Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Willow Springs Lake

Our adventure started Sunday morning as we packed up the RV to hit the road to a new place to explore.  This was the first time we will be "dry camping", no hook ups and I was really worried that I couldn't do it.  I'm thinking to myself how am I going to charge all my batteries for my camera, laptop, phone, etc.  No TV; yikes!!!  It was only for one night and two days, so I kept telling myself, "you can do this!!!"

The goal was to leave at 6:30 a.m. so at 6:35 a.m. we were driving out of our drive way.  Not bad for me, I'm usually at least 30 minutes behind schedule when we go rving :-)  Willow Springs Lake is the sister lake to Woods Canyon Lake on the rim in the White Mountains.  We had never been there and we wanted to explore a new place.  It is about 2 hours by car from Mesa, so that makes it 3 hours in an RV.

Willow Springs Lake, White Mountains

We arrived at the lake around 9:30 a.m. and check in at Sinkhole Campground is 2:00 p.m. so we drove down to the lake and found a parking space and went exploring.  We found out on our last trip to Fool Hollow Lake that Blue, our Rat Terrier, loves water.  So we took the boys down to the lake so they could play in the water.

Sunday there were a lot of people at the lake, swimming, weight boarding, kayaking, fishing, just enjoying the beautiful cool weather and day.  John found some large rocks by the water to sit with the boys and I was off to take photos.

John and Blue chilling on the rocks

Blue in the water


Walking around the lake I found the most beautiful butterfly, a Northwestern Fritillary.  I'd never seen this butterfly before and the orange color was so vibrant and bright.  After taking way too many photos of the butterfly I was off to explore more :-)

Northwestern Fritillary

I saw just across the bend an Osprey high up in a Ponderosa Pine.  I was hoping it would still be there by the time I walked over there.  Part way there it swooped down from the tree trying to steal a fish from a fisherman that he just caught.  It was so funny to hear everyone gasp at the same time when the Osprey missed.  Of course I missed the whole thing with my camera, the Osprey was a total blur :-(  She flew back up to her perch and I was able to get those shots plus some close ups.  Several people came up to me to ask what kind of bird she was and to tell me stories about her from the morning.  So cool.


Back to exploring and to see how John and the boys were doing.  We walked back to the RV were John and the boys stayed and I went out to explore the other side of the lake since it was still to early to check in at the campsite.  This side of the lake had more birds for me to photograph.  I went further into the forest yet I still could see the lake.  I found Brewer's Blackbirds and American Robins.  The Brewer's Blackbirds were new to me, I'd never seen them before.  I didn't know what they were until we got home on Monday.  I love how when the sun just hit them right you could see the green on their bodies and the purple color on there heads.  At first I thought they were a Grackle but the didn't have the long tail and they were smaller.  So wonderful to find a new type of bird you've never seen before; on this trip there were many!

Brewer's Blackbird

American Robin

I checked my cell phone for the time and it was 1:50 p.m. so I walked back to the RV so we could go check into our campsite.  The Sinkhole Campsite was just up the road not far from the lake.  We checked in with the campsite host, pulled into our space and no set up.  We had some lunch and we went outside to sit in our comfy chairs and enjoy the campsite and the cool weather.

Hairy Woodpecker

With camera in hand I started to take photos of the wildlife in and around our campsite.  I found a meadow not to far from where we were parked and sat down on a large log and waited.  Photography is a lot of waiting and being patient.  There were swallows flying above me, they are so difficult to take photos of.  They are small and very fast flyers.  I took a couple of shots of the landscape and started to head back to the RV.  Clouds were starting to move in and I was hoping for rain and rain we got!  I love walking in the rain; we put the leads on the pups and all 4 of us went walking in the rain.  The boys just looked at us and I knew what they were thinking; "really, walking in the rain!" :-)

Area near our campsite

Yellow flower in the meadow near our campsite

We had some dinner and who knew our TV worked on battery power; I'm in 7th heaven!  We watched a couple DVD's and off to bed.  I had no Internet access up on the rim so I couldn't check email or Facebook so it was time for bed.

