The view of our local wetlands before sunrise while the storm was still far away:
Fair skies in mid-morning:
At first we planned to shutter our home and ride out the storm, windowless in the dark, as we are 8 feet above sea level and 18 miles inland. Our anxiety increased as we saw neighbors preparing to drive north or book flights out of state.
Earlier, the storm had been projected to hit on Friday, but we saw long lines at gas stations and grocery store shelves going bare. On Tuesday Mary Lou and I visited nearby Chapel Trail Nature Preserve and as we walked along the fenced boardwalk we spent more time discussing our options than looking for birds. The morning was clear and calm:
We suddenly decided to evacuate to someplace high and dry, so on Wednesday morning we flew to New Mexico. The only connecting flight available took us through Kansas City, and we arrived on Wednesday afternoon and occupied visitors' quarters at mile-high Kirtland Air Force Base.
The sun rose over the Manzanita Mountains east of Albuquerque:
The next morning we observed the famous "Bird Log" at the Capulin Spring picnic area in Cibola National Forest in the Sandia Mountains. For me this was a homecoming of sorts, as in the early 1990s I had worked with a crew of US Forest Service volunteers to rehabilitate and restore water to an old hollow log which had served as a wildlife drinker.
The pipe from the spring had frozen and cracked and the stone wall which enclosed it had to be reassembled and cemented. The log had a large hole which we covered with a rubber sheet. (Les Hawkins was the volunteer who energized the rehabilitation of the log. Here is a 2002 article about him. Les celebrated his 100th birthday in 2014 but I have since lost contact with him.)
Until we moved from New Mexico to Florida in 2004, Mary Lou and I led weekly US Forest Service bird walks in the Sandia Mountains, often visiting this site. It became popular with birders from many countries.
This is the original log as it appeared in 2008:
The old log finally fell apart and last year a new generation of volunteers used chain saws to carve out a new log to replace the original. They did a great job and restored the flow of water.
Since this is the only constant water source in a large expanse of mountainous forest, one should expect to see just about every species of bird and mammal which inhabits this area.
The new Bird Log (click on photo and scroll right and left to see many more enlarged views of the log and its visitors):
I left my DSLR behind and traveled with my new light weight mirrorless camera (Olympus E-M10 Mark II). The photos are mostly of poor quality, but they document the very engaging hours of just sitting and clicking as the show went on before our eyes. Among the avian visitors, nearly none of which I could expect to find in Florida were...
...photo-bombed by a Townsend's Warbler:
A (not much) better view of the Townsend's Warbler:
Cassin's Finch (male):
Cassin's Finch (female):
Western race of Orange-crowned Warbler, more colorful than the drab Tiaga subspecies which visits south Florida in winter:
Enjoying a bath in "The Bird Log:"
Audubon subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warbler. It has a yellow throat in contrast to the white throat of the eastern Myrtle subspecies which migrates into Florida:
A Mule Deer doe crashed the party but fled when she sensed my presence:
The hurricane arrived on Saturday, a bit late, and had major impact on the west (Gulf) coast of Florida rather than delivering the predicted direct hit on our neighborhood. It was so large that major damaging effects were felt over the entire Florida peninsula as it moved northward.
We flew back on Tuesday to a home which had gone without electricity for 48 hours, but power was restored during our flight. The house suffered no structural damage, although tree limbs and palm lfronds cluttered our yard. Thanks, not only to Irma's decision to veer off to the west coast, but also to so many of you who expressed concern and good wishes. As it turned out, the storm forced us into an unexpected and very pleasant vacation!
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Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia
Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James
Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart
Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue
Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display