Purple Mountain Majesties

The rising sun casts long shadows across the mountains in front of Weaver's Needle, taken from the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The sun rises to the left of Weaver’s Needle, casting long shadows across the mountains. It was a delightful morning on the Marcus Landslide Trail, I had gone for one particular shot at sunrise but couldn’t resist this quick shot of the distant mountains. The phainopepla were out in abundance along with other birds, just a lovely morning in the desert.

The Fall Reward

A female phainopepla perches in a tree early on a November morning along the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

One of the birds I hoped to see after we moved to Arizona was the phainopepla (pronounced fay-no-PEP-la) but after not seeing one for months I thought it was unlikely. In October I got some distant looks at a black bird with white under its wings and after hitting my field guides realized I had finally seen one of these silky flycatchers. It took a bit longer to see them up close but in late November I got a long look at this female early one morning on the Marcus Landslide Trail. Yesterday I got a long look at a male, they were thick as thieves around the desert, but this morning it was cold and windy and I didn’t see a one. According to one of my guide books they should be common from now until early spring so I’m looking forward to our next meeting.

I Finally Found a Mushroom I Like

A close-up view of Mushroom Rock on the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

While I believe mushrooms belong in the Mount Rushmore of Disgusting Foods along with green beans, quinoa, and brown rice, this mushroom I like! Weathered granite formations like Mushroom Rock are created by erosion, the granite pebbles that break away spread across the surface of the desert (my shins had an unpleasant introduction to these pebbles early on after we moved here when I slipped just a little on a hike).

A Little Light

Reflected light falls upon Mushroom Rock at sunrise on the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

A week ago I hiked the Marcus Landslide Trail for the first time and came upon Mushroom Rock before sunup. I decided to photograph the rock formation until the sun was up and then explore the rest of the trail. It took a while for the sun to fully clear the hills and not leave the left of the frame in shadow, but my favorite image from the series was this one before any direct light fell on the rocks. There are other places on the trail I found later that I would like to photograph in those fleeting moments of reflected light but I had trouble falling asleep this weekend so those pictures will have to wait.

There is a little light falling on my country too but in this case I’d prefer a lot rather than a little, that we be its source and its receiver. But a little is better than none.