The first batch of November pictures have now been posted in a new gallery. Most of these are from last weekend's trip to Bosque del Apache NWR and the Magdalena Mountains, along with a few pictures from Los Alamos County. I am planning to take the next week off from work and devote almost all of it to photography, so with luck I will soon have a bunch more pictures to add to the gallery.
I have added an October gallery with pictures from Colfax and Los Alamos Counties. My weekend trip to Colfax County was fantastic. I spent the days dodging tumbleweed, looking for owls in the few stands of trees at Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge, watching pronghorns and jackrabbits dash across the plains, and hanging out in one of my favorite towns - the prairie dog town north of Springer Lake. Nightfall brought gorgeous sunsets and the Orionid meteor shower. I saw spectacular fall colors on my drive home over the Sangre de Cristos, but heavy overcast and a snowstorm kept me from taking many pictures.
I've added some more bird pictures, along with one flower, to the September Northern New Mexico gallery. These are all from Guaje Canyon and Rendija Canyon, in the Santa Fe National Forest just north of Los Alamos.
Pictures from a variety of northern New Mexico locations, including Wheeler Peak, Bandelier National Monument, Santa Fe National Forest, and Los Alamos are now online. The heavy rains of the last month have given rise to a great wildflower bloom here in Los Alamos and the surrounding areas, of which I've posted several pictures. There are also some bird pictures, of course.
Pictures from last week's trip to southeastern Arizona are now online. I started the trip Wednesday morning in Portal, on the eastern edge of the Chiricahuas, then spent the next few days shooting in the Huachucas and the Santa Ritas, before returning to the Chiricahuas for Sunday morning and afternoon. This was my first bird photography in two and a half months, and it felt great to be out in the field again.
I have added a new gallery with photos from my recent Minnesota trip. Warblers were the focus of the trip, and though I wasn't as successful as I had hoped, I did get a few acceptable pictures. I spent a week in the woods, mostly shooting in the inland boreal forests north of Lake Superior, but also working in the deciduous forests along the north shore. I had a great time and saw lots of interesting wildlife, including two species of fox, several moose, and a black bear, though I wasn't able to photograph most of these. I also enjoyed walking through miles and miles of beautiful forest. The spruce and tamarack bogs are one of my favorite types of habitat, and would be even without all the interesting wildlife they hold. Although I enjoyed the scenery immensely, the photography wasn't always easy. The sky was heavily overcast for most of the trip, with rain most of the day on several days, and I had very little light to work with. Still, the light I had was of good quality for showing warbler colors, and it was a lot better than direct sunlight would have been. A bigger challenge was getting my subjects to cooperate. Although I found lots of male warblers vociferously defending their territories, they tended to do it from high up in the trees. I encountered twenty warbler species on the trip, and hundreds of individual birds, but only a few came low and close enough for photographs, and even then they rarely sat still for more than a few seconds. Even when they weren't cooperating, I still enjoyed getting to watch them, and I learned quite a bit about warbler songs. We'll see how much of it I still remember next spring, when I'll surely take some more trips back east for migrant and breeding warblers.
A few photos from Illinois in early May have now been posted here. Although I was in Illinois for a week and a half, work was my first priority, followed by visiting friends, so I didn't have a lot of time to spend with the birds. Still, I did enjoy a few magical mornings full of migrant warblers in Crystal Lake Park, and even got a few pictures. Hopefully I'll get some better pictures on my upcoming Minnesota trip, in which I'll be spending a full week in the north woods looking for warblers and other birds on their breeding grounds.
I spent last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday shooting on the Texas coast southeast of Houston, and selected photos from this trip have now been uploaded. My main goal on this trip was to photograph warblers, and in this respect, the trip was a complete bust! The upper Texas coast is famous for hordes of migrant warblers, especially when bad weather grounds them following their migration across the Gulf, but the weather was good the whole time I was there, and warblers were few and far between. A few warblers finally started showing up on Sunday, including a particularly lovely Cerulean Warbler, but none came down low enough in the trees for photographs. Fortunately, the upper coast is loaded with birds even when migrants are scarce, so I had plenty of subjects to work with. I spent about half my time on High Island, where I photographed Roseate Spoonbills and other waders at a rookery, as well as tanagers, grosbeaks, and buntings that were feeding on fruiting mulberry trees. The rest of my time was divided between Anahuac NWR and the Bolivar Peninsula. In addition to good photography I had some great birding, with 112 species sighted on my first day. I didn't bother to count after that, but Saturday and Sunday were similarly productive. Waders were particularly evident - I saw 15 species, almost all the normally occurring North American wader species. The only ones I missed were American Bittern and Glossy Ibis. The total diversity of birds was higher than I would have expected, considering the lack of warbler, vireos, and flycatchers, and I didn't have nearly enough time to properly enjoy it. Two species, Wilson's Plover and Fulvous Whistling-Duck, were completely new to me, and I also got to hear the famous 'tapping stones' call of the Yellow Rail for the first time. I saw four Yellow Rails in a single day at Anahuac, which triples the total I've seen in my life. In addition to birds, wildflowers were plentiful everywhere I went, but I couldn't tear myself away from the birds long enough to photograph them. If only I'd had a few weeks instead of three days!
Pictures from my recent trip to southeastern New Mexico have now been uploaded. I photographed Lesser Prairie-Chickens on a lek east of Roswell on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning (the 13th through the 15th). On Friday I birded some in the afternoon at Bitter Lake NWR, but rain and high winds kept me from doing any photography. On Saturday afternoon I visited Carlsbad Caverns, then went to nearby Rattlesnake Springs for a couple hours in the evening. I didn't even bother to get my camera out at Rattlesnake Springs, since I didn't have much time, but the birding was good and it looks like it could be a good destination for a future photo trip. Notable birds there included several Vermilion Flycatchers, Summer Tanagers, a Bell's Vireo, and a Hooded Oriole. On Sunday afternoon I finally did some photography at Bitter Lake NWR, where I had a lucky encounter with a Scaled Quail and some good photo-ops with Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets. I also had my closest ever encounter with a Rattlesnake at Bitter Lake. Thank goodness they warn before striking! Last weekend I had a fun and productive trip to the upper Texas coast, and now that my southeast New Mexico images are posted I am working on processing the images from my Texas trip.
I added a new gallery today, mostly of pictures from the Jemez Mountains and other areas around Los Alamos, but also including a few Rosy Finch pictures from Sandia Crest in early March. Photographing the Rosy Finches was frustrating. Most of the birds in the area have been banded, and it was difficult to find any non-banded individuals to photograph. I'm planning to go back next November, and hopefully I'll be able to photograph the hatch-year birds before they are banded. Aside from the Rosy Finches, I haven't done any significant bird photography since February. That will change this weekend, when I head down to the Lesser Prairie-Chicken leks east of Roswell. In addition to Prairie Chickens, I'll be looking for shorebirds at nearby Bitter Lake, and landbirds at Rattlesnake Springs. Even more exciting is my trip planned for the following weekend, when I'll be looking for warblers and other migrants on the upper Texas coast.