Birds-like you see every day…but different

Wherever I go, I watch for birds.  Even in my back yard, I love watching our birds at the feeder.  Normally, juncos are ground-feeders, but ours just love hogging the feeder, watching for chickadees and nuthatches who might want to get in.

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This is a junco and our song sparrow vying for the preferred station on the feeder, and there’s another junco perched on the side of the suet feeder on the right.

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Here’s one of our nuthatches (we have at least two pairs who frequent our feeder).  They usually go for a sunflower seed, then take it to the top of the fence to tap it out of the shell to eat.  They can go back and forth numerous times, rejecting the millet seeds and teasing out the sunflower seeds.

Chickadee at suet feeder

We get both Black-capped Chickadees and Chestnut-backed Chickadees at our suet feeder in the winter.

When we go on vacation, I especially love seeing familiar birds in new locales.  We met up with this fellow at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

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I think he was actually posing for me!

Also in the Southwest, we went to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, and I added two new birds to my life list.

Bird on Cactus, Desert Botanical Garden
Curve-billed Thrasher on cactus
Quail foraging under the agave
Gambel’s Quail foraging under the agave at Desert Botanical Garden

Our recent trip to Hawaii on the Crystal Symphony added new birds, but also new views of familiar birds.  From the deck of a cruise ship, you can get a view of a bird flying below you, like you rarely can on land.  Before we even left San Francisco, I got pictures of familiar birds from on the dock, and standing at the rail.  We have Western Grebes in western Washington, and here they are in San Francisco.

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And from the Promenade Deck on the Symphony, I was able to get good pictures of the various kinds of gulls that were fishing in the harbor.  I think there was a big school of fish right there, since we saw pelicans, Western Gulls, California Gulls, and Herring Gulls wheeling in the air and crying while scooping up fish at the surface.

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Autumn and winter are now approaching, which will afford me great opportunities to see local birds, right in the back yard.  My camera will be ready!

Photo Challenge…Textures

It seems counter-intuitive for a plant to be both soft and prickly at the same time.  This Arizona cactus, at progressively-closer views shows two entirely different textures.  Seen from relatively far-away, it looks soft, with rounded curves.

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Seen closer-up, the big spines look pretty dangerous, and the plant looks like you wouldn’t want to get too close.

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But when you get really close, you want to jump back.  Those spines can hurt!

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If you feel the plant carefully, between the spines, it is actually very soft.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/textures/

RushBabe49 and Hubby’s Excellent Arizona Adventure

From February 13th through the 18th, hubby and I flew down to Arizona for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Phoenix.  We attended the Seminar Tuesday and Wednesday, then did some sightseeing the rest of the time.  Monday’s flight was uneventful, and we arrived at our hotel in good time.  Upon unpacking, however, hubby discovered that he had forgotten to pack some necessities, one of which was very important for our Seminar.  So we broke out the GPS for directions, and went shopping.  We made our way to the Desert Ridge Marketplace, an outdoor mall near the site of the seminar.  Fortune was smiling on us that day, because we found what he needed the very first place we stopped.  Once that was done, we could go find dinner.

On the way over to “restaurant row”, we stopped by an interesting amenity at the mall, a shallow “fountain” designed for people to wade in to cool their feet.  I sat down on a bench, under the palm trees, and looked up.  I couldn’t resist taking this picture with my iPod camera.

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Tuesday morning, we checked out of our hotel, and headed down to the Arizona State University Research Park, to visit the offices of my professional association, the Institute for Supply Management.  I have been doing the Report on Business for the Western Washington Chapter since 1999, and I thought it would be good to visit those at the National office who manage the National ISM Report on Business, to whom I send a summary of my data every month.  I found them to be a delightful group, and we had a productive meeting.  I thank them for their excellent hospitality, and their ongoing support of my efforts for Western Washington.  As a result of this meeting, I was invited to complete the National survey for my company; my boss and I agreed to do it.

When we were done there, we had a nice lunch at the local Chick-Fil-A, then drove over to the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa (long name, huge property!), the site of the Hillsdale Seminar.  We found our very nice room, got unpacked, and relaxed for a while.  Our room had a balcony, and this was the view.

