2014—More Birds From Arizona

After reviewing my post from earlier today, I decided I needed to finish posting my favorite legitimate shots from my recent visit to Arizona. I haven’t posted these shots before now because due to “operator error” (read: I have no idea how I create the chaos I do sometimes in Lightroom) I couldn’t review the shots closely until today. I took all of these in Melinda’s backyard on Tuesday, July 22, my last full day in Prescott.

Female Black Chinned Hummingbird, 400mm, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/250
Goldfinch, 400mm, ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/1250
Juvenile TriColored Heron (I think), 400mm, ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/1600
Spotted Towhee, 400mm, ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/1000





2014—Arizona Skies And . . .?

I returned home after a week in Arizona a few days ago and I saw no UFOs while I was there. But, that got me to thinking about my previous visit to Arizona in late October when my attempts at photographing the Milky Way resulted in a so-so shot of the Milky Way (the white balance is all wrong) but I also captured a UFO which I featured in this blog post. And it remains a UFO. I still have no idea what it might be. I decided to review my Grand Canyon photographs from February 2013 to see if anything unusual appeared in the Arizona skies and, much to my surprise and awe, the source of the God Beam I was so thrilled to capture was revealed in one of the photos I apparently overlooked until now. 🙂

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2014—But It’s A Dry Heat

That’s what they say around here when the temperatures hover in the low 100’s in the valley: “But it’s a dry heat.” However, that comment is made under cloudless skies, which we normally have all summer. Except this morning, the monsoons, which I missed while in Arizona last week in the midst of monsoon season, are influencing our California weather this week so along with our 100° temperatures for the foreseeable future, the air will be dripping with monsoon moisture and the humidity will be unbearable…I’m picturing scenes from “The Long Hot Summer.” On second thought, if a sweaty guy looking like Paul Newman, shows up on my doorstep, bring it on!

I took these shots facing east, west, and north this morning about 6:30.





I was ready for the hummer Sunday morning, sitting outside with my coffee and my long lens. I was happy to see that he hovered instead of perching on the feeder while he sipped the sugar water so I was able to get several shots with movement. The wings are still blurry with the shutter speed set at 1/250 but these three shots give a sense of the figure 8 motion of the wings. By the time I increased the shutter speed to 1/500, he had decided to sit on the feeder instead of hover.

Focal Length 400mm, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/250




2014—La La La

It appears that this male Anna’s hummingbird is singing but not a sound came out when he opened his beak wide. It’s a behavior I have observed in Bobo, my Red Lored Amazon Parrot and I have always assumed it is something stuck in her craw when she does this. I guess this hummer must have had something stuck in his craw—a gnat perhaps?

Focal Length 400mm; ISO 640; f/5.6; 1/250

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2014—Arizona Sun

I got home from Arizona a couple of days ago. On my last morning there, I found this flower in the front flower bed of the Anderson’s home. A little research (thank you, Google) identified it as Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’ commonly called Blanket Flower which is native to the Southwest and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. I was taken by the bright colors of the petals and now knowing that it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, I think I might plant it in my own yard. I cropped this shot to a square format and added a vignette.


2014—Fences Of Yavapai County

On Monday afternoon, while Melinda moderated her book club meeting, Lonnie took me for a drive through Prescott National Forest to Peeples Valley and Skull Valley to see how different the area was from Prescott. I loved the fences. If you look closely at the cattle in the last shot, you’ll see that they’re Texas Longhorns, something I rarely see when I go to Texas, despite my continuing quest to find them there!






2014—Anderson Herpetological Gallery

As I stepped from the shower this morning, I heard a horrified shriek from Melinda in the other room and I knew something was amiss but felt that if I needed to get out immediately, my hosts would have alerted me to the danger, so I decided to take the time to dry off and put on some clothes before going out to see what was going on. The shriek had resulted when Lonnie told Melinda that a small snake was in the yard and she should get her camera but what was in the yard was a four foot Sonoran Gopher Snake (thank you, Google) and neither Melinda nor I consider a four foot snake small.

Melinda grabbed my camera with the 80-400 lens, the better to see the snake from a distance, and took some shots before I came out to find out what all the commotion was about. The Anderson Zoological Gardens seems to have added a Herpetological Gallery at one end of the garden, complete with hole/nest into which the snake disappeared while we oohed and aahed over our photographs. Here are a few of my favorite shots that I took, once I wrestled my camera away from Melinda.





2014—Cloudless Skies

It is monsoon season in Arizona and I had visions of billowy cumulous clouds and massive thunderheads accompanied by lightening and thunder and rain squalls followed by rainbows. Although we had a few clouds on Friday when we visited the Granite Dells, the skies have been virtually cloudless during my visit. So on Sunday afternoon, when we drove to Sedona for sunset views of Cathedral Rock, we were excited that the sky was filled with wispy cirrus clouds that would reflect the colors of the setting sun stunningly behind the red rock formations. After dining at a local Sedona tavern, we took the winding road to find the iconic view of the rocks reflected in water. As the sun dipped low in the sky and dusk enveloped us, we came to the “end of the road” without finding our intended destination and we were unprepared for a hike so we turned around and headed back. We were happy at least to find some views at a couple of turnouts but by the time we focused our cameras on our target, all of the clouds were gone and the skies were hazy from a nearby wildfire. A little tweaking in Lightroom revealed the one tiny pink cloud that remained.





2014—Anderson Zoological Gardens

When I flew to Prescott to visit Melinda and Lonnie, I discovered that their garden is, for me, a zoological paradise. The javelinas have not made their presence known here and thank God I haven’t encountered any tarantulas but I have enjoyed seeing and photographing lots of birds and reptiles and insects right here in the Anderson Zoological Gardens.

