Nature Adventures

  • Montezuma Quail - Arizona 2018

    Also known as Mearn's Quail, this elusive bird is a lifer for my husband and me, and very satisfying since we did not find it at any known feeder or watering site. It simply walked across the dirt road on the ranch property where we were staying and we saw it as we went around a curve. Fortunately this quail is unlike others in that it tends to hunker down when discovered instead of scurry off or flush easily into the air. This makes for satisfying opportunities for a photographer. Trouble is, it is a rare occurrence. We feel lucky, indeed.

  • 2018 Arizona Hummingbirds

    My hubby and I like to get out of Denver in the snowy months when we feel spring should be coming, but isn't. This year we stayed in a ranch guesthouse  in southeast Arizona. Birding is always good in SE Arizona, but especially during migration, so we went in March/April.

    Some hummingbirds hang around all winter in Southeast Arizona, but some migrate further south and were just returning in April. Most readily go to feeders, although some more reluctantly than others. I enjoy watching them on flowers and prefer to photograph them that way, so we bought three pots of tubular flowers that I put out in the sun. I fell in love with these flowers, so when we left for home, we stuffed them in the car and brought them home to enjoy in the yard this summer.

    This is one of the most beautiful hummingbirds we had...the Broad-billed Hummingbird, easy to identify by his orange bill. This one has yellow pollen on it's bill.

    Gorgeous. The blue really takes your eye, but I am fascinated by the green on his head and wings.

    I like the feeling of freedom this image projects.

    Here is the Broad-bill perched and watching out for "his" feeders. He's a pretty aggressive protector, similar to the Rufous.

    This is the female that was paired up with the above male.

    This is a Black-chinned male Hummingbird, long black bill and purple throat (when he gets in the light just right). He does not flare his throat nearly as often as the Broad-bill.

    When not flaring purple, this is what the Black-chinned looks like..just a black throat.

    And here he is at his prettiest...around flowers.

    This is the lovely white-throated female Black-chinned Hummingbird.

    She has a rather gray head.

    These photographs were taken at my leisure at the guesthouse, where I could control lighting and take my time to get them off the feeders and onto flowers. But, there are great venues in SE Arizona to watch hummers. The newly renovated Paton Center for Hummingbirds is one of the best. The Patons were wonderful folks who loved and fed hummingbirds and invited the public to come sit in their yard on chairs and watch these great little entertainers fly all over the place. When the Patons passed on a couple of years ago, donations and the Tuscon Audubon Society leapt to the rescue and have made the property into a lovely public venue with water features, picnic tables, and more feeders for non-hummers. So, definitely go there in Patagonia!! The Violet-crowned Hummingbird comes there regularly, a beautiful bird that didn't pose for me.

    We had the Magnificent Hummingbird (a real boat of a bird that sails around in the air) at Ramsey Canyon and even at our feeder for a day, but I couldn't get a picture that I liked. That was a little disappointing because that bird is a challenge to photograph, but in the sun it's amazing! But, it's always good to have something to look forward to in the future, don't you think?

    In upcoming blogs on our trip, I'll talk about other places to bird and what we experienced there.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Trinidad and Tobago Birders and Landscapes

    If you haven't been here...well, it's not too late.

    Our daily Agouti

    What the trees looked like

    What the forest looked like

    Bananaquits on the bar...must be tea time.

    This little guy outside the chocolate "factory" didn't let a little rain spoil his play plans. Blanchisseuse Road.

    Birder picnic.

    More forest on Trinidad - near Asa Wright.

    Scarlet Ibis in Caroni Marsh.

    Bats under cabin eaves...but not the ones we saw every evening sipping from the hummingbird feeders.

    Bellbird...big mouth...what a fantastic "song" that guy had! I sure wished I'd had my good camera with me...but then again...it was hot and uphill...maybe not.

    White-bearded Manakin. We saw the other two also, the Blue-backed Manakin and the Golden-headed Manakin, but I didn't get pictures.

    Here's our awesome guide David, feeling nostalgic at his old childhood climbing vine.

