Snow!

snow

Snowfall Overnight in Albuquerque

Snow rarely falls in Albuquerque as often as it is forecast, especially in these drought years. While I certainly do not want as much all at one time as we received in December of 2006 (22 inches in my yard), this morning when I awakened to five inches (12.5 centimeters) of the beautiful white stuff in my yard, I was very happy! I do not yet know the snowfall amounts for the surrounding mountains, but I hope they are significant.

snow
Five inches/ 12.5 centimeters of snowfall overnight. This is the first time I have seen snow accumulate like this in my rain gauge.

Wind must not have been significant as the snow was falling. There must have been some wind later, though, because the accumulation on trees is not much this morning.

The white stuff can enhance the appearance of the ubiquitous block walls and stucco found in Albuquerque.

snow
Snow on the block wall

Even the gates seem enhanced this morning.

snow
Even the gate looks kind of pretty this morning

One really good thing is that the streets were warm enough that most seem clear, at least in my neighborhood, this morning.
(eta: FB friends are telling me the streets in some parts of town were terrible, at least earlier this morning!)

The snowfall overnight was really nice to wake up to this morning.

Winter Sunset

winter sunset

Winter Sunset, both East and West

Winter sunset. This was a two-for-one, with interesting things going on both to the east over the Sandias, as well as in the sky to the west. A “winter storm” is due tomorrow, with perhaps 4 inches of snow in the city by Friday. Turbulence is certainly evident in the sky looking west.

winter sunset
Lenticular cloud over the Sandia Mountains at winter sunset. 5:57PM

We see lenticular clouds over the mountains not infrequently in the winter. I like lenticular clouds. I also enjoy the alpenglow of the Sandias. It does not last long, but it is striking when it appears. This view, looking eastward, appears “calm” to me.

The winter sky looking westward could not have had a more different appearance, and it is anything but “calm.”

Winter sky
A winter storm with possible snow is forecast for the next day; the sky certainly shows some turbulence. 6:03PM

The skies here are never boring, and often are quite interesting. This was a great two-for-one sunset.

Winter Sunrises

winter sunrise

Winter Sunrises in New Mexico

Winter sunrises in New Mexico are as variable as the winter weather. We do have winter here, and every few years Albuquerque will have a heavy snowfall, such as 22 inches in 2006, or extreme cold, such as -12°F one night in 2011 and temps not above 5°F for three days. But those are extremes.

This was sunrise on a winter day in Albuquerque. It was cold; gusty winds contributed to the wind chill; it snowed a bit; and there was a fair amount of sun! Tomorrow will be warmer and less windy!

winter sunrises
Stormy winter sunrise over the Sandia Mountains, on a day that saw wind, snow, and a fair amount of sun.

This is about as bad as it gets in Albuquerque at this time of the year.

Many winter days, and winter sunrises, in contrast, are spectacular!

winter sunrises
Soft and beautiful winter sunrise on a day which had virtually no winds and above average temperatures

This sunrise was less than a week ago, on a day that was unseasonably warm and beautiful.

I do not have to be reminded how fortunate I am to call this “Land of Enchantment” home. Last winter I felt sorry for various friends in the Northeast dealing with the Polar Vortex. This year it seems to be not only cold, but wave after wave after wave of deep and heavy snow – blizzards!! Facebook friends are comparing various snowblowers, or concern about husbands having heart attacks while shoveling snow, and a variety of such concerns. (I keep thinking I really ought to buy a new snow shovel; I still have the one I had in Kansas City, and that was 30 years ago!! 🙂 ))))))) )

With the publication of the ebook, BOSTON SOLSTICE BLUES, a collection of 51 daily poems written in another year, between December 5 and January 24, friend, fellow anthropologist, and writer Jim Stallings has reminded me again how glad I am to be here and not there! On his blog, Jim has described how these poems came to be written. Of note, Jim and his wife are now living in a much warmer place!

A final happy note, at least from my perspective: Daylight Savings Time is almost here!!!! Sunday, March 8, is the day we will “spring forward” at 2:00am. One of my favorite days of the year!

Territorial Doves

white winged doves

Peaceful Doves? Not When Territory Is an Issue!

Doves are generally thought of as peaceful creatures. And, in some ways, and most of the time, they are. They seem to spend all their waking hours eating and making more doves. The white winged dove did not have much of a presence when I first moved to Albuquerque, and now they are everywhere. I rarely see a mourning dove these days, which was the more common dove when I first arrived.

I photographed these white winged doves during the Great Backyard Bird Count last weekend. I was kind of glad they put on a show.

At first glance, you might think these two look peaceful enough. But, note the raised wing of warning!

white winged doves
See that raised wing? Someone is about to start a fight!

And then, a full blown warning:

white winged doves
“I’ll show what I’ve got!”

That was followed by a real attack:

white winged doves
“Take that! If you don’t like it, go somewhere else! This is MY territory!”

Then, the two began to settle down gradually. A little later they returned to ground feeding, as if nothing had happened.

white winged doves
These doves are ready – almost – to call the fight over.

They gave me something beyond the usual to photograph. 🙂

Skies: Sunrise, Sunset

sunset

Skies at Sunrise and Sunset

Skies in New Mexico. Sunrise, sunset. Yes, yes, I know I talk endlessly about the beautiful skies of New Mexico. But they are beautiful, and the variety is never-ending. Sometimes I get to show that to you.

sunrise skies
Another sunrise that was more colorful toward the northeast than to the east itself.

The morning sunrise was another that was more colorful toward the northeast than east over the mountains. I have seen that a couple of times this month. I had rarely seen it (or perhaps, been aware of it) before this winter. It was calm on the ground, although there did seem to be some turbulence at cloud level.

