Spring’s Arrival

Verdin

Happy Spring! I know it may not look like spring everywhere but it does here in Arizona. These first 3 shots were taken in our yard on the Vernal Equinox and the others were taken close to it.

Painted Lady on Lantana

There are actually 4 critters in the above photo, 2 besides the obvious butterfly and bee, which I didn’t see until editing the photo. The answers to this puzzle will appear at the end of this post.

Fiery Skipper on Lantana

Black-chinned Hummingbird, male

We only have Black-chinned hummers in the spring. I don’t know if this is the same one that has been coming for the last couple of years but he arrived on schedule and usually stays until May. It’s very hard to get a shot with the purple collar showing but here is one from last year. I hope he will be cooperative again this year. Right now he is very shy and skittish.

https://maccandace.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/bchu-4-9-17_edited-1.jpg?w=1159&h=776

Giant Swallowtail

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Yesterday I was at the Desert Botanical Garden, specifically looking for this one particular bird that has been there for several weeks. I’m always amazed when I can find one little bird in a big place but this time I actually did within about 10 minutes and not where he normally hangs out. He should be migrating to California soon but maybe he has decided to stay. He is molting right now so his throat feathers will be more resplendent in coming weeks but he’s still pretty cute right now.

From Granada Park in Phoenix:

Yellow-rumped Warbler, female

American Wigeon,male

Rosy-faced Lovebird

From Lake Margherite in Scottsdale:

Northern Shoveler couple

From Evelyn Hallman Park in Tempe:

Green Heron

What says “Spring” like baby ducks?

Mallard ducklings

The four critters in the butterfly and bee photo:

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Look into My Crystal Ball

I got a new toy, a crystal ball for photography effects. So far, I haven’t really been to a location that is especially conducive to this little gadget but I’ve experimented with it a little. The above photo was taken at the Desert Botanical Garden. After I realized I wasn’t going to get anything I was pleased with, I walked around in the late afternoon sun and got some regular photos.

Currently the Garden has an exhibit by Jun Kaneko scattered around various areas. Some people love it, some not so much. I’m probably in the latter category but I do know that they need to bring exhibits in so that more people will come to the garden so they can support their mission of research, education, and conservation. The sculptures are mostly glazed ceramic forms although the one, below, is a bronzed form.

Below are the stars of the show, the Tanukis, based on Kaneko’s interpretation of the Japanese raccoon-dog which is a real animal and also a popular theme in Japanese art. See more on Tanukis here.

Visitors are encouraged to hug the Tanukis and everyone wants their photo taken with their favorite one. I was volunteering one night at a busy event and countless people handed me their phones and asked me to take their pictures.

A few days later, I went over to Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden to try my luck with the crystal ball again:

Still not thrilled with the results, I snapped a few other shots:

Red-naped Sapsucker

Gila Woodpecker

I have a glass stand and a wooden stand for the ball but the photos I’ve seen that I like the best are those where the stand doesn’t show, either by cropping it or by not using it. However, if you don’t use the stand, you have to be careful that the ball doesn’t get scratched by whatever you have it on and that it won’t roll away and break. Here’s a practice photo I took with the glass stand…not thrilled with seeing it.

Do you want one? This is the one I have.

Do you want to see some beautiful photos taken with them? Check here.

Want some tips?

CAUTION: It’s true that the ball can refract the sun’s rays and cause a fire. I set mine on a white table outside for about 3 minutes. When I touched the refraction on the table, it was burning hot!

P.S. It’s my 9 year blogiversary on 2/13!

 

I Got Lucky!

This is a male Pyrrhuloxia, sometimes called the “Desert Cardinal.” It is a cousin to the Northern Cardinal. He has been a nemesis bird for me. Their range is more in southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, southern Texas, and Mexico so they are not very common in the Phoenix area. However, this particular bird is now spending his 3rd (at least) winter at the Desert Botanical Garden and I’ve been chasing him that whole time but he was very elusive. I kept seeing photos of him in my Facebook birding group from many other people. He hangs out in a specific area quite a bit and, a few days ago, I sat there for 2 hours waiting for a glimpse. No show. I was getting discouraged but decided to go over one afternoon this past week and get disappointed again. I sat down and, within about a minute, he appeared! And he seemed to do a lot of posing just for me, probably recognizing me from all the times I’ve been looking for him:

Isn’t he beautiful/adorable/unusual? During breeding season, his bill is also bright yellow so he’s even more colorful then but he doesn’t breed up here so I’ll have to try to catch one in southern Arizona sometime.

