Sunday, December 30, 2012

Photo Haiku - Oregon

ocean water speaks
spent waves caress sandy beach
end of long journey

historic water
Columbia River rolls
Mount Hood summer snow

resounding water
intensity and power
constant trumpet blast

(Click on photos to enlarge) 
Photo Locations:
1.  Otter Rock, (Otter Rock)  Oregon
2.  Underwood, (Underwood)  Washington
3.  Tumulo Falls, Bend, (Bend)  Oregon  (Oregon)

Friday, December 28, 2012

How We Found the Elegant Trogon

My wife, Mary, and I have been wanting to put this rare, hard-to-find bird into our "Life List" for more than a decade. We've been "Birding" since 1978, when I took my first Ornithology class from Kerri Fitzharris, at Grand Valley State University (GVSU).

Over the winter of 2008-09, we were blessed to spend four months in southern Arizona. We eventually found some outdoor people who knew this part of the state. After asking lots of questions of Birders in the know, we narrowed our search down to four locations.

"Your best chance to spot the Elegant Trogon is at Madera Canyon."

 So, one weekend we drove through Tucson, south to Green Valley, and SE into the Santa Rita Mountains. We hiked into the Mount Wright Wilderness for several hours, eager, anxious, binoculars ready; came back down, searched around the Sycamore canyons ---  no Trogons.

We talked to a few other Birders. "They were here the day before yesterday."


 "Maybe you could try Ramsey Canyon. I heard there were some sightings there recently." 

A few weekends later we drove through Tucson, south through Sierra Vista, and into the Huachuca Mountains. We entered the world famous Ramsey Canyon.

We began hiking. Eager. Anxious... binoculars ready. A couple of hours of hiking, produced some good birds, but not His Elegance.

To people on the trail: "Has anyone here seen the Elegant Trogon lately?"

"No, not here, but I hear reports of them around Cave Creek Ranch, near Portal." This was "Ozzie", from England, currently living in Montreal.

"Where's Portal?"

"Way to the east, near the border of New Mexico."

"Thanks Ozzie, we'll have to try it."

A few weekends later, we drove through Tucson, then way, way SE through Tombstone, down to Douglas, and back NE to Portal. Here, in the Coronado National Forest, we hiked around, and explored; eager, anxious, binoculars ready. We asked several binoculared people, "Any Elegant Trogons lately?"

"Shoulda' been here last week. A pair of Trogons was hanging out right in these woods.."


A month passed. We added several new species to our "Life List". These are first-time-in-our-life birds. In our many visits to numerous locations around southern Arizona, including Madera, Ramsey, Cave Creek, and other places. Here are just the January through mid-March, 2009 birds that we "GOT" on our "Life List" :

Painted Redstart
Mexican Jay
Vermillion Flycatcher
Orange-crowned Warbler
Hutton's Vireo
Lazuli Bunting
Dusky Flycatcher
Bell's Vireo
Magnificent Hummingbird
Canyon Towhee
Lucy's Warbler
Cassin's Vireo
American Pipit
Common Bushtit
Chihuahuan Raven
Plumbeous Vireo
Townsend's Warbler
Albert's Towhee
Black Vulture
Zone-tailed Hawk
Hepatic Tanager
Red-naped Woodpecker
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Northern Beardless Tyrannulet
Acorn Woodpecker
Nutmeg Mannikin  *(extremely rare, exotic, finch)*

But the elusive, Elegant Trogon still eluded us.

In March, 2009, we once again headed south through Tucson, SE on I-10, south on 83 to Sonoita, SW on 82 to Patagonia, and SW some more, almost to the Mexico border. We found a nice campground for our RV at Patagonia Lake State Park.

We all know how rare lakes are in Arizona. Patagonia Lake, a reservoir really, is very small, by Michigan standards, but a nice little body of water. And water attracts people and birds. The place was crawling with Birders. A good sign.

Perhaps we'll see something elegant here.

Mary and I usually prefer birding alone, just the two of us. I'm the better spotter; she's better at discerning calls. We make a great team. But since this is a known hot spot, with many species we may not know, and a good, varied habitat, we signed up for a guided Birding Hike. There were 15  others on this walk. About five had extensive experience, and were wealthy with bird knowledge.

I felt Mary and I were in the top third of the class as we walked; eager, anxious, binoculars ready. It was a good, productive hike. We saw and learned some flycatchers we had never heard of. Good waterfowl, a variety of woodpeckers, remarkable warblers. As a group, we compiled a decent list during the three and a half hour hike.

Trogon? Nope.

I was getting hungry (again), so we picked up our pace considerably, and started heading back to camp for a late lunch. We came upon three Birders, eyes fixed on a target about 20 yards into the thick brush. They kindly described the position of the bird. Birders are always cooperative, generous, and want to share the prize they spy with their eyes.

There it was! The elusive ELEGANT TROGON !!!

With our own eyes. Thank you God!

We studied him for several minutes. He seemed to be relatively stationary. So Mary offered to keep a tight track of the Trogon if I wanted to fetch my camera bag and lenses back in the pickup.

