Some quick midday wildflower scouting images. Picacho Peak is now showing good groupings of poppies around the Sunset Vista trail and Children’s Cave Trail. The brittle bush, lupine and globemallow is starting on the upper peaks and roadsides.

Sunset Trail, Picacho Peak

With this rain It should be an excellent bloom in the next few weeks. (See page 178 of the 1st edition). If you don’t want to deal with the crowds there is a good bloom starting along the Sasco Road heading into Ironwood Forest National Monument. (page 180, 1st edition) the hillsides have poppies and the low areas are covered with carpets of globmallow.

Arizona_Peridot Mesa_00002_c

Photographed on February 25, 2015, the Mexican gold poppies bloom in abundance on top of Peridot Mesa on the San Carlos Indian Reservation, Arizona

If Mexican gold poppies are what you seek, then drop everything this instant and RUN – don’t walk! – to Peridot Mesa on the San Carlos Indian Reservation.

Paul and I had heard substantiated rumors from a couple friends (thanks Ron and Lori!) of “fields and fields of poppies” in this location.  Based on when the flowers normally bloom here (mid-March), it seemed a little early, but the weather has been warm until recently.  I took my camera and curiosity out to Peridot Mesa yesterday.  And oh my!  The hillsides were covered with poppies!

Mainly poppies, but also some blue dicks, lupine, and budding globemallow, blanketed the basin in between Peridot Mesa and Peridot Hills.  With the cooler temperatures, the poppies began closing up quite early (about 2 hours before ‘sunset). As a couple walking the dirt road at sunset suggested, “The flowers have been sleeping [i.e., closing early] for three days in the cold.”

Arizona_Peridot Mesa_00001_cIn sampling a number of clusters, it appears there are just as many buds waiting to bloom as there are flowers in bloom.  Also, in surveying the ground, the lupine, blue dicks, globemallow, and other flowers are just starting to show.  With this in mind – even though it looks stunning now – I think this location has yet to officially peak.  Now, that said, forecasters are predicting 85-100% chance of rain in Phoenix starting Saturday and lasting through Tuesday.  A heavy rain could damage the delicate and dainty poppy blooms, but could encourage the other blooms to continue their progress.

We added Peridot Mesa to our expanded 2nd edition of our book, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers.”  We are finishing the proofing process as we speak, but here’s a sneak peak of location #48: Peridot Mesa in case you wish to put it to good use immediately - please practice “Leave No Trace” principles and do not trample the flowers so that others may enjoy this beautiful site as well.

(Note: more wildflower updates after the sample)

48_Peridot Mesa_Sample

Click on photo to see the sample page full size (and save to your computer and/or print for reference).

In addition to Peridot Mesa, we are hearing consistent reports that wildflowers are showing off in Picacho Peak State Park (location #53 in 1st edition; #51 in 2nd edition).

En route to the San Carlos Indian Reservation, I noted that Silly Mountain (location #32 in 1st and 2nd editions) is staring to display some yellow on the brittlebush at higher elevations.  I’d check this spot out in a week or so.

We’ve heard things are just starting at Catalina State Park (#55/#53) and at Pipeline Canyon Trail/Lake Pleasant (#21/20) so keep an eye on those two spots in the weeks ahead via the 2015 Arizona State Parks Ranger Cam (which they did not turn on for 2014′s bloom) at azstateparks.com/RangerCam2015 and DesertUSA’s Wildflower reports at www.desertusa.com/wildflo/wildupdates.html.

Finally, while driving along Highway 93 last week, on Monday, I saw a healthy amount of Joshua tree blooms along the road.  On my way back through the area on Thursday afternoon, almost all the blooms had disappeared and were replaced by blackened, dead stalks.  We can’t explain the short-lasting bloom nor determine if additional blooms will appear, but from last week’s observations, the Joshua tree bloom might have happened and ended within a week’s time frame last week.

Happy wildflower hunting and shooting!

~Colleen

Arizona_Peridot Mesa_00003_c

It’s raining again this morning in Phoenix and the only things fuller than the typically dry desert washes right now are Paul’s and my email inbox’s flooded with questions similar to “With all this rain we’re getting, will this be the killer wildflower bloom we’ve all be waiting for in the Arizona desert?”

After less than spectacular blooms for the past several years, this year, we are optimistically encouraged by the amount of precipitation – and as a result, the greening desert.  Although the verdict is still out on what will develop, we do have some early indications of what may come to pass for this year’s desert bloom.

