Tuesday, May 31, 2016

04_06 to 10_2016 Phoenix and Sedona

After Tucson, I headed to Phoenix but on the way I stopped by the Superstitions east of Phoenix in hope of some good photo ops.  Although the time of day and lighting were less than optimal, it was still really fun hiking around the area and taking in the desert terrain.
An Ocatillo bloom close up with the Superstitions in the background.
A nice cactus flower.
Some short cacti in the front and a classic Saguaro in the back.
Saguaro cactus close up.  Pretty tough plants!
Looking down from the top of Lookout Mountain in north central Phoenix.  Our friends Greg and Felicia live in the development closest in the picture.
Another view from the top of Lookout Mountain.
Hanging out in Greg & Felicia's back yard, Lookout mountain in the background.
Greg, Felicia and Callie on the front porch.
Another Ocatillo bloom.  I really enjoy the color and textures of these desert beauties.
A Black-tailed Gnatcatcher in the open space behind G&F's house, pretty cool!
On our way north towards Sedona, we stopped to do some birding at Hassayampa River preserve outside of Wickenburg.
The preserve has a pretty good mix of terrain along the riparian corridor and the partial shade of the trees was nice.
Anna's Hummingbird at the preserve.
Callie looking for birds :-)
Onward to Sedona for a little sight seeing etc.  Nice afternoon lighting following a storm.
Another Sedona view in the afternoon light.
We decided to go deluxe and stay in a motel since the weather was a bit unsettled - this was a nice place to stay and a fine location for exploring Oak Creek etc.
We love the real estate in the area south of Sedona proper :-)
Callie looking for birds at Red Rock state park in Sedona.  Oak Creek passes through this park, so there is some nice birding terrain.
After a day in Sedona, we started the drive home to CO.  Here in the 4 corners area you can see the mass of Shiprock in northern New Mexico.
There were some pretty cool formations along with a lot of nothing in between Flagstaff AZ and Cortez CO on the drive.
After spending the night in Cortez, we spent the morning at Mesa Verde National Park checking out the views and ruins.  Nice weather this day!
Looking back west towards Cortez from up high on the mesa.
The lovely Callie displaying the park high point sign after a short walk to the view area.
The main ruins at Mesa Verde.  Pretty amazing building skills!
Close up of the main ruins.  You can't get close without being on an official tour, so this was as close as we got...
Callie and the canyon on top of the mesa.
Arty tree/ruins shot...
Checking out the ruins.
Another set of ruins on the other side of the canyon, pretty cool.  After this we did the 7 hour drive back to Boulder, a very fun trip!

Monday, May 30, 2016

04_02 to 05_2016 Off to Tucson, AZ

After a morning of birding at the San Pedro river area outside of Sierra Vista AZ, I started heading north to Tucson.  Along the way you pass by the now defunct open pit copper mine in Bisbee Arizona.
Bisbee AZ is a very interesting little town that sports very cool geography and an arty culture.  The only bummer is that huge open pit mine just outside of town...
An early morning view of northeast Tucson from part way up the Mt. Lemmon highway.  I was headed up to meet my friend Jefe for a day of birding on Mt. Lemmon.
Mt. Lemmon has a number of different campgrounds at different elevations along the road up the mountain.  I camped at Molino Basin which is at about 4500' and boasts some really good bird life!
My nice quiet campsite :-)
Part of the view from the campsite.
I put out a dish of water for the birds and this Canyon Towhee quickly found the water and enjoyed a drink :-)
Bell's Vireos were fairly abundant around the campground and the males sing almost non-stop this time of year.
My friend Jefe and I enjoying a cold drink up high on Mt. Lemmon at the tiny town of Summerhaven after birding most of the day.  We identified 38 species of birds during the day which was a pretty good selection of feathered friends!
One of my favorite desert birds is the Verdin.  Here a parent bird has collected a bunch of gnarly looking green worms to bring to the babies in a nest I found not far from my campsite :-)
Here is the Verdin just after feeding the babies in the nest.  Note how the nest entry hold faces down and out, somewhat unusual for a nest design in my experience but pretty cool.
The Verdin out and about again collecting insects for the hungry babies.
I went up to Windy Point on Mt. Lemmon one evening to do some sunset landscape photos.  Here the light is just starting to get nice.
Another view, just slightly later.  Note the couple in the far right of the picture - they were having some engagement shots taken by a photog in the nice evening light above Tucson.
Post sunset view from Windy Point down towards Tucson - really an amazing place to watch the sunset!
The sunset colors over the Catalina ridge line.
A long exposure post sunset shot from Windy Point - note the car headlight/tail lights in the lower left of the photo in this 20 second night time exposure.
The next morning on the way out of town, I did a short hike up the Bear Creek drainage in north central Tucson.  It was nice to see some water flowing and there were quite a few birds around :-)
I came across another Verdin nest on my hike in Bear Creek.  There were babies in this nest as well but I didn't see the parent during my brief watch...
The view up Sabino Canyon in Tucson on my last morning there.  I was headed west through town on my way to visit my friends Greg & Felicia in Phoenix...