Back to the Backyard

Imagine my surprise one recent morning when I went into the backyard and spotted yardbird species #51 at the birdbath! A Black Phoebe took a quick drink and then flew off. I’ve never seen it since, wish I would, but it seems an unlikely place since I usually see them by bodies of water. I was glad it waited til I ran inside and grabbed my camera.

I was doubly surprised 2 days later to see a Say’s Phoebe diving for insects which was yardbird species #52! I see these birds often in parks but never in my yard. Once again, I have not seen it since. Phoebes are such pretty birds, I hope they visit again.

As if all that wasn’t exciting enough, a couple days later, I saw my favorite little bird, Tink (an Orange-crowned Warbler), return to our yard for the winter for the 5-6th season. At least I think and hope it was her. She seemed like the same bird, going back and forth between the 2 jelly feeders. I saw her for a few days and now have not seen her again for a few so I hope it was her and she plans to stay the winter. I don’t sit in my yard all day everyday so I could easily be missing her…I hope…I really wasn’t expecting her this year as I know they don’t live forever but, right on schedule, she returned…or so I think.

So those were exciting days! Here are a few of the Verdins who inhabit our yard all year…cute, tiny, and busy…

Verdins have roosting nests all year long. I think it’s where they sleep at night and hang out. The opening of the nests are on the side or bottom. Here is one leaving its nest in our pine tree:

They love jelly and oranges. Here they are in the little jelly house (click each to see larger):

An infrequent visitor to the yard is the Great-tailed Grackle. This female entertained me for awhile a few days ago and has been back since with another of her female friends:

They are loud, raucous, curious birds that are fun to watch. And those are some of the exciting goings-on in the backyard lately.

Sequestered

Thanks to my cousin, Deborah, for describing these times as “sequestered,” so I could use it for this title.

Anna’s Hummingbird, male, and yes, nature called in the last photo.

Abert’s Towhee

This is the stalk from an agave that my neighbors gave me as I wanted it for a photo perch. So…this is the only bird I have seen use it briefly! Still hoping for a little more action.

Verdin, immature

The above photo is of a Gray Hairstreak, not a particularly good shot, but you can see how the markings on the hindwing mimic antennae and eyes so that a potential predator may attack there rather than the head.

I had one more socially distanced visit with my friend, Maggie, in a park the other day. It has now become so hot in Phoenix that it is doubtful we can do that for a couple more months. Saw a couple birds:

Black Phoebe
Northern Mockingbird
American Kestrel
Almost full moon on July 2

Here is something else I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on lately. It’s something of a “Vision Board” or “Dream Board,” hoping that it will manifest if I wish it so. It’s a composite photo with several layers of symbolic/representative elements added:

This was the original photo that I used, taken on the Apache Trail:

Some of the elements added were taken from the internet (most of them) and a couple were from photos I’ve taken, including the tiny hummingbird in the upper left.

I’ve also spent many hours collecting some 19th century photos and writing fact-based, fictional stories about the subjects and further hoping to include them in my road trip. In fact, on the road trip photo above, the box of photos is pictured on the lower right hand side. So I want to do a Road Show within a Road Trip. Yes, I know I sound nutty: sequestering can do that to you.

if you would like to see the vintage photos and read their stories, I have linked it here on my blog as a PDF. You can download it or just read it here: Fanciful Facts.

Northern California, Part 1

You can see this panorama larger here.

In January, I was in California for 4 days, meeting up with an old friend. I had never been that far north in California and was stunned by the extreme beauty, so different than what I have seen in other parts of California. Here are just a few photos from Fort Bragg with more posts to come.

Ice Plants

Surf Scoter (Lifer)
Black Phoebe

Back to the Verde

The Verde River in Tonto National Forest
Running Fast and Furious
Black Phoebe
Cooper’s Hawk
Desert Broom
Not if you’re a birder…

We last went to the Verde River in early December 2017 when the fall colors were far more vivid. I guess we went a little too early this year and the birds were not cooperative either. We didn’t even see horses like we did that time. Oh, well, can’t complain too much because it was still very pretty…

Out of Range

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Some rare birds have been at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve (Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch) for the last few weeks and are still there. They are very unusual for Arizona as they are eastern U.S. birds. My birding friend, Marika, and I went there two weeks ago. I knew exactly where they were reported in the preserve~down to the exact trees and bench by the trees. We sat on the bench and all 3 of them came to us. They were all extremely fast and flighty and blended in with the cottonwood leaves so it was still challenging to get some photos.

Northern Parula

Black-and-White Warbler

It was pretty exciting to find them all. There were a couple more rare birds also reported there but we were unable to find those. Nevertheless, we were very pleased. I still may go back there soon.

Orange-crowned Warbler

This bird, above, is not uncommon here in the winter but I always like to see them. Last March Marika and I also went birding at the preserve and didn’t have as lucky of a day but I never posted any photos from that visit, basically because I had so few but here they are…

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Snowy Egret

Song Sparrow

Black-necked Stilt

And I also have a few photos from a trip I took to the Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden back in late October. I was happy to see the bird below. It’s only the third time I’ve seen this species. They are not very common here but they are not considered rare. This particular bird posed very nicely for me for several minutes.

Hermit Thrush

Here are a couple more from that day…

Desert Cottontail

Black Phoebe

Anna’s Hummingbirds

Northern Mockingbird

Trying to catch up with the surplus of photos I have from 2017…hard to believe the year is coming to a close, isn’t it?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.