We have been tracking the actual rainfall in a number of key flower hot spots since November, which is when we need abundant winter rains to trigger the sprouting process.  (We need solid rains in November and December, and then steady sprinkles in January, February, and March for a great annual bloom).   Based on rainlog.org data, here’s what we’ve seen in areas where rainfall amounts are collected:

As you can see, the season didn’t start off terribly well (zero rain in November), but has rebounded quite impressively in December and into January (and it’s still raining, at least in Phoenix, as we speak).  Whether December’s amounts were enough to make up for November’s will remain unknown until we see the magnitude and depth of the spring bloom beginning in the next three to six weeks.

First globemallow bud in Paul’s backyard from yesterday

Around the start of the new year, the desert experienced a couple of freezes.  The brittlebush bloom had begun early in some locations, but then those buds froze.  The perennial plants seem to be re-budding as the weather warms, which is good news.  The poppies and other annuals were also affected by the freeze.  How much so, though, will also remain a mystery until we start to see the annual bloom appear.

February is a critical month.  Sort of like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, everything needs to be “just right.”  Too much rain could encourage the grasses to grow and choke out flowers.  Too little rain could cause a smaller bloom.  Cold weather could slow the progress and delay the bloom while warm weather could speed it up.

According to NOAA, Arizona remains in an El Nino Watch status with a 50-60% of this system emerging onto the scene in the next two months.  An El Nino typically brings additional rain to the desert southwest,  which can affect the annual, perennial, and cactus bloom starting in late February through June.  The Farmer’s Almanac is also predicting rain showers for the area from February 1-7 and again February 21-26.  If this prediction pans out, it’s the steady sprinkles we need at the precisely the right time of year.

First poppy bud in Paul’s backyard from yesterday

What can you do to get ready for what’s to come?

Keep your fingers crossed, everyone!

Colleen & Paul

Thanks to many of you, we are SOLD OUT of our “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers” books.  We continue to have requests for copies (that we don’t have) and many of you sent in great suggestions for new locations and new flowers.

Sooo, we need more books!

After considerable thought, Paul Gill and I (Colleen Miniuk-Sperry) are working hard to come out with the Enhanced 2nd Edition of our award-winning guidebook,   “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, & How” (scheduled to be published in March 2015).

We’ve listened to your suggestions, and as such, the enhanced 2nd edition features:

  • 13 new spectacular locations
  • 12 new featured flowers
  • 10 new “Making the Photo” stories
  • Over 80 new photographs
  • An updated Bloom Calendar

In other words, we’ve made an award-winning guidebook even better!   (To view more information about the original book, visit our website at www.wildinarizona.com.)

But we need your help! Publishing will be expensive!

To publish the Enhanced 2nd Edition will cost about $14,000, considering costs associated with printing, shipping, etc. (Most authors do not make money on books, and this is why they call us “Starving Artists!” LOL!)

Paul and I started an Indiegogo campaign, where we are seeking your assistance in raising $5,000 to help us cover less than half of these costs to publish the book.  We are so passionate about helping others grow in their own photography and helping others get outside to enjoy all that Arizona has to offer.

As a thank you to YOU, our valued supporters, we are offering discounts on:

  • The new book and eBook!
  • Private half-day workshops with me
  • One-day workshop with Paul and me - only 5 available!
  • 3-day Arizona workshop extravaganza with Paul and me – only 3 available!

And the chance to get your name in the book forever!

To jump in on these exciting, but limited-time, perks, visit our new Indiegogo campaign at www.indiegogo.com/projects/wild-in-az-photographing-az-s-wildflowers-book now through February 6, 2015.  And then get your camera ready for Arizona’s upcoming spring wildflower bloom!

As always, thanks much for your support!
Paul and Colleen

We are so thrilled to finally announce our “top secret” Wild in Arizona project:  the new guidebook, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife!”  If you liked our wildflower book and you enjoy photographing wildlife, then this will be an outstanding resource for you as you explore the Grand Canyon State in search of critters, big and small.

But neither Paul nor I (Colleen) will be writing or photographing this book.  While both Paul and I photograph wildlife on occasion (typically when it runs into our landscape scenes…), we both knew there was one person who would knock this book out of the ballpark…and we are equally as excited to announce that we’ve partnered with him to make this come to life!

Wildlife photographer extraordinaire, Bruce Taubert, has joined our team to author and photograph the next book in our series, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife.”  (Paul will focus on graphic design and production, while I will serve as the official publisher.)

If you do not Bruce already from his amazing photography work in magazines like Arizona Highways or his highly-sought after photography workshops, then here’s a quick snapshot of his credentials:

Bruce Taubert

Bruce has been photographing the worlds wildlife and wild places for over 40 years.    His work has been published in Arizona Highways magazines and calendars, Smith-Southwestern Calendars, WildBird, Birders World, Ranger Rick, Arizona Wildlife Views magazine and calendars, Conservation International, several websites, Bat Conservation International and a host of educational books and other publications.  Bruce produced most of the photos for the Arizona Game and fish Departments “Bats of Arizona” and was featured photographer in “El Cielo” a book dedicated to the conservation of a cloud forest in Tamaulipas, Mexico.  Bruce is lead photographer on several Arizona Highways Photo Workshops and teaches photography workshops in Africa and Ecuador. 

