Abundant Sunshine

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I have no clue what this insect is but I’m trying to find out. He has some loooong antennae, though. He was soaking up the sunshine nibbling the lantana.

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abundant-sunshine

Today’s weather sounded more like a fortune than a forecast. I intended to go birding somewhere but made the often repeated mistake of sitting in the backyard watching the birds “for just a couple minutes,” and then it was too late to head out. Tomorrow…

cb-thrasherCurve-billed Thrasher

grackle-girlGreat-tailed Grackle, female

incaInca Dove

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annas-2-9-23-16

hum-molt-10-3-16Anna’s Hummingbirds, males, molting

verdin-and-hummerVerdin and Anna’s Hummingbird

You can see that Verdins are only a tiny bit larger than hummingbirds.

cloudless-sulphurCloudless Sulphur

bee-9-24-16Honey Bee (with full pollen baskets)

kestrel-boyAmerican Kestrel, male

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The female Kestrel flew in a few seconds later and all the rest of the birds took off. They soon left, empty-taloned.

flesh-flyFlesh Fly

eufala-skipperEufala Skipper

Notice how the skippers, above and below, seem to have tiny little horns coming out of their heads? I never noticed that until today, after years of photographing them.

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fiery-skipperFiery Skipper

The lantana is the popular place to be if you’re a little flying critter. I’ve seen some other butterflies there in the last few days but haven’t been able to get any shots.

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Gilbert Riparian Winter

Great EgretGreat Egret

Snowy EgretSnowy Egret

Black-crowned Night HeronBlack-crowned Night Heron

Green HeronGreen Heron

Last weekend I met some birding friends at The Riparian Preserve At Water Ranch in Gilbert, a Phoenix suburb. It’s usually just referred to as Gilbert Riparian. It’s really the place to go to see mega-birds but, being lazy, I seldom go there because it’s about 30 miles from home…which isn’t much, I know. I should go more because I got 8 lifers there that day!

Here they are:

LB Dowitchers

DowitcherLong-billed Dowitcher

Lesser Yellowlegs 2Lesser Yellowlegs

It’s kind of dark there in many places and some of the ponds (there are 7) were very low so the ducks were far away. The water levels fluctuate because it’s part of Gilbert’s water treatment system so a lot of my photos were not great.

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Spotted Towhee, Green-winged Teal, Cattle Egret, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Harrier

And I also got a really, really bad photo of a Song Sparrow that I’m not posting but it was also a lifer although I’m sure I’ve seen them around a lot in life as they’re quite common. But I only count birds as lifers if I have seen and photographed them since starting to bird.

And a few more non-lifers rounded out the morning.

Ruddy Blue BillRuddy Duck, male

KestrelAmerican Kestrel, male

Anna'sAnna’s Hummingbird

AvocetAmerican Avocet

After spending a few hours there, my friends and I went on to Apache Junction, where one of them lives, and spent the afternoon on her beautiful patio at the foot of the Superstition Mountains where she attracts a ton of birds and where I got some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. Next time…

Beneath the Canopy

RC KingletRuby-crowned Kinglet (lifer in my yard!)

RC Kinglet 3

Even though we live in a very urban area in central Phoenix, our backyard is almost entirely covered with trees. On Google maps, you can’t see anything but treetops. It means there’s a whole other world under there and it also means most of my photos are high ISO because it’s dark, even on a sunny day (which is rare lately).

I’ve seen 24 species in our yard which isn’t bad for an urban setting. Here are a few of the birds that flit from branch to branch daily.

Thrasher 3 1.2.16Curve-billed Thrasher

Thrasher 4 1.2.16

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I love their Angry Bird look.

Mock 2 11.18.15Northern Mockingbird

Sparrow 1.2.16House Sparrow, female

DSC_1468Abert’s Towhee

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Hum 12.8.15

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Hum 2 12.5.15Anna’s Hummingbird

We have a huge Goldwater pine, a large mesquite, African sumac, mulberry, pomegranate, oleanders, queen palm, and California pepper. In the front, we have lantana, ficus, silk oak, and more African sumac. Most of these trees/bushes seem to provide some sort of seeds or other sustenance for the birds so I don’t have any feeders out other than for the hummers because I don’t want seed falling to the ground for birds to forage any more than happens naturally. We do have outdoor cats…

Pine in Yard

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But…since the holidays, I have been putting out an orange a day and a few nuts high in the trees much to the excitement of several birds.

“OMG, is this for me?”

OCWA Orange cropOrange-crowned Warbler

Verdin Orange cropVerdin

Wood Thang

Tree Thang

Above our cozy, happy little canopy danger always lurks, however.

Kestrel 1.2.15American Kestrel

dsc_0508 aHarris’s Hawk

I know these guys have to eat, too, but I don’t want them eating my cute little birds.

dark, brimming with life
beneath the lush canopy
birds sing, eat, drink, fly

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Slow Birding Week

Gaillardia 11.6.15

It was a slow week for birding. I went to a place that I used to stop in at on my way home from work, that was lush and dark, where I used to get some good shots but most of the trees had been cut down so there were no birds! Very sad and disappointing. So that left only my old standby, Granada Park, and our yard as my birding destinations for the past week.

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Gazania 2 11.7.15

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I’ve strategically placed a few more pots of flowers around in an attempt to have some nice backdrops (and nectar) for the many hummers who frequent our yard but, so far, they still prefer the tree branches and feeders.

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Wouldn’t these guys look prettier if they were sipping from flowers or at least closer to flowers?

Hummers 2 11.2.15“Buzz off!”

Purple Basil 11.7.15

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Gazania 3 11.7.15

Hum Front 11.2.15Anna’s Hummingbirds

Gaillardia 2 11.7.15

And attracting more butterflies would be a plus, too, although they seem to prefer our lantana.

Skip 11.7.15

Skippers 2 11.2.15

And this is all I saw at  Granada Park:

DSC_5245Mourning Doves

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A butterball? A snowball? Maybe a domestic goose, napping.

DSC_5263American Kestrel, male

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DSC_5268Queen Butterfly

Hoping for some more exotic locales in the near future…

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Fall at the Parks

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Says 4_edited-1Say’s Phoebe

Earlier this week, I went to a new-to-me park in Scottsdale (Northsight Park) because I had seen photos in my birding group of a cooperative male Vermilion Flycatcher spotted there. They’re really not very common in the city although outside of the city, you can find them often, especially in riparian areas. They are gorgeous birds. I’ve seen one back before I had a longer lens so my shots are not very good and I was hoping to get some closer photos. But, it was not meant to be, I guess. I did see the above Say’s Phoebe, only the second one I’ve seen, who posed nicely for me.

Saw a gazillion of these guys (this one is a girl), which are very plentiful here this time of year:

YRWA_edited-1Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

Cactus WrenCactus Wren

A few miles down the road, at Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden, a few more birds let me photograph them.

Gila 2

Gila 3

GilaGila Woodpecker, male

MockNorthern Mockingbird

DSC_4954_edited-1Rosy-Faced Lovebird

DSC_4962Tree Lizard

GrackleGreat-Tailed Grackle, male

I also saw a Cooper’s Hawk but the pics are bad. And, finally, this happy hummingbird was enjoying the fall colors of a Mexican Bird of Paradise.

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Hum 2

Hum 3

Today is “supposed” to be the last day of 100 plus temps this year!!!!! Low 90s tomorrow and heading into the upper 80s.

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♥ That makes Phoenicians happy! ♥