Eagle’s Landing

After a successful shoot at Whitewater Draw, I wanted to check out the eagles in Pinetop / Lakeside.

Generally, their season is between November through March. But, as with all wildlife, they don’t follow a precise schedule and don’t necessarily indulge in our guidelines.

I have previously enjoyed watching eagles catch fish and hang out among the many trees around Rainbow Lake. On my recent outing I was fortunate to see a few bald eagles and a couple juvenile eagles. None seemed to be inclined to fish, and were merely hanging out.

It would appear that I was too late for this year’s season. Though, who’s to say, if I came back tomorrow I might find a myriad of eagles fishing to their heart’s content. Such is the nature of the beast.

No matter, I got a few nice pix, and a wonderful day out. It’s all good.

Birds a feather…

What do they say? Birds a feather flock together. That is no more true than at Whitewater Draw, where thousands (we heard numbers anywhere between 20,000 and 47,000) sandhill cranes flock to this lush marshland in southern Arizona.

But it’s not just sandhill cranes. The area is rich with all sorts of birds, including the blue, green, and cinnamon -winged teals, Northern pintails, red-winged blackbirds, Northern shovelers, grebes, egret, hawks and owls.

Cinnamon teal at Whitewater Draw
Green-winged teal
Northern shoveler rests in water at Whitewater Draw

We saw quite a variety of waterfowl during a trip to Whitewater Draw for a Photo Workshop sponsored by Arizona Game and Fish. (See my post here… https://kritterspix.com/2022/02/06/whitewater-draw-workshop/)

Pintail duck at Whitewater draw

We saw birds I never heard of, like the colorful Vermillion Flycatcher and Northern Harrier.

Vermillion Flycatcher
Juvenile vermillion flycatcher in the weeds along Whitewater Draw

Not to mention the very entertaining sandhill cranes.

Sandhill crane graze at Whitewater Draw
Sandhill cranes chatter

Whitewater Draw has had increasing numbers of sandhill cranes year over year. This area is the best sandhill crane-viewing site in Arizona, and one of the largest migration sites in the country. It’s a thrilling sight to see and experience.

I got a lot of trigger time with my camera, and practiced my Birds-in-Flight (BIF) photography. Check out my post of BIF photography here.. https://kritterspix.com/2022/02/06/birds-in-flight-bif-photography/

Weather Promises

We had been promised snow on multiple occasions. They said we’d get 1 – 3 inches during the day, and 4 – 6″ that evening. Not to be that day, or the next, or the one after that.

I never thought I’d say it, but I’ve come to like the snow. It blows in all sorts of things, like this beautiful cooper’s hawk.

Or this little falcon….

As we feel the storm coming, the clouds and winds roll in, but the promise doesn’t come… our friends in South Carolina are soaking up the sun in shorts & tee-shirts on the beach. (This just after coming back from freezing on the West Coast, enduring incessant rains and cold temperatures on the California beach.)

We finally got our snow, about 6″. It was here and then gone. But with it, we got our animals.

We took the opportunity to go out and find them, and were rewarded with some nice shots of elk in the snow.

And big horn sheep

In the course of a week since we got back from CA, we saw deer, elk, ram, and even a coyote.

Gotta love where we live!

See more snow / animal pix here …

https://kritterspix.com/2022/01/01/first-snow-3/

Christmas on the Beach

Sometimes when you need a distraction, you have to do something different.

It’s been a difficult year for us, so we decided a change of scenery for the holiday was in order.

We thought some beach wildlife was just the thing… and we knew just the place. Only 30 miles south of Paso Robles is a wonderful stretch of beach rich with sealife.

We camped out for nearly 2 weeks and took in the sea otters along Morro Bay.

When we got our fill of that, we moved on to Pismo Beach to check out the butterfly migration.

We took in blue heron fishing in a stream.

And were lucky enough to watch them catch supper.

It rained much of the time, but we managed to get some pix nonetheless.

If you are patient enough and persistent, one can capture beautiful moments.

It was a wonderful break. We are ready for a New Year full of positivity and promise.

Dear Deer

We love our deer, particularly when they bring their babies by!

Ever wonder the difference between white tail and mule deer. I know, probably not. Living in the mountains, we have had to learn the difference. Living in the valley, we never knew there was a difference. Oh, how our lives have changed – in so many ways.

The white tail deer are smaller than mule deer (affectionately called ‘mulie’s’. Generally speaking, white tails are smaller (between 130 -200 lbs full grown) vs mule deer (up to 250 lbs, and bucks can be as large as 450 lbs).