    Remember Hermit the Hummer nesting on the light chain in the reading room.

    Morning mist was very common.

    I don't have pictures, but the butterflies were wonderful. We were just at the end of the rainy season, and I understand the flowers were poised to burst out in force in the coming dry season.

    David's village, not far from Asa Wright.

    Trinidad street.

    Remember the Death March? Pretty farm...noisy dog.

    Not Little Tobago, but a cute little isle anyway.

    My favorite landscape capture - Tobago.

    Cute little place for hummingbird viewing.

    Stellar crew!

    Jason on far left. Thanks for the companionship everybody. What a great trip!

  • Trinidad and Tobago Red-billed Tropicbirds

    Little Tobago - Now this was an interesting and fairly complicated place to get to. It was a pretty long drive from Cuffie River Lodge, then the boat ride (getting on and off was a trip in and of itself), then whoa, the march up the stairs. Way up. But the payoff was worth it.

     Nice when they give you a close-up.

    These seabirds live out over the ocean and only come to land to breed. Their feet and legs are made for optimal ocean living, and leave something to be desired when it comes to landing on land. Soooo they fly into their general nesting area and then circle around and around until they can catch just the right thermal that can sail them into their roosting spot without crashing.

    So delicate and graceful.

    This is the booby nesting area. These may be a couple of adult white-phase Red-footed Boobies on nests.

    And here are some Brown phase Red-footed Boobies.

    Red-footed Boobies have blue bills. Who knew?

    When I first came across the unimpressive tiny little picture of the Red-billed Tropicbird in my guide book, I was underwhelmed, to say the least. I had no idea we were destined to enjoy such a glorious flurry of graceful and swirling white birds on the top of their tropical island home.

     

     

  • Trinidad and Tobago Aripo Savannah

    A bus of us went to the Aripo Savannah one day and saw a few birds. It was on this trip that we saw the Parrotlets (under another blog). And here are a few others:

    White-headed Marsh-Tyrant

    Pied Water-Tyrant

    Spectacled Thrush - we had them in other places, but this is where I was able to get a close-up of that crazy eye.

    And the Wattled Jacana was there although this particular photo came from a walk on Tobago.

  • Trinidad and Tobago Nightjars

    A highlight of our Asa Wright stay was the very wet and slippery trek down to the Oilbird breeding cave. When we first started out, we got about 10 feet away when it started pouring buckets of rain. We backed off, but started out again an hour later and made it. These birds are some of the most interesting birds ever! I don't have many pictures, but the first one (albeit wonky) should help you understand why we found them fascinating! They eat FRUIT! They are LARGE! and they ECHOLOCATE! And they are HUGE when flying!

    We met up with some birds along the way.

    This next shot required more than a little luck, it being so wet and my camera so heavy and my desire to not fall on my keister so strong. Plus he only appeared for a brief moment. Lucky to get anything. Looks like he's carrying food...nesting?

    Here are the troops making their way down the trail. If the railing looks sturdy, well, think again. A couple of days before our trek the winds blew down trees which clobbered the railing in some places. We were still glad to have it.

    Speaking of the handrail...here's a tarantula inside.

    The rainforest floor

    Near the bottom

    Aaaand here's the cave opening

    Aaand, here's the bird. 

    And another two. They gave us a sampling of their characteristic loud squawking chatter which sounded something like asphalt removal was going on in there. If the whole colony had gotten noisy, we'd have needed hearing protection!

    So, that was weird and amazing. But we had other Nighthawk experiences. Here's a Potoo, although the lighting is rough.

    And a Common Pauraque.

    And, finally, over on Tobago, we had a fantastic experience with a White-tailed Nightjar that arrived each evening on the asphalt just outside our bedroom window off the patio. We really enjoyed watching it loop about acrobatically catching night insects, then return to the same spot after every foray.

    Isn't he sweet? See the white outer tail feathers?

    For those who were on the veranda at Asa Wright when we spotted the Short-tailed Nighthawks with their unusually wide wingspan flying out of the area at dusk for their evening feeding...I'll just mention it so you'll remember. It was awesome...but no pics.