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Once we settled in, we went downstairs to meet one of our online Ricochet friends, who was also attending the seminar.  As with all of our Ricochet friends, she was a very nice person, but busy so we couldn’t talk very long.  Next, we went to the President’s Club reception before dinner, where we greeted friends from Hillsdale, including, of course, their President, Dr. Larry Arnn.  RushBabe also got a chance to cross an item off her “gotta do before I die” bucket list.  I got to speak with, and shake the hand of, the “Last Un-documented Guest Host (for Rush Limbaugh) Before the Border”.  That would be Mark Steyn, who was one of the conference speakers.  He is a very tall, very gracious guy, and I was lucky to get to talk to him.  We also met another of the speakers, Mr. Herbert Meyer, who just so happens to live in Friday Harbor, Washington, not too far from us. And, he is the father of one of the Ricochet editors-a twofer!

After the reception, we went in to dinner, and were bowled over by the size of the crowd.  This seminar had over 700 attendees, enough to fill the entire ballroom.  At our table were seated two more of our Ricochet friends, one of whom flew down from our neighborhood to attend.  We had a nice dinner, heard Dr. Arnn and Mark Steyn give excellent speeches, and then called it a night.

On Wednesday, we had a nice breakfast out on the lawn, and were joined by Mr. Meyer.  The rest of the day was filled with  speeches, a nice lunch, and more speeches!  In the afternoon Elaine Donnelly gave a very interesting talk about women in the “Obama social experiment” military, and how that may be reducing the readiness of the US military for combat.  The seminar ended in mid-afternoon, and our Ricochet friends went home, so we were free.  Wednesday evening, we drove into Scottsdale, through ugly rush-hour traffic, to have dinner with yet another Ricochet friend, who we’d met before.  We had a great pizza dinner at Grimaldi’s, and caught up with everyones’ doings.

Thursday was to be our “drive south” day.  In the morning, we had a nice breakfast in the hotel, and strolled around the grounds for a while.  The resort has some very beautiful landscaping; in fact, a river runs through it!

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After our stroll, we checked out, and headed south toward Tucson.  Along the way, we stopped at a rest area, and I got out the trusty camera.  This is really Arizona.

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And then, there’s this:

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In Tucson, we had a very nice lunch, at the Gringo Grill, with a couple more Ricochet friends, one of whom is a former Portland, Oregon police detective, and the other of whom is a graduate student in Physics, from Cambodia.  Can you say “great stories”?!  Well, they had them, and we spent a very pleasant hour.  Then, it was back on the road.  We drove to the border town of Nogales, caught a glimpse of the border with Mexico, turned around and drove back to Phoenix.

Friday was our “drive north” day.  We had a Ricochet dinner meet up scheduled that evening in Prescott.  We headed north, and stopped at the Sunset Point rest area to stretch our legs and get some pictures.

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Northern Arizona obviously gets more precipitation than the south-just look at that green grass!

We arrived in the town of Prescott a little early, so we strolled around the Old West-looking downtown area.  We stopped into Jersey Lilly’s Saloon for a drink.  Jersey Lilly was the famous Lilly Langtry, and here is her portrait.

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Under her portrait on the floor is this cool old potbelly stove.

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I was taken with these beautiful old buildings across the street.

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Next door to the restaurant where we had dinner, there was this tiny establishment, and I was intrigued with the combination of services this small business offers.  CDs and bike repair?

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We had a yummy dinner of Indian food at the Taj Mahal restaurant with our Ricochet friends, then headed back to Phoenix.

On Saturday, when we were scheduled to fly back to Seattle, we awoke to something we had never seen before in Phoenix.  Rain!  It was raining lightly, very similar to what we have most of the winter in the Seattle area, so we felt right at home.  I imagined that there must be a lot of very happy vegetation in Phoenix that day.  We had been warned about the danger of flash floods, but since the rain was pretty light, there didn’t seem to be much danger of that.  We got to the airport in plenty of time, and went to our gate to wait for our flight.  It was nearly an hour late taking off, due to trouble with the aircraft (which turned out to be a software issue).  The flight was another uneventful one, and we arrived back in Seattle to nearly the same weather as we had left in Phoenix, only 20 degrees colder!

In all, it was a nice, relaxing vacation, with no real crises.  We made new friends, saw new scenery, and got away from the rat race for a while.  Definitely worth the price of admission!