Thursday, September 3, 2020

Crops & Clips: Flashback to September, 2017

Reviewing the photo archives from three years back excites memories of our former home in the mountains of New Mexico. As usual, I will search for images which reflect favorite memes: critters of all kinds (especially birds), skies and clouds, reflections, flowers and fences, as well as scenes which speak for themselves. 

In our local south Florida wetlands I photographed this Female Northern Cardinal, on September 4th:

Northern Cardinal female 20170904

Prairie Warblers had returned from their nesting areas in coastal Mangroves:

 Prairie Warbler 06-20170904 

Prairie Warbler 09-20170904

September, 2017 opened as Hurricane Irma, an extremely powerful Cape Verde hurricane, was building up strength to Category 3. South Florida remained firmly in its projected path as it moved slowly towards us. At first we thought it would be safe to ride out the storm. On September 4 Irma was approaching the eastern Carribbean and had reached Category 5 with winds of 180 mph (285 km/h). It was expected to strike Florida on or about September 7th. 

The view before sunrise on September 1:

North shore HDR 20170901

Walking home under an unsettled sky:

Road to south 20170901

Ahead, a Raccoon crossed the path:

Raccoon 20170901

Queen Butterfly on Bidens alba:

Queen butterfly 20170903

We then decided to shutter our home and find higher ground, but could not book a flight to our condo in Illinois. Alternatively, we decided to fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico via a 2-stop itinerary, reaching there on September 6th. 

The hurricane almost stalled before reaching Cuba on September 9 and the next day made landfall along the west coast of Florida. It spared our home a direct hit but we were in its huge wind field with hurricane-force winds extending out 80 mi (130 km) and gale-force winds spanning an area 220 mi (350 km) in diameter.

In Albuquerque we stayed in Kirtland Air Force Base lodging with the Sandia Mountains as a backdrop:

KAFB Inn 01-20170909

We wasted no time and drove up to Sandia Crest (elevation 10,678 ft / 3,255 m), birding along the 12 mile road which winds its way to the top. About halfway up, we stopped at Capulin Spring with its famous water feature which is very attractive to birds in the dry habitat. When we lived in New Mexico, MaryLou and I spent several years as volunteer interpreters with the US Forest Service and this was a  prime objective on our nature walks. 

Our retreat from Hurricane Irma to "high and dry" New Mexico provided me with great memories of when we lived here. In the early 1990s I worked with other USFS volunteers to rehabilitate an old hollow log which had served as a wildlife watering trough. It was rotted at one end and the pipes which fed water into it from Capulin Spring had shattered after the rock wall which enclosed it deteriorated into rubble. 

We replaced the pipe and reconstructed the wall, restoring the flow of water, and we covered the hole in the log with a rubber plate. This worked well for over a dozen years but the log had to be finally replaced by one hewn out painstakingly by a new generation of US Forest Service volunteers. It had now been flowing for about two years and this was the first time I visited the (now new) "Bird Log at Capulin Spring" in more than seven years. It lives up to its reputation, attracting nearly every local and migratory bird and mammal species to this only source of water over an expanse of mountainous forest in the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque.

The "Bird Log" at Capulin Spring:

Bird Log at Capulin Spring 20170907

Traveling light, I carried only my new mirrorless camera and still had not mastered all of its adjustments, so my photographic record is poor. Among the avian visitors to the log, a Townsend's Warbler...

Townsend's Warbler 20170909 

...a Mountain Chickadee...

Mountain Chickadee 01-20170911

...a Dark-eyed (Gray-headed) Junco...

Dark-eyed Gray-headed Junco 01-20170909

...Wilson's Warbler...

Wilson's Warbler 02-20170909

...Plumbeous Vireo...

Plumbeous Vireo 01-20170909

...Spotted Towhee...

Spotted Towhee 02-20170911

...Cassin's Finch...

Cassin's Finch male 3-20170911

...and, among many other species, a Green-tailed Towhee...

Green-tailed Towhee 04-20170911

...and a Chipmunk:

Chipmunk on bird log 2-20170909

Nearby Balsam Glade Picnic Area provided a panoramic view to the northeast:

Balsam Glade panorama 20170911

At the top of Sandia Crest was the Gift Shop and Restaurant where I instituted the Rosy-Finch feeding program which has grown into an important research site for these threatened species. They would not be visiting here until the snows of November, but the sugar water feeders attracted Black-chinned Hummingbirds:

Black-chinned Hummingbird 03-20170908

Hummingbirds 20170908

Sandia Crest 04-20170907

The Crest House deck overlooks Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley:

Sandia Crest 07-20170907

We returned to Florida on September 12 to find that we had suffered no wind damage and only had a  few hours' lapse in electric service. We then took our previously planned flight to Illinois only 4 days later. The view of Port Everglades as we took off from Fort Lauderdale early on September 16:

Port Everglades 01-20170916

Lovable Tibetan Mastiff Agramonte, our daughter's family pet, greeted us:

Agramonte 20170918

Fall migration was underway. A rainwater impoundment in St. Charles attracted a Buff-breasted Sandpiper...