Gilded Flicker, male

Northern Mockingbird

Queen

A couple days before finally seeing the Pyrrhuloxia, I went to Gilbert Riparian Preserve (Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch) in search of some rarities being seen there. I never have good luck there unless I’m with an experienced birder. Fortunately, one showed up and, when the bird finally appeared, helped me find it. It was a Prairie Warbler, very unusual for this part of the country, but my picture is not good at all. There are now several more rare (for Arizona) birds there so I should try to make it out there one day this coming week and hope someone can help me find them, too.

Desert Cottontail

And I saw a ton of these fast, little guys:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Say’s Phoebe

Western Meadowlark

And these little warblers were energetically flitting about right in the same area as the Prairie Warbler giving me false hope several times as they have the same coloring.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

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Accruing Garden Hours

Harris’s Antelope Squirrel

I’ve mentioned before that I volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden and that one of my 2017 goals was to get 100 hours in this year (because you get a pin if you make 100 and they’re custom-made every year)! Well, it’s looking uncertain but I’m not losing hope yet; I can still get there. Keep in mind that it’s awfully hot here for several months so the Garden doesn’t have as many offerings in the areas I’m trained to volunteer in during the summer which only leaves about 7-8 months. So, in addition to laziness, not many opportunities were available. But they are now and one of the many advantages is that I can walk around before or after my shifts and see the sights.

Last Monday I was there for a meeting and, after that, I went to find some people I know who participate in the Monday morning Bird Walk. So I got to spend some time with them and meet some other birders. This little guy was happy to catch a few grapes. He buried one and dined on this one.

We went off to try to locate the Green-tailed Towhees that have been spotted there lately. I’ve seen one there before but they are often reluctant to come out in the open so we were glad this one cooperated. They are such a pretty bird and not seen very often.

They love lantana berries! And everyone loves to see the roadrunners:

Greater Roadrunner

Yesterday I was an Instructor Aide at the Garden for a local well-known photographer, Lisa Langell, who has a very engaging personality. She not only teaches classes several places but does regular workshops including two every summer in Alaska, which sound unique and wonderful. She guarantees bears and much more. Check out her website if you’re interested. She also sells her prints and one of the ways she displays them to potential clients is by using interior mockups so they can better visualize how the prints might look in their own spaces. I’ve seen a couple other people doing this lately. Although I don’t really sell prints, the mockups looked fun to me so I tried to find some free ones today to play around with. Lisa licenses hers and they’re a little more sophisticated but I didn’t want to spend any money so here are a couple of freebies I found:

Created using Free Wall Mockup in Gorgeous Living Room Environment from ZippyPixels.

I don’t know where the above one originated, found it here.

Shortly after playing around with those for awhile, I found a free WallApp from OhMyPrints. It’s got several different rooms and is really easy to use.

Almost makes me want to sell some prints so I have a good excuse to play around with these. Actually, a man contacted me yesterday and asked if he could purchase a print of the above photo, something I made in 2012 to commemorate Arizona’s centennial. It’s a 1912 AZ map superimposed with a saguaro. Since I don’t have any prints, I just sent him the jpg and told him he could get it printed. Maybe it will look like that.

Anyway, I’ll be spending more time at the DBG over the next couple months. I work on Special Events, too, and they have a ton of them. Coming up will be Music in the Garden, Dia de Los Muertos, Chiles and Chocolate, The Strange Garden, and Las Noches de las Luminarias. So I hope I can get to 100…

 

 

 

Fall in the Desert

Swiss Chard

Orange Sulphur (I think)

Painted Lady

Our lantanas are filled with butterflies now, mostly Painted Ladies. I have never seen so many before at one time. This article might explain it.

Jeremiah

Costa’s Hummingbird, female

Creosote Seed Pods

Blue Dasher

Flame Skimmer

Lesser Goldfinch, bathing

Queen

I don’t like taking photos of butterflies with torn and tattered wings, too sad to know their lives are ending very soon, but it’s part of nature…

These photos were taken in our yard, the Desert Botanical Garden, and Dig It Gardens, my local urban nursery.

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