Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Reid Park Serenity

Northern Pintail Duck by Kathie Brown 1-5-09

If I am going to town to get my hair cut, why am I taking my camera, binoculars, and birding paraphernalia (which for me consists of bird guides, notebooks, and hat)? But I am, because if I have time…

Reid Park Reflections, Tucson, AZ 1-5-09 by Kathie Brown

…and I do. Though I have other errands to run, I think I will just stop by Reid Park for a few minutes. I can get a few new species here and it won’t take long. Reid Park is 73 acres in size and is located between Broadway and 22nd Street at 900 S. Randolph Way. I park on the west side of the Zoo and get out. To my surprise, the park is virtually empty of humans. Whenever I have been here before there were as many people as birds, but today is the first day back to school and work for most people. This day started out rainy, gray and cold, though now the sun has burst forth once again and all is bright in the world.

Pond Full of Ducks 1-5-09 by Kathie Brown

I immediately head over to the large pond where I can hear the high-pitched wheet-woo of American Widgeons. The pond is full of ducks and as I start to scan the crowd someone at the east end of the pond brings out some bread and the flock flies up in a low rush to the far side away from me. No matter. A short walk along the pond’s edge brings me to this concentrated collection of waterfowl and I happily count and snap away.

Rock pigeons are as numerous as the ducks and a flock of over 100 birds parades proudly on the ground nearby. When I was young I use to help a man who raised racing pigeons. These birds are the wild escapees of the same species. Though they have a bad reputation and I don’t want them at my bird feeders at home, I still admire them from time to time. Today their flight as they rush by me seems almost magical. I am caught in a whirlwind of feathers and flight and I stand joyous and jealous as they wing past.

Pied Beauty by Kathie Brown 1-5-09

On the ground this one fancy fellow puffs up his chest and starts cooing. He has to be one of the prettiest males I have ever seen in his pied black and white beauty.

Great Egret by Kathie Brown 1-5-09

As I wander the grounds of Reid Park I can hear the distance hum of traffic racing by, but here in this green fortress I am lost in a world of birds. They seem to be everywhere I look. I find a Common Egret fishing in a shallow pool surrounded by a carpet of golden leaves.

Orange-crowned Warbler eating an olive 1-5-09 by Kathie

Beyond the egret I find a tree full of birds. It is an olive tree ripe with fruit. House Finches, House Sparrows, and Verdin weave busily in and out of the thick foliage. Then a flash of yellow flits by and I find an Orange-crowned warbler feeding greedily.

Overhead a winter starling watches and waits.

Reid Park Blue Bridge 1-5-09 by Kathie Brown

Reid Park is wonderfully designed with hills and creeks, treed areas and open space. Little bridges cross the creeks and creek beds. Paths wander here and there. Pine trees tower alongside eucalyptus trees. Palm, Olive, and mesquite trees dot the landscape along with Palo Verdes.

Palm Trees and Roses 1-5-09 by Kathie Brown

On the eastern edge a rose garden grows, with roses in bloom even now, in winter. Most of the blooms are edged in brown from the recent cold, and some of the buds are frozen in time. Will they open still, or fade and fall unfulfilled? Do the sparrows huddled beneath their branches care if these blossoms fade and fall? I walk the circular path in search of that perfect bud or blossom. I lean over tenderly to see if they have any fragrance, but the perfume is faint or nonexistent at the moment. Perhaps a few days of warmth will bring it forth again.

Rose name: Solitude and Artistry

I am amazed at how empty the park is. It’s almost like I have it all to myself.

I wander to the northwest corner, where I have found a Lewis’s Woodpecker before. Today it does not show up, but I find a lovely Red-naped Sapsucker...

Vermillion Flycatcher by Kathie Brown 1-5-09

...and a Vermillion Flycatcher to boot. I stroll the northern perimeter in hopes of finding some juncos, which I have seen in this area before, but all is quiet. Then, I pause in my steps as I realize why.

Cooper's Hawk with Prey 1-5-09 by Kathie Brown

There on the ground ahead of me, beneath a tree a Cooper’s Hawk is standing on its feathered prey. I do not want to disturb the bird. After watching them attempt to catch birds in my yard, I know how hard it is for them to get a meal. I stand where I am and raise my camera to get a distant shot, but after a couple of snaps of the lens the bird sees me. It grabs its meal in its talons and flies to the nearby trees. Once it is gone I walk over to the downy feathers scattered on the green earth. Dappled sunlight highlights a few remnants of the life that was. It’s always a hard thing to accept that one life must end for another to continue, but that is the way of things on this earth. Perhaps in a distant future, this will not be necessary, but for now this is the way. I suspect the prey was a mourning dove. A glance at the nearby fence surrounding the baseball fields reveals a number of them perching in the slanting sun. Do they have any consciousness of the loss of one of their own? It seems to me they go on as usual, now that the danger has passed.

