Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sabino Canyon Ecology Visit #6

This was my sixth trip to Sabino Canyon in December and I decided to take the 10 A.M. tram to the end of the road and walk back the 3.8 miles to the visitor center. When I started out it was cold in the low 40's and never warmed up all that much which made for comfortable walking.

Sabino Canyon is one of the most popular if not the most popular destination in Tucson. The trams were mostly filled and the roadway had more hiker's and runner's than I'm used to seeing on my early morning visits. On the ride up we were informed that another mountain lion had been spotted in the lower canyon around stop number one the previous day. This sighting brings the total number of sightings that I am aware of to four for December, all in the lower canyon.

As a wildlife enthusiast I love being close to nature and am constantly looking for signs of movement. Now that water has returned to Sabino Canyon you can see some unusual birds along the creek including the Belted Kingfisher that was spotted feeding at the pool in the above picture. The kingfisher is a winter resident and feeds almost entirely on aquatic life so I'm curious what was on the menu here in the canyon. You can learn more about Belted Kingfishers at:

It was also near this location that I saw, for the very first time, a Greater Roadrunner in flight. I have seen and photographed many roadrunners in the last seven years and just happened to get this roadrunner shot here in the canyon last week but only once in all that time have I witnessed one airborne. I would have to describe what I saw as a "glide from one high ridge to another lower one". There was no flapping and no attempt to gain altitude just a simple and quite beautiful glide from one place to another.

The Gila Chub is the only native fish that lives in the creek and it's story is one that I find immensely interesting. I am currently doing a little research on life in the canyon and what is really going on from  an ecological viewpoint. It's sometimes hard to understand that a place such as this with it's enormous beauty and abundance of wildlife can also have serious issues that effect the plant and animal populations in a very negative way. It is not only the impact of the thousands upon thousands of humans that trek through the canyon but also the non-native grasses, trees, shrubs, frogs, fish, and on and on. I am also curious about the effects of damming the stream at multiple points and the over use for recreation by the public. Here is a book preview by author David W. Lazaroff that I have only just begun to digest but so far it is extremely interesting so I thought I would share it.

Also spotted on this walk were a few Canyon Wrens, Black -throated Sparrows, and Phainopepla. I did not get into areas that I traditionally see more birds like above the dam because the stream in the upper and mid canyon was my focus so I could prepare for future visits once I understand the ecology of the canyon a little better

One of the dams currently referred to as " a bridge" which is a function they do provide but I see them more as dams based on the way that they limit the flow of the creek. It will be interesting to research how they effect the ecology of the canyon.

Saguaro's have a prominent place throughout the canyon perched precariously on the canyon walls. I have included a national Park Service link on how Saguaro's grow which is very informative.

There is allot to see and even more to learn about the canyon's and riparian areas here in the desert and I have chosen Sabino Canyon as my classroom for a couple of reasons. Number one is it's high usage as a recreation area and secondly it's diversity in the face of that human encroachment.

Keep an eye out for what I learn about Sabino Canyon and riparian areas here at Sonoran connection. I still am on the lookout for the ever elusive mountain lion also known as the "Puma"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sabino Creek Sabino Canyon

                                                                    SABINO DAM

On December 6th we traveled to Sabino Canyon and there was little evidence of water with the exception of a few stagnant pools here and there. No running water was found. After a mid month rain and snow in the Santa Catalina Mountains we returned on the 17th and the stream had regained it's vigor and was once again the beautiful bringer of life to the riparian area along it's banks.

                                                                       Behind the Dam

Just above the dam you can see the effects of the downward flow of the water carrying sediment over the years since the dam was built and depositing it behind the dam until it was completely full. It is my understanding that this was a popular swimming hole many years ago but it is barely a few inches deep today.

Rain and snow melt moving down from the Santa Catalina's provides the necessary moisture for a variety of plants along the creek banks including cottonwoods, willows, elderberries and ashes as well as a variety of native shrubs and grasses. You can read about the ecology of this important and unique environment at:

According to the Tucson Audubon Society less than 5% of the states riparian areas have survived due to a number of factors that include over development and groundwater pumping. Sabino Canyon is home to a variety of birds an animals including the recently observed Rufous-backed Robin and three Mountain Lions. I have to admit that for a long time I avoided coming to Sabino because of it's high visitation rate but I have been here three times in the last month and the beauty of this place far out weighs any reservations I might have had.

