Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Taking It Easy...

I was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona; such a fine sight to see...

Green Heron - Arizona

Bosque del Apache NWR - New Mexico

White Tank Mountains - Arizona
The cactus in the front right of this image is Teddy Bear Cholla and according to my friend Ethan Meleg, "it's evil". Well, two days later I was in the middle of lots of cholla and found a cactus wren nest in the top of one. As I leaned in to check it out, the wren flew out right into my face and caused me to step back - right into more cholla. The bulbs full of spines break right off and I had three bulbs stuck into the back of my leg - two in my thigh and one behind my knee. The spines go in all directions and seem to have barbs on them that make them difficult and painful to pull out. Just one of these bulbs puts maybe a dozen spines in your skin and how do you grab it to pull it out??? I couldn't walk without spines pulling my skin and more trying to go in, so right there by the nest I had to pull my pants down and work the spines out with various camera parts. I was in so much pain that my eyes were watering and I was yelling and swearing through the whole process which took me almost 45 minutes to complete. The saguaros must have found it one of the funniest things they've ever witnessed and the wren was scolding me the whole time. I want to go back and photograph the nest, but maybe not until I find some Kevlar pants...

Black-necked Stilt - Arizona

Prickly Pear Cactus - Arizona

My job at the Ballpark

After months of hard and thankless work, Fitch Park looks great and baseball is finally here! The Cubs have been working out this past week and I've been able to meet a number of current and past players, as well as famous fans. Lee Smith showed me how to throw a few of his pitches that earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame. Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam, joined the end of Fantasy Camp and I was lucky enough to share a few minutes with him. Eddie wrote a great song about the Cubs and how "someday we'll go all the way!" - he signed my ball and vinyl album and I gave him my anti-Bush t-shirt. Hopefully he'll wear it at a show sometime...
Lots more fun to come during this spring training!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ghost Bird

Just wanted to post this quick so this bird can be seen by all! On the way back north after some birding in Patagonia this morning, I checked my phone and saw a report of a leucistic American Kestrel. My reaction was "wow! a white kestrel!". Not knowing where in Arizona the bird may be, I figured I'd find out more about it later. No more than ten minutes later while driving up the two lane highway, I happened upon the white kestrel! Needless to say, my eyes bugged out and I can happily say the ABS brakes on the car are working great! I grabbed my camera, jumped out, and the bird flew off the power lines and back into the trees. I set my camera on my bean bag on the roof of the car and the kestrel flew from far back in the trees straight toward me and landed in a great spot for me to photograph him. So here are a couple of my shots. What a gorgeous bird!