Citizen Science…

Thrasher Wing Action_edited-1

I love observing and learning about the critters right in our own back yard. There is always something going on if you take the time to look…

The last few days, I moved my portable perch over to the only thing in our yard that has autumn colors…the pomegranate bush…which didn’t produce any pomegranates this year. That’s too bad because birds love pomegranates. Adding a few peanuts to the perch draws them in, though.

Perch in Autumn

Thrasher Autumn 2

Thrasher Golden Eyes 2Curve-billed Thrashers

Sparrow Perch 1

Sparrow Perch 2House Sparrows, female and male

This very strange looking little creature dropped by. Someone on Facebook was able to ID it for me. “Tylospilus acutissimus is a species of predatory stink bug in the family Pentatomidae. It is found in the Caribbean, Central America, North America, and South America.” (Wikipedia)

Mystery Bug

This moth was found floating in a tub of water in the backyard. I thought it was a goner but it flew away after a couple hours of rest…look at its cute face!

Butterfly SavedGeometer Moth

A Honeybee was upside down in a container of grape jelly filled with rain. I put her in a dry spot and gave her some jelly which you can see she is sucking up here and she flew away after awhile, too. Both took off to pollinate the world!

Save the Bees

My favorite winter visitor also loves grape jelly…

Tink Looking Up

OCWA Slant

OCWA Tree

Tink 11.25Orange-crowned Warbler

Goldfinch 12.2

Lesser Goldfinch 11.25Lesser Goldfinches, male and female (they love baths and thistle)

Autumn MockNorthern Mockingbird

Verdin PumpkinVerdin

Anna's 11.25Anna’s Hummingbird

Here’s a few citizen scientist things you can do in your yard (click to go to articles):

  1. Don’t rake your leaves as much.
  2. Join eBird and record your sightings.
  3. Feed the birds, especially in the winter.

 

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Butcher Jones Trail

Along the Trail

We went looking for birds and stuff on Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake last week. It was supposed to be birdy. As usual, it wasn’t but it was nice anyway.

Osprey FlareOsprey

We saw more butterflies than I’ve ever seen in one place, many groups of several.

Butterfly GroupSouthern Dogface (open wings) and other Sulphurs 

Empress LeiliaEmpress Leilia (a first)

QueenQueen

Dfly 2

Clark's GrebeClark’s Grebe (lifer)

We saw this well-known guy with one foot in exactly the same place we saw him last November.

GBH BJ_edited-2

GBH One FootGreat Blue Heron

More of the trail:

Trail 2_edited-1

Trail 3

View

Cactus DetailSaguaro Detail

Mesquite BosqueMesquite Bosque

We briefly stopped at Coon Bluff Recreation Area on the Lower Salt River on the way back, hoping to see some eagles, wild horses, something, but no luck. It was a pretty view, though, and the fall colors were beginning so it was worth the stop.

Coon Bluf 11.19_edited-1

And now we’re on to December…

Sellah Park

Woody 1

There’s a small park in Tempe that I had never heard of with a little pond. The word got out among the local birders and bird photographers that a male Wood Duck and two females were hanging out there for the winter. Wood Ducks are not real common in the Phoenix area although a few are spotted here and there most winters. I hadn’t seen any in a couple years so I headed out last Sunday and got there shortly before sunset.

Woody 3

Woody 4

Of course, the male was the star of the show but the females are pretty, too.

Woody Girl 2

Woody and Ladies

It was getting dark but I was fortunate to catch a few golden patches of water.

Woody 2

Plus…to make things even better, there was a rare bird there, too, which was part of the draw. This tiny little guy is native to South America so everyone assumed he was an escapee from a zoo or private collection. Apparently, the latter is the case. He belongs to someone who lives a couple of blocks from the park and recently escaped. The owner knows where he is and comes to visit him but has decided he seems happy so is leaving him there. Hope he’ll be okay because he’s pretty tame and much smaller than one would think.

Ringed Teal 1

Ringed Teal 2

Ringed Teal 3Ringed Teal, male

Both these boys were more than happy to pose for the cameras. I have so many photos that I had to try a couple special effects…

Woody Orton and Blur_edited-1Orton Effect

Woody WC Square_edited-1Watercolor

My last Wood Duck experience can be seen here.

thanksgiving-png-1 bckgrnd

November in Phoenix

Western Pygmy BlueWestern Pygmy-Blue, smallest butterfly in North America

It’s been a glorious November, weather-wise, in Phoenix, following an equally glorious October.

Cone Flower

Anna's 11.2

Hummer Flight 10_edited-1Anna’s Hummingbirds, males

Verdin DD

Verdin on Dead BranchVerdins

Svengi on Mat_edited-1Svengali in the sunny catport (formerly the carport)

Google SunlightGoogle in the sun

Goldfinch 11.4Lesser Goldfinch, male

OCWA Round_Leaves

OCWA 2 11.3Orange-crowned Warbler (“Tink”)

Muhly Grass

This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever bought and I think it cost about $3.99. This is Pink Muhly Grass (Regal Mist), a non-invasive grass. It was tiny when I bought it, looked like a little tuft of grass and I had to ask our yard guy to not mow it or pull it out. I planted it in the remainder of a stump of a tree we had removed. First photo shows it now in all its pink glory, 2nd photo is of the stump, 3rd photo shows it when first planted in March 2017, 4th photo shows it in November 2017. It has grown a ton since then.

Pygmy in Muhly GrassWestern Pygmy-Blue in Muhly Grass

Mock on Roof

Mock in LantanaNorthern Mockingbirds

Lantana BerriesLantana Berries, delicious to all

Starling 11.2European Starling

Skipper from AboveFiery Skipper

Autumn Finch_edited-1House Finch

And…my 44th yard bird species…who seems to have only hung around for a couple days:

House Wren_edited-1House Wren

It was a very cute, tiny, curious, loud visitor. I wish I could have gotten a better photo before it took off…

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Old Beeline Highway

Old Beeline Hwy

Old Beeline Hwy 2

When SR-87, also known as the Beeline Highway, was widened in 1996, this older segment in the riparian corridor of Sycamore Creek near Sunflower was abandoned. Thus the trees and wildlife habitats are preserved and are much quieter (Arizonensis).

It was definitely quiet there, we only saw a couple vehicles that turned around when they reached a gate but we parked and walked past the gate for over a mile along the creek. We went by an abandoned Forest Service site with dilapidated buildings and broken-down fences. It was honestly kind of eerie and it started to give me the creeps after awhile so we eventually turned back. I do wonder what they plan to do with the whole area…

I got a photo of ONE bird the whole time. This is an area that is supposed to have a ton of birds, some of which we heard but never saw.

Canyon Towhee SCCanyon Towhee

The lack of wildife was disappointing but we did see some autumn colors along the way, something we don’t really experience in Phoenix.

Autumn 1 SC

Autumn 5 SC

Autumn 4 SC

Autumn 3 SC

Autumn 6 SC

Autumn 2 SC

Here are a few more sights along the quiet road.

Bfly SCCommon Buckeye

LilySacred Datura

PoppyWild Poppy

Purple FlowersAsters

White Yellow FlowersFalse Garlic (?)

We could have eaten if we had been lost there.

SundogSundog

Woods

Pond

Payson Mesa

We turned right and headed home, an interesting yet somewhat disappointing day.

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