The road going into the canyon is not open to automobiles which really helps to keep a sense of serenity. There is a tram that runs from the base to the end of the road and back and I think lots of visitors are content to see the canyon in this fashion which in a way takes pressure off the trails. Allot of people who visit regularly walk or run up and down the road which crisscrosses the creek over a series of stone bridges that were built many years ago.

I plan on heading back to  the canyon on December 26th and going to the top on the tram and then spend a great deal of time walking the 3.8 miles back to  the visitor center. In the photo above it is easy to see the path of the creek often described as a ribbon snaking it's way through the desert. You can see how quickly the vegetation changes as you move away from the stream showcasing just how small and fragile a riparian habitat is. I'll let you know how my trip is on the 26th. Until then have a happy holiday and please support one of the many fine environmental organizations listed on this blog.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Stream Where There Was None....

I took another hike through Sabino Canyon on Tuesday morning starting out at daybreak when there are fewer people walking, running or riding their bikes. My purpose was twofold including keeping an eye out for mountain lions which have been spotted in the lower canyon within the last couple of weeks  and mostly to photograph the newly filled stream that just days ago was as dry as a bone. The canyon takes on a whole different look and feel when there is water rushing down from the Santa Catalina Mountains from the recent rain and snow (above 5000 feet).
I concentrated on walking into the canyon along the main road about 2 1/2 to 3 miles taking mostly photos of the stream, bridges and vegetation. I will be heading back to the canyon to photograph the area around Sabino Dam tomorrow after which I will come back and add my best shots and talk more about my experiences in the canyon this month.
There is still a chance that I could see mountain lions but it is only a very small one and I can hope.

400 Yellowstone Buffalo Targeted for Execution

Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field
and in the policy arena to protect America's last wild bison.
Dear Ray ,

State and federal agencies plan to kill hundreds of wild bison near the Yellowstone border this winter.

Citing a "skewed sex ratio" resulting from their own slaughter operations, government agencies recently announced their desire to kill at least 400 female bison this winter alone. Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) plans to intervene, and needs your support to protect these bison and their right to migrate.

The wild buffalo you and I protect are the only in America to continuously occupy their native habitat. They are the only living link to the great herds of their ancestors that once covered most of the continent. Once 40 million strong, less than 4,500 wild bison survive, and Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group solely dedicated to their protection--and you are a crucial part of our team.

As BFC begins our 16th year of buffalo defense, your help continues to allow us to make progress. Our work in the courts, supported by evidence gathered on field patrols, has grounded the Department of Livestock (DOL) helicopter. When we showed evidence that the helicopter was harming threatened grizzly bears, a federal judge ordered the DOL not to use it last spring. Later, the DOL announced that the "helicopter hazing program has ended and no longer exists." A major victory for buffalo and the ecosystem!

BFC patrols are in the field with the buffalo at this very minute, as we have been every time buffalo have stepped out of the part since 1997--because this is where they are most vulnerable. Our patrols monitor the migrations, document every action against buffalo, take direct action to protect them, and inspire a wide range of buffalo protection efforts.

Because this "war" has so many fronts, we are also working in the courts to allow bison room to roam on their habitat outside of Yellowstone, to halt the commercialization of wild bison offspring, and to ensure that the DOL helicopter is permanently prohibited from harassing wild bison. On the legislative front, BFC employs a year-round policy coordinator in Washington, DC who works with members of Congress to change the underlying policies that have resulted in the killing of 4,000 buffalo since the late 1990s.

All of these efforts cost money. Although we are an efficient organization known for stretching every dollar to its fullest, our succes is dependent upon your generosity. BFC is counting on your contribution today so we can continue our battles for the buffalo's right to roam and our work to save the 400 buffalo mommas slated for slaughter.

With the agencies intent on killing buffalo by the hundreds this winter it is crucial that we organize the most energetic and effective advocacy effort. Your year-end gift will help ensure that we keep the pressure on in the courts, in the halls of government, and in the fields where the buffalo roam. No matter the size of your gift, your personal support is essential to the buffalo's future. Thank you for helping us to finish the year strong so we can keep our focus where it belongs: on defending the buffalo!

