Everything’s Connected

A Harris's hawk looks up while perching on one leg on a transmission tower, taken from the Chuckwagon Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2018

I was fascinated by the combination of hawks on the big transmission towers from the first time I saw them, this picture is from last year after we had been here for six weeks. I had only seen my first Harris’s hawk a couple of weeks prior so they were still a complete mystery to me then and didn’t have the strong emotional attachment they do now. On that morning I also saw my first bobcat, it seems that day in May has more than one connection to this November weekend.

A Little Sunrise

A Harris's hawk perches on a transmission tower at sunrise on a breezy morning on the Vaquero Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in November 2019

As I shuffled up the Vaquero Trail this morning I suspected clouds in the east would snuff out the sunrise, and I was mostly correct, until I heard a familiar call and looked to the south. One of the Harris’s hawks I watched this spring and summer was perched high on one of the transmission towers that run across the Preserve, some of the clouds behind glowing orange. I got a little sunrise after all.

Out For a Walk in the Neighborhood

A bobcat looks at me as it walks under a tree in our neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona in November 2019

This morning I arrived at the trailhead at 6:30am when the automatic gate was due to open, looked to be a lovely morning as the high thin clouds turned pink and orange. Unfortunately the gate didn’t open, I gave it another 15 minutes before returning home where my wife joined me for a walk in the neighborhood. We soon met a few neighbors and their four dogs, always nice to share some love with sweet pups! Later on my wife’s allergies forced her to return home so I walked to some areas I hadn’t been yet. On the way back I heard a loud cry from nearby and looked up to see a bobcat! And another! And another! The first two weren’t too happy with the third, I took this picture of it as it turned back. What a lovely morning, met three neighbors, four neighborhood dogs, and three neighborhood cats!

A Morning Behind

A Harris's hawk perches on a saguaro before the pink skies of dawn on the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in October 2019

A few weeks ago I had in mind to photograph a particular saguaro, arriving before sunrise so I could be ready to go when the sun crested the hills. WIth my gear in place I took in the sights around me, I so love this moment in the morning when the sun arrives in the desert. Fortunately I looked behind me as well as a familiar face decided to share the moment with me. Since I’m only shooting with one camera right now I had to decide whether it was worth switching lenses and camera settings and the tripod location and risk missing the shot I came for. Because it was a Harris’s hawk I couldn’t resist the opportunity and took a quick picture, set up my original shot again, then waited with my beautiful friend until the sun arrived.

The Collar

Our dog Ellie rests on her dog bed in my office a week after we adopted our cat Boo in July 2013

I was looking at this picture of Ellie in my office, taken a week after we adopted Boo in July 2013, and what struck me is that she is wearing her collar. I can’t remember when we started taking it off when she was at home, only putting it on when she went out or when someone like the cleaners would be coming to the house. When I was in bed Ellie wouldn’t wake me directly to get some love and attention, the only time I remember her doing it was when we moved this year and in her senility she was stressed from not knowing where she was. But in her younger years she had a couple of tricks she’d use to “accidentally” wake you, such as standing beside the bed and quickly shaking her head back and forth so her dog tags jingled, which we solved by taking off the collar. The one that made me laugh the most was when she’d jump up into the empty side of the bed after my wife got up and dance around and around and around and if that happened to wake me, well it couldn’t be helped could it? But say, now that you’re awake …

Calling Out

A male Gila woodpecker calls out while perching next to his nest in a saguaro on the Latigo Trail in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2019

Early on a spring morning a male Gila woodpecker calls out near his nest in a saguaro. He often had an insect in his mouth so his calls were usually a bit muffled but in this instance his beak was empty and his voice was strong. He and his mate were vocalizing as they hunted for insects to feed their young, I’m assuming so they could keep in close contact with each other when out of sight, especially when one was inside the nest. After my hike this morning a handful of these wonderful birds were quite active in the backyard as they visited the feeders and pecked at tree branches.