Feathers by Kathie Brown 1-5-09

With these solemn thoughts I head back to my car. I have been here for two hours! It’s time to go home. It will take me 25 minutes to reach the grocery store in Rita Ranch, and another 15 to 20 minutes to get home from there. The sun is setting as I drive up the road to my neighborhood, but inside I carry the serenity of this day, spent in a city park, virtually alone doing what I like best.

Peaceful Dove in Reid Park 1-5-09 by Kathie

Click on any photo to enlarge for the best view and please visit...

Thanks T.R.!

Photographer's Notes: All of today's photgraphy is by Kathie Brown with the Nikon D80 and the 70-300mm lens set in sports mode for bird shots, close-up mode for flowers and Programed Auto for landscape shots. All photos are copyrighted by the blog author. Please do not use without permission.

Big January List Update:

I saw 24 species of birds today at Reid Park in Tucson. This added 11 more birds to my Big January List.
48. Pied-billed grebe
49. American widgeon
50. Northern Pintail
51. Great Egret
52.American Coot
53.Vermillion flycatcher
54.Orange-Crowned Warbler
55.Great-tailed Grackle
56. Redhead
57. Red-naped Sapsucker
58. Mallard


Arija said...

Kathie, your posts are growing more delightful by the day. The photos are splendid and the descriptive text you write is developing a style and humour all your own. A sheer delight.
Never have I seen standing room only in a pond full of ducks, a more beautifully gold surrrounded egret or WOW that first shot of palms reflected in the bright blue of the little central pond.
Thank you.

Kathie Brown said...

Arija, thank you! I have been working very hard on the last couple of post and it has taken me all of 2 full days to get them done!

bobbie said...

I love the shadows in your tree photos. and the bird ones, for that matter. They fascinate me as much as the birds.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Kathie,Ilove your descriptive posts.That park must be beautiful.Your pictures are fantastic,all the ducks with their many vibrant colors,wow.

Anonymous said...

Great Pintail image Kathie.

abb said...

That old circle of life stinks at time. Necessary, I know, but not always nice.

Wonderful photos - love the one of the woodpecker - it's so perfect it almost looks posed!

Shelley said...

Amazing shots - loved seeing that big gourp of pintails and the other ducks! That park is a photographers dream!

Deborah Godin said...

I'm always blown away by your shots, all the different birds you come across! This post is just chock full - loved it!

Gaelyn said...

What a beautiful day, for you and us. Between your writing and photos I truly feel like I walked there. Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

My favourite photo is of the Orange Crowned Warbler feasting on the Olive. Well Caught.

Anonymous said...

One of the great things about birding is that it can be an activity unto itself, or it can be something that one does as a pleseant way to spend some time between other activities. After reading your post, I think you should go for a haircut more often!

Fresh Kiki said...

Oh My the pic of the pintail is awesome-but the vermillion Flycatcher blows me away!!!!

Jayne said...

What a wonderful day you had Kathie! Great captures, esp. of all the ducks. Wow.

Doug Taron said...

Reid Park is yet another Tucson spot that I've driven past a bunch of times but never visited myself. I rreally liked the duck photos.

kesslerdee said...

I loved your post! I live but a few blocks from Reid Park and my feeder has had many recent visits by a Coopers Hawk. I have one picture of it on my blog but mostly he is too quick for me.

Kathie Brown said...

Bobbie, I love trees and the shadows they create. Glad you like them too!

Ruth, I had more duck photos than I knew what to do with!

Roy, thank you, thank you!

TSAnnie, I think most WP photos look posed. I guess it's the way they move.

Shellmo, it sure is!

Deborah, thanks! I thought it was about time more birds were showcased.

Gaelyn, glad to have you along. I love having you as a virtual companion!

Natural Moments, I worked for that one, waiting and snapping. Thanks for saying so.

Vern, thank you. Say, have you started blogging again?

Chilmarkgirl, I do love Pintails. They are so handsome! I could have gotten more photos of the Vermillion but my camera ran out of battery power and I didn't bring the extra one along. I had no idea I'd be gone that long or take that many photos!

Jayne, hello! It is a great park to see birds in, especially when there are few peole around. I felt so lucky today. Ususally the park is quite crowded, though I can usally find some quiet corner. Today I had the whole park to myself!

Doug, there are so many ducks! 2 ponds full!

Dee, Cooper's are so quick. My feeders are being hunted on a regular basis. Welcome to my blog! It's nice to meet you!

Mary said...

These are wonderful photos. I love all those ducks at Reid Park. I will be headed to Tucson sometime next month to visit my sister, so I am looking through your blog for new suggestions of places to see birds :-) You always have so many lovely photos of beautiful places. She lives close to Sabino Canyon, so where you live is fresh territory for us to explore.

Mary said...

Fabulous photos, Kathie! That pile of feathers tells a grim story...


Karen Funk Blocher said...

I must be terribly rusty in my birdwatching skills, because I seldom notice anything at Reid Park beyond the ducks and coots, house sparrows and house finches, great egrets and night herons. Thanks for opening my eyes! Now, how do I manage a pair of binoculars, a bird book, my camera and my two dogs all at the same time?