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.