I woke up around 5:00 a.m. and got John and the boys up and we were off to the lake.  We parked the RV and I was amazed at all the squirrels that were running around.  I'm out the door to explore and take photos; I think John and the boys went back to bed :-)

I went down to the lake and the Abert's Squirrels were coming to me; it was fantastic!  I sat on the rocks and went crazy taking photos.  A Harris Antelope Squirrel came by, he must of hear there was a photographer on site :-)  I went back to the RV to check on everyone and back out to take more photos.  I wanted to go back to where I saw the Osprey the day before. She was there and took off before I could hike over to her.

Abert's Squirrel

I sat in the shade of a small pine tree and started to take photos of the variety of birds that were coming to the water.  I looked over and there was a Chipmunk sitting on a rock waging it's tail; so cute!  It was 8:30 a.m. and time to get back to the RV and start to drive home.  On the way back 
to the RV I saw my first lizard of the weekend and it posed for me; love nature :-)


Steller's Jay

White-breasted Nuthatch


It was sad to leave the cool climate of the White Mountains and the wildlife that made our weekend. We will visit Willow Springs Lake again.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Two of My Photos Were Selected!

OMG!  I'm so honored to have one of my photos selected for the Arizona Highways Magazine Friday Fotos theme, but 2!  Wow!!!

Each week Arizona Highways Magazine Facebook page has a theme for anyone to enter their photos. They announce on Wednesday the theme and you have until Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. to enter up to two photos.

I normally enter two and if I'm lucky they will pick one.  This week they picked two!  I'm doing the happy dance!  I'm sure it was an oops but I'm still so happy!!!

This weeks theme was the Colors of the White Mountains.  Below are my two submissions both taken at Fool Hollow Lake when we visited the Lake during Spring Break this year.

The links below the photos will take you to my photos on the Arizona Highways Magazine Facebook page.  Check out all photos when you have a chance.  Our State of Arizona is so beautiful especially the White Mountain area.

 Beaver snacking while swimming

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Guineafowl Rescue

Sunday morning I woke up at my normal 5:30 a.m. and posted my "photo of the day" on my Facebook page when my dog Nitro was barking at something in the front yard.  I figured a dog was getting its work but Nitro just kept barking.  I looked through the blinds and there it was a Guineafowl in our front yard!

I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures of it and thinking to myself, "why is there a Guineafowl, a bird from Africa in my front yard".  Where in the world did this bird come from?  As far as I know there is no one in my neighborhood that owes one.  The historic district in downtown Mesa, you're not expecting this type of bird walking around.

It liked hanging around my Smart Car so I put out some wild bird seed out leading it to our backyard. I figured if I got it in the backyard I could keep it safe until I found someone to rescue it.  Well it was a good plan but the Guineafowl had other plans :-)

John, my hubby sat outside watching the Guineafowl as I started with contacting the Mesa Police non-emergency line.  They gave me a number to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.  I left a message with their emergency line and they called me back right away.  They only deal with mammals and directed me to Liberty Wildlife.  I left a message with Liberty Wildlife but they didn't answer their emergency line until 8:00 a.m.

Great it's 7:00 a.m. I have an hour to figure out who owns this guy.  My neighbor Louis saw me trying to wrangle the Guineafowl and told me he sees them on Grand all the time.  He drove over there and found someone in their front yard to talk with.  He drove back to my place and we went across University to find the owner.  We knocked on the door and no one answered so back over to Grand to talk with Kay, the woman Louis spoke with earlier.  She told us this lady has about 40 of these birds and she just lets them run wild.  Kay gets so upset when she sees them getting hit by cars. All the neighbors on Grand have had it with these birds running wild.  I knew than I didn't want this bird going back to this irresponsible owner.

My husband calls me that Liberty Wildlife called and will have someone over in about an hour. Louis and I head back to my house.  He drops me off and I see the Guineafowl running toward Robson; yikes I don't want it to get hit by a car.  I run after it and get it to run into our neighbor Jeff's backyard.  Finally it calms down by looking at its reflection in a window of a camper shell Jeff has on the ground.  Jeff said this guy woke him up this morning chattering away on his drive way.

While Jeff was watching the Guineafowl I went home and get my camera, phone and a bottle of water and back to Jeff's house to watch the bird until Liberty Wildlife can come and rescue it.

After several games of solitaire, talking with my hubby on the phone, talking with Jeff between breaks of the French Open he was watching and taking photos of the Guineafowl and a Swallow Butterfly visiting Jeff's backyard Liberty Wildlife finally showed up.