Sunset was also calm on the ground. But, wow! was it ever an in-your-face kind of sunset. The clouds did not appear calm, at least to this observer. I cannot help calling this a “fire in the sky” sunset. The color like this lasted less than two minutes. I feel sorry for anyone here who missed it. You had to be looking for it or very lucky at just the right time.

sunset skies
“Fire in the Sky!”
An in-your-face sunset that lasted for less than two minutes. It was spectacular.

Bird Count!

Woodhouser's Scrub-Jay

This Is the Weekend of the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Bird Count – This is the weekend of the Great Backyard Bird Count! I know that many of my friends participate each year, and have a great deal of fun doing so. For some it has developed into a passion for birding year around.

Fledgling scrub jay bird count
Fledgling Scrub Jay: Water Is Life! Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count 2015

You have seen this little fledgling scrub jay from the summer of 2014 before. It is now an adult, and comes by frequently for peanuts. I hope it will be included in my lists for the 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count.

If you have never participated before, the instructions and helpful hints are here. Participating by looking, watching, making lists, and contributing is fun, and you can really get to know the birds of your area.

Albuquerque Flea Market

albuquerque flea market

The Very Colorful Albuquerque Flea Market, a Weekend Institution

The Albuquerque Flea Market, held every weekend at Expo NM (“the Fairgrounds”) is an institution here. It is very colorful, and is a wonderful spot for photographers as well as people watchers and shoppers. “You can get anything you want” here.

albuquerque flea market
Mainly New Mexico Marilyn t-shirts

As I was going through these images, one thought that kept going through my mind was, “maybe I can see how some people in the US do not know that New Mexico is one of the 50 states in the United States.” As a state, New Mexico is quite new (1912), but it has a very long history and prehistory.

The state is so beautiful and so colorful. On this autumn day you can see the trees beginning to turn, but you can also see the clear, turquoise-blue skies. You can also see that this is a pretty unique flea market, definitely New Mexico in flavor and color.

I hope you enjoy these images of one of Albuquerque’s weekend institutions.

Fledgling Scrub Jay

fledgling scrub jay

Fledgling Scrub Jay Enjoying Peanuts

This fledgling scrub jay was photographed in the summer of 2014. It is now grown, and comes with its family group to eat peanuts when I put them out. The scrub jays also eat sunflower seeds and some other forms of bird food I put out. But, peanuts are a favorite, and are from the fledgling stage!

fledgling scrub jay
Fledgling Scrub Jay, Enjoying Peanuts

Scrub jays are a very common bird in Albuquerque and the Desert Southwest. These birds are not shy! If I let their feeders run out of their preferred food, they will shriek at me as soon as they see me in the yard. That is not because they are afraid; they do not fly off. I have one peanut feeder on the patio table, and they will come within a foot of me to feed there once spring arrives and I am out more frequently.

Fledglings like this one will not appear until summer, but adults are around now. The streak of beautiful days we have been having in Albuquerque reminds me of days like this one was, and makes me anxious for their return.

Sunrise by 8 Minutes

New Mexico sunrise

Sunrise, Images 8 Minutes Apart

Sunrise is a beautiful phenomenon in New Mexico (as I have said more than once 🙂 ), but the colorful part is not long-lived. If one is not up and looking for it, the color could easily be missed. This morning’s was actually colorful for longer than most, although the peak of the color did not last long. The first image is from 6:43 am. The second image is from 6:51 am. Although the last image is at the peak of color, the color was gone very shortly afterwards.

New Mexico sunrise
06:43 am
New Mexico sunrise
06:51 am

When I first looked out, the sky was quite dark, but a few of the clouds on the horizon were beginning to show a trace of red. That is always a hopeful sign for a colorful beginning to the morning, and I brought my camera into the kitchen, and drank a cup of coffee while I waited and watched to see what transpired (these colors do not always happen 🙂 ). Finally I thought I should give it try. These images eight minutes apart show intense color in parts of the sky that lasted longer than I had expected.

Spot the Hawk

Cooper's hawk

The Hawk of Albuquerque’s “Urban Forests”

Hawk, hanging out in the pine tree outside my kitchen window – can you spot it?
(This could make a jig saw puzzle. 😉 )

Cooper's hawk
Cooper’s Hawk, hanging out in the pine tree outside my kitchen window, waiting for dinner to arrive.

As I have said here before, the density of the Cooper’s hawk in the “urban forests” of Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights is thought to be as high as in any of this hawk’s “natural environments.” It has adapted well to life with humans. After all, we put out birdseed and other food for the little birds, and the hawks seem to appreciate our efforts and to thrive.

This is a large pine tree in my back yard, and I know that white-winged doves and scrub jays have had nests in that tree over the years. I always look forward to the fledgling jays (later in the year), and I am not overjoyed that the hawk is now using this as a hiding spot to wait for prey.

I was washing dishes when I caught sight of the hawk napping in the tree. It did not seem to mind being photographed as long as I was in the kitchen, but it flew when I went out.

Given the frequency with which I am seeing hawks in my yard this year, I expect other photographic opportunities for them. I’m not so sure about little fledglings of other birds later on, though…

This hawk is more mature than the one photographed in August and whose images I posted a few days ago. That was a juvenile Cooper’s. I do not know that this is the same hawk, just more mature and with plumage reflecting that. As many hawks as are known to be in this area, it could be a different hawk, of course. But, I want to think it is the same hawk that has been hanging around. 🙂

Although it is a bird of prey, the Cooper’s hawk is a beautiful bird of which I have become quite fond.