December 21, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Costa's Hummingbird
Costa’s Hummingbird

Just Birds

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

I’ve had the hummingbird feeder out since I arrived here and it has attracted a few hummers, but not many. Today I finally managed a couple of shots of them as I waited around for the quail to show up.

Photo Setup
Photo Setup

All that gold/brown vegetation out there has made for some nice backgrounds for my setup here at the campsite.

Lesser Goldfinch
Lesser Goldfinch

Two new arrivals here today, this Lesser Goldfinch who flew in, took a look around and decided he didn’t see anything he liked …

Roadrunner
Roadrunner

… and this Roadrunner, who showed up as I was downloading images to the computer. The two shots of him were taken through my dinette window.

Roadrunner
Roadrunner

It really didn’t seem that cold to me at the time this shot was taken, around noon, but here he is in the classic “radiator” position.

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

The quail numbers continue to increase as does their frequency of showing up.

House Finch Lineup
House Finch Lineup

As always, lots of House Finches.

House Finch
House Finch
White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

And the same old assortment of LLB’s.

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow
Chipping Sparrows
Chipping Sparrows

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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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January 23, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Desert Rainbow
Desert Rainbow

A Little Rain in the Desert

Desert Rainbow
Desert Rainbow

I was just setting up to do a little painting early this morning when I glanced out the dinette window and noticed some dark clouds approaching from the north. Several minutes later, a fairly brilliant rainbow appeared, so I grabbed the camera and ran outside for a few shots.

Desert Rainbow
Desert Rainbow

As the rain began falling a little harder a second rainbow started to form, but unfortunately, the wind was blowing the rain directly at the camera and I was forced to retreat inside.

Desert Rainbow
Desert Rainbow

Still, a nice way to begin your day!

House Finches
Full House

The tray feeder continues to attract a crowd, with the finches, sparrows, and doves feeding here pretty much all day long.  I never thought I would see this number of birds here in the desert. Unfortunately for a few of these little guys, the large number of birds now gathering on and around the feeder has attracted the attention of a Coopers Hawk who checks in on the situation several times a day and causes quite a commotion when he appears. I haven’t actually seen the hawk grab anyone yet, but there have been a couple of times when I have gone out to replenish the feeder and seen him take flight from the ground just 30 feet away. The fact that he is on the ground most likely means he did grab somebody. Cruel, but I suppose everybody does have to eat.

If you right click on the image above ( or any image ) you should be able to see a larger version of the image.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

Finally got a few poor shots of the Gambel’s Quail as they bob around under the feeder and scratch around the rocks.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

They are very wary and flush at the slightest sound or movement, so these images were taken through the glass. They are very amusing to watch as they chase off the doves and sparrows feeding on the ground with them.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

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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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