Dean, from Liberty, asked me how many people I had that could help capture the fowl, I told him 4 counting him; would that be enough?  He said yes, so I called the hubby to come over and Jeff came out to help.  Dean had two hand nets and a roll of netting and the rescue began.

Both Jeff and Dean had the hand nets and John & I had the roll of netting.  Of course the Guineafowl was not going to be captured without a fight.  The Guineafowl flew up on Jeff's fence so I went around to make sure he went back towards them; he did but got past them to Jamie's house.  We all run around to Jamie's house and by than the fowl ran across our street to Louis's house.  Louis was was just backing out of his driveway and we stop him.  We cornered the fowl on his front porch and again he gets by us.  Now he runs to our house and my dogs are going nuts.  Yes again he gets by us and across the street to Monti's house.  We get him cornered on Monti's from porch and yes you guessed it, he got us but we get him back to Monti's porch and John and I were able to get the netting around the entire porch so Dean could go in with his hand net and capture the fowl.  Good plan but the bird came right at me and I had him in the net when it was able to shimmy out and now we are all off to Jamie's house again.

He had us running all over the place from neighbor to neighbors house, I bet it was pretty funny if you were watching this from the side lines.  Finally after corning it at Jamie's house next to her car I caught it in the netting as it flew over the car.  OMG, I was so afraid it was going to get away from me again, but not this time I was able to wrap it in the netting and down to the ground in the shade until Dean could get the animal crate to us.  By now we were all exhausted, even the Guineafowl.

This is not what I had planned for our Sunday morning.  It was filled with stress, excitement and relief that this Guineafowl was going to a better home.  An animal refuge in Tonopah.  Thank you Liberty Wildlife, Louis, Jeff and my hubby for helping to rescue this unusual bird.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum

Today John, (my hubby), and I visited the best museum ever!  We have driven by it and never stopped in so we made a point to check it out today and I’m so glad we did.

The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum is located at Falcon Field in Mesa, AZ.  You enter into the gift shop and happily greeted by staff.  You enter into the hanger and greeted by one of the volunteers; our guide was the nicest most knowledge volunteer ever, Mr. Baker.

He told us the history of each plane and the history of Falcon Field; I had no idea.  The hanger is not only filled with the most unbelievable air craft from WWI, WWII, Korean War and Vietnam but also includes so much memorabilia. 

The second hanger is filled with planes they are restoring and working on.  Our guide let us in the enclosed area and told us more history of the planes and the training they did at Falcon Field during WWII.  I couldn’t get enough of the stories; fascinating. 

There is a bomber they are working on called “Made in the Shade” which we got to get close to.  They had the bomb bay open and inside the doors were signatures of everyone that had a hand in this plane from builders to the crew.  Even one of the many “Rosie the Riveter” visited the museum this year and signed the bay door; so cool.

bomber door signed, Rosie the Riveter

The bomber, Sentimental Journey, landed when we were there and we got to go through the plane. The museum offers rides in this aircraft several times a day; we lucked out and got to see it taxi in.  All I can say, it’s very loud 😊  You enter the aircraft through a ladder that takes you up to the cockpit area.  You had to stay very low when you enter crawling into the next area where you can stand up.  Boy, was it tight in there I don’t know how these young men moved around in these planes; they had a crew of 10 in this bomber.  You next go through a cat walk over the bomb bay to get to where the radio operator was.  In the far back of the plane was the last gunner’s area.  He had his own door into his area.  You had to back out of the plane at the back.  It was so cool to be able to actually go through the aircraft.


Our guide showed me an electrical outlet where one of the gunner’s station was and told me that they would put on their normal underwear, then a pair of electric underwear, then their uniform and on top of that their flight suits; plug in their underwear to keep warm on their missions.  I can image how cold it was flying in those bombers with no insulation in the crafts.

On the outside of Sentimental Journey is a picture of Betty Gable along with bombs and 2 decals of movie cameras.  Our guide told us that this plane never saw action in WWII.  It made it over to the Pacific but the war ended when it got there.  It should not have had bombs put on it but when it was used in two movies they put the bombs on it.  The bombs represent how many missions and aircraft was on.

