Friday, September 24, 2010

Whitewater Draw Conservation Area

We headed to Bisbee Arizona which is a copper and gold mining town that has transformed itself into a tourist destination and we weren't quite sure what to expect. We took a short drive thru Bisbee proper and I was surprised at two things I saw. The community itself is quite quaint and really very nice with a victorian flare and lots of shops and hotels. The second was the mine that is the most massive displacement of earth the likes of which I have never seen up close before. The holes in the ground were massive as were the mountains of earth that came out of them. I couldn't help but wonder what the area looked like before it was literally moved from one place to another. When I return in a couple of weeks I will take photos of Bisbee and the mine as we plan to spend a couple of days there.

Route 80 has some very beautiful scenery and passes through Tombstone Arizona which is the location of the famous OK Coral. Tombstone was pretty much closed as we went thru very early so it was hard to judge if it is worth a trip. I'm sure if you're into the old west you'd find it allot of fun.

I plan to return to Bisbee in October to check out the town and more importantly return to Whitewater Draw Conservation Area. We will make as many trips as necessary to document the Sandhill population for this blog. Last year they counted approximately 11,000 Sandhills at Whitewater and I look forward to seeing this for myself. There was no evidence of any Sandhills in the area yet so I am hoping that by the early October trip there will be lots.

On the road to Whitewater we saw quite a few of these tarantulas in the road as well a couple of groups of abandoned dogs. There were so many flycatchers that I lost count (dozens) and there were also many hawks along the road.

Whitewater Draw which is in Cochise County and is part of the Chiuauan Desert is an exceptional conservation area that is home in the fall and winter to Sandhill Cranes. It is rather remote but well worth the trip. The first pool was quiet but we had already spotted a Northern Harrier cruising the marshes and we could hear ducks in the next wet area.

There were pintails and many other ducks that moved away from us as we approached.

A large flock of blackbirds is a sure sign of the approaching change of season which I am looking forward to so I can spend allot more time out of doors in places like Whitewater Draw.

There were three immature White Faced Ibises that were feeding in one of the shallow pools.

The Northern Harrier does a fly by. It was visible most of the time we were there.

I love the different colors.

I think these are Greater Yellowlegs but I'm not 100% sure.

On our way out we decided to sit in the shade for a while and were treated to these two Great Horned Owls taking a nap.

I took this shot while I was sitting in line at the border patrol checkpoint on the way back north to Benson.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Few Favorite Bird Photos

I enjoy trying to capture birds in flight or in their natural habitats. These are a few shots that I like allot. The first two of the Great Egret and the Black Phoebe were taken at Sweetwater Refuge in Tucson Arizona.
I see lots of birds when I'm in the field and I love getting a great shot. I shoot hundreds of pictures on a field trip thanks to the advent of digital photography which means I get some good ones each trip.
The Ferruginous Hawk Photo was taken at the Sonoran Desert Museums Raptor Free Flight Program in Tucson Arizona.
This photo of the Acorn Woodpecker was taken atop Kitt Peak which is a world renowned observatory located on the Tohono O'odham reservation in southern Arizona about 50 miles west of Tucson. The picture below is a Great Blue Heron taken at the Arivaca Cieniga in Arivaca Arizona about 10 miles north of the Mexican border where I spend as much time as I possibly can due to it's natural diversity. I recommend that you take a trip to Buenos Ares National Wildlife Refuge if you get the chance.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Two Evenings in Tucson Arizona

These shots were taken on two separate evenings on the spur of the moment. We are still experiencing the final throws of the monsoon season which can make for some spectacular skies and some really beautiful storms.
I have a tendency to chase after storms looking for the shot that will define the term "Monsoon" and I have a fair amount of success and of course many failures. These are a few shots that I like from this past week and I hope you enjoy them too.

The Neighborhood.
This is the first shot on the second night which was filled with lightning all around, periods of heavy rain and even blue skies and puffy white clouds.
The sun setting over Saguaro National Park from a spot in Tucson Mountain Park which is our back yard. Thousands of acres of saguaro forest with hundreds of miles of hiking trails, beautiful views and amazing wildflower blooms make this a great place to visit especially in fall and winter. If it's monsoon that you want to see you have to come in July and August and be able to put up with temperatures above 100 on a daily basis and humidity.

I am looking forward to cooler weather so that I can get out on the trails. Summer can be deadly in the desert as temperatures are frequently 106-110 and heat exhaustion and dehydration can quickly overtake the unprepared.