Birding in Puerto Vallarta

Goodbye, San Diego, hello (two days later) to Puerta Vallarta, an upscale commercial and tourist port on Mexico’s scenic west coast.

Leaving the port of San Diego CA on the M/S Rotterdam
Lovely mountains ring part of the city and frame a beautiful sandy beach where we sat and watched Frigate birds dive for food thrown out by fishermen.
Magnificent Frigatebirds diving for scraps
Then a long walk to an estuary reserve near the pier, where we could have seen much more if we had taken a boat ride instead of walking around a mangrove forest.
Lots of iguanas were basking in the mangrove bushes
And Yellow-crowned Night Herons had staked out places in the mangroves to hunt for fish, crabs, etc.
What stealthy (and extremely slow) stalkers they are
Black, White, and Red mangroves grow in a dense tangle in this estuary (Estero el Salado), just 1/2 mile from the ship dock! Mangroves drop aerial roots to the substrate to strengthen their position and to advance the zone the mangroves occupy. These plants are vital as a buffer for storm surge during tropical deluges.

Looking back — 2019 in pictures

What a glorious year of travel to such beautiful and interesting places.  I re-worked some of the previously posted and some new images with some new photo editing software (Luminar 4) to accent some of the interesting sites we visited.  I hope you like the results.  Please click on any of the images to see them full screen, and use your back arrow to get back to the blog post.)

From January 2019 posts on crossing the U.S. in winter, this is the central Nevada landscape in winter at sunrise.  Stark and barren of life, but gorgeous in morning light.

Sunset light in the Sonoran desert north of Tucson, in Catalina State Park (January 2019).  Amazing plant diversity here in a warm desert that gets winter rain.

A very lucky coincidence that we stumbled on a huge concentration of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese at Bosque del Apache in NM, right at sunset. (January 2019)

We visited the town of Ajijic and Lake Chapala, south of Guadalajara, Mexico, for pickleball camp in March. It’s always nice to escape MN winter weather for a while.

A fun rodeo at Fort Robinson, NE, in July. This was a father-daughter team of calf ropers showing off their skill.

Canyonlands National Park at sunset lights up the colorful mesas and rock formations, July 2019. It’s impossible to take a bad photo here.

Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz CA

Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz, CA with youngest grandchild dancing on the sea cliff. July, 2019.

Such a pastoral scene in Lassen National Park, CA, of the dormant volcano and meadow. August 2019.

Dramatic cliffs overlooking the Crooked River, north of Bend, OR.  With Luminar photo editor, I removed most of the haze from the distance.  August, 2019.

Just as we were ready to head out on a boating adventure on the Rio Claro in the Pantanal of Brazil, the sky lit up at sunrise. Now this is why I love photo editing software like Luminar, because it recovered all the highlights and color that I remembered but were a little too dim to see in my original image. September 2019.

Vast tracts of grassland in the Pantanal region of Brazil are devoted to cattle ranches. Pantaneiro cattle are a special hybrid mix of Portuguese and Zebu (South Asian) cattle bred to survive the heat and aridity here. September, 2019.

Beautiful Cloud Lake in the Porcupine Mts State Park, MI at sunset. There were swans swimming in the lake, but I couldn’t resist adding a few to the sky above (easily done with the double exposure feature in SnapSeed).  So this is a fake — but a pretty one. 🙂  October, 2019.

The Minneapolis skyline at sunset, enhanced using presets in Luminar.  November, 2019.

after the blue hour…

the city comes alive with lights while the backyard goes to sleep, or at least some creatures in the backyard sleep after the blue hour.

In preparation for photographing the lights of the holiday season and the Christmas markets of Europe, a friend and I tried to capture the transition from Blue Hour to night from the Stone Arch bridge looking toward the Minneapolis skyline.

Dodging pedestrians, runners, and bicycles on the bridge, here is what we saw.

A foggy day an hour or two before sunset on the Stone Arch bridge.

Capturing the city bathed in sunset lights was an impossibility on this foggy day, so there was early onset of monochromatic blue after official sunset time (4:40 p.m.).  It’s only 5:20 p.m.

The city begins to light up, as the skyline floors of the IDS building come on. It’s 5:48 p.m.

Building lights and signs begin to illuminate the cityscape as the light begins to dim more quickly.  It’s 5:55 p.m.

Less than two hours after official sunset time, the buildings are outlined with lights  that cast a yellow-pink glow in the sky above.  It’s 6:18 p.m.  And now it was so dark, I had to use the side railing of the bridge to stabilize my monopod for the 1 second exposure.

There was some biology observed before the photo session began.  Just as we stepped on the bridge, Debbie spotted a hawk perched in a tree right next to the bridge railing.  Apparently, having just finished a meal, it looked at us, wiped its beak, pooped, and flew off.

Possibly a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk, not happy to see us focusing our cameras on it.