Notice the bombs and 2 motion picture cameras

After touring the planes on the tarmac, we went back into the first hanger to finish our tour.  John went along the outside checking out all the memorabilia and headed off to take photos of all the wonderful aircraft.  Of course, I got a little artsy-fartsy with my photos 😊

That motor was crazy!

If you have the opportunity check this museum out, it was fantastic!  We spent several hours there and I would definitely go back and check it out again.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Adventures at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch: we rescued a Red Eye Slider Turtle

It’s 5:30 a.m. and I’m leaving the house to meet my friend Kathy to explore the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch.  I find a parking space and get my camera gear together when I spot a couple of love birds in the parking lot.  They were on the ground under some trees in a median.  I snap a few photos and off to find my friend Kathy.

 Love Bird

We meet up by the Saguaro cactus and off to pond 7 to see what we can see.  No birds, the pond was almost empty but off to my left I see a Coyote; my first Coyote in the wild!  I snap several shots as he stands and scopes out the dry pond looking for rabbits since no birds were to be found.  The Coyote was off for better hunting ground so we’re off to pond 1 to see if there is any water and birds.


Half way along pond 1 there is a clearing and we found some Canada Geese.  We enjoyed their company for a while and off we went to pond 5.  Along the way, we see Quail and lots and lots of Cottontail Rabbits.

Canada Goose

At pond 5 there was some water but mainly very tall vegetation; no birds and a lot of Cottontail Rabbits.   We looked for Jack the friendly Black-tailed Jackrabbit but so sad no Jack.  I haven’t seen him in over a year.
Peek-a-boo Cottontail Rabbit

Cottontail Rabbit

So off to pond 2 we go.  We come to the first clearing at pond 2 and no birds, so farther down the path we go.  The next clearing there were 4 Mallard ducklings on the shore and no parents!  We kept our distance not to disturb them and I took several photos of the little guys.  We went to the next clearing and still no birds but we decided to stay to see if we could see the mother Mallard; no luck.  While standing there talking a Great Egret flew in, love these majestic birds.  Took several shots and here comes mother Mallard landing in the pond and swimming over to her babies.  Several other mother Mallards swam by with their ducklings; yay some birds!!!

Mallard baby ducks

Great Egret

We decided to go over to pond 6 and yay water!  No birds but water.  We hung around waiting for something to fly in and nothing.  So off to the foot bridge by the to find the Least Bittern Heron.
We are at the bridge and we witnessed two Least Bittern Herons flying out of the reeds.  Of course, we just arrived and I didn’t have my camera ready.  Standing there talking with another photographer we noticed a lot of fishing line and lures tangled in the reeds and we all were concerned about the Least Bittern Herons when we notice a red eared slider caught up in a line.

My friend Kathy decides she can’t take it anymore watching this poor turtle struggle she takes off her shoes and socks, rolls up her jeans and she’s in the water to rescue the turtle.  She finds the turtle totally tangled in the fishing line with a hook through its mouth.  This hook was huge and thick and went all the way through its mouth and out the other side. 


Kathy brought the turtle over to me and a passerby helped cut the fishing line and part of the hook away from the turtle.  Kathy went back to the reeds and cut out several fishing lures and pulled out a lot of fishing line before we helped her out of the water.

Kathy and I were on our way to the parking lot so I could take the turtle to the Arizona herpetological association to see if they could get the hook out.  I called and left several messages but no one was calling me back.  I tried every button I could press but no one was answering the phone!  So I drove home to get the turtle into some water and keep trying to reach the association.

Finally, home my darling hubby had gotten our wash tube out and we put the turtle in there with some water.  I grabbed some needle nose pliers and holding the turtle John was able to push the hook out of its mouth and the turtle was saved!  The turtle was so happy.


So back in the car we go to drive back to the Riparian Preserve to return the poor turtle back to its habitat.  I released the turtle back to the fishing pond where we rescued it but on the other side away from the reeds and fishing line.  The turtle was so excited to get back to its home it couldn’t wait to get back in the water.

Red Ear Slider Turtle back home

All I ask if you need to fish please read the signs and do not fish on the foot bridge!  If you lose your fishing lures jump in the water and retrieve them.  You have no idea how much you are hurting wildlife by leaving your trash behind!