Goodbye Little Friends

I typically get obsessed with a topic or subject to photograph for a while and then it becomes all-consuming for some time. This summer it was hummingbirds. I had never been successful attracting them to my backyard so this year I made a project out of it. First I replaced some of my plants with surefire Hummer attracting plants. Then I got rid of the feeder that the Hummers could never figure out how to feed from. Then purchased some inexpensive feeders and hung them up and what do you know? I had hummingbirds all over my back yard!

The type of hummingbird that seemed to dominate my yard and the feeders is the Rufous Hummingbird. These little guys are feisty. They put on aerial acrobatics that would rival a Blue Angels air show vying to be the Lord of the Feeders. For many weeks I sat outside in the early morning and evenings and enjoyed their company. They soon let me sit right by the feeders and take pictures of them. I did not seem to bother them at all. They buzzed my old Labrador retriever a few times and she got cranky about it and barked at them which did not seem to impress the birds.

Sadly, last evening I went out to watch them and not a single bird showed up. The local newspaper said they were getting ready to migrate but I thought it is still summer! Surely they are not leaving yet? I sat there until dark and did not hear their little chirps announcing they were there or the shrill sounds of combat my dogs and I have grown accustomed to. This morning I saw a couple of birds visit the feeders but the days of seeing 6 or 7 at once seem to have passed. With their departure comes the first whisper of winter. I will miss them until they return next summer.

I am getting ready for my vacation in September. Two weeks of hiking so I have been in training. I have not been taking as many pictures because I have been speed hiking to prepare myself. I did take my camera out today and in spite of rushing across the landscape before the temperature exceeded 90, I was lucky to see quite a bit to photograph.

Ran into two coyotes and was fortunate that I saw them before they saw me. I think the sun was in their eyes and I was able to get off a few snaps before they hightailed it out of there. Noticed some wild horses coming down to water across the river and with the water between us they were fairly relaxed about my presence. My concerns about the drought taking a toll on them have unfortunately been warrented. These pictures are pretty hard to look at. This particular band does not seem to be feeding well at all. You can see every rib, hip bones are jutting out and you can count their vertebrae in their backbones. There is plenty of water to drink but the lack of snow and rain this spring meant very little grew for them to eat. They are not going into the hard months in  good shape.

I almost ran into this doe while she was doing a trim job on the lower branches of a cottonwood. I actually saw more wildlife today than I do when I am trying to be stealthy. Not sure what can be learned from that!