Here are a few of the creatures I photographed Sunday morning. I took them all with my D7100 and the 80-400mm lens

Female black chinned hummingbird:


Two-tailed swallowtail butterfly:


Pipevine swallowtail butterfly:


Ornate tree lizard:


Male black chinned hummingbird:


2014—Watson Lake in The Granite Dells

The Andersons have been wonderful hosts and have been making sure I have lot of opportunities to take interesting photographs. They are ferrying me all over the Prescott area which is a combination of high desert and pine forest. On Friday we visited the Prescott National Forest with lots of pine trees and, at a few hundred feet higher than the town, has a microclimate much different from the one we visited on Saturday. Saturday’s visit to the Granite Dells was fascinating. The formations in the Dells are lumpy and ripply reddish rocks, formed by a process called spheroidal weathering. We are probably glowing after our visit there. The rocks have an unusually high uranium content and people who live in homes built on The Dells must monitor their homes for radon. Apparently Arizona’s zoning and building restrictions are a tad less stringent than those I’m used in to California; I guess Arizona is still the wild west.

These are views of Watson Lake, a man made reservoir in the midst of The Granite Dells.




2014—A Walk At Lynx Lake

Lonnie, Melinda, and I went to Lynx Lake in Prescott National Forest for lunch and a walk on Friday. After downing a frozen mug of deliciously dark beer (I can’t remember what it was) we walked around the lake and found some interesting wildlife so I had a chance to use my 80-400mm lens on some of the critters I encountered.

The first critters before my lens were Lonnie and Melinda and I’m reflected four times in the lenses of their eyeglasses. Did I mention that Melinda and I were college roommates and now are photo-buddies and fellow photobloggers? This trip is mostly about catching up and photography.


The forest, just a couple of miles out of Prescott seems like it is in an entirely different climate; not high desert and scrub but lots of pines. Here is a view of Lynx Lake seen through the pines.


An acorn woodpecker posed for us for a while but never showed off his red crown.

A small yellow butterfly fluttered about us.



A gulp of cormorants (yes, a gulp! of cormorants like a pod of whales or a murder of crows or a pride of lions) perched in a dead tree snag along side Lynx Lake in Prescott National Forest Friday afternoon. These are doubled crested cormorants but because mating season appears to be over, their double crests aren’t apparent.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Double-crested Cormorants from a distance, appear to be dark birds with snaky necks, but up-close they’re quite colorful—with orange-yellow skin on their face and throat, striking aquamarine eyes that sparkle like jewels, and a mouth that is bright blue on the inside. I never saw the inside of the mouth but was startled to see their blue eyes.





2014—Little Brown Bird

I always call them “little brown birds.” They are finches and sparrows and wrens. They are nondescript birds without bright colors, ubiquitous but invisible. There are lots of little brown birds in Melinda’s yard in Prescott and they were congregating around the feeder this morning when I got up so I took my camera and went outside. I had been reviewing the early birthday present Melinda gave me, a book by Kathleen Reeder called “Capturing the Moment—The Art & Science of Photographing WILD ANIMALS” and was able to put a few of the suggestions in the book into practice.


2014—Oh, Frabjous Day

I grew up not liking (I guess you could say hating) corn, especially canned creamed corn which made me gag and made me hate any type of corn whether it was canned, frozen or fresh. I never joined in the ecstasy that seemed to come over people who bit into a juicy ear of freshly steamed corn dripping with butter…that is, until I discovered grilled corn on the cob. Oh, frabjous day! And thank you Lewis Carroll for coining the word frabjous in “Jabberwocky,” meaning joyful, delightful, delicious, wonderful; it perfectly describes my new feelings about corn on the cob. Almost candy sweet, with a bit of snappy crunch, juicy and smoky with just a bit of char mixed in. And served with a bit of herbed butter, using basil, oregano, chives, and tarragon fresh from my garden, I can now understand the ecstasy people exhibit while indulging themselves in this summer treat. How could I have lived my life without this sumptuous food? I’m lucky to live near Sloughhouse, CA which produces this most wonderful sweet corn. I’ll say it again…oh, frabjous day!!!

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2014—Great Balls of Fire

I didn’t take any decent photos on Monday and I considered not posting to my blog at all today but when I remembered that I still needed to create a slideshow presentation for my camera club meeting Tuesday, I decided to create a “video of the day” instead of a “photo of the day.”

This is the first time I have used Lightroom to create a slideshow and because I didn’t have the time to create the kind of complex slideshow choreographed to photo-specific music that I usually make using iPhoto, and because we were limited to 4 minutes, not the hour or more that my past slideshows have run, and because I couldn’t find whether Lightroom has the “Ken Burns” effect that turns a static photo into a video-like image, I took the easy route. I went to my iTunes music library and browsed through my music; when Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Great Balls of Fire” scrolled by, I knew that the fireworks photos I took in Auburn on Fourth of July 2013 would make a great slideshow with Jerry Lee Lewis playing his smoking hot boogie style piano to accompany the fireworks.

I posted two versions of the same video, one for the web and one for those of you who view this blog on smart phones.

2014—On God Beams and Full Moons

Both a God Beam and a full moon occurred at my home Sunday. I’m not quite sure what the significance of that is but those events came in the midst of a delightful visit from Katie and Carly, a couple of my favorite people, who joined me for dinner Sunday. First, the God Beam broke through aimed straight at my Weber as it grilled an incredible flat iron steak that we devoured with great gusto. I don’t know if the God Beam affected the steak but I’ll always welcome one that blesses my Weber. Then, whether it was the wine, the company, or the full moon which is assumed not only to affect the tides but human behavior as well, we laughed and giggled, and thoroughly enjoyed each other and the evening. So, here’s to God Beams and Full Moons. May they bring joy to everyone who encounters them.

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