December 25, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

Time to Leave

Sunrise, Imperial Dam LTVA
Sunrise, Imperial Dam LTVA

One of the very few colorful sunrises here at the LTVA. Usually these colorful shots are easy to come by, but for some reason, this year in my three week stay here there were only two mornings where there was any real color in the morning sky.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

One of my few decent hummer shots taken here. Again, not really much action with the hummingbirds here.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

More Gambel’s Quail

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

Now these guys were plentiful and I would have to say this was my best experience attempting to shoot these very timid birds.

Gambel's Quail
Gamble’s Quail

They are fascinating to watch, and when there were as many as 20 in the yard, also wonderful to listen to them coo, chirp, and otherwise communicate amongst themselves.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

This guy was kind of unique amongst his peers with his double top knot or whatever you call those distinctive feathers on their heads.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

Heading east to Tucson tomorrow to explore the area a little … stay tuned.

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December 17, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

House Finches
House Finches

LBB’s ( Little Brown Birds ) at the LTVA

Feeder Setup
Feeder Setup

It has been a long time since I have done a bird post, but the last two days I finally got out and did a little bird photography. When I first arrived here at Imperial Dam, I was greeted by a small flock of Gambel’s Quail right in front of my motorhome. So, I set up my platform feeder and spread some scratch feed on the ground where I could keep an eye on it from the front windshield, as seen in the image above.

Well, for a week I did not see a single bird take advantage of this free food. Then, slowly they began to show up, first just a couple house finches, then some sparrows, and finally the quail returned.

Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow

All pretty much just LLB’s, but since there were a couple I did not immediately recognize, and since quail are some of my favorite birds to shoot, I finally made myself drag out the camp chair and the tripod and semi concealed myself against the side of the motorhome and shot these images, all taken with a 600mm lens with a 1.4 teleconverter attached.

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

The Chipping Sparrow and the White-crowned Sparrow, I was familiar with, and have shot before.

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

Same with this Mourning Dove, a rare single dove, I never saw another one show up..

Albert's Towhee
Albert’s Towhee
Albert's Towhee
Albert’s Towhee

But the Albert’s Towhee …

Sagebrush Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow

… and the Sagebrush Sparrow sent me to my Sibley Birds guide to identify.

Sagebrush Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow

Both, though not rare, were firsts for me.

House Finches
House Finches

As is most often the case in the desert, most numerous of all that showed up were the House Finches.

House Finch
House Finch
House Finch
House Finch
House Finch
House Finch

Initially, I tended to overlook them, but upon closer examination, I became quite fascinated with the color variations in the males.

House Finch
House Finch

While most of them were not that brightly colored, there were several males that really stood out. There were two in the flock that sported quite a bit of yellow.

House Finches
House Finches
House Finches
House Finches
House Finches
House Finches

My perch on a small gravel hill here overlooking some wetlands provided a wonderful out of focus background for these images.

Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail

It took a while, but the Gambel’s Quail finally showed up in numbers, probably a couple of different flocks, one numbering  eight individuals and a second group probably between fifteen to twenty birds. Both groups were coming in several times a day, but were extremely skittish. At one point, I had to go in the motorhome and put up a barricade to keep Sam from jumping up on the dashboard ( her favorite lookout position ), since every time I heard her up there the quail would hightail it out of the feeding area.

Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail
Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail
Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail
Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail
Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail
Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail
Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail

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April 19, 2016 Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Santa Rosa Lake State Park
Santa Rosa Lake State Park

Santa Rosa Lake State Park

Monday, I left Oliver Lee State Park around 8 AM and drove about 180 miles north to Santa Rosa Lake State Park via Route 54. An uneventful drive through some pretty uninspiring high desert landscapes. Initially, this park was a bit of a disappointment after Brantley Lake and Oliver Lee State Parks. I arrived to find that most of the 20 plus sites in the utility section of the campground were all reserved sites and the few that were first come first served were all backins and all but one were occupied. The campground host told me that they were full here almost every night.

So I decided to set up in the primitive Juniper Campground down the road a little and ended up on Site #15, sharing the entire campground with just two others. The place looks a little rundown and some of the sites are a little too close to one another. No great view of the lake, or of anything really, and the lights from the dam are a little too bright to be able to enjoy the night sky here. But I certainly can’t complain about the crowds. Nice and quiet here and the weather is great, cool nights, and sunny days with temps around 80.  Like I did at Oliver Lee, I put out the bird feeders but I have yet to see any takers.

The opening image above is an overview of the primitive Juniper Campground at Santa Rosa lake State Park.

Santa Rosa Lake State Park, Juniper Campground Site #15
Santa Rosa Lake State Park, Juniper Campground Site #15

And here is a closer shot of my campsite. The wind is howling, as you might see if you got a closer look at a very windswept Jenny being blown along the drive from the campsite. Several nice pull throughs here in this campground with somewhat reasonable spacing between campsites. Most sites have a picnic table under a sturdy shelter but there are no electric or water hookups here. Unfortunately, most sites are not very level. Verizon internet signal is quite weak also, but just strong enough to be able to check email and the weather, but not strong enough to do much with blog posts.

Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM
Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM
Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM
Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM

I checked out the Blue Hole on one of my drives into town. This must have been quite a discovery to the first pioneers coming through here. Just about the last thing one would expect to find in this harsh dry high desert environment. In the warmer months, scuba divers come here to explore this unique spot. At the bottom of the image above are some goldfish swimming around, I have a feeling they may have been recently introduced. They really stand out in the blue tinted water, the blue being more than simply sky reflection.

Abandoned Buildings
Abandoned Buildings

I also took a drive over to Conchas lake State Park to check out camping there, most likely my next stopover point. They don’t take reservations until May 1 so all sites are first come/first served and there were plenty of sites available as I drove through the three campgrounds. Office was locked so I couldn’t ask any questions. Will probably head that way next Monday. The image above is of what may have at one time been quarters for ranch hands, I really don’t know. Obviously has been abandoned for some time and would make a great candidate for a watercolor somewhere down the road.

While out, I stopped at  Silver Moon Auto in Santa Rosa to see about getting yet another new tire for the dolly and getting my most recent new/old tire with the tube repaired. While there also asked about fixing my onboard generator gas leak and taking care of my six foot mud flap angle iron replacement. Made an appointment to leave the RV with them Monday.

Last of the Birds From Oliver Lee

Gambel Quail
Gambel Quail

These guys, with that strange feather in their cap, always amuse me.

Green-tailed Towhee
Green-tailed Towhee

This Green-tailed Towhee is a first for me.

Black-throated Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow

A handsome Black-throated Sparrow. I was amazed at the number of species in the campground at Oliver Lee State Park.

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