Great Horned Owl Nest

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Phoenix, Photos, Travel 11 Comments

Great Horned Owl on a nest, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, near Phoenix, Arizona.

Great Horned Owl on a nest, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, near Phoenix, Arizona.

What doesn’t show in photos but does in video are two little white puff balls that popped up from time to time – newborn chicks.

As I was driving to this nest before sunrise the past Saturday morning the radio DJ was joking about how he clearly didn’t win the giant Mega Lottery because if he had, he wouldn’t be at work on the radio that morning.  I thought to myself that if I had won, I’m pretty sure I would have still be heading off in the morning with my camera to watch a nesting Great Horned Owl – I suppose that is a pretty good sign that you are doing what you love.

Arizona Wildflowers 2012

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Phoenix, Travel 10 Comments

Superstition Mountains, Superstitions Mountain State Park, Arizona.

Superstition Mountains, Superstitions Mountain State Park, Arizona.

A few people have asked me about the wildflower conditions in Arizona this year.  It is better then California, but it still isn’t very good.  But there is a bit of good news, but more on that later.

As we drove across the desert areas of California a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t even see wildflowers along the edges of the highway – a place you can almost always count on some color thanks to the concentrated water run-off.  Almost from the moment we past into Arizona we started seeing wildflowers, but unfortunately, they are largely found on the shoulder of the roadways.

There are a few flowers here and there especially in washes.  But, in areas where some years you could find thick fields of poppies, you might see a few dozen.  On hillsides that can be solid yellow with brittlebush, this year there are just a few patches.  One of the best places I have seen for brittlebush is on the hillsides of the Superstition Mountains.  Unfortunately even many of those blooms are cooked, and you have to really search to find some decent looking plants.  So far I haven’t seen a place that I would say is a must visit.

So what is the good news?  I have been seeing lots of cactus beginning to bloom and the large rainstorm that past through this area certainly can’t hurt – I think Fort McDowell received 3/4 of a inch about a week ago.  For exercise I have been mountain biking in McDowell Mountain Regional Park and over the past week I have seen a increase in the number of blooming cactus.  The same is true for areas of Tonto National Forest.  I found the above bloom last night at the Superstition Mountains – here blooming cactus was harder to find, as this was the only one I spotted.  But for flower fans, the beginning cactus bloom in some areas should be welcome news.

 

Salt River Sunset

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Phoenix, Photos, Travel 2 Comments

Salt River, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

Salt River, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

As unusual as it was to see snow in the desert as we did in Sedona last week – I find it almost equally unusual to find a river, and yet it really isn’t – there are a number of rivers that flow year around in the Arizona desert.

Fountain Hills Phone Book

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Phoenix, Photos, Shameless Self Promotion, Travel 3 Comments

Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

Here is another cool cover that came in the mail recently – this photo of Tonto National Forest was used on the cover for the Fountain Hills – Rio Verde – Tonto Verde phone book.

As most of you know, we just spent a couple of weeks just outside of Fountain Hills this winter.  Although this area does sell well for us, I think a big reason we talk ourselves into re-visiting the region is for the amazing mountain biking at the McDowell Regional Park.  If I had to pick just one place to ride – I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I would pick McDowell even over Moab, Utah.  Well, along with the mountain biking, the mild winter weather helps too.  🙂

Salt River

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Phoenix, Photos, Travel 7 Comments

Salt-River, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

Salt-River, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

The Salt River is a popular tubing location during the summer.  Looks fun!  And, I bet much warmer then the Gulkana River in Alaska – a place my friends and I would go tubing on warm summers.

One of the drawbacks with shooting a lot of 3D video on this trip is that I haven’t had as many still photos as I normally would for my blog.   So recently, I have made more of an effort to grab more stills while out shooting 3D – this is one.  For 3D, I like to find scenes like this with many layers to it.  Unfortunately, I won’t know what really if it “works” until I get home – I’m looking forward to processing the video from this trip.

Arizona Wildflower Update – 2011

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Phoenix, Photos, Travel 9 Comments

Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

What may not show well in this small photo is the nice field of yellow ground wildflowers.

This is definitely been a very poor year for wildflowers, but a stretch of warm weather followed by some a pretty heavy rain last Monday has seemed to produce a mini bloom of wildflowers.

In the two placers I have been spending time, Tonto National Forest, and McDowell Regional Park, I’m beginning to see a few poppies, lupine and brittlebush in bloom.  It isn’t the dramtic colorful hills and fields of wildflowers I have seen in past springs in this area, but at least it is a little something, something.  And, I would think it could get a bit better over the next week or so.

I’ll be making my way to the west side of the state in a few days, it will be interesting to see how that area is doing after the recent rains – I’ll follow up with a report if I find anything worth reporting on!

Saguaro Forest

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Phoenix, Photos, Travel 7 Comments

Saguaro cactus, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

Saguaro cactus, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

With clouds in the sky, and a gap above the horizon to the East – I though sunrise this morning could be epic!  But, it was nothing.  So, I used the nice light to play with these guys instead.