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Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A new personal challenge

You know, sometimes when you’re retired you lose track of the days.  Tonight I was trying to remember what I did yesterday.  It was my last day off before working three days in the VC, and it seems I didn’t do much of anything.

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I did sit out on the patio to enjoy the play of sunlight and cloud shadows on the mountains beyond the pond.

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Emma continued her bee patrol.  I guess I have to say that she didn’t learn her lesson about bees the other day.  She’s still chasing them.  Bees must be taking the place of squirrels and chipmunks for her.  Not too many of those species in the desert.

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And I watched an osprey soar above the pond looking for dinner.  It didn’t have much luck.  A simple pleasures kind of day.

I was up before sunrise today getting things ready for my bird tour.  I had three people signed up to attend.  As I made my way to open the gate around 7:30, a woman waved me down near the VC.  She wanted to know if the bird tour was still on.  I asked her how she got in.  Turns out she went under the gate and walked in while leaving her husband and their car at the gate.

The couple was from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  They’re spending the winter in Phoenix and came here to get out of the city for a couple of days.  They weren’t die hard birders, but enjoyed seeing things, and she was especially interested in trees and plants.  Definitely not my specialty.  Luckily, the other person on the tour was Chris, who works here.  He is a biologist, with expertise on trees and such.  Phew!  I was happy about that.

I must say that I’ve never run into a woman with so many questions on one of my tours.  They were good questions, but many of them were about trees and plants that I couldn’t answer.  Even Chris struggled with some of them.

After last week’s experience, I cautioned everyone not to exit the vehicle unless I suggested it.  As we stopped for the beaver slide viewing and got out of the car, the gentleman said he needed to find a bush.  He said he was not trying to break any rules, but nature was urgently calling.  All righty then.  I told the others to keep their eyes on the slide while he dashed back to relieve himself.  Disappointed smile  Good thing we were out in the middle of nowhere.  I had also made sure everyone had a potty break before we headed out on this excursion.  As Paul Dahl would say, “Semper Gumby”IMG_9261

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It was a fairly busy day at the VC when I got back.  The couple from Alberta decide to take the guided hike in the afternoon of the Painted Desert Trail with fellow volunteer Gail.  I gave Gail a heads up about the wife’s interest in plants, and everything went well on the hike.  It seems she had run out of questions by that time.  Winking smile

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The picnic area outside the VC was chock full of visitors when it came time for my lunch, so I headed off a little way down the road to the Meer’s Point picnic area.  I was the only one there, and this was my view as I had my latest version of broccoli and bacon salad.  This time I added water chestnuts to the mix of broccoli, bacon, raisins, onions, and cranberries.  Very tasty with some added crunch of Triscuit crackers.

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As for the new personal challenge, I’m trying to get the best photo shot I can of a black-tailed gnatcatcher.  These little dudes are about as challenging as hummingbirds and belted kingfishers.  They never sit still.  They skulk around in the low areas of shrubs and mesquite trees in the desert.  This pic is not quite as sharp as I’d like it.  They buzz around outside my patio area, so I think this challenge will help keep me busy in my off time.

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Not an outstanding pic of an Anna’s hummingbird, but do you see those little black smudges in the background?  They look like gnats to me, and the Anna’s and the black-tailed love snacking on them.  I’ll keep you posted on my quest…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

22 comments:

  1. That view from your patio is truly beautiful, especially with the mountains in the distance.

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  2. Nice lunch spot!
    And what a fun challenge...I know you will do well!,

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  3. I am an ask-many-questions person. I saw myself in your recounting about the woman who went under the gate. I have done that too.

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  4. I am certain you will get that one great shot! 42 and raining this afternoon...makes for no snow:) You have some great stories about your bird tours:)

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  5. well. . .I would say your time in the desert is turning out to be quite the adventure. . .I am enjoying it very much!

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  6. I cant wait to get out to the Yuma area to attend one of your bird tours. We'll be headed that way early January. Keep up with the beautiful landscape pictures. We used to live in Yuma, I really miss those distant mountains. Becki

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  7. Gosh, if anyone can capture a great picture of one of those elusive little flycatchers, you can. I filled my bird feeders with fresh new seed and waited about two days before the feathered friends caught on (they're baaaack!). Hope you're liking your new NWR and its bird finds.

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  8. I could sit and watch your view forever. What a smart move. That salad sounds delicious. Broccoli raw?? Any bird feasting on gnats or mosquitoes is my favorite. Good luck on your challenge.

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  9. Sounds like a couple of pretty full days. I love the picture of the Phainopepla. The coloring is gorgeous.

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  10. Love the view from your new site. Sally has been stung numerous times, but will still chase any bee or wasp she sees. Seems she knows better, but just can't control the impulse.

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  11. I had to get out my field guide to see what your elusive little bird looks like.... I don't remember seeing them when we've been in their range. I definitely agree with Sherry, any bird that eats gnats is a favorite of mine!

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  12. Love the Groucho eyebrows on that gnatcatcher. And that view is spectacular. Well worth the move.

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  13. We say many Osprey nests on Santa Rosa Island, but no birds..The Great Blue Herons are thick there, though. It's always good to challenge oneself on occasion. Today we are walking to the springs here in Salt Springs National Rec area...The ranger says the Manatees are there right now..I want one really GREAT picture of those prehistoric looking beauties..

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  14. For fast-moving bird pix, try focusing on the branch next to the bird, it is in the same plain as the bird. Also, set your camera to take multiple shots at once. When you are ready, press the button half-way to focus on the branch then hold it down to take the multiple bird shots. With luck (and some practice), one of those will give you a clear picture of the bird. Hope this helps.

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  15. And I've been forgetting to read your blog. Now can have a an orgy reading several more. Being one-armed must be adding the blobd, senile memory. (Or the diminishment thereof) But while reading this blog, I was struck again on how all our days have something special in them even on those days when we don't go looking for adventure.

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  16. Your salad sounds really good. I might try something like that. It looks like the little gnatcatcher has a small black eyebrow. Cute! How are things in the new site? Obviously the site itself and the view are great - is the reduction in elec is working out?

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  17. If anyone can get the perfect shot, it would be you.

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  18. Are you using a digital camera for the gnatcatcher photos? I read recently that we can refocus digital photos if we need to.

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  19. You certainly can find wonderful examples of nature's wonders to photograph wherever you land. I'm amazed at you catching those hard to get pictures all the time. I wouldn't have time to even get my camera out let alone take a shot. You have extraordinary powers using a camera, I wouldn't be surprised if there is an "S" on your shirt. :c)

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  20. Good luck on your personal challenge. I won't be surprised when you come up with a fantastic photo of the black-tailed gnat catcher. Learn something new. I didn't know there was a bird by that name...

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  21. Judy, I'd like to visit you at Imperial. How can I reach you?

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  22. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

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