Kneeling, Standing

A yellow-bellied marmot stands near Lake Yellowstone, mostly obscured by the tall grasses of a meadow on the Storm Point Trail, taken in July 2004 in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Fifteen years ago on a trip to Yellowstone, I found a colony of yellow-bellied marmots in rock formations on the Storm Point Trail. This marmot was standing to get a better look at its surroundings so I kneeled down to show the meadow between us with Lake Yellowstone beyond. I was a little nervous editing this picture for fear of a relapse, I have only just trained my brain to stop looking for non-existent marmots and pikas in the rock formations here in the Phoenix area!

Occupied! Occupied!

A female Gila woodpecker tilts her head to the side while holding a moth in her beak as her male partner prepares to leave the nest in a saguaro beside the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2019

As the female Gila woodpecker brought a moth to the nest, she had to wait to go in as the male was still in the nest. Though she was positioned right below the entrance, she only had to tilt her head to the side to give him room as when leaving they jump out of the hole before spreading their wings and flying off. I’ve seen so many moths brought to woodpecker nests it’s a wonder any remain to fly about the desert. Below is the same bird, but different moth, taken 5 minutes later.

A female Gila woodpecker holds a moth in her beak as she perches outside her nest in a saguaro beside the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2019

Woods in Fall

Three wood ducks swim surrounded by fallen leaves on a serene morning at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland, Oregon in late October 2017

Three wood ducks swim surrounded by fallen leaves on a serene morning in late October 2017. A few days later my team would get laid off, this was not only my last visit to Crystal Springs but I only went hiking once more before we moved to Arizona in March 2018. Partly because I didn’t feel like it at first, partly because the job search was time consuming, partly because I took Ellie for a walk each morning. I had romantic ideas about taking one last hiking tour of many of my favorite places in the Northwest but all I managed was one last visit to Ridgefield. I wish there had been more time but I wouldn’t trade those walks with the pup for anything.

The Swimmers

A harbor seal watches me with its head just out of the water, nostrils flared wide as it takes a quick breath, at Cobble Beach in Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon in October 2017

After May was cooler than usual, the heat has come on full in June so for the past couple of weeks I’ve gone swimming for the first time in the new house (I won’t count the time the pup fell in). The pool is a bit on the small side but I thought would be just long enough to get exercise and thankfully that has been the case. I’m a pale imitation of the true swimmers though like this harbor seal at Yaquina Head, ungainly on land but a marvel in the water, flaring its nostrils wide as it took a quick breath before heading back under the water.

Collared

A javelina (collared peccary) walks through the desert near the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2019

I find the bright green plant in the corner distracting but since I rarely see javelina I’ve decided to go ahead and post this. I met this one and one other after photographing some Harris’s hawks beside the Latigo Trail early on a spring morning. I wasn’t sure how easily startled they might be so I didn’t risk setting up the tripod (it can make some dogs or horses nervous) and I didn’t even take the couple of steps down the trail that would have removed the plant from view. All I saw after this was its backside as it followed its partner and slowly sauntered out of view.

Javelina are also known as the collared peccary, you can see the white collar around the neck for which they are named. Like the other peccaries, they evolved in the Americas and are not directly related to pigs.