Monday, April 18, 2016

Photo Frustrations

Oak Creek Canyon
Years ago, when Mary Beth and Andrew were still in school, we took a family Christmas vacation in Flagstaff, AZ, spending Christmas Eve at the Grand Canyon. It was a great trip. One day we decided to drive down to Sedona. Now remember, this was before the days of computers, Google maps or GPS. The paper roadmap just said to take Rt 89A directly to Sedona. What it did not explain was the heart stopping hairpin curves at the top of Oak Creek Canyon. I threatened everyone with death (by car accident) if they didn't stay quiet. After we finally made it to the bottom, everyone enjoyed the day, and we drove the Interstate back up to Flagstaff.
Still pools
Arizona is known as a dry state, so a stream that flows all year is valuable. Oak Creek flows down through a canyon, then winds around the flat lands until it flows into the Verde River. It provides important habitat for plants and animals, and great recreation opportunities for visitors. Today we drove up the canyon to see what we could find in the way of birds. We stopped at a bridge, and walked up Wilson Creek Canyon. A bird on the other hillside sang to us. In the binoculars it looked like a Great Crested Flycatcher, but my bird phone app said they don't live here. Most flycatchers look alike, so I went through their ranges until I found the Ash-throated Flycatcher which can be found in this area. I played its song on my phone, and it immediately flew over to check us out, posing nicely for photos. Some Scrub Jays posed for photos as well. It was a good start to the day.
House Wren
I have noticed that the battery life on this new Canon camera is pretty short. I carry newly charged batteries with me, and changed it when it flashed red. Apparently, however, it had been running low for a while, and none of the photos taken at our first stop (including the life bird) were actually recorded. GRRR!!! At least we still have time to retrace our steps later on the trip to see if we can find that bird again.
Painted Redstart
Oak Creek Canyon did provide another life bird for us - a Painted Redstart! Isn't he beautiful! As we drove higher up the canyon, we lost the phone signal, and my birding phone app stopped working. How did we attract birds before cell phones? We pished at them! We found a couple of mystery birds. I heard some calls that I thought I should know, and finally realized I was hearing an Summer Tanager, but we never spotted it. And the bird I thought might be a Hepatic Tanager turned out to be a male House Finch upon closer examination. Maybe later, sigh.
Spotted Towhee

Our lunch stop found some much appreciated birds who stayed around for photos. This Spotted Towhee sings, Drink Tea! just like his eastern cousin.
Stellar Jay
Stellar Jays are very curious birds. This one squawked like someone being strangled, then settled down to see what in the world we were doing.
Acorn Woodpecker
The clown-like Acorn Woodpecker is one of my western favorites. Sure enough 3-4 of them swooped in at one time, then took off again. In the morning, we are going birding with someone from the Forest Service, so we took time to go to the meeting spot today, so we can find him on time tomorrow morning, followed by wine tasting at one of the local wineries. The waitress said all the wines are dry (not sweet) since they are in Arizona. Hmmm.

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