For the Buffalo,

Dan Brister
Executive Director
Buffalo Field Campaign

P.S. Please stand with us to protect the buffalo. With the killing season targeting the mothers and matriarchs of the herds, we hope you will send the most generous year-end gift you!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sent to Congressman Raul Grijalva

I sent the following message to Congressman Grijalva in regards to the plight of Yellowstone National Parks buffalo. Please feel free to copy it and send it to your congressperson.

Government agencies are planning to slaughter 400 female buffalo in Yellowstone under the misguided belief that they are balancing the herd which is absurd. For some reason the parties involved in the Interagency Bison Management Plan have concluded that killing as many bison as possible is protecting them. The treatment of the Yellowstone buffalo is a national disgrace and a moral failure of the Interior Department under Secretary Salazar. This outrageous plan is meant to appease grazing interests and is contrary to the mission of the National Parks. Please help save the Yellowstone bison, the last truly genetically wild herd in America.

Learn about the Yellowstone National Park buffalo here:

Ray Goodwin

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Letter From the President

The White House, Washington

December 5, 2012

Dear Ray:

Thank you for writing.  The Chimney Rock site in southwestern Colorado incorporates spiritual, historic, and scientific resources of great value and significance.  On September 21, 2012, I was proud to sign a Presidential Proclamation designating Chimney Rock as a National Monument.

America’s natural resources and landscapes are among our Nation’s most precious treasures, and we have an obligation to protect them for future generations.  That is why my Administration is taking action to preserve and restore our land, water, and air.  Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, I increased funding for hazardous waste cleanup, wastewater and drinking water infrastructure construction, and projects that improve our Nation’s parks and wildlife refuges.  I also signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act—the most extensive expansion of land and water conservation in more than a generation.

To further safeguard our natural heritage and historic landmarks, I was proud to launch the America’s Great Outdoors initiative.  Building on input from tens of thousands of people across our country, my Administration is joining with communities, landowners, sportsmen, businesses, and partners at every level of government to reconnect Americans with the natural world and lay the foundation for a more sustainable planet.

We all share the responsibility to help protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land that supports and sustains us, and my Administration remains committed to tackling these and other tough problems.  I encourage you to learn more about our efforts  You can also read about the America’s Great Outdoors initiative at

Thank you, again, for writing.


Barack Obama

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Raptor Free Flight Photography Practice

The Desert Museum is really very close to my house and when I want to practice my photography skills or try out different settings it's an ideal spot. I decided to go to the afternoon Raptor Free Flight to see what results I would get setting the camera at ISO 160, Shutter Speed 1000 and Aperature 6.3.

This Barn Owl is the most wide spread owl worldwide. I was happy with the results even though this is a cropped photo shot at 70 mm.

 Only 100 pairs of Gray Hawk breed in Arizona. They use riparian areas with cottonwoods as nesting sites and I have been lucky enough to see over a dozen of them over the last few years mostly in Arivaca and Buenos Aires National WIldlife Refuge.

I plan on returning to RFF sometime soon and shortening the shutter speed to 1250 or faster to see if I can get better results with the wing movement.

Raul Grijalva for Secretary of the Interior

I believe that the appointment of Secretary of the Interior for the next four years is one of the most consequential. I also believe that Congressman Raul Grijalva who is currently my Congressman would be the best choice. This man who exhibits a deep understanding of environmental issues and concern for the planet should be our next Secretary of the Interior. Please sign the Whitehouse petition and move America towards saner public policy.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Attack on America's Wilderness

These guys never get tired of trying to undo the good that has been done in the name of the environment and wildlife in America. The most effective way to deal with this is to elect people to represent us that believe that America's greatness includes it's wilderness. Help stop the most serious attack on America's wilderness in history.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM II Review

                                               ISO 640 Aperture F11 Shutter Speed 1/500

I recently rented a Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM II and a Canon EF 2X Extender and spent a week taking photographs of anything that flew. My first impression was how heavy the lens and extender were but by the third day I was used to it and it didn't seem so bad. The auto focus was slow compared to my usual telephoto and sometimes would not focus at all before the shot dissipated.
These were my only complaints and I was very happy with the results considering almost all of my shooting for the week was hand held. This Black Phoebe shows the detail achieved at 400mm which is the maximum for this set up. Frankly I wish I had more time with this package but at $172 for the week it wouldn't take too many weeks to put a good down payment on a new one. It is nice to know that you can rent lenses when you want to do a special project because you would have to spend a fortune to own all that I want.
My next rental will probably be a super wide angle so that I can do landscapes for a week perhaps at the Grand Canyon which is only 350 miles from here..

