The Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) I see are usually wading in the water or flying above it. When I was in Sedona I went down to Red Rock Crossing and was surprised to catch sight of one not by Oak Creek but in a field of tall grass a couple of hundred meters away from the water.
The bird was walking on a path leading up towards a ridge but lingered fairly close which allowed me to change lenses for a couple of different looks. I really love these birds and it was a treat to see one in an unusual environment.
I noticed some crimson flecks on its bill and when I left the bird and went back towards Oak Creek, I figured out why the Heron stayed nearby. I realized I had interrupted its dinner. I left the area and returned to the edge of the clearing an hour later to find it had left but not before returning to finish the meal.
Rain has been a rare commodity in northern Arizona for the last couple of months. When clouds started to roll in from the north while we were down there people were hopeful that they would drop some of their precipitation before moving on. The rain did come eventually and the evening before I hiked along the airport trail to watch the storm’s approach.
I was content to watch the blues and greys in the sky deepen with night coming. However, a break in the clouds to the west allowed for some color to break through and I turned my attention out over West Sedona’s forested cityscape.
There was an uneven stream of traffic passing below me towards the airport and the lookouts around the mesa. Long exposures of cars driving up and down the road to the airport seemed to work well with this sunset.
The afternoon I spent at Red Rock Crossing was a fun trek along Oak Creek but when the shadows lengthened, I trotted back to where I could have a view of Cathedral Rock. It’s an iconic location and with the evening light moving into deep reds I was enthralled by her beautiful cliffs and spires.
After a couple minutes of splashing around, the red color disappeared quickly, leaving pink clouds above and darkening rock below. It did not take very long for the stars to start standing out against evening’s blanket. A beautiful evening in Sedona, Arizona.
… Not in Alberta though. Bobbi and I were in Sedona, Arizona last week and we learned that there was one species of Hummingbird that stays in the area through the winter. In the spring and summer, there can be up to 14 different types of Hummingbirds there but only the Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) will spend the full year.
I went to the Red Rock State Park where I had been told a couple of these birds had staked out the feeder put out by the park staff as their territory. Tucked off to the side of the visitor center, they have a sheltered garden with native trees surrounding a few benches and various bird feeders catering to those who overwinter nearby. The Hummingbird feeder is in a slightly unusual position beside an exit door and close to the large bay windows of smoked glass. I suppose it allows people to stand close to the window on the inside and watch these speedy fellows at close range. I liked the clean background afforded by the opaque window so it suited my purposes.
I believe there were two individuals that I saw but they never appeared at the same time so it could have been one, two or more as I’m not familiar with this species and could easily mistake the unique number observed. Regardless, I was entranced by their iridescent feathers, the speed and precision of these birds as I always am with Hummingbirds. It will be several months until they return to my home so it was a treat to spend some time with them last week.
Winter in Sedona is a relative term. I spent the morning scrambling over the odd icy patch but was in shorts for most of the day. It can snow here but only a few times a year. Coming from Canada’s frozen lands, I find this part of Arizona’s version of this season very appealing. I hiked around for much of the day and ended up at Red Rock Crossing in the afternoon. Cathedral Rock is a siren’s call for artists and I spent hours enjoying the views across Oak Creek and up to the red rocks. I love the colour palette with the gray branches of the dormant trees, the colourful rocks above and below with the yellow grasses providing a nice bridge to tie them together. A beautiful place to spend time.
Hiking along the West Fork Trail in the Coconino National Forest in June was a nice break from the heat of Sedona’s red rock landscape. This trail winds up Oak Creek which streams down a long canyon which is both deep and narrow allowing it to provide shade through much of the day and creates a cool oasis to enjoy. I had some great landscape image opportunities during my walk which made it a great outing for me.
At one turn in the path, I came across a large flight of butterflies feeding at a large patch of wildflowers. The orange and black wings stood in sharp contrast to the flowers and the dark foliage.
My daughter loves butterflies and moths so I was happy to spend a few minutes to capture a few images she might like. One of many nice surprises along this casual path through the rocks.
A simple photograph of a lovely flower in the hills near Sedona.
The yellow blossom from the deep purple cactus were a surprising pairing for me. It was these complementary colours which drew me in and I worked with the shaded hedge in the background to isolate these two elements.
I enjoyed experiencing some of Sedona’s mystical places and the spiritual moments that have drawn ancient cultures and continues to pull people.
This trip was too short to really dive in but this photograph of the sun in the forest on the West Fork Trail near Sedona suggested something of the experience.
I went for a hike in late afternoon along the West Fork Trail which starts a few miles north of Sedona. The trail follows Oak Creek as it runs against the contours of the steep Oak Creek Canyon walls. These steep walls keep the heat found in Sedona at this time of year at bay and I found it to be a really nice temperature for a walk. The trail itself is fairly level all the way up to the very last stretch so it was less a hike and more of a walk. The forest with patches of wildflowers, many types of lush trees, birdsong and chittering insects was very enjoyable. I spent a couple of hours on the trail, stopping to photograph a small outpost of butterflies, reflections of the scenery in pools formed in the shallows of slabs of red rock and everything else that caught my eye. I saw this beautiful overhang of rock drawing the eye out to the greenery along the trail on my way up but it was a bit too bright for the image I had in mind. When I came back that way on my back down, the light had cooperated and I was able to create what I was looking for.
(please click on any image to open a higher resolution version)
Bobbi and I are in Sedona, Arizona for a few days this week. We drove into the town yesterday and went exploring down at the Red Rock Crossing for a couple of hours until nightfall. I haven’t been here before so Bobbi is in the role of guide and I am the happy follower.
We went to this location which is split by Oak Creek. The cool waters drew a number of small groups and families offering respite from the 42°C (108°F) heat of the day. We hiked along the riverside trails and photographed reflections in the water, the towering red rocks that backstop the area as well as a couple of lizards. A beautiful place to escape the heat.
What makes this place a destination for landscape photographers are the views of Cathedral Rock and the opportunity to work with its reflections in the creek. At sunset the last sunlight of the day makes the rocks glow. Last night did not disappoint and I had a wonderful time playing with the elements at hand.