The easiest distinguishing factor is their tail. The mule deer have a black tip on the end of their tail, vs. the white tail have all tan / fur colored tails, with the inside all white.

They are a beautiful sight to see, particularly when young, innocent and full of life.

Fall has Fallen

With the recent cold blast (we saw it as low as 22F) and the intense winds, we thought we better check out the Fall Colors to see where we were. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the fall colors were mostly on the ground rather than on the trees.

We’ve barely begun to run our rounds of our favorite haunts for Changing of the Leaves… but as it turns out, we may already be too late. It happens every year. It goes from hot to cold, and there definitely is a chill in the air, particularly with the high winds. It seems Winter is already here.

If you are hoping to catch the change of season…. better hurry out, or it will be the change to Snow that we will be catching next.

East Clear Creek

With all the rain we just got, we hoped to get some low hanging clouds and fog hanging in the trees along East Clear Creek.

The bridge across the FR 95 / 96 Road had lifting fog as the sun tried to break through, and didn’t disappoint.

Fog streamed down through the trees to unveil East Clear Creek below. It was a memorable sight, and one I was happy to capture the terrific moment I found myself in.

Mingus Mountain

It’s always fun exploring new areas. We had never been to Mingus Mountain, so decided with weather coming in… it was a good time.

The campground is pretty developed, and was fairly full. But it was quiet and had a series of trails behind each campsite offering terrific views of Camp Verde and Cottonwood below.

We recall our friend Gary waxing poetic about Mingus Mountain when he used to hang glide from Mingus. Following massive rain and winds that we endured through the night and into the morning, we encountered a complete white out of low hanging clouds and fog.

We checked out Gary’s Mingus launch site and considered the courage it took to jump off this cliff into the great blue below. Ah, but I must take pause. Gary would admonish me as the ‘uninitiated’ for using such a word. A hang glider pilot does not ‘jump’ off a cliff, he flies. In fact, an experienced pilot approaches it with eagerness and exhilaration.

When we were there it was nothing but clouds – not a good day for hang gliding, but eerie and fantastic nonetheless. It was a nice spot, with beautiful views. We enjoyed the weather and all the moody scenes it provided, making for interesting photographs.

Our trip definitely reminded me that it’s fun and exciting to try new places and new experiences. It’s easy to get stuck in our doldrums of same ‘ol, same ‘ol. We need to get out more to enjoy new and different experiences.

North Rim, Grand Canyon

We frequent the North Rim of the Grand Canyon much more than the South Rim, in large part because we don’t actually enter the park.

We are able to enter the outside of the Park boundaries where we can camp and mostly enjoy great views in solitude. I will admit this time we saw more people on our trip than I think we ever have before. It was a treat to meet fellow travelers who were like minded and shared similar interests.

We drove all the way to Point Sublime (for which we obtained a Back Country Permit, as it is just over the Park Boundary) and camped for several days.

Surprisingly the leaves had hardly begun to change and temps were fairly warm. Unfortunately, we saw very few clouds. By the time we got home we were welcomed with cool temps, clouds, and rain. No matter what, though, it’s always a pleasure to enjoy nature and a good view.

Check out more pix here … https://kritterspix.com/2021/09/26/rainbow-trail/

Vegas Revisited

While we have been to Vegas in the last couple years, we haven’t stayed on the strip in some time. So with the encouragement of a friend, we took a brief respite and stayed on the Strip.

We aren’t huge gamblers, so we took the occasion to check out the brand new Resorts World casino which just opened up next to Circus Circus.

We walked our feet off wandering up and down the Strip. One of our favorite past times is to check out the art fixtures, which can be found hiding in any one of the casino’s.

One we always make a point to visit is Bellagio’s gardens with their ever changing scenes filled with live flowers. It’s always stunning and never disappoints. This time is was celebrating the rainforest.

For a change, we decided to try a new activity that John found intriguing… a Virtual Reality ‘arcade’. While I’ve heard of Virtual Reality, I had no idea what to expect. Apparently, there are any number of themes: car racing, golf, or shooting zombies. No surprise, but John wanted to shoot zombies. Not exactly my cup of tea, I compromised on the more sci-fi twist, ‘Singularity’ at the MGM Grand, where aliens invade a space station and the rescue team has to combat drones and aliens to save the ship and crew.

I’m not making this up! Now having done it… I can honestly say, I had a blast. It was great fun.

Thanks, Pat, for the wonderful opportunity. We had a great time.