In Arizona now “Winters Spring”. Super early for the Phacelias. They are already doing that now, then there will be more side-branches and flowers on those yet to come, and it seems like seed set and reproduction will be high. Very interesting! The desert is also covered with baby Brittlebush more than I have ever seen. If we get 1/2-1″ of rain next 2 months spread out and no hard freeze then I am now predicting a banner Phacelias and Brittlebush year soon. Also spotted blooming fiddlenack and lupin. NO Poppies

 

If you are WILD about wildlife, then you won’t want to miss this upcoming event at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on October 21, 2018 with Bruce Taubert, a professional wildlife photographer and author of the award-winning guidebook “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife:”

Are you WILD about wildlife?

If so, then mark your calendars! Join photographer and author Bruce Taubert at enthralling photography workshop on April 28, 2018 at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum (BTA). During this special event, Bruce will narrate photographs, share anecdotes, and explain exposure and composition techniques from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. He will also answer questions after the class concludes. The session costs $50 for non-members (or $37.50 for Arboretum annual members – who don’t pay separate garden admission). In addition to the two-hour slideshow and class, pre-paid enrollees will get a free copy of his award-winning guidebook, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife” (a $25 value).

Bruce’s book spotlights 50 spectacular locations to find diverse animals to photograph across Arizona. It’s packed with 220 color photographs, technical information, instructional wildlife photography tips, “Making the Photo” stories,  a comprehensive checklist of photography basics and gear, and a calendar that predicts year-round wildlife photography opportunities.

For four decades, photographing Arizona wildlife has made Bruce’s life rich with experience and anecdotes, from netting bats after dark, to staying calm while face-to-face with massive bull elk on the Mogollon Rim. He earned a doctorate in wildlife management and retired a few years ago as assistant director for wildlife management at the Arizona Game and Fish Department. He has taught Arizona Highways photo workshops and lectured about wildlife photography at the BTA. Bruce’s work has been published in Arizona Highways, WildBird, Birders’ World, among dozens of other magazines.

To learn more about this photography workshop, visit https://arboretum.ag.arizona.edu/photoclass.html (scroll down to the April 28th event listing). To register, call the arboretum at 520.689.2723 during daytime business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. AZ time). To see more of Taubert’s photos and read more about him at brucetaubert.com.

Javelina at the Desert Photo Ranch. Photo by Bruce Taubert.

If you are looking for a new place to photograph Arizona’s desert wildlife, then look no further than the new Desert Photo Retreat!

Ron and Janine Niebrugge recently acquired a 10-acre piece of the beautiful Upper Sonoran desert east of the town of Marana in the Tortolita Mountains (north of Tucson). Although the Niebrugge’s have lived at the property for three years, this is the first year they have opened it up to outside photographers.

According to his online bio: “Ron attended college at Eastern Washington and then went on to get his masters at UCI. After graduating from UCI he stayed on in So Cal where he met his wife, Janine. In 1991 they returned to Alaska and made Seward, Alaska home, where they still reside. In 2002 Ron, along with Janine, decided to follow his passion for photography on a full-time basis, leaving comfortable corporate jobs for the unknown life of a professional photographer. Ron and Janine never looked back.” His striking photography work can be found at http://www.wildnatureimages.com.

Fox at the Desert Photo Ranch. Photo by Bruce Taubert.

At the Desert Photo Retreat, saguaros, ironwood, palo verde, and tons of cactus pack the property. It also features a permanent water source, and the birds are fed abundantly. Thus, it’s a haven for wildlife.

Although Ron seemingly sees all of the desert birds visit his new home, I visited recently to specifically to photograph javelina and gray fox. The birds are easy, the fox predictable, and the javelina reliable. Two blinds on the property put you in the best position for great morning and evening light.

The javelina image is one of several I took on my first visit. These cute but voracious “pigs” are best photographed at the pond blind. The gray fox begin their activities at dusk and are active all night. Flashes and some knowledge of remote photography will help. The fox make several visits to the pond blind during the night. If you can stay up late, you should be successful. Ron’s other blind is set up primarily for desert birds and is incredibly active.

An airstream trailer is available for overnight stays on the property for singles or couples. It’s better than most hotels I stay at. For an additional fee, Ron can guide you for a half- or full-day.

The only downside? The Desert Photo Retreat is only open from October through April.

Give the Desert Photo Retreat a try! You will not regret it.  Learn more at Desert-photo-retreat.com.

~Bruce

Fox at the Desert Photo Ranch. Photo by Bruce Taubert.

Photo by Bruce Taubert

Spring has sprung at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert (location #20 in the Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife guidebook).  The bad news is that most of the Northern migrants have left with the exception of some very photogenic ducks (green-winged teal, cinnamon teal, shovelers), dowitchers, and least sand pipers.  The good news is the black-necked stilts and American avocets are getting into their breeding garb and beginning to stake out territories.

Most years, the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is possibly the best place in Arizona to photograph breeding stilts and avocets.  From my trip to the ranch on March 19th, this year should be great. I observed in excess of 40 avocets and a like number of stilts. The avocets were about half way to their full breeding plumage and doing a little practice sexual behavior.

On the 19th, most of the birds were at ponds 1, 6, and 7.  The black-necked stilts at pond 6 were especially photogenic allowing me to approach within 30 feet.  The avocets were a little more shy but could be accessed with a 400 mm or greater lens.

During March, April, and May the stilts and avocets will be breeding, nesting, and beginning to take care of their young.  Mornings are best and the light is good until about 9 a. m.  Get there early for the best opportunities.  As the day progresses the wind picks up and chances for reflective water decreases.