 Bruce  has lived and worked in Arizona since 1981.  After receiving his PhD he began his career as the Chief of Fisheries for the Arizona Game and Fish Department and retired as the Assistant Director for Wildlife Management.  Bruce was a founding member and President of Arizona Watchable Wildlife Tourism Association and a Board Member on Watchable Wildlife Inc.  He also was a founding member of the international conservation non-profit Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.  Bruce spent 20 years traveling the world working on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.  Bruce’s first trip to Africa working for the FAO was in 1979 and he has returned 14 times. 

Despite a busy year, Bruce has already typed out a first draft of the manuscript and has offered some absolutely incredible wildlife photographs to help begin with layouts.  We still have loads of work ahead of us, but we are working towards a mid-2015 release.

But we could really use you’re help right now!  We’ve put together five different possible options for the cover of this new book and would like to know your thoughts.  Which one do you like the best?  Why?  Are there any you don’t like?  Why?  Don’t be shy! Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below and we’ll enter you in a drawing for a FREE copy once we release it next year. Your input will help guide our decision of which cover to use!

Here are the five, in no particular order:

Cover #1

WIA Wildlife Cover #1

 

Cover #2:

WIA Wildlife Cover #2

 

Cover #3:

WIA Wildlife Cover #3

 

Cover #4:

WIA Wildlife Cover #4

 

Cover #5:

WIA Wildlife Cover #5

We thank you for your help, and can't wait to share this wonderful new resource with you soon!

~Colleen, Paul, and Bruce

 

Autumn arrives to the West Fork of Oak Creek in previous years.

Following a long closure after the devastating Slide Fire this summer, the Oak Creek Canyon, including the famed West Fork (north of Sedona) reopens today! Just in time for autumn!

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/story/travel/road-trips/2014/09/30/oak-creek-canyon-sedona-open-slide-fire/16473799/.

The trees in this area typically start donning their fall coat in mid-October, with the peak right around Halloween and lingering into early November (depending on the weather).  Although fire crews made a concerted effort to protect this riparian area, it’s unknown how that will affect (if at all) the changing of the leaves on the trees that remain.  Best thing to do?  Grab your camera and check it out!

Happy shooting!

Autumn arrives to the West Fork of Oak Creek in previous years.

 

 

The Basin Lupin

Wildflowers on the North Rim are OK in De Montte Park now. Good monsoon blooms along the Wahalla Plateau. But the best color now is in ” The Basin” 4 miles in on the Point Sublime road. Good color around the San Francisco Peaks and Mormon Lake. I will have a report from Flagstaff after next week.

With the monsoon in full swing, I took a spin through Flagstaff last Friday afternoon to check on the status of the wildflowers in a number of spots.  Sorry, I don’t have any notable photos to share (as I was racing to get home to Chandler – a mere 2.5-hour drive – after a 21-day road trip to the Pacific Northwest…), but I was eager to pass along what I saw nonetheless!

Bonito Park (Wild in Arizona book location # 7):  I spotted just a handful of sunflowers in bloom in the field, with some immature plants waiting to bud.  Although it didn’t seem like there were enough budding to create a wide spread bloom, it is a touch early in the season for this area to show.  Scattered wild geranium, yellow wall flower, and common mullein are currently adding a splash of color to the green. Arizona skyrockets are also starting to pop up on north side of street in forested area.

Along Highway 89 (near Copeland Lane specifically):  Fields of Rocky Mountain beeplant await those with a telephoto lens.  If you decide to stop to photograph in this area, though, please respect private property and fences.

Lower Lake Mary:  Swaths of calliopsis are blooming along the dry lake bed, particularly in the middle and southern sections.  Abundant budding plants along the implied shoreline indicated this spot is just getting warmed up too! I also saw a nice patch of butter and eggs in forest.

Upper Lake Mary:  Unlike Lower Lake Mary, it’s neighbor to the south is still holding water despite the warmer summer temperatures.  Like Lower Lake Mary, this area is already showcasing ribbons of calliopsis along east and west shoreline. Healthy blankets of yellow grace the Narrows nearby as well.  Stay north or far south of day use area to avoid getting swimmers in your shot.

Ashurst Lake (Wild in Arizona book location #13):  With the abundance of calliopsis on both Lake Mary’s, I had high expectations for wide spread bloom at nearby Ashurst Lake.  After enduring a more-than-normal washboardy ride along Forest Service Road 82E (which is still passable to passenger cars, just expect a massage en route), the meadows showed zippo.  Scattered water smartweed is blooming early along the lake’s southern shoreline, but the water level is a solid 5-10 feet away from the plants and I don’t know how big of a bloom these water-loving plants will do without sitting closer (in) water if the lake remains so low.