Advocacy Makes a Difference

You can make a difference. I receive many e-mails this time of year from organizations that I have supported, some with money others by simply speaking out. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing that you did in fact make a difference for the planet, it's wildlife and wild places. So please when you receive those e-mails asking you to speak out, essentially to take a stand consider the good you can do by just getting involved. It only takes a minute to speak up and it can make a world of difference.
Thank you to all those who have visited my website over the past year. I hope you have enjoyed your visits and will return often in the coming year.

Check out Earthjustice here at:

Dear Ray,
I want to say thank you.
This Thanksgiving, as we consider all that we are thankful for, our supporters are at the top of our list. We deeply appreciate your decision to stand with us as we use the power of law to protect the environment and our communities.
Your active engagement in our work inspires us to continue fighting to preserve our natural heritage, protect our health and promote a clean energy future. Thank you for believing in us—we won’t let you down.
Together, we have accomplished so much during the past 12 months...
  • You helped secure protection for more than 45 million acres of roadless national forests from destructive logging and development
  • You helped force the retirement of dirty, coal-burning power plants, which generate more than a third of the nation’s global warming pollution
  • Your advocacy helped save communities from the toxic practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for natural gas
  • You helped defeat attacks on the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and preserved pollution standards for new power plants
  • Your support prevented destructive oil and gas development in iconic regions such as the Alaskan Arctic
We couldn’t have won these victories without you—thank you.
We know that the coming year will bring new challenges and new opportunities, but some things will remain unchanged. Our legal team will continue to take on big-impact litigation to secure the health of the earth. And our staff on Capitol Hill will continue fighting to protect our courtroom victories from an anti-environment Congress.
We continue to be grateful for your crucial partnership in this work.
From all of us at Earthjustice, thank you.
Trip Van Noppen PictureTrip Van Noppen Signature
Trip Van Noppen
President, Earthjustice

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fremont Cottonwoods at San Pedro

Riparian areas in Arizona are few and far between but they are easily spotted from a distance thanks to the presence of the Cottonwood trees. Cottonwoods can thrive only when there is an adequate supply of water which is why they look very much like a ribbon crossing the desert growing as they do along rivers and streams with a constant flow. Taller by far than all other surrounding vegetation Cottonwoods can be seen sometimes from miles away.

Fremont Cottonwoods growing along the banks of Green Kingfisher Pond. Green Kingfisher Pond was created by sand and gravel operations many years ago and has no inlets or outlets but is filled by ground water. Very young Cottonwoods can be seen along the banks and on the far shore an older but still very young specimen.

The trees surrounding the San Pedro House vary in age with the largest one up to 130 years old. Below Nan is standing on a piece of limb limb and is still dwarfed by the amazing tree.

I have photographed this tree a few times and none of my efforts ever showed it's immense size until I put humans next to it. You can read about Fremont Cottonwoods here:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Buffalo Field Campaign Update

 Update from the Field

We haven't seen any buffalo in Montana since the 31 we reported last week as having been killed by hunters in a matter of days. The few that were not shot quickly walked into Yellowstone, leaving scarcely a trace. BFC patrols remain in the field, seeking signs of the gentle giants.

This week, BFC attended the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) meetings in Bozeman, Montana. These meetings are always frustrating, but it is important that we are there to learn what the agencies and tribes are planning, to speak for the buffalo at every opportunity, and to videotape the proceedings. The agencies lack vision and understanding of the buffalo whose lives -- and deaths -- they dictate. Constrained by livestock industry-driven politics, the discussions and decisions never consider the buffalo's perspective. They have forgotten to listen to the animals.

Maintaining "a wild, free-roaming" population of bison is supposedly one of the two primary goals in the highly controversial Interagency Bison Management Plan. "Wild, free-roaming" is defined as "not routinely handled by humans." A Nez Perce spokesman for the IBMP passionately asked when the IBMP would actually start addressing this goal. The Montana Department of Livestock smugly asserted that this goal is being met. The manipulation, interference and forcible reversal of wild buffalo migrations compounded with capture, slaughter, quarantine and invasive research are stark examples of its failings. Further, seeking to manage a minimum population of the most unique herds of American bison in the country, animals that are ecologically extinct throughout their native range, is disastrous.

