We took a very short trip to Arizona this week to check on the Desert Photo Retreat. Thanks to a squirrel eating through the power cord to the solar panel, my auto bird feeder didn’t work, but my water system seemed to work well. But, the most fun was going through the game cam to see who was visiting. Had all the regulars – the gray fox pair had 3 young which was so exciting! The javelina had two babies, even the skunk had a little one! Also had deer, coyote, numerous birds and more. Here are a few of the highlights out of almost 10,000 photos. More photos below.
I had this vision that the wildlife in Arizona was largely solitary, rarely interacting with other wildlife except for prey / predator encounters. I was wrong!
I was often surprised at how often animals would appear to overlap with each other at the water hole – I might see a gray fox with a time stamp of 11:22, then a skunk at 11:23, then a fox again at 11:24. Other animals as well, but especially the fox and skunks. So, I moved the camera way back so that I could see the entire area, and increased the frequency of the each photo to each second. I was shocked to see how much interaction takes place! Especially with the gray fox and skunks who often seemed to arrive and leave at the same time, do you think they travel together? Skunk has little to fear as their only predator is the Great Horned Owl (who is also a regular visitor). Unlike other predators, the owl can’t smell making the skunks main deterrent worthless. So maybe the skunk feels safe from an owl with wildlife coming in for a drink at the same time.
I never did see the fox and bobcat at the water at the same time, and never saw the coyote there with any other animals as it would prey on most of them.
Check out these photos (past the more) for some interesting interactions. These are all from the last month on the property.
Ash-throated flycatcher. Back in Alaska getting caught up on lots of stuff! In the meantime, a photo from just before we left Arizona.
Well we just completed a successful season at the Desert Photo Retreat and are back in Alaska. One of the reasons we were successful is thanks to all the advice we have received from fellow photographers and friends, it has been invaluable. That said, no one has been more valuable towards our success then Bruce Taubert! Bruce has a PhD in biology, and worked for 25 years with Arizona Game and Fish so he really knows his wildlife and natural history. Plus, he is a fantastic photographer doing some cutting edge stuff with camera traps, remote triggers, multiple flashes and night photography. Not only has his willingness to share been invaluable, but he also brought us many, many wonderful clients this past winter!
You might be thinking, I wish I had a Bruce to advise me, and well you can, almost. Bruce has recently come out with a new book on photographing wildlife in Arizona. It is published by my friends Colleen Miniuk-Sperry and Paul Gill, the same one’s who published the similar book on photographing wildflowers in Arizona. Another must have that I have raved about in the past (even for non-photographers).
Of course you can read on-line forums, email fellow photographers, buy many books and then drive around exploring Arizona in search of wildlife like I have for the last 15 years. Or you can just buy this book! I sure wish it was around years ago. Bruce talks about all kinds of wildlife hot spots, not just for birds, but all wildlife. The book is illustrated with tons of beautiful photography, plus great little easy to read maps that make it easy to find your way. Plus, there are lots of sidebars on techniques, helpful hints and other useful information. It was well worth the investment!
Now I need to disclose, the above link is an affiliate link, so if you click on it and buy the book I stand to make lots and lots of money on commissions from Amazon, well, at least a few cents. Either way, now you know. That is not why I did the post, however a few dollars in commissions is a helpful way to support my blog. Thanks!
Yesterday just as we were leaving for Alaska. The saguaros were sure looking amazing!
A Gambel’s Quail in a blooming Ironwood tree near our RV. Temps breaking 100 today – glad to be heading back to Alaska!
Everyday we are seeing more and more colorful migrants! Sure has been fun to see!