2019 Begins…

prickly pear

prickly pear 2

We went for a late afternoon walk around Desert Botanical Garden the other day. We had some really cold days here and, with the holidays and all, we haven’t been on one of our day trips for about a month so we have to get back on the road again soon. Meanwhile…

butte

I thought the birds would be a little more active. We did see a lot of quail, doves, starlings but I didn’t take photos of them. We also saw a cute little wren that I would have liked to get a photo of to identify it but it wasn’t cooperative.

costa's female_edited-1

costa's female 2_edited-1Anna’s or Costa’s Hummingbird, female

flora

There were very few butterflies. I imagine many froze during the cold snap. 😦

queen bflyQueen Butterfly

verdin_edited-1Verdin

square square

cactus wrenCactus Wren

rose

cactus

Being at the Garden reminded me that I didn’t meet any of my goals for 2018! I had similar goals for 2017 and met them all but 2018 was different. Spending 5 weeks in Indiana unexpectedly threw me off for the whole year. When I got back, I couldn’t get back into the swing for quite awhile, one of my cats got very sick, and then the summer was so hot that I just decided I would chuck my 2018 goals:

  1. Volunteer 100 hours at Desert Botanical Garden. Not even close (compared to 102.75 in 2017).
  2. Find 50 new Lifers (new birds). Found 36 (compared to 58 in 2017).
  3. Go on many AZ day trips with Tony. Went on 16 (compared to 23 in 2017).

I also went to a few parks on my own and a few expeditions with my birding friend, Karen, plus I went to a couple places back in Indiana so I did see many pretty sights, gorgeous birds, and other wildlife so I can’t really complain. But I’ve decided not to be too specific in my 2019 goals:

  1. Maybe volunteer at Desert Botanical Garden, maybe not. Maybe elsewhere, maybe not.
  2. Find some new birds.
  3. Go on as many day trips with Tony as we can.
  4. Take as many photos as I can.

These were my first bird photos of 2019. It was cloudy, cold, and rainy so they were from my yard only. The hummers were all fluffed up.

anna's 010119_edited-1

anna's 1.1_edited-2Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Hope your year is off to a good start and that you have many exciting goals…or no goals…but fun times ahead.

 

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Hello, October!

Desert CottontailDesert Cottontail

Dragonfly SXGMexican Amberwing, female

Vermiflion FC 3 SXG_edited-1

Vermilion FC 2 SXGVermilion Flycatcher, female

October is a good month for Phoenix since the mornings and nights get cooler, although the days can still get hot. Right now, we have the remnants of Hurricane Rosa bringing us rain and clouds so it’s cooler than normal, high 70s-80s. Feels great after a long, hot summer.

The above photos were taken at Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden one day last week. I love the light there. I often see warblers there during migration but not this time.

The next few photos were taken yesterday at Desert Botanical Garden on a gloomy day. I mistakenly thought the birds would be out in full force but I was wrong again. There were a ton of Queens, though.

Queen 1

Queen 3Queen Butterfly

Cactus Wren Lomo

Cactus Wren 2Cactus Wrens

QuailGambel’s Quail, male

Bee and Sunflower

SulphurSulphur with tattered wings

Verdin 2Verdin, mid-snack

I just don’t know where all the migrating birds are!!! I keep looking. The following photos were taken in our yard last week. The skippers are out in full force.

Skipper 9.23Fiery Skipper in Lantana

Svengi as ElvisSvengali does Elvis

It’s definitely beginning to look and feel like Fall here. Happy October!

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Granite Mountain Trailhead

These photos might look a lot like those I posted a couple weeks ago at Brown’s Ranch Trail. We went back to the beautiful McDowell Sonoran Preserve in north Scottsdale. We were a few miles northeast of Brown’s Ranch at Granite Mountain Trailhead. The difference was this day was cloudy, there were almost no birds, and there was a ton more granite. Oh, and the views of the surrounding mountains were pretty awesome.

Four Peaks

Granite Mountain

Cactus Wren

Curve-billed Thrasher

Verdin

We saw a few squirrels but we also think we saw a Bobcat…no photo, of course.

Weaver’s Needle in the Superstition Mountains

It was a great day for a hike, though, as the weather was very pleasant and the views were great.

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Brown’s Ranch Trail

Brown’s Ranch was founded in 1917 by E.O. Brown, a Scottsdale entrepreneur, and encompassed 44,000 acres at its peak, supporting 3,000 to 5,000 head of cattle. His descendants lived on the ranch until 1970. After changing hands several times, the remainder of the ranch was acquired by the City of Scottsdale in 1999 for inclusion in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Preserve is a large, permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat that includes an interconnected network of non-motorized, multi-use trails (hike/bike/horse) accessed from multiple trailhead locations over 30,500 acres. It is the largest urban park in the U.S.

Brown’s Mountain

It was a sunny, windy day and the 3 mile Brown’s Ranch Trail just got prettier and birdier the farther we went. We’d never been to any part of the Preserve before and I had no idea it was so beautiful. The trails were great. We’ll be exploring more of it soon.

White-crowned Sparrow (on agave stalk)

Ocotillos

I imagine in the spring, when the desert is in bloom, that it is even more spectacular.

Cactus Wren (on agave stalk)

Cholla, glowing

Cone Mountain

Phainopepla, male (on agave stalk)

Saguaro skeleton

Harris’s Hawk

Gilded Flicker couple

Curve-billed Thrasher

Red-tailed Hawk

Yes, those are bullet holes even though shooting is not allowed in the Preserve. But this is Arizona, the Wild West.

Mount Humboldt with FAA Radar Facility

Northern Mockingbird (on agave stalk)

There were no lifers but it is definitely on the “return to” list, at some point. And I learned that birds love dried agave stalks so I am in search of one for my backyard photo props.

Cave Creek

michelin-man-horizontal

Now that Tony and I are both retired, we’re trying to get out and go to places in our area and state that we’ve never seen before (and I’m always trying to find new birds). Maybe every state is this way, but Arizona has a ton of city, county, state, and national parks.

Last week we went to Cave Creek Regional Park. We stopped at the Nature Center and the staff suggested we check out the “Michelin Man” saguaro so we hiked an easy trail and found it.

michelin-man_edited-2

Pretty amazing compared to the other saguaros. I’d like to see this in a couple months when the saguaros are blooming.

michelin-man-2

horseback-rider

It’s a very nice park with hikers, bikers, and horseback riders but not very birdy so we went to a nearby riparian area known as Jewel of the Creek Preserve. “The Jewel of the Creek is a desert oasis filled with towering cottonwood and willow trees along Cave Creek, at the northern edge of the Town of Cave Creek and bordering the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. This property holds one of the last remaining perennial streams in Maricopa County. The unusual year-round presence of water supports a myriad of plant and animal species.

sign

Every time I see one of these signs, it never bodes well for birding and it didn’t. This is a beautiful, lush place, though, along the banks of Cave Creek. The hike, which was listed as “moderate” was awful. I just don’t enjoy clambering over giant rocks and logs for almost 3 miles and I was pretty sure my camera was going to be smashed before the end. It wasn’t. 🙂

But everything was glowing in the late afternoon light…

cactus-wren-glowingCactus Wren

yellow

rckiRuby-crowned Kinglet

jotc

I didn’t take many photos when we were down along the banks, fighting to survive. These were all taken when we were safely up and almost done with the hike.

jotc-4

jotc-2

jewel-of-the-desert

A lovely place that I probably won’t be going to again…