Western U.S. Travel Diary - p 4Anna's Hummingbird (58284 bytes)

18 May 2004
I've enjoyed some R&R at daughter Mary's in Berkeley, where the family gathered to celebrate her M.A. degree in archaeology.  Now comes southeastern Arizona, the last leg of the trip.  Here I hook up with Duncan and wife Kathy from West Butterwick, U.K.  Like me, Duncan is an avid hummingbird photographer - we've exchanged e-mails, and this is our first photo-shoot together.
    We're staying at Beatty's Guest Ranch, one of the top hummer locales in the U.S.  Five different species visit a sugar-water feeding station on the hillside near our cabins:  Anna's, Broad-tailed, Magnificent, Black-chinned, and Broad-billed Hummingbirds.  We spend hours photographing them - on the feeders as well as perched in Alligator Juniper that provides welcome shade.  The temperature hovers near 90F., but Duncan & Kathy always take a break for an afternoon cup of hot tea.   Our Lipton's, they say, doesn't compare with good Typhoo tea in Britain.  Another hardship to endure while traveling in distant lands.





male Elegant Trogon (67786 bytes)


18 May 2004
The birders' grapevine reports Elegant Trogons nesting in Garden Canyon a few miles away, so Duncan and I drive over for a look.   For an hour we see nothing except a few Gray-breasted Jays.  Then, just as two other birders show up, we hear the male trogon's hoarse croaking call.  Both he and the female fly down to the sycamores along the stream where they are nesting, but only the male visits their hole.  I manage a few shots of this very rare bird, which in the U.S. is found only in the mountains of southeastern Arizona.  I've looked for trogons on previous trips with no luck, and was beginning to grow impatient with this nemesis bird.





female Black-chinned Hummingbird (55981 bytes)18 May 2004
Duncan and I had planned to photograph lots of hummers at flowers, but it was not to be.  One problem is the wind, which has been a nuisance at every stop on this trip.  Here it howls up and down the canyon day and night.  Just when I have everything set, a fierce gust topples the backdrop and scatters the birds.  Worse yet is the low number of hummingbirds - the Beattys are now putting out 2 quarts of sugar-water a day instead of the usual 20 quarts.  It's this way all over southeast Arizona, they say. 
    In 3 days I manage just one acceptable photo, the plain-Jane female Black-chinned Hummingbird at a pot of Desert Honeysuckle.  If nothing else it teaches one that in bird photography, nothing can ever be taken for granted.

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