Whitewater Draw

Whitewater Draw is just a 45 minute drive from Sierra Vista and is home to about 22,000 wintering Sandhill Cranes.  There is a half mile looped path that is close to parking, easy to walk and has benches along the way, two viewing platforms with telescopes, and close access to see not only cranes but other birds.  Overnight camping is allowed, there are bathroom facilities and a few picnic tables.  There is no fee.  None of us are bird photographers and we don't have any of the long focal length lens that serious birders use.  But, just getting out there and being so close to the cranes, watching them fly in and out by the hundreds, listening to them call, and watching them preen was more than enough for me.

We were already frozen and the sun was just starting to come up.  Temperature was 17º, my hands too cold to set up my camera and then my long lens would not even attempt to focus!!

We were already frozen and the sun was just starting to come up.  Temperature was 17º, my hands too cold to set up my camera and then my long lens would not even attempt to focus!!

Looking westward across the pond.

Looking westward across the pond.

Tom got a few photographs of the cranes leaving.

Tom got a few photographs of the cranes leaving.

TD Whitewater Draw (307 of 14).jpg
TD Whitewater Draw (309 of 14).jpg
TD Whitewater Draw (311 of 14).jpg
TD Whitewater Draw (306 of 14).jpg
Len told me that they return in the midday to rest before going back out in the early afternoon.  That approach sounded much more appealing to us.  We returned twice more to watch them come back to the ponds.

Len told me that they return in the midday to rest before going back out in the early afternoon.  That approach sounded much more appealing to us.  We returned twice more to watch them come back to the ponds.

This is a good representation of the ponds just before the birds start coming back in.

This is a good representation of the ponds just before the birds start coming back in.

When the cranes do return they do so in waves, some as many as 100+ birds.

When the cranes do return they do so in waves, some as many as 100+ birds.

Whitewater Draw-16.jpg
Sand Hill Cranes are not the only bird in the area of the ponds.

Sand Hill Cranes are not the only bird in the area of the ponds.

I was told by another photographer that brown Sand Hill Cranes are what is found on the East Coast.  Not sure if that is true.  This brown bird looked a bit out of place.

I was told by another photographer that brown Sand Hill Cranes are what is found on the East Coast.  Not sure if that is true.  This brown bird looked a bit out of place.

There are two viewing platforms along the route that is easily walked.  

There are two viewing platforms along the route that is easily walked.  

Whitewater Draw-22.jpg
Whitewater Draw-17.jpg
SB Whitewater Draw-21.jpg
SB Whitewater Draw-14.jpg
SB Whitewater Draw-19.jpg
That is not sensor dust.  Those are waves of returning cranes.  They are noisy as they fly in.

That is not sensor dust.  Those are waves of returning cranes.  They are noisy as they fly in.

There are white geese that rest with the cranes.

There are white geese that rest with the cranes.

TD Whitewater Draw (303 of 14).jpg
Whitewater Draw-36.jpg
Whitewater Draw-32.jpg
SB Whitewater Draw-23.jpg
SB Whitewater Draw-25.jpg
An early morning photograph.

An early morning photograph.

I tried so hard to get a good photograph of this Vermilion Flycatcher.  They are FAST!

I tried so hard to get a good photograph of this Vermilion Flycatcher.  They are FAST!

Steve spotted a hawk.†

Steve spotted a hawk.†

Whitewater Draw-57.jpg
SB Whitewater Draw-7.jpg
Whitewater Draw-40.jpg
'Altogether now!'

'Altogether now!'

Whitewater Draw-52.jpg
SB Whitewater Draw-15.jpg
SB Whitewater Draw-9.jpg
TD Whitewater Draw (312 of 14).jpg
Whitewater Draw-60.jpg
Several people mentioned that there were Barn Owls and Horned Owls in the 'barn' a structure near the parking lot.  We only saw this one.  He seemed very at ease with photographers being close by.

Several people mentioned that there were Barn Owls and Horned Owls in the 'barn' a structure near the parking lot.  We only saw this one.  He seemed very at ease with photographers being close by.

If birds are not your thing, there are plenty of other photo-opportunities to keep you busy.

If birds are not your thing, there are plenty of other photo-opportunities to keep you busy.

Reflections From Around the World

I think Jon and Phyllis have lived a charmed life filled with travel to more than 100 countries.  Their master photography library contains roughly 150,000 images and they have boxes and boxes of slides and paper photographs that are slowly and lovingly being scanned.  That is why they must have grimaced when asked for just a few of their favorite photographs with reflections.  They have curated their collection and have sent along a few to share. 

 Antarctica- 2005
 Ireland-
 Vietnam-2007
 Galapagos Islands=2008
 Organ Pipes in La Sagrada Familia
 Polar Bear,  Churchill 1999

Scanv
 Florence, Italy  Arno River
 Etosha Park, Namibia-2009
 Papua New Guinea  1993

along the Sepik River
 Svalbard archipelago                             2005
 Taj Mahal

Scan 1984
 Inle Lake  1994, 

Burma  {myanmar}
 Angkor Wat in Cambodia
 Matterhorn, Switzerland
2004
 La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
 Elephant, Chobi N.P. 
Botswana
 Arno River in Florence, Italy
 Svalbard Archipelago
 Amer Fort, Jaipur, India
 Potala Palace, Lhasa. Tibet 
1985
 Norway
 Etosha Park, Namibia-2009
 Ayutthaya Pagoda in Thailand