I ran, not jogged, the half mile back to the campground, grabbed my equipment, slugged some water, and started running, not jogging, the 1/2 mile back. It's tough to run with heavy lenses hanging from your shoulders and neck, but this was the Elegant Trogon! We had waited years for this opportunity. Seeing him was fantastic, but capturing him with my Canon would be a dream come true. I was praying it would still be there.

I spotted Mary, deep in the Mesquite bosque. I circled wide and came up slowly behind her. The brush was thick. The Trogon had moved a few times, but Mary was on it. Heavy branches dense with twigs obscured my view for a clean shot, so I maneuvered slowly, gradually, and discovered a small opening.

Click.   Click, click.

The Trogon moved. More slow, cautious stalking. Click, click. I was able to get a few more shots before it flew off, far off, and out of sight.

YES ! Thank you God!

We GOT our bird. The ELEGANT TROGON.

Back at the RV, we were more than happy campers. We were elated Birders.

Here, finally, is his elegance, perched on his throne:


Length: 12.5 " (32cm)

Wingspan: 16" (40cm)

Weight: 2.5 oz. (70g)

Description (Sibley) :

Stout bill with long, square-tipped tail, and unusual wing shape.
Bright red lower breast and belly, white band on breast.
Gray upper wing coverts
Luminescent green.

Description (Peterson) :

Solitary, brightly colored forest and woodland bird with short neck,
stubby bill, long tail, and very small feet.
Erect when perched. May remain motionless for long periods.
Flutters when picking berries.

Note: geranium red belly, white breast band, yellow bill, and finely barred underside of tail (coppery above).

I love all these delicious colors of course, but personally, I'm most attracted to his spectacular orange eye ring.

Food:  Small fruit and insects. 

Habitat: Mountain forests, pine-oak and sycamore canyons.

Voice: (Peterson)

Series of low, coarse notes, suggesting a hen turkey:

kowm kowm kowm kowm kowm kowm, or koa koa koa koa koa koa.

A monotonous, croaking "co-ah"

Voice: (Sibley)

A soft, hoarse, croaking,  bwarr bwarr bwarr

Sometimes a hoarse, spitting,  weck weck weck, all in a series of 5-15 notes.

Alarm call is a rapid, hoarse, bekekekekekek.

Also gives low, soft hooting or clucking notes.


Pink = Summer Range       Purple = Year round Range

"Where have you been Rich and Mary?   I've been looking for you everywhere!"

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Photo Location:   Patagonia State Park,  (Patagonia)   Santa Cruz,   Arizona  (Arizona)


Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America  Roger Tory Peterson  (Peterson)  c 2009

Sibley Guide to Birds   David Allen Sibley  (Sibley)

Elegant Trogon:  Trogon elegans

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Reeds on Ice

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Photo Location:  McCarthy Lake,  (McCarthy)  Kent County,  Michigan (Michigan)

Monday, December 24, 2012

And Heaven and Nature Sing

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come !
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing."

"Oh come let us adore Him ...                                           Christ the Lord."

Christmas Carol Lyrics (Lyrics)

Joy to the World

words:  Isaac Watts  (1674-1748)  c  1719

music:  George Frederick Handel  (1685-1759) 

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Before Ice

winter, before ice
willows contrast black and white
calm water reflects

(Click on photo to enlarge)
Photo Location:  Cannonsburg,  ( Cannonsburg)  Michigan  (Michigan)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Black Bones

Black Bones
December  sun
sets early
behind solid
black bones
of old tree.
Clearing skies
and calming winds
allow cold air mass
to settle fast
upon open field.
Skeleton of
red oak
to survive
another winter.

(Click on photo to enlarge)
Photo Location:   Vergennes Township,  (Vergennes)  Kent County,  Michgian  (Michigan)
Red Oak   (Quercus rubra)


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Conference of Crows

Conference of Crows
Black trunks accent gray morning
upon flat sky of smoldering light,
overcast the color of old chalk.

Wet snow persists, wind dead calm,
fox tracks follow pheasant tracks
along farm lane through field.

Conference of crows holding high court,
talk of confronting a hawk in flight,
or a perched owl to persecute.

Decisions will soon be reached,
with much greed and little patience:

                        where to fly,
                                                       what to eat,
                                                                                      when to leave.

