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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Huachuca Mountains

June 1st, 2013 · No Comments

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After leaving the Chiricahua Mountains, I hiked up Miller Canyon in Southeastern Arizona’s Huachuca Mountains where I stayed for three nights in a cabin at Beatty’s Guest Ranch. A half mile up in the canyon along a steep trail I found an endangered Spotted Owl. I was carrying my heavy Canon 7D camera and 100-400mm lens, and I wanted to photograph this owl, which is in some ways my favorite species of birds. I love it when they look straight at my camera and me! And I had never even seen a Spotted Owl before, much less photographed one. But it was turned away from me and probably had its eyes closed. As usual, I was optimistic. So I left.

The reason why I left was to return to my SUV for even more photographic equipment. I grabbed my 1.4x teleconverter so I could zoom in closer at 560mm. I also brought my big heavy tripod both for stability and to hold the camera, something that would have become onerous for the long time that I guessed I would have to wait. While I was at it, I took my external flash and Better Beamer because the owl was sitting in the shade. I pulled out all the stops and had to wait three hours for it to turn and look at me. But I think that this photo shows that it was worth the wait.

An endangered Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) Studies My Camera and Me

An endangered Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) Studies My Camera and Me

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I also took the opportunity to make a brief film clip of him cleaning his claws and then looking around. You can see it on Vimeo at “A Spotted Owl in Southeast Arizona.

Another bird that delighted me to see is a member of the cuckoo family. This cuckoo has long legs and a long tail and prefers to run instead of to fly. It is the subject of many cartoons. This must be enough hints!

While I saw one earlier in this trip as I went through New Mexico, I have always had a soft place in my heart for the Greater Roadrunner ever since watching him compete with a coyote. The competition was, of course, in the cartoons that started appearing in movie theaters in 1949 (when I was 14). They are still coming out, according to a Wikipedia article about “Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner.” And I still enjoy watching them, for example, this 1966 cartoon, “Out and Out Rout” about the dangers of book learning, like “Hunting Birds.”

But I enjoy the real thing even more. I saw it early one morning as I drove away from Miller Canyon. I was headed toward Mary Jo Ballator’s Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast, just a couple of canyons south of Miller Canyon.

The Movie Star in Person: A Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) Runs along the Miller Canyon Road

The Movie Star in Person: A Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) Runs along the Miller Canyon Road

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Mary Jo has both birds and blooms in her yard in the Chihuahuan Desert at the foot of Ash Canyon.

I Don't Know the Name of this Flower, but I Know that I Like It

I Don't Know the Name of this Flower, but I Know that I Like It

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And I know that this bird likes jam.

And I know that this bird likes jam.

A Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) Eats

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A Gila Woodpecker (Melenerpes uropygialis) Likes Oranges

A Gila Woodpecker (Melenerpes uropygialis) Likes Oranges

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Monsters also live in Mary Jo’s garden.

A Colorful Lizard Looks Ready to Attack Me!

A Colorful Lizard Looks Ready to Attack Me!

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But somehow I managed to escape from this beast. I went on to explore other nearby areas that I had never seen before and climbed the most beautiful valley in the Huachucas.

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Posted in: Arizona

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