Admin Note

My apologies, I had to upgrade the site theme to a more modern one since the old one isn’t supported anymore. I don’t like the look of the new theme but it might take me a while to figure out how to fix it or find a better theme. I’ll delete this post once I’ve got things more to my liking.

Featured post

Published
Categorized as General

The Sunset Watch

A pair of Harris's hawks look out from a large boulder as the setting sun colors the rocks red near the Jane Rau Trail at McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 30, 2022. Original: _CAM6306.ARW

A pair of Harris’s hawks look out from a large boulder as the setting sun colors the rocks red. Earlier in the evening I saw a family of five on one of the big electrical towers but I’ve not seen the birds on these rocks before. From a distance I could see three forms on the boulders and couldn’t imagine what else they could be, by the time I got close the third had flown off but these two stayed to watch the sun set with me.

The Lion King

The base of a saguaro is caked in mud, likely from termites, in a pattern that reminds me of the face of a male lion on the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona on September 25, 2022. Originals: _ZFC0614.NEF to _ZFC0619.NEF

In September I went out specifically to photograph this pattern at the base of a saguaro, the ring of mud reminding me of a lion’s mane. But then I discovered a lizard hiding behind the spines a foot above this spot and spent so much time photographing her that I had to rush these shots before fleeing the park. Last weekend I went back to photograph the lion again, to compose when I was more composed, but my mind was wondering and wandering and I walked right past it. Realizing my mistake much later than I should have, I doubled back and easily located my target.

Except the lion was gone. The saguaro was there thankfully but the pattern was not. I had a little laugh as I remembered the heavy rains from earlier in the week while I was at work, which had probably washed away the work of the little artists who painted this canvas. Termites I suspect, there are a type here that eat the rough bark-like material at the base of old saguaros, which might explain the tan section in the middle.

There Is Too Much Death In The World

A snake carcass hangs from a dead saguaro at George Doc Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 23, 2022. Original: _CAM6035.ARW

We are beautiful forms but for such a short time. I rounded the bend to see a desiccated snake carcass hanging from what used to be my favorite saguaro in the park, perhaps an abandoned catch of a bird of prey. The desert recyclers had already changed the flesh of each into new forms, the scales and skeletons will take longer, the saguaro bones still a favored perch for a Gila woodpecker couple nesting nearby. The light was dying too, the sun dipping below the mountains, handing over the desert to the night watch before its rebirth in the morning.

Escaping the Shadows

The sculpture known as Mountain Climber hangs on the outside wall of the firehouse in front of Cavalliere Park, surrounded by plants and shadows, in Scottsale, Arizona on October 21, 2022. Original: _Z727221.NEF

A piece of public art known as Mountain Climber hangs outside our local firehouse at the entrance to Cavalliere Park. Donated to the city by Flip Weber, the steel sculpture was created by artist Alan “Dale” Wright, who interestingly grew up in my beloved Portland before later arriving in Scottsdale.

I’ve been meaning to photograph the sculpture since I first saw it but it’s taken me a while, and even once I went to the park specifically to photograph it I had to come back for a second try as the dinky tripod plate I had been temporarily using on the Nikon came loose and I didn’t like my handheld shots too much. I took a close shot too but I prefer this one, taken late in the day right before the sun got blocked by the mountains. The higher parts of the park were still lit so I wandered up for a little hike and some nature photography.

I’ve since ordered a proper L-bracket for the camera. It was the second time the little bracket had come loose, I’m a slow learner but I can learn.

The Mocking Bird

A northern mockingbird sits in an old ocotillo as the sun sets on the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 7, 2022. Original: _CAM5716.ARW

I keep track of what animals I see in the parks but I’m not too religious about it, I mostly just pay attention to the animals that are close so a proper wildlife watcher would come away from the same visit with a much larger list. I’ve seen mockers in the local preserve every month except September, so I was hoping to spot one on recent hikes but had no luck. Yet in the first week of October as I headed out of the park, the light a ridiculous red from the setting sun, there sat a patient mocker in this gorgeous old ocotillo, just begging to be photographed.

The Sun Also Departs

A male gilded flicker perches atop a saguaro while a female looks out from a nest hole at George Doc Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona on October 16, 2022. Original: _CAM5918.ARW

What’s better than watching a woodpecker on a saguaro? Watching two woodpeckers on a saguaro! I stopped for a while to admire the male when the female surprised me and flew into the nest. I watched this couple raise a family last spring so it was a treat to spend time with them again. I didn’t have much time as right as the female arrived a couple with a dog were approaching and though the dog ignored the birds, the male didn’t stay long. He mostly had his head turned away from me as he watched the dog approach, but turned back around for a moment as the female stuck her head out and then he flew off. In a couple of minutes the sun also departed, and so did I.

Perfectly Poised

A female common side-blotched lizard hides behind the spines in the gap between two saguaro trunks on the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsale, Arizona on September 25, 2022. Originals: _ZFC0561.NEF to _ZFC0577.NEF

On a September evening I headed to my favorite trail to take pictures of patterns in two saguaros. I never made it past the first as when I stopped a common side-blotched lizard scampered up into the World’s Best Hiding Spot, protected behind large spines in a gap between two trunks. The little lizards are a favorite so I could hardly believe I’d get to add one to my series of animals on saguaros, and so perfectly posed!

Although I took a quick shot with the telephoto lens I had time to switch to my macro setup and shoot a sequence of images for a focus stack, as I wanted everything in the scene to be sharp. Unfortunately the more excited I am, the less likely I am to setup the camera properly, and the exposure was set for the scenes I originally intended to photograph. With the sun getting low and the hill in shade, each picture took 2 seconds, the sequence 34, and it was only later I realized my mistake. When I finally worked up the courage to look at the pictures weeks later, she had stayed still and all the photos were sharp. Perfectly posed and poised!

No matter how long our sojourn in the desert lasts, this will be a favorite moment.

She’s Right to be Angry

Our cat Trixie looks straight at me while resting in the cat bed on June 17, 2022. Original: _Z722923.NEF

I assured Trixie monsoon season was over (in my defense, it was) but we had a couple of boomers roll through the first week of October. If you see a tortoiseshell with the tiniest little suitcases and a placard that says “Oregon or Bust” please let us know, she’s not allowed outside much less to hitchhike across the country.