographers ruining the birding experience for their other customers. Thus the only way to attempt to capture these birds brilliant color is to get them in the shade, where then adequate shutter speeds become a problem.

Hummingbirds Come in Many Sizes
Hummingbirds Come in Many Sizes

I include the above image to give you an adea of the size difference of these guys, the Blue-throated on the left and the Broad-billed on the right, taken at the same feeder.

While here in the Portal Area, I also took a trip out to Paradise to check out the feeding ( and banding ) station at the George Walker House. There I had a nice conversation with the owner while relaxing in one of the many sitting areas there amongst the various types of feeders. This is also a great spot to see birds, but isn’t really terribly conducive to photographing birds.

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March 29, 2014 S. Llano State Park, Texas

 

Cedar Waxwing drinking
Cedar Waxwing drinking

Last night was a wonderful, star filled, cool night for sleeping with no intrusion by my neighbor’s spot lights. My thanks to the campground host who finally caught up with them and asked that they show some consideration for their neighbors.

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

Cedar Waxwing drinking
Cedar Waxwing drinking
House finch
House finch
Lesser Goldfinch
Lesser Goldfinch

 

 

 

 

Yellow rump warbler Audubon race
Yellow rump warbler Audubon race
Yellow rump warbler Audubon race
Yellow rump warbler Audubon race

Out turkey hunting at 7 with no luck. Went down to the Acorn Blind and stayed until noon, getting a couple Black throated Hummingbird shots and another nice Cedar Waxwing shot, but nothing out of the ordinary for new birds.

Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Yellow rumped warbler Audubon race
Yellow rumped warbler Audubon race
Yellow rumped warbler Myrtle race
Yellow rumped warbler Myrtle race

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a younger man, I always kind of laughed to myself when I saw someone out gazing at the trees through a set of binoculars. Never could understand how anyone could enjoy the pursuit of birdwatching. Then I bought my first good long lens and snapped a few images of these little wonders, and before I knew it, I was addicted. Now it doesn’t seem so strange that people can get such a thrill out of this pasttime. I mention this only because I have just realized that I have become one of them. The two images immediately above kind of brought this realization around. I have gone from seeing these two birds and thinking, nice little yellow spotted birds, to recognizing them as yellow-rumped warblers, to actually seeing that they are two distinct races of yellow-rumped warblers. I still have to go home and get the images on the monitor and look them up in a bird book to know this, but I guess I am becoming a birdwatcher.

Checked on mail at the office and renewed for Sunday and Monday while awaiting my mail package from NH. Drove into Junction for some groceries and to check the library hours, turns out they are closed all weekend.

10 PM on another beautiful night and on comes the neighbor’s spotlight, fully illuminating my living room and bedroom. This after the campground host had told him to be a little more considerate and keep the lights off, especially on the driver’s side of his unit ( like all RVs, their exit door and outside living area are on the curbside of the unit ). Since I was inside watching TV, I decided to wait it out and maybe they would turn them off before I retired. 11:10 PM came and I walked over to their rig and knocked three times on their door. No response. Knock three more times and the wife comes to the door and asks what I want. I ask if they could turn off their spotlights since they have apparently gone to bed. She turns and walks away with no response. Really nice folks.

After 11PM, I am not about to wake the campground host to intervene once more, and with no cell phone coverage, I can’t call a park ranger, so I return to my rig and figure I will have to close up my motorhome, just like last week at Goose Island and turn on the AC, on a perfect, cool evening for sleeping. As I was ready to step into the RV, here comes the neighbor, aggressively striding across the space between our units, and obviously looking to start something. Not really wanting a confrontation, I almost went inside, but at the last moment turned and walked toward him. That kind of stopped his rapid progress toward me, but he came close enough to start cursing me out and wanting to know what my problem was. I stated the obvious to him, that his spotlights were completely illuminating my site once again, that I was aware he had been instructed not to do so again, and told him I would appreciate him just turning them off and let both of us get to sleep.

This guy had a manner about him that showed he was obviously some kind of aggressive control freak, and quite used to using intimidation to get his way. That someone challenged him on his behavior and that the campground host had actually told him he could not do something must have really stuck in his craw. I had to chuckle as he made his way back to his unit and had to shield his eyes against his own lights so he could see where he was going. The icing on the cake was when his other neighbor across the street from his unit ( and not really in direct line of his lights ) yelled out to him to shut the damn lights off!

At 11:40 finally the lights went out!

Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned Hummingbird
Black chinned Hummingbird

 

 

 

 

Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird
Black chinned hummingbird