In mid March I decided to try to photograph birds during one of our snow storms in the high country. I was able to get permission to photograph at a private residence outside of Prescott where the owner vigorously fed birds and lived on the the USFS boundary. By setting up my blind, more for protection of my equipment as it was snowing hard I was able to get a few hard to photograph species with different backgrounds than the norm. I was happy with some of my bridled titmouse, dark-eyed junco, ruby crowned kinglet, hairy woodpecker, spotted towhee, and western scrub jay photos. I was really hoping for a nice stellar's jay but the snow was so wet that the crests of all the jays I photographed were droopy. Just gives me an excuse to go back next year in the same conditions.
If you are fond of photographing birds I strongly recommend you find ways of photographing them such that they come to you. My first 2 years of bird photography were "chasing" birds in some popular bird photography areas like Gilbert Riparian and the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. Both are good spots and I return to the areas a different times of the year. However, I found that the number of species you could photograph well at either area was limited. If I wanted more perching birds I would have to find new areas.
I now concentrate at feeding areas such as this private residence, my favorite is a place discussed before, Elephant Head Pond, and you can go there by contacting owner Bill Forbes at Phototrap.com. I also use bird calls frequently and find this method very successful. I will be discussing some of my method for calling species in future blogs. Although I love the calling, it's hard to get near the species you will at a popular feeding area though.
White House Ruins from the south rim overlook in Canyon de Chelly.
For our Anniversary, my wife Lori and I travelled to the Navajo Reservation for 3 days of sightseeing and photography. Our first destination was Canyon de Chelly and we stayed at the Quality Inn in Chinle. The accommodations were excellent but I will warn you that if you stay out for the sunset your dinner dining opportunities are extremely limited. The restaurants close very early in Chinle. Next time we are bringing food with us. We took a very informative jeep tour with Francene from Canyon de Chelly Tours and were able to photograph many of the ruins and petroglyphs as close as you can legally get. Bring at least a 200 mm lens if you want to get nice close shots of the pictographs and petroglyphs. Unfortunately it was cloudy most of the time so we could not get the colors we had hoped for. Plus it was a little early and the Cottonwoods had not leafed out yet in Mid March. My next trip will be in October-November when the Cottonwoods are in fall colors.
From Chinle we went to Kayenta and met with our guide Shea from Monument Valley Safaris. Shea was excellent and we really enjoyed the campout and scenery from Hunt's Mesa. From there you can see all of the spires located in the Navajo's tribal park. Unfortunately there were 30 mph gusts and our visibility was limited. We enjoyed it enough and the scenery was good enough I hope to get back soon and after a few more trips offer a photo workshop with Monument Valley Safaris. (http://monumentvalleysafari.com)
I've attached a couple scans of photographs I had published this month. One was a 2 page spread on a bear viewing article I wrote for Fish Alaska. The other were some bear photos to go along with a fishing story that took place in SW Alaska that appeared in the winter issue of Horns and Hooks. Scans don't have the quality I like but I wanted to show where your bear pictures may end up if you submit enough to editors.