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..

Mogollon Rain

With our monsoons brewing, this is a great time of the year to capture awesome clouds and weather.

So we headed out to the Rim to see if we could capture some interesting photos. While we were actually thinking we would get fog after the previous day’s rain. We were just greeted with more rain, and a few elk.

We always consider it a gift whatever we might get. No matter what, it’s always a good day out and beautiful trek through the forest.

Dog Town

Dog town Lake is one of the many little lakes that litter our desert state of Arizona.

We knew we were in for a good time when we saw an osprey on the tree just outside our camp.

We had a great time watching the osprey fish, and were even gifted with a bald eagle.

Dogtown Lake is situated just outside of Williams, AZ, and has a great view of the Bill Williams Mountain.

It’s definitely a place worthy of another visit, if only for the osprey watching.

Osprey hunts for fish

Tucson to Greens Peak in 45 degrees

We got a tip that we might be able to find coatimundi at Cluff Ranch in Pima, AZ, a locale they had been seen many times before. Having never seen a coatimundi, we were anxious to follow up on the lead and hopeful to get a great shot.

We stopped at Tucson Mountain Park along the way. It was sunny blue sky the entire time, but we weren’t there for sunsets, we were there for the animals.

At Tucson Mountain Park we were delighted and entertained as we watched these little ground squirrel brave the ocotillo thorns just for a taste of it’s ‘candy corn’ fruit.

When we got to Cluff Ranch in Pima, AZ, we hiked in to the spot we thought we might see coatimundi, parked ourselves and hid for several hours, waiting in silence hoping for an encounter. Unfortunately, not all animal outings are productive. They work to their own schedule and don’t tend to appear on command.

The heat was intense at 97F, particularly for us mountain dwellers, so we made our way back through Hannigan’s meadow toward Greens Peak in hopes of catching some osprey fishing.

We were rewarded with a 53F day, nearly 45 degrees from the previous day in Southern AZ, and fortunate to see some osprey, yet unable to catch that illusive shot of them fishing… but I’ll keep trying.

Tree Saddle

The Mogollon Rim is probably one of our favorite places. It is not far from where we live, and offers exceptional views and a myriad of roads to explore.

One of our favorite vantage points we have dubbed, ‘Tree Saddle’. It was never more spectacular than after a heavy dousing of frigid rain. We stuck it out and were rewarded with amazing skies.

Funny, I feel I must caveat some of these photos… yes the sky was that red and magical, it was not ‘photoshopped’. I was giddy with joy for this tremendous sky as it rolled in and turned bright red. As a boater, I was reminded of the old adage, ‘Red skies at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.’

While the views along the rim itself are stunning, the forest roads along the rim are equally beautiful.

When the fog rolled in the following morning, we wandered the forest roads capturing eerie fog pix.

I was completely soaked and freezing as clouds went from great photos to completely enveloping me as I got doused trying to get one more pic. While weather can be cold and uncomfortable, it does make more intriguing photos. It was absolutely worth it, and euphoric to be in the presence of such amazing views.

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.

Passion

The dictionary defines passion as: intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; strong and barely controllable emotion. I consider myself a passionate person, which actually can be a mixed blessing. Sometimes it gets me into trouble. My emotions can run strong and people tend to take my intensity the wrong way.

On the flip side, however, it’s that passion that drives my ambition and love for excelling at the things I take on.

In terms of photography, it’s that passion, which has driven me to get published. So it is with pride and joy that I share my recent contest win from the National Park and Public Lands. I won 3rd place out of over 15,000 entries. Check it out here…

https://www.nbcrightnow.com/news/state/the-winners-of-the-national-park-foundations-2020-share-the-experience-photo-contest-learn-more/video_82c929b7-d741-51ba-bcf8-a36f5d1bc92a.html

The award is humbling and feeds my passion further, and gives me validation of my work and growth as a photographer. It makes me want to be better and strive to work harder.

I guess it goes to show, you really can do anything you set your mind to. With determination and hard work, we can overcome any obstacle and achieve great things.

Mogollon Sunrise

Mogolllon Rim is littered with amazing views. One can pull over just about anywhere and be awestruck by the spectacular scenery.

It’s a special place for us, and we enjoy sharing it with friends.

Sunset / Sunrise are often difficult, as the Rim has a southern exposure. Unless one gets a spectacular sunset or sunrise that wraps around the sky, the color is either to the West or East. If you’re lucky, the clouds are with you, and great views follow.