Sunday, October 28, 2012

Summerhaven Arizona Foliage

Deep woods on a beautiful morning.

 9 years after the Aspen Fire the mountain above Summerhaven has barely begun to  recover as you can see in the photos below. I have been traveling to Summerhaven for the last three years mostly to enjoy the views and the autumn foliage as well as escape the heat of summer in the valley.

I am amazed how some areas that were burred are well into  recovery while the areas above the village seem to be taking much longer to regenerate. The yellow areas are new Aspens starting to fill in which 20 or 30 years from now should be quite beautiful this time of year.

  Below is an area that was not burned and as you can see it is quite a stark contrast to the areas that were devoured by the flames. Here is a link to the New York Times article at the time of the fire.

Just above Summerhaven is a ski area that has some beautiful aspens with a smattering of other deciduous trees that are quite colorful right now. As a native New Englander I'm very partial to fall colors and when I can't get home I like to visit the area around the ski area for that feeling of home.

Happy Autumn!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autumn Comes to Madera Canyon

We made our first visit to lower Madera Canyon in quite some time and I have to say it is quite active as well as colorful. There is a somewhat short easy walking path that starts at the Elephant Rock overlook parking area and continues up to the Whitehouse picnic area that we like to meander along looking for birds and animals. We were not disappointed as there were birds everywhere and we even got a close up encounter with some feeding javelinas. In the first picture above you can see the Turpentine Bushes are in full display which really add a nice accent to the landscape.

There was still water in the stream that runs through the lower canyon and there was lots of activity in and around it. As you can see some of the vegetation has turned yellow and gold giving a decidedly fall look. Fall color is one of the things that I miss the most after living most of my life in New England so it's nice to walk here this time of year. I plan on heading up to the top of Mt. Lemmon early next week to see the changes there which is always fun.

 As we rounded a bend in the path it was clear that we were being watched with great intensity by around 8 or 9 Javelina browsing under a Mexican Black Oak tree. While they kept a good eye on us they were not afraid enough to give up their meal unless we came too close.

Hawks were in short supply during this trip but we did see this pair of Red Tails circling high above us with today's meal which was a snake that I could not identify even with binoculars.

The Santa Ritas are always magnificent especially when entering one of the many canyons. Madera is one of the best known birding sites in the continental USA and I have added many life listers on my visits here. I have also seen deer, javelina, squirrels, and brown bear on occasion.

The expansiveness of the southwest can be seen in the photo taken at the mouth of the canyon looking back towards Green Valley.

I was very excited to add this colorful Red Naped Sapsucker to my life list as I have never seen one even after living here for seven years. There were actually a pair of them mixed in with about a dozen Acorn Woodpecker which was also added to my life list here at Madera many years ago.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Photo Walks

Checkerspots are highly variable in their coloration, size and appearance. I spotted this one walking through the gardens at the Arizona/Sonora Desert Museum.

Walking at Sweetwater Wetlands I was able to get a good view of this Orange Crowned Warbler early in my visit. It thankfully sat still for about 15 seconds and allowed me to take several shots before vanishing. The orange crown that these birds are named after is rarely seen and photographed even less but I have a couple of photos that show it and if I can locate one I will add it here as it is quite beautiful to see.

Female hummingbirds are very hard for me to identify but I think this one is a Costa's. She came very close to me and stayed put so I got over a dozen chances to get a decent picture. I'm fortunate to live within a few minutes of the Desert Museum and I frequently go to their hummingbird aviary and hang out with these marvelously tiny creatures.

This picture is of a male Anna's Hummingbird that I have photographed a number of times. Due to it's fluorescing neck and head the camera most always makes it look fake or super saturated. This one came out fairly accurate and is a fair representation of what an Anna's looks like.

I take my camera with me on most of my morning walks including trips out to places like Madera Canyon which we visited yesterday. While we were there I shot the photo of Elephant Rock that is currently at the top of my blog. I plan on doing a post on Madera in the next couple of days so stay tuned.
I rotated this photo because I felt it was hard to distinguish upside down. Love the color, especially the plant.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sandhill Cranes 2012

I hope to get to Whitewater Draw sometime this month to do a day long photo session. Watching Sandhills by the thousands is quite an experience for any birder who has yet to visit the Elfrida santuary.