Last Fall

I often say Fall is my favorite season, but this year we seem to just keep missing it.

It came early, so we opted to hit lower elevations. Just before a forecast of snow we thought we might catch some end of fall pix. Between the wind and temps the trees were mostly bare.

It seems fall has fallen (https://kritterspaw.com/2022/10/15/fall-has-fallen-2/) and winter is upon us.

Bring it on… and the animals with it. I do love the snow animal season as well .

Fog Rolls In

I love all the seasons. This time between Fall and Winter brings change of temperature and animals foraging for nuts and food.

It brings weather patterns that yield warm afternoons and cool mornings; fog and frost.

As with any change in weather, the animals are out… and so are we.

I feel so fortunate to live where we do, and see the gorgeous nature in all it’s glory.

Birdlings

This year has been a huge learning year for me personally. I embarked on a self-challenge to capture better bird photos, and birds-in-flight, its own challenging category. It started with Whitewater Draw, south of Tucson, as I wanted to capture the sandhill cranes. You can see my posts from Whitewater Draw here… https://kritterspaw.com/2022/02/06/birds-a-feather/ and https://kritterspix.com/2022/02/06/whitewater-draw-workshop/, way back in late January.

It quickly morphed into osprey, hawk, and eagle.

So it’s only natural to expand to little birds to complete the education.

I guess you can say I’m branching out.

I guess you just have to take what you get and try to capture it the best way you can, whatever it may be. All education is good. One of the most important lessons I have learned has been preparedness. If I’m not prepared for that ‘moment’, no amount of knowledge, luck, or conditions will allow me to capitalize on my opportunity.

Luna Lake

Luna Lake is nearly on the border of New Mexico in the upper Northeastern part of Arizona, east of Alpine.

This time of year the grassy foreground is littered with wildflowers and water fowl.

It was a beautiful scenic spot, not particularly crowded. As we left early in the morning, we were delighted to find a herd of baby elk being shepherded by doting mom’s trying to teach them how to jump the fence. We did not want to disturb them, so didn’t stay long, but enjoyed the show.

We travel around the state quite a bit enjoying what nature shows us. We are always delighted by what we find, and humbled by what I can (or can’t) capture..

Beaver Behavior

The more I embrace this Wildlife Photography the more I learn about what I don’t know. Much of my animals have been by luck by golly, and a product of many many outings. At the risk of stating the obvious, we are learning that you can actually ‘predict’ (as much as that is possible with wildlife) where and when the animals might be.

Their habitat will help to identify where you might find a particular animal, both in terms of weather, climate, and environment. For instance, antelope like the low plains and fields to graze on. Elk are partial to the dense wooded areas, and of course water fowl (and beaver) can be found on lakes and waterways.

If you can follow footprints and / or scat (poop) to track the animal you can lay in wait for them. All animals, particularly when rain is sparse are attracted to water holes, and in search of food. They come out early morning & evenings (or middle of the night).

If you can find their home – a nest or den – you are much more likely to be able to camp out and wait for their arrival or departure. We were lucky enough to encounter a beaver den. Sometimes they are abandoned, but fresh cut trees will lead you to where you might find them.

It’s gratifying when a plan comes together and persistence pays off. It keeps me coming back for more.

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.