A Quiet Morning

Orange clouds hover above the Four Peaks before sunrise, taken from the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in January 2020

Exhausted, I turned off my alarm before bed yet I woke early filled with existential dread for the state of the world. I got up and waited to see if I would get sleepy again, but since I didn’t I decided to surround myself with beauty and went out for a hike. Not up for a long drive I initially decided to hit a favorite trail at Brown’s Ranch but went to the Marcus Landslide instead when I saw clouds in the east. My reward as I started down the trail was this view of the Four Peaks before sunrise. Saw plenty of birds, got some good exercise, then came home where a freshly made breakfast sandwich was waiting courtesy of my wife. I shared the last bit of bacon with Boo before the two of us curled up for a long nap.

In Between the Raindrops

Sunrise lights the bottom of clouds above Weaver's Needle, taken on the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in December 2019

After two decades in Oregon Christmas week has felt familiar as it has rained most days. This morning we got a little sunshine in with the clouds so I changed my plans and made my way over to the Marcus Landslide as I break in some new camera gear. Mostly I photographed birds (big surprise!) but I couldn’t resist a quick shot of Weaver’s Needle at sunrise. A little later I stopped in my tracks as a coyote pack sang out from across the valley, without tall trees to block the sound their voices rang clear even at a distance. I had to laugh wondering how many homeowners in that area woke to their dogs joining in the morning chorus.

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.

Morning Dove

The silhouette of a white-winged dove perched atop a fruiting saguaro on the Latigo Trail in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in June 2019

White-winged doves have been hiding from me all spring (on the trails, we see them regularly at home) but with the arrival of summer and fruit on the saguaros it seemed as though a white-wing was atop every saguaro each morning this weekend.

In the Shadows, In the Light

As the rising sun lights up distant Pinnacle Peak, a white-winged dove perches on a tree in the shadows along the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in June 2019

As the rising sun lights up distant Pinnacle Peak, a white-winged dove perches in the shadows. The light soon reached the tips of the tallest saguaros and was a minute or two from reaching the fruiting saguaro this dove was jealously guarding from other doves when suddenly the lights went out. From my vantage point I couldn’t see the sun and saw naught but blue sky before me, but low-lying clouds in the east must have rolled in. Although I missed the first kiss of the soft red light the sun soon returned and I watched this dove and a variety of other birds from that one spot for quite some time, the only downside being I only hiked for a couple of miles that morning.