–Bruce

Photo by Bruce Taubert

Photo by Bruce Taubert

Hesperaloe bloom. Photo by Colleen Miniuk-Sperry

Paul and I spent the past two weekends at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum teaching our annual “Wild about Wildflowers…and Macro Photography” workshops. A huge THANKS to all who attended and treated us to so much beauty through their own lenses. Lots of good laughs too!

At the arboretum, the Demonstration Garden has the best set of blooms so far, as the perennials like penstemon, coral aloe, Godding verbena, mescal bean (which you have to smell…smells like grape soda!), and a variety of barrel cactus are starting to show their beautiful colors. The Cactus Garden is also coming along, but will display a stronger cactus bloom in the next few weeks. There, we spotted desert marigolds, spiderwort, and even a couple of Mexican gold poppies, lupine, and globemallow.

It’s no surprise that we’re seeing a lack of annuals based on the lack of rain we’ve had this winter. Perennials, however, are showing how they are less affected by low precipitation and will likely continue to bloom over the next several weeks. Places like Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Desert Botanical Gardens, Tohono Chul, and Tucson Botanical Gardens will offer plenty of wildflower photography opportunities as spring turns into summer in the desert.

Near Gonsalez Pass to the west of Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the ocotillo are greening up, and small splashes of color from fairy duster, lupine, and brittlebush dot the desert landscape. Silly Mountain looks brown and burned out–not sure if even the normally reliable brittlebush bloom will happen here this year…

While Paul and I have been busy teaching, we’ve heard rumors of roadside flowers along Highway 60 south of Wickenburg and brittlebush off of Highway 17 north of Anthem. Also, there are reports of several locations in Tucson in bloom per this recently published article: http://tucson.com/thisistucson/5best/tucson-is-blooming-insta-worthy-spots-to-stop-and-smell/article_76700fd0-3132-11e8-b19c-9bd1681345bf.html.

Let us know what you’ve seen out in your wildflower explorations!

I wish I had better news but the rains came a little to late this year still some roadside brittle bush between Yuma and Tucson with some small displays in Organ Pipe Cactus National Park and Tucson’s Pima Canyon. Also poppies at 10% and probably at peak bloom for Catalina State Park. Creosote and other bushes are showing but small. The ocotillo is budding and should show in a few weeks. I did find one pincushion bloom in the Sonoran Desert National Monument. Beavertail cactus are starting to show near the Colorado River. Desert Botanical Gardens and Boyce Thompson Arboretum are both showing some color. We should have an OK cactus and tree bloom in the deserts in a month.

We still have a few spaces left in our “Wild About Wildflowers” photography workshop on March 24-25 at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Come polish your skills and learn some new tips and tricks for flower and macro photography! Learn more and register at http://cms-photo.com/Workshops/2018Wildflowers.

Ahead of the Rest

Are you WILD about wildflowers? Who wants to join the “poppy-razzi?”

The Arizona desert hasn’t seen much rain this winter to trigger a spectacular spring bloom. But, this is the perfect time to dust off your camera and macro lens and get ready for a more impressive bloom in the future. Besides, there will still be flowers to photograph…if you know where to look…

Join “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers” authors/photographers Paul Gill and Colleen Miniuk-Sperry at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum (where the staff consistently water their plants…) on our fabulous “Wild About Wildflowers…and Macro Photography” workshop to polish up your flower and macro skills at the beginning of the spring season. We’re SO wild about wildflowers, we have not one but TWO two-day sessions planned: March 17-18, 2018 (sold out) and March 24-25, 2018 (9 spaces left).

Over these two jam-packed days, you’ll benefit from hearing approaches and ideas from two different successful photography instructors to help you refine your own style. You’ll not only have the opportunity to hone new skills out in a safe and supportive learning environment, but you will also create meaningful macro photographs to be proud of. Fun guaranteed!

If learning, playing, laughing, and photographing wildflowers is your thang, you won’t want to miss this outing! Come join the “poppy-razzi!”  For more information and registration visit http://cms-photo.com/Workshops/2018Wildflowers.

We hope to see you there!

Fall color in Arizona is dropping off the Mogollon Rim and heading towards the deserts at this time. Without rain this fall season, the color was spotty in most areas up north but did go off as expected on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon the first week of October. Peak color came to the White Mountains and San Francisco Peaks the week after. The upper elevations of the Mogollon Rim is past along as are likely Mt. Lemmon and Mt. Graham. Color in the maples have shifted out of Oak Creek, although you can still see some lingering reds.

Time for the cottonwoods to start showing their yellow coats in the Upper Verde River, then the maples should start showing their reds in the lower elevations in canyons in southern Arizona (like the Huachuchas).

Stay tuned for more reports in the weeks to come!

Earlier this week, while camping in northern Arizona in the Coconino National Forest, I had the fortunate chance to witness the birth of an evening primrose flower as it slowly unfurled from its green bud at dusk. We watched a first bloom for almost 45 minutes; a second one nearby took less than 7 minutes to open. It was one of the most beautiful natural events I’ve ever seen.

If you’d like to see it too, check out the video I just posted of the second bloom at 2x real time speed (so it’s about 3 minutes long) – enjoy!

The evening primrose were well past peak and at the end of their season. Only a few buds remained on Monday, and it’s likely those have already bloomed.

That said, we’ve heard reports that areas near Mormon Lake (location 12 in the Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers (2nd Ed.) guidebook) are fields of gold right now…

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