2007
 Copenhagen, Denmark
 Sanibel Island Florida
 Musanza,  Zambia
 Sunset, Zambezi River, Botswana
]
 Royal Palace, Bangkok
 Antarctica -2005
 South Georgia Islan-2005
King Penguins
 Srinigar, Kashmir-1984

Scan
 Ireland
 Antactica    2005
 Angkor Wat- Cambodia

2007
 Inle Lake  1994, 

Burma  {myanmar}
 Egypt, Nile River  1977

Scan
 Antarctica-  2005
 Sunset on Ganges River in Varanasi, India
 Sea Cloud II Coastal France
 Lake Dal, Kashmir

1984-Scan
 Taj Mahal-

Scan 1984
 Copenhagen, Denmark
self portrait
 Italy-2008

Looping Huachuca Mountain

Staying in Huachuca City meant one thing . . . we must loop the grand mountain.  We took off and drove through Patagonia, stopping for breakfast, before heading eastward on Harshaw Creek Road.  Along this stretch of the trip we saw cattle ranches, dry creek beds, lots of old interesting Cottonwood trees and the hint of a grassy valley.  We veered off Harshaw Road onto the San Rafael Valley Road, crossing a wide grassy valley surrounded by mountains.  More trees, one really good water spot at the San Pedro River and a few more cattle ranches.  There were lots of Border Patrol folks present in the area.  We drove over the Canelo Pass and then south on SR 83 past Parker Canon Lake.  We stopped there for coffee but interestingly, none of us took any photographs of the lake!!  It was cold and windy so that may have been the reason we kept our hands wrapped around warm cups rather than a cold camera body.  We stayed on 83 up to Montezuma Pass, a wonderful high point that we will re-visit.  It gives a wonderful, almost 360 degree of view to the Dragoon Mountains on the northeast and southward into Mexico.  Our final leg was a very cured, at times hairpin curved dirt road down into the south side of Sierra Vista.  Much of our trip was on dirt roads but they were mostly just fine with some washboarding in places.  I hope you enjoy our looping day!

Heading up toward Canelo Pass.

Heading up toward Canelo Pass.

Looking back and down at the San Rafael Valley.

Looking back and down at the San Rafael Valley.

Grassland is amazingly tall.  We saw no evidence of fire, an amazing thing when you recognize how dry it is.

Grassland is amazingly tall.  We saw no evidence of fire, an amazing thing when you recognize how dry it is.

TD San Raphael Valley (301 of 13).jpg
Huachuca Mountain Loop-1-1.jpg
SB Loop Around Huachuca Mountain-4-4.jpg
Steve got a  little to close to this guy and got his arm whacked.  It hurt.

Steve got a  little to close to this guy and got his arm whacked.  It hurt.

SB Loop Around Huachuca Mountain-1-1.jpg
I really worked to get this one!  No, you generally don't want to point your lens into the sun, unless you walk back far enough and then put the sun behind a big branch.  

I really worked to get this one!  No, you generally don't want to point your lens into the sun, unless you walk back far enough and then put the sun behind a big branch.  

Sun was behind me.

Sun was behind me.

A common sight along the road.  I love old bare Cottonwood trees.

A common sight along the road.  I love old bare Cottonwood trees.

There are many ways to process for a black and white image.  Doing so where the branches stand out against a dark sky is one very appealing way of doing it.

There are many ways to process for a black and white image.  Doing so where the branches stand out against a dark sky is one very appealing way of doing it.

SB Loop Around Huachuca Mountain-7-7.jpg
SB Loop Around Huachuca Mountain-9-9.jpg
SB Loop Around Huachuca Mountain-10-10.jpg
This is the San Pedro River.  We spent quite a bit of time there trying to get creative reflections of the trees, grass and scum.  

This is the San Pedro River.  We spent quite a bit of time there trying to get creative reflections of the trees, grass and scum.  

TD San Raphael Valley (300 of 1).jpg
I am learning more and more about black and white photography.  This image started with an intentional underexposed photograph.

I am learning more and more about black and white photography.  This image started with an intentional underexposed photograph.

Same image as above properly exposed.

Same image as above properly exposed.

We designated Tom as scum king a long time ago when he skunked us with his images of scum at Bosque del Apache.

We designated Tom as scum king a long time ago when he skunked us with his images of scum at Bosque del Apache.

TD San Raphael Valley (305 of 13).jpg
Slow flowing.

Slow flowing.

TD San Raphael Valley (302 of 13).jpg
I was trying to find out what would happen if I added a Kenko extender to my manual focus Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 1:1 macro lens.  It turned out that only the small extender would allow me to focus at all.  The only benefit I found in that limited experiment was the ability to get further back and still get a macro image.

I was trying to find out what would happen if I added a Kenko extender to my manual focus Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 1:1 macro lens.  It turned out that only the small extender would allow me to focus at all.  The only benefit I found in that limited experiment was the ability to get further back and still get a macro image.

With the extender on the macro lens the depth of field became very narrow.  

With the extender on the macro lens the depth of field became very narrow.  

San Rafael Valley.

San Rafael Valley.

TD San Raphael Valley (312 of 13).jpg
Heading up to Montezuma Pass.

Heading up to Montezuma Pass.

Looking toward the Dragoon Mountains in the far horizon.

Looking toward the Dragoon Mountains in the far horizon.

Down the last curves to Sierra Vista.

Down the last curves to Sierra Vista.

There is a 22 mile hiking trail up and over the Huachuca Mountains.  It is part of the AZ Trail system.  We chose not to take that route but my impression is that it would be one great hike with the rugged mountain and great vistas.