Archive for October, 2013

B&B San Pedro River Birding Photography

October 29th, 2013 by Mike Hug

B&B San Pedro River Birding Photography Requires Some luck.

B&B San Pedro River Birding  Photo

Keep your camera ready so that you can take photos from a car during travel.

B&B San Pedro River birding photography requires good equipment, some skill and it also helps to have some luck if you want to have those close up pictures. I was a Boy Scout in my youth and one of the things you learned was the Scout motto. “Be Prepared”. The motto has proven true for me when I am taking photos around our San Pedro River B&B. The days I forget to take my camera with me are the days that I could have had a great photo.

But then there are days that something great happens and I get a B&B San Pedro River birding photo that is a keeper. In a blog I wrote a while ago I related the story about seeing a Northern Harrier gliding over the back of the property. This was usually when we were preparing breakfast for the guests and I never had the camera with me. Happily it ended one day when Angie told me a Northern Cardinal was in a mesquite tree behind the fence at the patio. I put my zoom lens on the camera and went out to get the picture of the cardinal. After the photos were taken, I saw the harrier gliding over the field again. The camera was ready and so was I. You do need that little bit of luck.

B&B San Pedro Birding Picture

Sometimes you need to shoot a picture through a window. The shot isn’t going to be perfect but it can be made.

If I am going anywhere other than to the store, I make sure my camera goes with me. We went wine tasting in September with my son and his family. On the way to the winery we decided to show the grandkids Twin Lakes in Willcox. The area is known for waterfowl and as we were driving along a white bird came down and glided in front of the car for a while. I had the camera and as we were driving I was shooting pictures of the bird. Luck showed its face again. Although the shots were a little shaky because of the ride, I was able to take some nice flight shots. From the shots we could determine that the bird was a Northern Harrier.

Just a few days ago, I saw a bird that hadn’t been in the patio area before. Again the camera was handy and I put my zoom lens on the camera. I carefully walked out the door and headed out onto the patio slowly. I didn’t want to scare the bird off. From the patio I could see that the sun wasn’t right for a good shot. I moved to the right and finally worked my way to the access opening in the fence and set up for a shot behind the poles. As I looked around with the camera the bird posed for me and I got a great shot of the Cassin’s King Bird. After a few minutes of posing, he left but there were gold finches on the feeder. Since there was a particularly nice goldfinch on the feeder, I decided to take a couple of shots.

King Bird Picture.

It is nice to have birds pose for you when you are trying to get a picture.

I was able to upload and process the digital film on the computer. While reviewing what I had photographed, I found that the photo of the Cassin’s King Bird included a Chipping Sparrow sitting on a nearby branch. I had concentrated on the king bird so much I hadn’t seen the sparrow. When I looked at the finch photo I found another surprise. The picture showed one bird leaving the feeder and another finch starting to hover as he was landing on the feeder. Now you know what the luck portion is in photography. Some things you can anticipate but others are happenstance. Pray that luck is smiling on you as you take B&B San Pedro River birding photos.

Bring your equipment and try your luck at photography at Down By The River, our San Pedro River B& B, The Lodging Hub of Cochise County. The property has many opportunities to photograph birds and other wildlife both on the property and down on the river.

Finch picture

The Goldfinch were leaving the feeder and coming in as I shot the picture.

Birding The San Pedro River

October 23rd, 2013 by Mike Hug

Birding the San Pedro River can add to your life list.

Many of our guests love birding the San Pedro River at the northern end of the San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area. Down By The River has access to the San Pedro River and it is just a short walk from the patio. The tree line marks the river’s location and even if water isn’t flowing under the bridge in St. David it is at the back of the B and B property. We have cut a trail that takes you to a gate in the fence near the river. Our guests have found many birds in the area while birding the San Pedro River. Look at our list of birds that were located around the B and B.

Ponds while birding the San Pedro River picture

Ponds are located throughout St. David.

There are other locations nearby for birding the San Pedro River. The Holy Trinity Monastery has an award winning 1.3 mile birding trail that was built in 1992. The trail goes around ponds and down to the San Pedro River. The Benedictine monks operate the monastery and welcome the birders that come to walk the trail. There are various types of waterfowl at the monastery pond and many a birder has added to their list at this location.

Saint David is a desert greenbelt and is  known for all the ponds in the area. This is because of the clay content of the ground throughout the area and the natural springs that come to the surface. There are also man made ponds that are located near the San Pedro River.  Down By The River is in an area where we have access to a private pond within walking distance. Angie and I recently had been birding the San Pedro River and decided to check the pond out. I hadn’t been to the pond in many years and Angie had never been there. The pond is about 8 acres and has reeds and cattails around the edge. This provides a natural blind and allows you to get close to the waterfowl.

American Coot Picture

American Coots can be found at ponds while birding The San Pedro River

We walked around the pond and check out what was there. The pond had American Coots for the most part. Some smaller birds were in the rushes and scattered as we went by. I have seen other birds there in the past and the pond is not so large that you can’t get some nice photographs. So plan your visit and let us know you want to see the pond. We will tell you how to get there and if were not too busy we may even go with you. When you’re birding the San Pedro River there are a lot of opportunities that are available to get that good photo.

