Catalina State Park truly is a joy to stay in. Not many cities have such a great area just outside their city limits – Tucson is lucky! Outside of the campground I called home for a couple of nights, there are numerous trails leading up into the mountains and wildlife abounds, even early in the spring. An early morning start had me out on the trail before light. When the light did come up, I was treated to an unexpected surprise. Some clouds were in the sky and remained around for the early part of the morning.
On the trail I ran into a vociferous adult Cooper’s Hawk. It was one of the situations where I just couldn’t get anywhere that I could both have decent light on the bird and position a decent background. One of those times that you shouldn’t press the shutter, but the hawk called so frequently that I felt I had to oblige. The image will serve as a reminder of a future image I hope to take.
One thing Arizona has in great abundance is lizards. In addition to numbers, there is also quite a bit of diversity. I saw somewhere around a dozen species in my short trip, and there are quite a few more around depending where in the state you travel. Lizards have one trait that makes them very endearing subjects: they love to sunbathe. That means that you can find them basking on a rock soaking in the rays, just waiting for a photographer to come along. I’m sure it must look ridiculous when I creep up on them, but fortunately most of the time it is only the lizards and birds that watch. This Greater Earless Lizard barely glanced at me as I approached.
All in all, I had a wonderful time in Arizona. I missed the desert wildflower spectacular, but I was still treated to some great scenery and the uniquely adapted species of the desert. Places I travel usually fall into three categories: cool places that I’ll get around to going back to eventually, great places that if time and budget permits I want to return in the next few years, and unique places that if I had my choice I would spend some time in every year. Southeastern Arizona falls into the last category; it has so many unique aspects to it that I only scratched the surface of – if only it wasn’t so far away. A little hint of clouds came back as the sun set on my Arizona trip, giving me one of my favorite landscape photos from the trip. The image sort of summed up everything I felt about the desert landscape – mountains, canyons, saguaros, and that touch of light that paints the contours of the land. While it was an image that worked in color, it spoke to me stronger in black and white.