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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Palm Springs: Mother Nature Does Not Always Cooperate

My parents and I were originally planning on taking a six mile hike today however mother nature was not cooperating. It was cold, 62 degrees in the campground, and where we wanted to hike was 10 degrees colder. Since 52 didn’t sound like a fun hiking temperature we decided instead to visit a few places we heard may have owls.

We looked at two locations without finding any signs of owls. At the third location we wandered around a bit chasing after a jackrabbit my mom found but we were unable to get close to it at all. The only other things we saw out there were the Joshua Trees,

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JUST A BUNCH OF JOSHUA TREES

The name Joshua Tree was actually given by a group of Mormons where they likened the tree to a biblical story where Joshua raises his hands up to the sky in prayer. The tree is actually a large lily that grow only about an inch per year.

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IMAGINE HOW OLD THIS TREE MUST BE – THE OLDEST HAVE BEEN RECORDED OVER A THOUSAND YEARS OLD

Since we were not finding much of anything and because it was so cold outside we decided to abandon our search for the owls and return to bird back around the campsite where it was warmer.

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BUNDLED UP AND STILL COLD

We ended up going to the Forty Nine Palms Oasis right near our campground. There we were much happier, not only was the temperature better, the wind had also decided to stop blowing as hard. We were happy.

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MY NEW FAV PHOTO OF MY PARENTS

I love the cactus garden at this nature center. They have many different kinds with little signs showing what each one is.

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WE SPENT SOME TIME LOOKING AT THE CACTUS

This Red Barrel Cactus caught my eye. Red in nature is generally a warning to stay away, as if the quills on this were not reason enough to steer clear.

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RED BARREL CACTUS

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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/2500 – f/8 – ISO 400 – WITH A -2/3 STOP IN LIGHT - SHOT ON TRIPOD
RED BARREL CACTUS CLOSE UP OF THE QUILLS


I just loved how the light played on the plants and how the bokeh in the background created such a soft look for this hardy plant.

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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/2000 – f/8 – ISO 400 - SHOT ON TRIPOD
CACTUS


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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/2000 – f/8 – ISO 400 - WITH A -2/3 STOP IN LIGHT - SHOT ON TRIPOD
BARREL CACTUS WITH DRIED FLOWERS


We were also able to find some birds at the Oasis as well. With a fresh water source here it is a good place for birds. Finding water in a desert is hard work so they stay near the natural spring. Some of the birds were pretty common.

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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/2000 – f/5.6 – ISO 200 - SHOT ON TRIPOD
A COMMON HOUSE FINCH


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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/2000 – f/8 – ISO 400 - SHOT ON TRIPOD
MOCKINGBIRD


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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/1600 – f/6.3 – ISO 200 - SHOT ON TRIPOD
ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD


But then we saw a few Phainopepla’s. Their name, which means silky robe, is part of the flycatcher family. It is the only silky flycatcher in North America and although I have seen these birds before I was never able to get as close as I got today.

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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/1000 – f/7.1 – ISO 200 - SHOT ON TRIPOD
THE FEMALE PHAINOPEPLA


This female was creating a nest in a nearby tree and by moving slowly I was lucky enough to get a few photos of this shy bird. These guys love the berries of desert mistletoe and are found all through the Joshua tree region. Although I was excited to get a much better shot of the phainopepla then I did last time, see here, I was still sad that I was unable to get a good photo of the male (not because a lack of trying but because the dang bird was so skittish!).

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BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME

Mom was able to get the photo of the male Phainopepla and you could not wipe that grin off her face she was so happy! That is the way it goes with nature photography, sometimes you get the shot sometimes you don’t.

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GOOD JOB MOM

We went back to the campsite and after a few hours mom and I took a little walk. Of course we brought the cameras and I was ecstatic when we were able to not only find a Ruby Crowned Kinglet but that we were able to photo him for a good ten minutes before he took off. These guys are crazy energetic and they NEVER sit still. Getting a good shot without a million branches in the way and with the bird sitting still is pretty difficult.

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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/2000 – f/8 – ISO 400 – WITH A -2/3 STOP IN LIGHT - SHOT ON TRIPOD
RUBY CROWNED KINGLET


Learning to identify the Ruby Crowned Kinglet isn’t easy, that is mostly due to the fact that you rarely if ever get to see the ruby crown. Males only flick their crown up when they are agitated or when mating.

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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/800 – f/9 – ISO 500 - SHOT ON TRIPOD
RUBY CROWNED KINGLET YOU RARELY GET TO SEE THE CROWN


Even though we didn’t see the ruby crest up, because of the wind I did get one very lucky shot where his crest feathers were blowing in the wind, in essence showing that famous hidden crown.

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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/2500– f/5 – ISO 400 - SHOT ON TRIPOD
RUBY CROWNED KINGLET


If the bird tips his head just right you can see the triangle where the crown lies down, but seeing the back of the head like this is very rare.

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CAMERA 7D – LENS 500mm f/4 IS USM – 500mm – 1/1250 – f/9 – ISO 400 - SHOT ON TRIPOD
BACK VIEW OF THE RUBY CROWNED KINGLET’S HEAD


Even though it started out being a slow day it ended up being a fun day!

1 comment:

lilmansworld said...

red cactus looks like it should belong under the sea. pretty shots!

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