Stargazing in Benson, Arizona

October 12th, 2013 by Mike Hug

Stargazing in Benson, Arizona with the dark night skies.

Stargazing in Benson, Arizona has been an attraction of visitors for a long time. The trend started with the Vega-Bray Observatory and their bed and breakfast called The Skywatchers Inn. The property was sold, became the Astronomers Inn sold again and is now known as The San Pedro Valley Observatory.  Down By The River B and B has hosted many amateur astronomer while they are stargazing in Benson, Arizona at the SPVO. The SPVO is no longer a B and B but Down By The River works closely with them and give discounts to our guests that make reservations there for star gazing. We also welcome people that want to stargaze in Benson, Arizona and want to use the telescope we have at the B and B.

Sagittarius Constellation Picture stargazing in Benson, Arizona

The bright stars of Sagittarius contains nebula and the Milky Way is a back drop.

Sunset picture

The high cirrus clouds allowed for a flaming sunset.

Recently we hosted amateur astronomer at the B and B just after the new moon in October. The day started out clear but by the afternoon high cirrus clouds started to move into the area. This date also coincided with the Draconid meteor shower which was supposed to reach its peak. In 2011, the meteor shower had about 600 meteors and hour. But it turns out that this year was a bust for meteors just like the viewing. But we were given another gift to compensate that is common in southeastern Arizona – a brilliant sunset. The next night was clear and dark and we set up the telescope. Rance was able to look at the sliver of the moon, the Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius and the Ring Nebula.

Dobsonian Telescope for stargazing in Benson, Arizona  picture

Our Stargazing B and B has a 13″ mirror Dobsonian Telescope

Since Down By The River B and B is located in Saint David, it is perfect for stargazing in the Benson, Arizona area. Our San Pedro River B and B is equipped with a 13” Dobsonian telescope for our guests to use. A Dobsonian telescope is manually sighted and does not have a tracking system nor a computer. The telescope does come equipped with a sighting mechanism. This is good for people that have some knowledge of the skies at night. October is a favorite for me and is one of the better times of year for stargazing. The Milky Way is visible and constellations such as Sagittarius and Andromeda are in great positions to sight Messier objects. I particularly like this time of year because the weather isn’t too cold, there are many interesting objects that can be seen overhead and there is the brilliant Milky Way.

So look at your calendar and pick a date without a full moon. See how much fun you can have stargazing in Benson, Arizona at our B and B or make a reservation to the SPVO. They will give you time with a knowledgeable astronomer who has a computer on his telescope. Either way it is special being able to see the stars that light up the dark sky.

Fall Willcox Wine Festival

October 7th, 2013 by Mike Hug

The Willcox Wine Festival will be held October 19 and 20 in Downtown Willcox.

Tickets and glass for Willcox Wine Festival picture

The Willcox Wine Festival sells tickets and a commemorative wine glass for $15.

On the Third weekend in October, the fall version of the Willcox Wine Festival will be held. The Festival was first held in the fall of 2008 and with only about 8 or 10 wineries. The event is held on the 3rd weekends in May and October every year.  We usually have guests that stay at Down By The River B and B who go to one of the wine festivals. This year it happens to be on the same weekend as Tombstone’s Heldorado Days. It will be a busy weekend and you can attend two amazing events on the same weekend.

The Willcox Wine Festival will have 16 wineries represented and there will be over 70 wines to sample. Good thing it is a two day event. The Willcox Wine Festival is held in Railroad Park in Downtown Willcox. The cost for the event is $15 per person and you receive a commemorative glass and 8 tickets to be used for tastings. Now 8 out of 70 wines just gives you a small sample of all the wines available. The choice is for you to pick your favorites or the go to wineries that you have never tasted before. One thing Angie and I do is go and share each sample. That way we can try 16 different wines. Food will be available at the park or at some of the local restaurants in the area. There will also be live entertainment on both days of the festival. Click here for more information on the event and directions.

Flag at Willcox Wine Festival & Sign Picture

The Flags at the Willcox Wine Festival sign greeted you as you entered Railroad Park

This year we will be checking on a couple of wineries that we don’t get to sample very often. These wineries are in the Central Arizona towns of Page Springs, Cottonwood and Jerome. The wineries grown their grapes in the Willcox bench so that is why they are at the festival. But we also have an ulterior motive. We are looking for a wine that we will use in out Wine Challenge at The River. We still haven’t totally decided on either of the wines we will be using but we do have some favorites that we like. We just have to narrow that down to 2. It will be a tough decision for us to narrow things down to just 2 wines. Decisions Decisions! If you want to go to this event stay at Down By The River and you will be pleasantly surprised at how convenient we are to all the activities in Cochise County.

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Wine Booth Pictures

The Willcox Wine Festival booths of Arizona Stronghold, Kief Joshua and Gallifant were represented in the Spring Willcox Wine Festival..

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