On the Road Again

We finally got started on our AZ day trips again. I’ve been back from IN for about 6 weeks and, with a sick kitty (who now feels better), monsoons, and other assorted issues, it seemed hard to get going. But we went back to Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim (one of our many favorite places) yesterday. The temperature was 68 degrees, quite a nice relief from the constant Phoenix heat. Cool, refreshing, beautiful, peaceful. Here are some of our sights in semi-chronological order.

Gold-mantled Ground Squirrel

We were feeding these guys peanuts, which you can see are stuffed in this one’s cheeks, but we also dropped the occasional piece of popcorn. This one was particularly greedy and unafraid of us so kept begging for more.

Gold-mantled Ground Squirrel and Grey-collared Chipmunk (in foreground)

Most Jays are very loud, very pretty, and fun to watch and these are no exception.

Steller’s Jay

I was very surprised to see this guy land quite close to me before he took off in a hurry. We also saw several members of its family flying over the lake.

Bald Eagle, immature

It was so lush in the forest after all the monsoon rains. No mosquitoes, though!

Speaking of loud and boisterous:

Common Raven

It was not real birdy, though, oddly. Other than hearing the Jays and Ravens, it was pretty quiet. We did also see, briefly, some sort of wren, warbler, and woodpecker but not long enough for photos.

Then we stopped on the Rim for the views before we left and there we saw more birds. There were many Turkey Vultures riding the currents.

This is the very edge of the Rim, looking down, glad I didn’t trip:

Lesser Goldfinch

There were several varieties of pine (or fir?) trees here.

Dark-eyed Junco, Red-backed subspecies, juvenile

Plateau Fence Lizard

Mountains as far as you can see. It was great to be out again and to have something different to blog about again! Hopefully, we are back in our routine of regular adventures.

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Stifling, Stagnant, Sticky

Southern Dogface

It sure is hot here in Phoenix. We hit 115 and 116 last week. This week it’s just down to 110 or so. Too miserable to venture out much but I was glad to see two of these butterflies cavorting around together. I’m not seeing many butterflies lately. I imagine it’s hard on everyone. The birds sure manage to look pretty pathetic.

Gila Woodpeckers
Abert’s Towhee
Anna’s Hummingbird

Curve-billed ThrashersEurasian Collared-Dove
Verdins, adult and juvenileNorthern Mockingbird

Here’s our humor for the day. Spotted by Tony while we were grocery shopping. We didn’t have a phone with camera with us so we had to buy it:

Learning the Ropes

This cute little immature Verdin can now eat all by himself. A few days ago I watched him (or one of his siblings) try to figure the big world out with the help of a parent.

“Feed me some orange!”

“Yum!”

“Look, grape jelly, yum!”

“Yum, crawly bugs!”

“Yum, pomegranates!”

“Yum, a dragonfly! Thanks, Mom.”

So I haven’t blogged, haven’t taken many photos, haven’t gone on any day trips, or even birded locally. One of our kitties, Google, who is diabetic, now has kidney disease, too, and was hospitalized for a few days. Now we have a bunch more things we have to do to him in hopes of keeping him alive longer as he’s only 10…sub-q fluids, different meds, testing his glucose twice a day, giving insulin (which he’s been getting for 3 years)…it’s a lot but he’s very sweet and deserves more time, we think.

That, combined with worrying abut my mom and hoping that all is going smoothly with her caregivers back in the midwest, plus the extreme heat and humidity here, has dampened my enthusiasm for all the things I like to do. Hope it comes back someday. Meanwhile, a few minutes in the yard now and then is about all I can do.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

I haven’t seen the Ladder-backed Woodpecker from my last post again but, since I only go out to put bird food out and seldom stay long, he could very well still be here. I hope to see him again.

All the birds are looking very hot and raggedy now. I believe many of them are also molting, accounting for the stray feathers popping up all over on them.

Gila Woodpecker, male

Google

Google is accepting warm wishes, thoughts, prayers, vibes for his improved health if you want to send any his way.

Stuck Between Two Places

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Yard bird species #42 welcomed me back to our Phoenix yard. He’s been around a few times so I hope he will stick around. He seems to enjoy the dining choices.

I’m glad to be back home but I feel like I’m in a fog and sort of half in Indiana and half here. Sometimes when I wake up, I can’t figure out where I am. So far my mom is doing pretty well and has more help at home but she’s quite elderly. I mean, I’m technically elderly now, too, so she really is and it’s worrisome. I’m trying to get back in my routine but it’s coming very slowly.


Brown-headed Cowbird, juvenile

Nice to see my familiar birds again, though. It’s excruciatingly hot and humid here. We’re in our monsoon season so I have yet to get back out birding other than occasionally sitting in the yard briefly.

Curve-billed Thrasher

House Finches

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Black-chinned Hummingbird, female

Northern Mockingbird (sorry, gecko)

We haven’t gone on any of our day trips yet and I would really like to go up north but, with the monsoons, it’s not always good to be out driving in the late afternoons so I don’t know when we will go somewhere…soon, I hope.

Well, because of my computer crashing while I was back in Indiana and needing to get a new one, I temporarily had no access to all of my photos. I got the files restored from my old hard drive so here are a few more photos from Indiana that I couldn’t post earlier.

Darden Bridge on the St. Joseph River

Eastern Chipmunk (destructive little beasts)

Red-bellied Woodpeckers

Fox Squirrels

American Robin, juvenile

Blue Jay

 

Adios, Midwest!

The mighty and muddy St. Joe River

The St. Joseph River is approximately 206 miles long, zigzagging through southern Michigan and northern Indiana, draining a primarily rural farming area into the watershed of Lake Michigan. You really can’t drive very far without continually crossing over it.

So I am now back home again in Arizona, out of Indiana, hoping that all will be well with my mother for quite awhile, for her sake as well as mine. These first few photos were taken at St. Patrick’s County Park in South Bend, IN. It’s really a beautiful park.

Eastern Bluebird, juvenileRed-Winged Blackbird, femaleWhite-breasted Nuthatch

Great Blue Heron

I got 7 lifer birds total while back there. Some are in my last post. Some are in neither post as I either got no photos or blurry photos. Those ones are Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Baltimore Oriole, and American Goldfinch (seen several times with no photos). Seven isn’t that great for 5 weeks but, considering I was only out in nature for about a total of 8 hours, pretty good. If I had spent more time and had my birding lens with me, it would have been awesome, I’m sure, but I had many other things to do on this trip. I did not get my target Pileated Woodpecker nor the fairly common Red-headed Woodpecker. Someday…

One day, a friend, Judy, and I went to Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Niles, MI. What a beautiful place. The birding was slow and we got caught in a downpour about 2 hours in but it was lovely before that.


This stick structure was awesome. At the time, we saw no signage so did not know what it was made from but I have since found out that the artist is Patrick Dougherty and the sticks are willow twigs. This piece is called Take Five and was done in 2014. Here is more info on it.

This park is also on the St. Joe River and had some creeks draining into it.

They have had a very wet spring and summer (so far) back there so everything is very lush but we also saw many big trees down.

Jeremiah (he had many friends)

There was a bird viewing area and that is where I saw the lifer hummingbird mentioned earlier. Here are a few photos taken there, through glass that was very reflective on a cloudy day, so they look a little funky.

Blue JayWhite-breasted NuthatchRose-breasted Grosbeak, femaleBlack-capped Chickadee

Many, many flowers there were being visited by many, many bumble bees.

The other places I visited while back there, with photos in my last post, were Rum Village Park and Nature Center in South Bend, IN, and Madeline Bertrand County Park in Niles, MI.

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