Mormon Lake (Wild in Arizona book location #12): The lake is dry, but calliopsis is abundant in the field along the southern shoreline.  A smatterings of Indian paintbrush starting to make an appearance near both formal overlooks.

Note that in the Lake Mary, Ashurst Lake, and Mormon Lake area, smoke from the Bar M fire filled the air on Friday.  Burnout activities continue, so the smoke will lessen as time passes.

In other news – and for additional guidance on some of these areas listed above - AAA Highroads magazine featured our article “Put the Petal to the Nettle:  Take a Drive on the Wildflower Side of Flagstaff” in their most recent issue (July/August 2014).  If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, visit http://highroads.az.aaa.com/magazine and click on View Full Issue.  We’re on magazine page 20-21 (digital edition page 22-23).  Enjoy!

Happy shooting!
~Colleen

 

Fish Hook Barrel Cactus bloom

Fish Hook Barrel Cactus blooms are refracted in a rain drop after the storm yesterday.

The Spring bloom is now at it’s end with a few Saguaro’s and the Barrel Cactus putting out there final flowers. TheState is starting to get some storms now. This will usher in the Monsoon bloom of Arizona Caltrop in the southern deserts and the common sunflowers up north along with the annual wildflowers across the high mountains. The Yellow Columbine’s are blooming now in Horton Creek and should be good in Workman Creek. (page 164, Wild in Arizona, Photographing Ariz

Fish Hook Barrel Cactus raindrop

A trychocereus hybrid blooms at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson last Thursday

With the somewhat unimpressive spring annual & perennial bloom essentially done in the low desert–save for the cactus blooms–wildflowers are still popping up around the state!  Here’s what we’ve seen within the last several days:

  • Another trychocereus bloom in Tohono Chul Park in Tuscon

    Tohono Chul Park:  Given the warm temperatures and lack of rain, I was quite impressed by the variety of healthy blooms in this Tucson park when I visited last Thursday.  It was a Mecca of macro opportunities!  A few poppies and owl clover are hanging on, while an abundance of yellow columbine, verbena, desert marigolds, yerba manza, and a variety of cacti blooms (including several species of night bloomers) are showing their colors.  While you won’t go wrong on any paved path (or even just in the parking lot), head to the Sonoran Seasons Garden, cactus/succulent ramada, and the Riparian Habitat for best photo ops but bring a telephoto lens (in addition to macro) as some of the blooms are tucked behind low fences.  Tohono Chul is home to the largest private collection of the famous Queen of the Night cactus, which blooms on one night sometime in May through July-sometimes with less than 12 hours notice!  The magical event – called “Bloom Night” – has yet to occur this year, but it may come early.  If you’re interested in catching this popular event, learn more and sign up for their email notification list at http://tohonochulpark.org/cereus.

  • Primrose and verbena tango in the parking lot at the Tucson Botanical Garden last Thursday

    Tucson Botanical Garden:  Although smaller in size than Tohono Chul, TBG offered a slightly different collection of flowers to photograph.  Head to the Cactus and Succulent Garden for strawberry hedgehog and a variety of night blooming cacti around the cafe.  Then visit the Wildflower Garden for primrose, blanketflower, and globemallow.

  • Saguaro National Park (West):  After observing several saguaro cacti in bloom while driving along Gates Pass Road, I popped into the Visitor Center to learn how the bloom was progressing.  The ranger suggested the saguaro bloom had just started and expected the bloom to crescendo to a peak in the next two to three weeks, which would be earlier than normal.  Best bet right now is along Hohokam Road.  Some palo verde, prickly pear cactus, and buckhorn cactus were still blooming, but certainly past peak.
  • Echinopsis hybrid bloom called “First Light” in the Tucson Botanical Garden in Tucson

    Sedona area:  Some scattered strawberry hedgehog cactus, prickly pear cactus, desert globemallow, and blackfoot daisies around the Huckaby Trailhead parking area (although little seems to be blooming along Schnebly Hill Road at this time) and at the Back-O-Beyond Trailhead.  Not much blooming in Slide Rock State Park…apple trees and myrtle bloomed in mid-March (yes, early!).

We eagerly awaiting the monsoon bloom, which typically occurs in late June through September (will it too be 1-2 months early?!).  Also, this month, NOAA officially declared an “El Nino Watch” status, which means the likelihood of an El Nino (read: wetter weather for Arizona) developing this summer or fall increased above 50%.

Happy flower hunting!

Blanketflower in Tucson Botanical Garden’s Wildflower Garden last Thursday

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