The tides are turning. The old excuses are not holding water. While it seems positive change is very slow to come, minds are evolving. We are all making a difference together, for the buffalo. With persistence, resistance and endurance, we are creating a strong, positive future for them.

Wild is the Way ~ Roam Free!

A note from Ray. You can help the Yellowstone buffalo here:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Photo of the Week White -Crowned Sparrow

I'm headed down to Sierra Vista to visit San Pedro National Wildlife Refuge tomorrow where I took this picture on a very brief stop over last week on the way to Whitewater Draw. I had a great time with the rental lens and am making plans for the future. For now however it's back to the 70-300 mm lens.
Learn about White-Crowned Sparrows at:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Groove-billed Ani.... Arizona Rare Bird

The Groove-billed Ani is a tropical bird that only very rarely is spotted in Arizona and this one has taken up residence for the time being in Tucson. Information about Ani's can be found at:

Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw

We had a great trip to Whitewater Draw on Saturday arriving at about 10 A.M. which is about an hour before the Sandhills return from the grain fields to roost for the remainder of the day. The first thing I noticed was the water levels were low due to the continuing drought in the area. In fact the water levels are being kept as high as they are by Fish and Wildlife pumping in water from a couple of wells.

There weren't as many birds around as we have seen in past visits but there were Wilson's Snipe, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper, Snow Geese, Ross's Goose, Black Phoebe, Pintails, American Coot, Northern Harrier, Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, possible prairie falcon, American Kestrel and a few others .

Whitewater is about a 120 miles from our home in Tucson but it is well worth the trip. It is quite remote and the first time you travel here it feels like you're traveling  into the wilds of the borderlands. For those of you who would prefer to visit Whitewater with knowledgable birders Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory has some guided trips that you can sign up for here:
SABO is also involved in lots of interesting and fun activities involving birds and birding including the Sandhill Crane Watch and I suggest that you check them out at:

Each morning before sunrise the Sandhills leave Whitewater and head to the grain fields of Wilcox and Elfrida and the surrounding areas. It's a sight I have personally enjoyed only once but I'm happy to say that I have witnessed their return to the roosting area at Whitewater many times. Usually you can expect to see what looks like smoke on the horizon before the cranes are close enough to make out. They come in groups of 3 or 50 or 100 or 300 and sometimes as many as a thousand in the skies overhead. On any given day the cranes start their return around 11 A.M. and continue for a couple of hours until they are mostly all back.

Sandhill Cranes that come to Southern Arizona come from Wyoming, Alaska, Canada, and northeastern Siberia where they breed usually having one or two offspring each season. All of the breeding takes place in the north country but you can see younger birds here in Arizona.

Most of the Sandhills that come to Whitewater are the Lesser Sandhill Crane which is the smaller of the two but if you look carefully you will see that there are quite a few Greater Sandhill Cranes which are a sub species of Grus canadensis canadensis (Lesser Sandhill) mixed in with the flocks. Here are a few web sites that will give you a more detailed look at Sandhill Cranes as well as the other cranes around the world. 

Sandhills mostly like to stay in large groups for protection but if they feel safe some birds will venture out from the main group as can be seen here. It is very rare to see a Sandhill separated from the main flock essentially by itself. There is strength in numbers and Sandhills even though they are large birds they do have predators such as Eagles and Coyotes.

While I didn't get the photographs I had hoped for I was happy to be there and witness approximately 10,000 Sandhills return from feeding. The birds as is their habit stayed fairly far away while I was there I think in large part to the large number of people who came to see them. My next trip will be planned on a weekday which may give me a better chance of some close up photos.

I expect that the number of cranes here will grow considerably by the end of December. There have been as many as 40,000 in Southern Arizona in past years and I have witnessed 30,000 in a single day.

 We're not sure what caused this fly up but it could have been a nervous reaction to a Great Blue Heron that flew over at the precise moment these birds moved from one roosting area to another.

This Great Blue Heron flew right at my camera while I was trying to focus on some Sandhills so I took the opportunity to get a few shots. If you click on the photo you can get a really good look at it's anatomy.