©  2012  Richard Havenga
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Photo Location:  Parnell-Cannonsburg,  (Parnell) - (Cannonsburg)  Kent County,  Michigan (Michigan

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fragments of Poetry 6

"The land rolls out its own magnificence,
and you inherit whatever your eyes
can prove by their glance
that they're worthy of." - William Stafford

from poem:  "You, Reader"

from collection:  My Name is William Tell   c 1992

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Photo Location:  Absoroka Range,   Pray,   Montana  (Montana)

View previous "Fragments of Poetry":

May 1,   May 13,    July 19 ,   Aug. 18,   Nov. 13 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Waiting to Sail

Waiting to Sail
powerful cumulonimbus
updrafts surging skyward
approaching from the northwest

base clouds darken and threaten
rain falling on ridgeline
imminent oncoming storm
solidly anchored to bottom
sailboat ready for windshift
waiting to sail tomorrow

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Photo Location:  Flathead Lake,  (Flathead)  Big Arm,  Montana (Montana)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Color Is Soil ?

streaks of colored soil
no roads, no tracks, no people
eager to explore

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Photo Location:  Dinosaur National Monument,  (Dinosaur)  Colorado (Colorado)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Great Egret

This is white. Pure white. On a dark day over gray water. This Great Egret is alert; spotting the target, and ready to strike.

Notice the lores, they are slightly greenish near the eyes.

The relatively thin bill is very slightly downcurved.

This is a tall, stately, slender white heron with a yellow bill, and a long neck.

Foraging birds stand tall and walk slowly.

Size:  35 - 41 " (89-104cm) tall.  Wingspan = 51 - 55 " (1.4-1.5 m)  Weight = 1.9 lbs. ((870g)

When feeding, it assumes an eager, forward-leaning pose, with its neck extended.

The Great Egret has black legs and feet. Whereas the Snowy Egret has black legs and yellow feet, (it's quite a sight) and is much smaller.

I love this action shot. It's so sure-footed, climbing its way up this submerged limb. See its toes wrapped around the branch for better balance? The right foot  is ready for the next step and grip. He displays excellent dexterity. Could you climb up a wet log, without looking at your feet? Can you even wrap your toes around a thick branch?


Small fish, frogs, and crayfish in shallow water. Occasionally snakes, salamanders, lizards, and large insects like grasshoppers.

He has a small fish clamped in his bill up there.

Here, he works to subdue the fish, and toss it down his throat.

HabitatFreshwater and saltwater marshes, marshy ponds and tidal flats.


Nests in colonies, often with other species of herons. Lays 3-5 pale, blue-green eggs on a platform of sticks in trees and bushes. 


Pink =  Summer     Light Blue =  Winter     Dark Blue/Purple =  Year-round


A very deep, low, gravelly "kroow",  or a grating, unmusical,  "karrrr".   Also a low, hoarse croak,  or  a  "cuk, cuk, cuk".

Click on  Cornell Labs to hear several calls.


Formerly known as the American Egret, Common Egret, Large Egret, White Egret, Great White Egret, and Great White Heron. This bird's official name is now: "Great Egret".

It has recovered from historic persecution by plume hunters of previous centuries.

Look for them in a place like this. Once you see one, you will never forget your time spent with the Great Egret.

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Great Egret:  (Ardea alba)

Photo Location:   Cascade Township,  (Cascade)   Kent County,  Michigan


Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America  (Peterson)   c 2008

Sibley Guide to Birds - David Allen Sibley  (Sibley)   c 2000

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds  (Audubonc 1994

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Photo Haiku - Cactus

perfectly balanced,
oval, green pancakes with spines
Prickly Pear Cactus

lean desert tower
surviving another drought
four arms are weary

Barrel Cactus buds
have a red and green Christmas
be careful, stay sharp
(Click on photos to enlarge) 
Photo Locations: 
1.  Zion National Park,   (Zion)  Utah
2.  Saguaro National Park - East,   (Saguaro)  Tucson,  (Tucson)  Arizona
3.  Oro Valley,  (Oro Valley)  Arizona

Friday, December 7, 2012

Photo Haiku - Writing Contest 2

It's your turn to write.
Create a three-line Haiku
for each photograph.



Haiku Guidelines:

First line = 5 syllables
Second line = 7 syllables
Third line = 5 syllables

Please submit entries into the "Comments" section at the bottom of this post.

Facebook submissions not accepted.

Emailed submissions are an option. (

Good luck. Good skill. Good writing to you.

Winners will be announced in a future post.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lichen on Lava

flat, flush and formless
resilient, leathery, lobes
on rock

(Click on photo to enlarge)
Photo Location

Crag Crest Trail,  (Crag Crest)  Grand Mesa National Forest, (GMNF)  Colorado

Monday, December 3, 2012

Photo Haiku - Colorado

theatre of clouds
draws veiled curtain over hills
light shines through thin rain

edge of deep ravine
western horses graze content
summer's rich green grass

stark white aspen trunks
yellow leaves brush deep blue sky
Colorado gold
 (Click on photos to enlarge)
Photo Locations:
1. Taylor River Reservoir,  Tin Cup,  (Tin Cup)  Colorado
2. Blue Mesa Reservoir,   (Blue Mesa)  Gunnison,  (Gunnison)  Colorado
3. Grand Mesa National Forest,  (Grand Mesa)  Colorado


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bird Swarm




(Click on photos to enlarge)
Photo Location:  San Pedro House,  (San Pedro)  Sierra Vista,  (Sierra Vista)   Arizona
 Bird Species:  Yellowheaded Blackbird  (Xanthocephalus  xanthocephalus)