Spring Heads Into Summer

Painted Lady 4.13Painted Lady

Bee Green EyesLeafcutter Bee

Fiery Skipper 4.12Fiery Skipper (with Green Bottle Fly)

Checkered SkipperCheckered-Skipper

Once again, the lantana is pulling the butterflies, bees, and flies into its sweet nectar. It totally froze this winter, turned black, and then came back to life again! Lantana is hearty.

So, sadly, my winter visitor birds have now moved on to their summer homes. Hope they come back next year! Especially my favorite, “Tink,” below:

OCWA New Branch 4.6Orange-crowned Warbler

YRWA 3.25Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, male (“Chatty”)

YRWA F 3.15Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, female (“Shy Girl”)

But, in return, the only migrator I saw~so far~in my yard was a Plumbeous Vireo and I didn’t get a photo because it left right away. But it as well as the following bird made my Yard Bird species count jump to 47:

Gambel's Quail YardGambel’s Quail

These quail are normally in desert areas, not crowded urban areas like where we live. I strongly discouraged this guy from settling in as quail spend so much time on the ground and lay their eggs on the ground. There are way too many cats for that to have a good outcome. So after 2 days of me shooing him off, he disappeared. I hope he got out of our cat-friendly neighborhood fast.

So we are now back to the year-round regulars:

Thrasher 3.5

Thrasher Discussion

Thrasher BabyCurve-billed Thrashers (above photo is a juvenile)

Towhee Nuts 4.6Abert’s Towhee (gathering nuts to take back to the nest)

Mock Mulberry_edited-1

Mock with BflyNorthern Mockingbirds (gathering food for nestlings)

House Finch, male and Lesser Goldfinch, female

Mourning Doves

Eurasian Collared-Dove and White-winged Dove

Gila 2.6Gila Woodpecker, male

Verdin 4.7Verdin

Starling OrangeEuropean Starling (bashing an orange)

And, of course, we have House Sparrows, too. Who doesn’t? Now we are settling in for another long, hot summer here in Phoenix.

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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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Phoenix 150

Rosy-faced Lovebird, juvenile

Gila Woodpecker

House Finch family

Brown-headed Cowbird

Gambel’s Quail, male

I have a few photos saved up for times like these, the dog days of summer, when it’s just too hot to get motivated to go anywhere. By using these five photos, all taken in local parks (above), I am drastically depleting my reserve. So we have to get back on the road again very soon…

We traded Tony’s 2003 Mustang, which needed some expensive work, in and got a new-to-us Ford Escape. We had been using my car for our day trips but we really needed more clearance for some of the rougher roads.

We have a lot of pets, including a diabetic cat that needs insulin every 12 hours so it’s easiest for us to go on day trips since it would be a lot to require of a pet-sitter. It’s best if the places we go are less than 2.5 hours away so we can spend a few hours at our destination before heading home. I used this online tool (freemaptools.com) to draw a radius of 150 miles around Phoenix to see what all might be included. But I noticed that these distances are “as the crow flies” and to really get to some of them would take up to 4 hours or so depending on the roads.

So I modified the parameters to 150 minutes from Phoenix, driving an average of 70 mph, and came up with this map, below:

Fortunately, there are a lot of beautiful places within these boundaries and we need to get exploring. There are birds and all sorts of fascinating things out there.

Here’s Google, our diabetic cat, posing as a Currency Manipulator. He’s doing well, having been diabetic for almost 2 years now.

 

Late Afternoon Sunlight

Gila Woodpecker, female

A few days ago, when it was unseasonably cool, I wandered over to the Desert Botanical Garden around 5 pm. It was not crowded at all, the birds were happily chirping and eating, everything was blooming, and the sun made it all glow. The Garden is always beautiful but this evening it seemed that everything came together to make it extraordinary. These photos don’t begin to capture the way it looked.

Mexican Fencepost Cactus

Sunflower

Coneflower and bonus bug

Flame Skimmer Dragonfly

Gambel’s Quail nibbling in herb garden

Gaillardia

Lesser Goldfinch

Anna’s Hummingbird

Verdin dining

Queen Butterfly

It was really quite spectacular!

Usery Mountain and Red Mountain

Red-tailed Hawk on Saguaro

We’ve been fortunate to have some cool days in Phoenix lately, before the true summer heat begins, so last week we took a local trip about 30 miles away to Usery Mountain Regional Park (a county park). It was very pretty. We made another stop first that I didn’t care for as much so I’ll put that at the end of this post…

I was glad to finally see this sign above. It has been around since the 1950s (although I’ve also heard it was already present during WWII) when a Boy Scout troop built it to help direct pilots to the Phoenix airport, 20 miles west. It’s made of rocks from Usery Mountain: each letter is about 100 feet high and 12 feet wide. The sign is 1,000 feet across and it took 5.5 years to assemble. More on this marker here.

Pass Mountain

Viewing Pond

This little pond and waterfall draws wildlife in for drinks and baths.

House Finches, male and female

Gambel’s Quail

Curve-billed Thrasher on Saguaro

Lesser Goldfinch

The Nature Center at the park had feeders set up behind it. I always appreciate feeders to draw birds in. No lifers but lifers aren’t everything…I guess.

This is the view looking south toward Apache Junction.

Our original destination that day was Red Mountain Park in east Mesa, where we went first. We had heard they have a wetlands area. Well, sort of, but not really. This park did not thrill me at all. I’m sure it’s nice for a city park if you live close by but it wasn’t worth the drive (to us).

The place was dominated by grackles and doves. We saw a few other birds but they’re the sort of birds we see at most of the ponds and lakes around town.

Canada Goose gosling

Cooper’s Hawk

Pied-billed Grebes, adult and immature

Western Wood-Pewee

Brown-headed Cowbird

Snow Goose

The highlight of that park was seeing this Snow Goose, which should really not be in the area and shows up on the rare bird alert regularly. It must either like it there or it can’t fly although it certainly looked fine. I’ve seen a migrating flock of these before but never one up close like this. It is a handsome bird.

Oh, the very first shot of the hawk on the saguaro? It cost me $24. I took it from the side of the road and laid my lens cap on my car. Hours later I remembered. It’s a big cap, 95mm. The replacement just arrived now.

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