Almost Winter

Finally got cold and even a dusting of snow on the mountain and just a week until the official start of winter. Almost a month since my last posting, this one’s going to be a little different than my usual. Not surprisingly, the butterflies have pretty much disappeared until next spring, and I haven’t gotten out too often or photographed many birds. But then again, Thanksgiving happened since then, I’ve been busy getting all my Christmas ducks lined up in a row, and unfortunately had to make an unexpected trip to Texas for a week for personal reasons.

So here’s what I’ve got this time:

After several visits to the Rio Grande Nature Center, on November 18, one of the male Hooded Mergansers came reasonably close and popped up his hood as he sailed by.

Hooded Merganser – Rio Grande Nature Center

The next day, we made the drive out to the Coyote del Malpais Golf Course in Grants NM to see a decent variety of ducks but usually a bit far in the distance. One of my better photos from the day is this one of a flock of Northern Shovelers taking off with a Green-winged Teal there in the middle.

Green-winged Teal and Northern Shoveler

Later, we’d drive to La Ventana Natural Arch for a picnic lunch. At one point, a large bird launched from high on a cliff that I’d figured for a Common Raven that started calling at the same time…took me awhile to catch on while it circled higher and higher, but eventually determined it to be a Golden Eagle…cool!

The following day had me wandering around Los Poblanos Open Space, where I didn’t see much at first and had only distant views of Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes. But there came a point where I merged with a good-sized flock of the cranes who were making their way across the path from one field to another. That let me get a few good photos of them, although I missed catching any of the dancing routines or parachute landings. Here’s a couple of the ones I saved, a stately trio marching by,

Sandhill Crane – Los Poblanos

and one flying off somewhere.

Sandhill Crane – Los Poblanos

Now this next part is where things start to get different from my usual postings. On November 23, we went to the Albuquerque Biopark Zoo, me for the first time in at least two years (surely you remember life B.C. {pre-Covid}).

One of the first critters one comes across is a small flock of Flamingos, who can take interesting poses for a photographer, such as this one

Flamingo – Albuquerque Biopark

or a somewhat more recognizable version.

Flamingo – Albuquerque Biopark

It was fun taking pictures of several other creatures, and I plan on returning soon, but I’ll only show a couple more here. Baby hippo was kinda cute –

Baby Hippo – Albuquerque Biopark

and I liked this one of the last of the cottonwood leaves.

Cottonwood Leaves

Coolest sighting of the day for me was the Mountain Lion, quite alert and active and close to the fence.

Puma (caged)

Very rarely do I use Photoshop to erase distracting elements in a photo, and in the past only for something like a power line against an otherwise empty sky, but I’d just happened to stumble on to a few YouTube videos showing how to easily make more extensive corrections, e.g., removing the chain link fence in a photo…drumroll, please.

Puma (uncaged)

Not perfect, but whoa, I’m definitely returning to the zoo again soon and playing around with the resulting pictures.

As long as I was fooling around with Photoshop, I found another website showing how you could, in two simple steps, convert a photo to look like a watercolor rendering, which seemed a fun idea to try for some of the greeting cards I sometimes print. Here’s the result for two of my images, one a Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey (Photoshopped as Watercolor)

and one of a Cottontail Rabbit.

Cottontail Rabbit (Photoshopped as Watercolor)

Pretty cool, huh? That technique is definitely getting some attention from me.

One final picture for this post, from an evening at the River of Lights, a fascinating display of millions of holiday lights in various arrangements throughout the Botanic Gardens of the Biopark.

River of Lights

We’d gone once a few years ago and it was also magical, but this time we’d lucked into a time that was uncrowded, not nearly as cold as the earlier visit, and I had my new camera with its novel setting for minimizing blur in hand-held night shots (usually a major problem for me in the past).

Should be a few good photo opportunities in the next couple of weeks – it’s Christmas Bird Count season, and we’re signed up to for three of them this year.


About joeschelling

Birding, butterflies, nature photography, and travel blog from right here in Albuquerque New Mexico.
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9 Responses to Almost Winter

  1. Rebecca Gracey says:

    Those are interesting changes you have made to your photographs, but the Hooded Merganser is very handsome just as he is.

  2. Amazing and beautiful birds pictures

  3. Great post especially considering everything that’s happened this month. Love the sand hill cranes! Totally jazzed about the photo shop work, perhaps a new art venture for you. I have a friend who is a digital artist and has really amazing, moving photos/art. I truly hope you head down this wonderfully creative path!!!

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Linda O says:

    Love the shot of the ducks in flight. The feathers really are magnificent. The night shot of the elephants 🐘 is great with the new camera. Lots of new stuff to keep you busy.

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