Cedar Waxwings

Have you ever heard of these little birds? Chances are, if you have, you are from the Northern US or Canada. They are common little birds that are very social and flock together.

They are not particularly common to Arizona, though they have been seen wintering in Sabino Canyon outside of the Tucson area. They are an easily identified bird with their tails looking like they dipped it in a yellow paint bucket, with splashes of red on their wings, a yellow belly and masked face.

I had never seen them before, so had to do a bit of research to figure out what this strange breed (to me) of bird was in our forests of Northern Arizona. Apparently they are attracted all kinds of berries, and in our case the juniper and cedar berries.

Whatever wind may have blown them in, we are happy to have them for as long as they might visit.

Snow Shelter

Animals shelter when the temperature drops and the snow flys. They hunker down and protect themselves from the elements and predators seeking food sources.

So when the storm is over, we go out searching for critters coming out of hiding to gather food.

I always laugh as we bundle up to be the first ones out in the fresh fallen snow looking for animals. It seems like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but we are more lucky than not, and often find a number of wildlife, and even manage to get their picture (though not always).

… and luck is the apropos sentiment, as we leave our home and debate, ‘which direction should we go today’?

I admit to being very fortunate when we go out, but we also go out a lot, are prepared for what we might encounter, and tenacious enough to keep trying even if we aren’t successful the first time. They say, fortune favors the bold, in our case it favors the tenacious photographer.

First Snow

We got our first snow of the new year… woohoo. We were happy to get about 6″ overnight.

So we went out looking for animals, hoping to get some snow animal pix… and we weren’t disappointed.

We encountered a large herd of elk lounging around the falling snow.

We also saw a buck foraging in the snow.

… and were thrilled to find some big horn sheep.

I guess what they say is true, you have to seek to find. I’m so glad we ventured out and found animals enjoying the new snow.

See more animal / snow pix here… https://kritterspaw.com/2022/01/02/weather-promises/

Practice Spontaneity

Every once in awhile you find yourself in a truly special place, experiencing a joyous moment that has you giddy with excitement.

Nature’s beauty, whether it’s wildlife or landscape, often does that for me. We certainly have places we frequent, but are always on the lookout for new places to enjoy and photograph.

And when we might find ourselves in such a state of mind and place, we should slow down take it in and savor every minute.

So it was, that we encountered this gorgeous stream, and spontaneously decided to spend the night, even though we had not planned to.

The next morning, watching the sunrise over this stream, we were rewarded by gorgeous light basking along the shimmering water cascading over mossy rocks. Sometimes it pays to be spontaneous, and seize the moment.

October Fall

October always means FALL for us. We look forward to the fall colors and actively debate and explore different areas to enjoy nature’s beauty in full living color.

This year we found a new place to explore, Christopher Creek, and we were thrilled to find fall in it’s full range of greens, yellows, orange, and reds. It was stunning. Thanks for the tip Rosemary.

As if the changing of the leaves wasn’t enough we were thrilled and entertained by the cascading water along the creek with fleeting views of fall’s glory.

I am in awe of nature’s beauty and humbled by her harsh light and deep shadows and the many challenges of capturing her many moods. I guess I need to get out more and practice more. Oh, darn.

See Places with New Eyes

Sun rises over Carnero Lake as witnessed by patch of daisies.

It’s amazing how many times you can go to a place, and how it changes from time to time.

We went back to Carnero Lake hoping to catch osprey fishing, but there were none to be had. Considering the amount of rain we had, we were amazed to see how low the lake actually was. It was barely photogenic. Changing our view looking through the forest toward the lake at sunrise, yielded an entirely new view.

Juvenile robin hangs out in a wooded forest.
Squirrel checks out next pine tree to hunt

All we saw (in terms of animals) was a juvenile robin and a squirrel collecting pinecones for the winter.

It’s just a reminder to turn around 360 degrees to take in your surroundings, and actually SEE what different vantage points can present themselves if you take the time to take it in.

Big Horn Lounging

I do enjoy it when we see animals. We encountered these big horn sheep enjoying a grass field lying in the shade and munching away.

It was almost as if they were talking to one another, laughing and telling stories, while others just relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon.

Most of the ones in this herd were males, or rams, with only a few female ewes. The boys demonstrated their dominance by locking horns, but seemed more affectionate than fierce.

While I tried to keep my distance, they didn’t seem to mind that I was there and got closer to me than even I was comfortable. I took every advantage of their presence.

Gone to the Birds

Anna’s hummingbird hovers

We’ve seen so few big animals, I’ve had to resort to taking pix of the birds! We’ve driven to the rim and seen very few elk or deer. With all the fires, smoke, and lack of water, maybe they’ve taken up residence someplace else.

Woodpeckers forage for bugs

No matter. We always have all sort of birds to divert my attention.

Western Bluebird and Acorn Woodpecker vie for kernel of food
Western Bluebird, female

Living in Northern AZ we get quite the assortment of forest birds. I’ve never been much of a bird watcher, but I may have to take it up!

Schnebly Hill Vista

We love to explore the back roads and take in the fabulous views we find along the way. We have traveled the Schnebly Hill Road on numerous occasions over the years.

Schnebly Hill road

The 12-mile road cuts between Flagstaff and Sedona. If one didn’t know better, they might think it a short cut. In reality, all the wind and lack of rain has continuously deteriorated the road.

Sunrise at Schnebly Hill Vista

You may know the road – it’s that really rough road the Pink Jeep Tours drives through out of Sedona. The bumpy road from Sedona to Schnebly Vista traverses over rugged rock shelf terrain. It takes around an hour to go just 6 miles, dependent on how much one wants to beat up your lifted truck or Jeep. It is not suited for passenger cars.

Little mouse collecting food

We even caught this industrious little mouse foraging through a cactus. It’s wonderful the things you see if you get out there. You can see more of my mouse pix here … https://kritterspaw.com/2021/06/11/industrious-mouse/

Sedona city lights from Schnebly Hill Vista

We were delighted to have some clouds for some beautiful sunsets and sunrise.

Oregon

We love fresh seafood… and the water. Living in AZ, that means if we want to get our ‘fix’ we have to go East Coast or West Coast. West Coast is closer and a fairly easy drive, so we made the trek to Oregon to get our ‘fix’.

We had a lot of blue sky, windy days, but enjoyed the scenic drive down the coast, stopping along the way. Many of the shops and restaurants are closed (permanently or temporarily), and others only open at 25% capacity. So we mostly enjoyed buying fresh caught seafood from the local fishermen, supporting their trade and enjoying fresh fish while camping out.

The winds made the seas pretty rough and walking on the beach quite blustery, but we did manage to get in some scenic views, wooded walks, and take in some local wildlife.

Maybe next time we’ll do the East Coast, and plan a longer visit, perhaps once things settle down.

Check out more pix here … https://kritterspaw.com/2021/04/21/oregon-coast-2/