Buff-breasted Sandpiper 01-20170921

...and Wilson's Snipe...

Wilson's Snipe 20170921 an immature Red-tailed Hawk kept watch:

Red-tailed Hawk 02-20170921

We visited Jones Meadow Park near our condo:

Jones Meadow Park pond and fence 20170924 

The bridge over Blackberry Creek in Bliss Woods:

Blackberry Creek 01-20170919

I  love this barn scene at Hannaford woods, which I reproduced as a simulated oil painting (click to enlarge):

Hannaford Barn OIL 01-20170925

Along the trail in Hannaford, there were Red-headed Woodpeckers... 

Red-headed Woodpecker 01-20170925

...and a Magnolia Warbler was surrounded by a bokeh glow:

Magnolia Warbler 04-20170925

On September 30, MaryLou was dwarfed by the lone oak at Hawk's Bluff Park, a few doors from our daughter's home in Batavia:

Lone oak at Hawks Bluff Park 20170928

A White-breasted Nuthatch explored its spreading limbs:

White-breasted Nuthatch 01-20170928

Hurricane Irma caused at least 134 deaths, 92 in the contiguous United States. Florida's estimated economic agricultural damages alone totaled over $2.5 Billion, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. There was massive loss of flowering and fruiting plants in the wild lands as well. It took over two years for several species of butterflies to rebound from the loss of adults, eggs, larvae and nectar sources.

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Natasha Musing

Our World Tuesday


Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display


  1. It's a great bit of remembrance, your Florida home suffered no damage and you got to revisit places in New Mexico where you had enjoyed great happiness, and perhaps best of all you were able to see some of those wonderful western birds again. And you made it up to Illinois in the end. This account could be the poster child for an "All's well that ends well" account!

  2. Fantastic pictures as always..Hard to pick a favorite.. Love the pre sunrise reflection and the Junco in the water..That handsome Mastiff has to be a drooler.....Thanks for sharing your talents..

  3. Such wonderful photos. I wonder how you get your hummers to share? OUrs just fight!!!!

  4. Beautiful photos! I think my favorites are the first two (the cardinal and the warbler). Enjoy your weekend!

  5. Excellent images! I love the little bird in the water and also your daughter's big dog!

  6. I agree with a previous comment, Kenneth, that it is hard to select a favorite in this post as there were so many. The bird shots look as if they posed for a portrait with very flattering backgrounds. And, the sky shots before and after the rains came were spectacular (as always). Glad you made it to higher ground in NM and that your FL home served the storm. Also glad to read that you were able to travel to ILl as planned, just a bit later.

  7. Very beautiful photos! And I love your banner too!

  8. Gorgeous photos from all the different places! Interesting reading your thoughtful account of the hurricane.

  9. Those hurricanes...damaging in so many ways. And years of recovery. Beautiful birds Ken. I especially enjoyed the fabulous landscape of New Mexico!
    Thank you, as always, for taking time from your day to share your bird sightings this week with us. Much appreciated!

  10. Hello
    a wonderful series of pictures, one likes to look at
    Greetings Frank

  11. Hello,
    What a great report on your trip to New Mexico. I would like to go back again and visit this area. It is too hard to pick a favorite. Wonderful bird sightings and photos. I am glad you place in Florida survived the hurricane. Great memories. Thank your for linking up your post. Enjoy your day, have a great new week! PS, thank you for the comment, link and visit.

  12. Nice reflection and I love the hummingbird in flight.

  13. Every photo is absolutely stunning. I enjoyed looking at them and looking back to Irma!

  14. My dear friend Kenneth, thank you so much for a lot of happiness photos you gave us this week! I really enjoyed the sunset and that photo you took on that beautiful terrace viewdeck! I may be weird but I really find raccoons very cute though I do know from seeing some American TV shows that they are a bit of trouble especially in homes when they break in.

  15. A great variety in your post Ken! As always lovely captures. Also love the city scape! On our drive to TX we passed a part of New Mexico, and saw in the distance (luckily) a dust whirlwind going up. Beautiful and raw nature in that state. Great to "see" you back! Enjoy your week, Jesh

  16. We have several varieties of woodpeckers who visit our feeder but you've caught one that hasn't stopped by yet.
    Thanks for linking up at

  17. Thank you for sharing... I enjoyed reading, wonderful captures.
    Stay healthy and well.

  18. That was a loaded photo post. I enjoyed going through them. The Norther Cardinal is a beauty.

  19. Dear Ken,

    That was quite an adventure, but relived to know that you and yours are safe and sound. It's devastating what a calamity can do to mankind and the nature per say.

    But your pictures give so much hope and have a lovely story to tell of the clouds with the silver lining,. Absolutely lovely to host you on #NatashaMusing for #WordlessWednesday

    Be well and stay safe. Looking forward to this week's adventures.


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