In my next post I will be including some photos of Sparrows that I took during a quick stop over at San Pedro National Wildlife Refuge. I will be heading back there next week for some more photography and walking.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Yellowstone Slaughter Continues....

Dear Ray,

Your dedication to protecting wild bison is our greatest strength. We thank you for making Buffalo Field Campaign possible.
At the beginning we were hopeful that our presence in the field and our grassroots advocacy would stop the slaughter within a few years. Protecting the buffalo, we have learned, requires a long-term commitment and sustaining hope through incredibly difficult times.

In the past two weeks more than thirty buffalo, nearly all the buffalo that have migrated from Yellowstone, have been shot by hunters. The living members of the family groups that the buffalo were taken from have fled, and all that remains on the landscape are hoof prints and gut piles.  After having spent the summer months being admired and photographed by millions of Yellowstone National Park visitors, the seasonal changes have replaced cameras with rifles, and buffalo are falling by the dozens.
When the struggle gets particularly difficult I like to picture the buffalo, migrating from Yellowstone through deep and drifting snow, trudging single file, slow and steady. Making the journey a step at a time, hauling their massive bodies through the drifts, the buffalo in front bear the brunt of breaking trail.  Those behind have an easier time stepping in the hoof-prints of their herd-mates.  After a while the one in the lead, exhausted, steps aside and another steps up, sharing in the work and keeping the line of buffalo always moving forward.

Being with the buffalo day in and day out, sharing their story with the world, and speaking for them in the legal and policy arenas will bring about their protection.  But it won't happen overnight and it won't happen without your help.
State, federal, and tribal governments are aiming to kill more than 450 buffalo this winter through hunting, slaughter, or both.  The agencies state that they want to "even the sex ratio" and have placed a heavy target on female buffalo, wanting to kill 400 that migrate north of the Park into the Gardiner Basin.  The herds that migrate north include buffalo from both the Northern and Central herds, which also means that the Central herds (which migrate both to the west and to the north) will be doubly impacted by hunting and slaughter.

Yellowstone National Park states that a "skewed sex ratio" has resulted from recent capture and slaughter operations, which have removed more bulls than cows from the population. In other words the managers are saying: We have to slaughter more buffalo to mitigate the impact of slaughtering so many buffalo.  Talk about playing God in Yellowstone.
Buffalo Field Campaign volunteer patrols are up and running along the Yellowstone boundary for the 16th consecutive winter. Our attorneys are working in the courts to allow bison room to roam in the Gardiner Basin, to halt the commercial privatization of Yellowstone bison offspring, and to ensure that the Department of Livestock's helicopter is not allowed to terrorize the Yellowstone ecosystem or America's last wild bison this coming spring.  We are networking with members of Congress to change the laws and policies which result in the senseless intolerance and slaughter of the sacred buffalo.  None of these efforts are cheap and none come easy.  We need your help to continue to move forward in our work to protect the buffalo. Please give today so that we can stay strong in our fight for the buffalo's right to roam.
Thank you for your actions, your ideas, your hard work, and your donations. Together we will press on until America's only continuously wild buffalo are honored and protected and their right to migrate is respected.  Without you there would be no Buffalo Field Campaign.

For the Buffalo,
Dan Brister
Buffalo Field Campaign

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mockingbird and Robin

I went to Sabino Canyon this morning to practice with my rental lens before I head to Whitewater Draw on Saturday. The last time I was there , not that long ago, there were birds everywhere but this morning it was really very quiet. We saw mockingbirds and phainopepla and robins and a few western bluebirds but not much else.

The bluebirds would not cooperate but I did get some shots that allowed me to practice. The lens is very heavy and carrying it on a monopod is a chore but I have to say so far I like the results. The image quality is excellent and I'm still achieving a good rate of acceptable photos. Photographing birds is not as easy as you might think even when they are just sitting in a tree or bush if you don't get proper eye contact and a decent pose the picture turns out to be worthless.

Nan and I both love seeing Robins and Sabino Canyon is one of the few places that we have seen them consistently at this time of year. We saw several today all of them females. Still an exciting find for a New England boy who grew up with Robins as the harbinger go spring. Tomorrow we're picnicking in Madera Canyon for the holiday and some more practice. Have a happy Thankgiving.