This Birds & Bats of SE Arizona Photo Tour offers the chance to photograph birds you won’t find elsewhere in the United States, all while you enjoy the cool environs of Madera Canyon, photograph hummingbirds with multi-flash, and enjoy shoots at a private photo ranch.
Your tour includes three (3) nights at the Santa Rita Lodge plus two (2) additional nights down the mountain at a very nice B&B. Both lodges feed birds year-round so you’ll have ready subjects close at hand.
In addition to numerous photo shoots while at Santa Rita Lodge, your tour also includes four (4) photo shoots and a nighttime bat shoot at the Pond at Elephanthead. At this photographer-friendly site, the owner keeps photo blinds, perches, water features, feeding stations, and set-ups in place year-round.
We’ve had good luck photographing the colorful Elegant Trogon during the tour. In addition, we typically see Painted Redstarts. While the flitty Redstart is tough to photograph, during my 2019 tour someone got a good shot of one. You’ll also enjoy photographing other southeastern Arizona specialties such as gila monsters, ringtails and coatis.
This all inclusive (double-occupancy), 5-night photo tour has space for just EIGHT (8) participants. Six (6) spots left
This region is known as one of the most vibrant hummingbird places in the United States and the tiny speedsters will be one of our main subjects.
I’ll bring along my high-speed flash equipment to photograph hummingbirds so you don’t have to! We aim to photograph Broad-billed, Rivoli’s (known until 2017 as the Magnificent) and any other hummers that show up.
With regard to hummingbird images, some folks like to do digital art and add flowers after the shot is taken; however, I prefer to include native flora in my set ups. That means your images will feature the bird naturally interacting with the flower from the start.
The Santa Rita Lodge, where we stay first, is nestled into Madera Canyon and is famous with birders and photographers alike for the variety of species it attracts. Enjoy this peaceful setting and your room situated underneath tall oaks and next to the creek below.
(Important Note: Details subject to change. Great photographic experiences will be our focus at all times!)
Tuesday, May 5th:
Meet at 12:00 noon at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. An afternoon here provides a wonderful overview of the native fauna of Arizona. Its aviaries (including a special hummingbird enclosure) feature free-flying birds and will start the tour off with plenty of photo ops.
And, while this tour focuses on bird photography, a visit to the museum wouldn’t be complete without checking out its botanical gardens. In 2013, TripAdvisor included the museum as one of the Top Ten Public Gardens in the United States. With over 1,200 plant species, you and your camera will find lots to focus on. The cactus garden alone hosts hundreds of plants — both native species and those from throughout the Americas — and a large number of them will be blooming this time of year.
Following dinner, we’ll head to our lodge in the mountains.
Wednesday, May 6th:
Rise & shine & enjoy coffee & a self-made breakfast (not included, but your room comes complete with kitchenette; Green Valley has grocery stores so you can buy the breakfast items you need there).
For our morning shoot, we’ll get started just outside our rooms. I’ll provide both multi-flash and natural light hummingbird photography setups.
We’ll also create images of other winged wonders that hang out here, including an entertaining flock of wild Gould’s Turkeys. This time of year you’ll get to watch — and photograph — while the toms perform their mating displays.
We’ll also angle for images of the Elegant Trogon and other species that are different from what we’ll find at the photo blinds later in the tour.
For those wanting to learn step-by-step how to create their own high-speed, multi-flash hummingbird photography set ups at home, your tour includes a session on this topic.
While in the mountains, Mary O. will serve our lunches and dinners. Mary O.’s a creative cook and uses organic ingredients whenever possible. She also caters to special dietary needs.
Thursday, May 7th:
We’ll spend another day photographing the abundant bird life of Madera Canyon. After breakfasting in your room at your own pace, enjoy another morning photo shoot dedicated to hummers. Use my high-speed, multi-flash hummingbird photography set ups to your heart’s content.
After chowing down on one of Mary O’s tasty lunches, I’ll lead a hike in search of the Elegant Trogon.
One-on-one image review and instruction provided as requested. Please do not be shy about making requests!
We’ll wrap up the night with a delicious Mary O. Meal.
Friday, May 8th:
Today begins with a dawn shoot at the Pond at Elephanthead. Since we’ll be getting up very early, you’ll probably want to bring some sort of breakfast to-go (though Mary O. will send some healthy snacks with us).
