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 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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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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April 14, 2016 Alamogordo, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument and Campsite Birds

Wednesday, I drove the Prius back up to Cloudcroft to check on the descent Route 82 makes coming down from the mountaintop to Alamogordo. When coming this way in the motorhome Monday, I chose to go a few miles out of my way to avoid this long downgrade I had been told it would be wise to avoid. After driving it in the Prius, I guess I would have to say I made the right decision, it is a loooooooong downgrade that is best avoided in a rig like mine. The grade probably is no worse than others I have done, but it does go on forever and could well prove to be too much for my old motorhome.

Campsite Birds

Canyon Towhee
Canyon Towhee

I noticed a number of little birds hopping around in the underbrush around my campsite so I dug out the feeders and my post prop from Salineno and also spread a bit of seed on the ground to see if I could entice any of them into the open. The Canyon Towhee, a first for me, was one of the first to show.

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher

The curve-billed thrasher, just like his cousin, the long-billed thrasher back in Salineno, enjoyed the peanut butter/lard/cornmeal mix.

House Finch on Ocotillo
House Finch on Ocotillo

Wasn’t long before a small flock of house finches turned up.

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

Several white-crowned sparrows also came in to feed.

White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove

A couple white-winged doves have shown up, although I have yet to ever see the dove on her nest hop down to feed, though I’m sure she must?

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands national Monument

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

This was my first trip into White Sands N.M. though I have driven past on a few occasions. Certainly worth doing if you are ever in the area. There is a paved road into the dunes that turns to a sand ( gypsum ) loop road about 6 miles into the monument. The glistening white gypsum dunes are quite impressive on a blue sky day and I would love to be able to catch them at sunrise or sunset, but, unfortunately, the road is only open from 7 -7 daily, and at this time of year, that misses both sunrise and sunset.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

When you come here, be sure to park and walk out into the dunes. Easy to walk on and you will discover a lot of interesting details, such as animal tracks and interesting vegetation, once you venture a ways from the road.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Aguirre Springs Recreation Area

Leaving the Monument, I drove west on Route 70 about 30 miles to check out the Aguirre Springs Recreation Area that I had noticed on my New Mexico Benchmark Atlas. I was curious to see if the campsites there were accessible to a rig like mine and if so, what the campground looked like, to see if it might be a boon docking option sometime down the road.

Wildflowers
Wildflowers

On the road into Aguirre Springs I saw my first wildflowers of the spring.

Aguirre Springs Rec Area
Aguirre Springs Rec Area

This imposing peaks hover over the campground and can be seen from miles away as you approach the area on Route 70 West.

Aguirre Springs Campsite
Aguirre Springs Campsite

There is a sign stating that the narrow winding road to the campground is not recommended for trailers over 23 feet long. Now, the paved road is narrow and winding, but I really do not think it would be anything to worry about for a rig like mine.

There are a few, not many, campsites that could accomodate a large rig once you get up to the campground. The setting is gorgeous and when I was there midweek in mid-April, there was no one camping in any of the 60 plus sites there. No water, dump station, or electric at the campground, but it is a wonderful secluded setting, way off the beaten track and I definitely will consider staying here sometime down the road.

Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal

This last shot was kind of a surprise to me. A left over shot from Salineno that was on a disc I hadn’t removed from my backup camera in a while.

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