Up with the sun, guiding the car alongside the familiar curves of Oak Creek Canyon to one of his favorite birding spots, D mused how he has traded one obsessive hobby for another. Left on his own in the States last summer, D spent a lot of time behind the wheel, traveling to see as many of his favorite bands in concert as he could find within a reasonable driving distance of D.C. Nowadays, with no live shows for the foreseeable future, D has turned the same zeal toward birding, poring through bird lists instead of concert listings in a bid to find as many unique species as possible.
Posts tagged ‘birding’
Long before Junebug discovered and befriended the great blue herons that frequent nearby Bubbling Ponds and enlisted them as unwitting participants in a long-running, one-sided game of tag, she got really into with hummingbirds. The Anna’s hummingbird — a gregarious species whose males flash brilliant pink feathers on their heads and necks — quickly became a particular favorite, pink being Junebug’s favorite color.
By almost any measure, we consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have spent the last three months in Sedona. For D, who has spent much of this time wandering the surrounding countryside in search of new birds, our stay in Arizona has resulted in a birding bonanza. He is reminded of just how lucky he is in this respect every time he meets fellow birders out on the trails. Frequently, they are out-of-state visitors who have travelled to Arizona for a chance to glimpse some of its unique birds, especially raptors.
One evening toward the end of our first month in Sedona, we found ourselves debating the advisability of putting up bird feeders. By that point we had acclimated after our sudden departure from the Philippines but had little in the way of guidance regarding the likely length of our evacuation. The Department’s initial global authorized departure only extended through mid-May, and there was considerable confusion about what lay ahead.
Every time we set foot on a trail amid Sedona’s towering red rock mountains, or spend a lazy afternoon at Oak Creek with the kids, or watch our dog roll around contentedly in a patch of sun-dappled grass in the Coconino National Forest, we feel a now familiar mix of conflicting emotions: gratefulness for the respite from cramped city living and the restrictive pandemic lockdown we escaped in Manila, mixed with a foretaste of nostalgia ahead of our eventual return to the Philippines.
We just passed one hundred days of rupture. A handful of countries – China, Italy, South Korea, to name a few – faced the pandemic sooner, but for most of the rest of us mid-March marks the breaking point of lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and other social distancing and virus containment measures. Speaking from experience and judging by our social media feeds, the last three months have fueled a wide array of personal obsessions as we all struggled to adapt to this new normal.
In the beginning, we were thrilled simply to be able to set foot outside and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Our daughter, not yet three and clearly traumatized by the experience of being personally told by a stern security guard that she was not allowed to go outside in Manila, would remind us first thing each morning that “in Sedona we go hiking every day.” First came the red rock hikes, then the nearby state parks. Having spent a few months in Sedona, we are now beginning to feel like locals, frequenting off-the-beaten-path creek spots and swimming holes and venturing up north to explore the starkly different scenery around Flagstaff.
Our serious interest in and passion for photography notwithstanding, we are and will always remain amateur photographers. We both have taken photography classes and understand the basic mechanics of manual photography, but frequently default to the automatic settings on our cameras and deploy only a small fraction of their sophisticated features. Similarly, D does some light post-processing – cropping mainly – when he sorts our photos, but he barely knows Photoshop basics and has never opened Lightroom or any of the dozen other photo editing programs that enable pros to correct and enhance their raw images.