After the shoot we return to our mountain lodge to check out then head to lunch down in the desert.
After lunch we’ll check into our bed & breakfast & take a little time to relax. Then we head back to the desert photo blinds to photograph until dark.
Before leaving the blinds, we’ll set up our cameras for nighttime bat photography. Then it’s off to dinner.
Saturday, May 9th:
Our B&B will put out some breakfast items so you can grab a quick bite before heading out. Today’s first shoot takes place early-morning at the same special spot as yesterday — those private photo blinds designed and maintained for wildlife photography.
After our morning shoot, we’ll grab some lunch in the historic & artsy town of Tubac. Those who want to explore Tubac can hang out there after lunch, while others may prefer to return their rooms for a nap or head to the B&B’s porch for some hummingbird photography. I’ll do image reviews and one-on-ones for those who request it.
We’ll do another evening/afternoon shoot to take advantage of that sweet light. Those who didn’t get bat shots the night before will get another chance tonight.
Then it’s our final dinner together, outdoors at one of the area’s best restaurants. While we dine, laugh with your new friends & bask in the perfect nighttime temps of the desert in May.
Sunday, May 10th:
Wake up in your comfortable B&B room. Since we won’t be heading to an early-morning photo shoot, today you’ll get to enjoy a made-to-order full breakfast (included). Then it’s time to pack and prepare to head home. Travel safely & thanks so much for Exploring in Focus with us!
WHAT YOU CAN LEARN ON THIS TOUR:
- To create high-speed, multi-flash hummingbird photography set-ups
- How to photograph hummingbirds in natural light
- Tips on songbird photography
- Trigger photography tips
- Exposure tips for photographing birds & wildlife in speckled lighting
- How to get smooth backgrounds with bird photography
A note about instruction on my photo tours:
Since skills levels vary so much on photo tours, I tailor my teaching to individual needs. Please do not be shy about telling me what you need.
- At least eight (8) photo-shoots
- My one-on-one assistance, instruction, & guidance throughout your tour
- Image review & critique (as requested)
- Lesson on how to create high-speed, multi-flash hummingbird photography set ups
- Private photography photo blinds’ access & fees
- Bat photography photo shoot – we’ll provide the triggers
- Madera Canyon ‘ Visitor’s Permit & USFS fees
- Entry into the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum & its special Stingray Touch exhibit
- Use of multi-flash set ups to your heart’s content
- Lunches & dinners, snacks, & beverages from dinner on Tuesday evening, May 5th through Sunday morning, May 10th.
- Five (5) nights lodging (double-occupancy)
- Wi-Fi (Note: can be spotty at the Santa Rita Lodge, but works great at our B&B)
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:
Transportation to, from, or during tour (we can carpool as desired), breakfast while at the Santa Rita Lodge, alcoholic beverages, laundry service, your own room, and tips (optional).
LOGISTICS, EQUIPMENT & SUCH:
There are minimal physical requirements for this tour. Your vehicle will be parked close to the photo blinds. Hummingbird photography will be done near your room in the mountains.
The terrain at the Santa Rita Lodge is paved, but not completely flat. There are some slight inclines and declines to navigate.
If you’re wanting to go in search of the Elegant Trogon you’ll need to be able to traverse rutted dirt trails that go uphill.
While in Madera Canyon, those wanting a more physical activity will have lots of great trails to choose from just minutes away from our lodge. Your tour includes the Madera Canyon Visitor Permit.
GETTING THERE / TRANSPORTATION:
The nearest airport & car rental is Tuscon International Airport (airport code: TUS).
Phoenix provides another great option for those flying & renting a car. The airport there is called Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Its airport code is PHX.
Interstate 10 connects Tuscon & Phoenix via an easy drive that will take you about 2 hours. Many folks fly into Phoenix and rent a car there.
Click on this EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST (PDF) to see what equipment I suggest you bring along. You do NOT have to own it all nor bring it all. If you have any questions about suitable or minimum equipment needed, please do not hesitate to contact me.
GENERAL INFO / SIGN UP:
- DATE: May 5 – May 10, 2020
- SPACE FOR: Eight (8) ~ Six (6) spots left
- PRICE: $2395 ~ ALL-INCLUSIVE (double-occupancy)
- DEPOSIT: $500.00
- PAYMENT DUE DATES: A total of half the cost of the tour due 6-months before departure. Remaining balance due 60 days prior to start date of tour.