Rosy-faced Lovebird, juvenile
House Finch family
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.
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
Coneflower and bonus bug
Flame Skimmer Dragonfly
Gambel’s Quail nibbling in herb garden
It was really quite spectacular!
Vermilion Flycatcher, male
We had not been to Hassayampa River Preserve for 4 years so we went one day last week. I was hoping for some new birds, of course, as I know there are some reported there that I’ve never seen. Luck was not with me. We heard a ton of birds but just didn’t see many. It’s pretty dense there with a lot of very tall trees so the hiding is good. The first time we went all I saw were Vermilion Flycatchers and that’s pretty much all we saw this time, too. They are beautiful, though. Here are the posts I made back in 2013 where you can get a better idea of what the preserve looks like (1, 2, 3). This trip was photo-lite.
Vermilion Flycatcher, female
Hassayampa has been a Nature Conservancy preserve for over 25 years and will soon become part of the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department. Their parks are very well-maintained so I imagine some improvements will be occurring soon to this former ranch. It will become part of the new Vulture Mountains Recreation Area. Here’s a link if you’re interested.
Mistletoe clumps in Mesquite
So…I never post only 4 photos! A couple days before I left on my Indiana trip, I had heard about a very rare bird for our area in a neighborhood not too far from me, on the border of Phoenix and Scottsdale. The bird also visited the same yard last year at just about this time, just for a couple weeks. He has now left on his migration again but I was able to get some shots before he left.
Orchard Oriole, male
He was very flighty and spent a lot of time deep in the homeowner’s mesquite tree eating from her chuparosa (the reddish flowers). I was lucky to get one clear shot…and he was a lifer!
I also spotted this Gila Woodpecker couple checking out prime Scottsdale real estate. They usually nest in saguaros.
This was in the homeowner’s yard. She makes metal and clay wildlife sculptures.
Even though some of you may be buried in snow, winter has definitely left Phoenix: it’s been in the 90s. That is unseasonably warm and most of us hope it cools off again before it’s supposed to be that hot. But before winter is officially over, I wanted to post some of the birds that wintered in our yard.
Without a doubt I enjoyed this little guy, above (“Yellow Bird”), the most. He was here last winter, too, and I hope he comes back next year. It’s a drag getting attached to a wild animal, not knowing if you’ll ever see them again. The above photo was taken a couple days ago and I haven’t seen him since so maybe he has begun migration. Safe travels, little dude.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s
This warbler, above, was the first time I’ve seen this species in our yard. It and the Orange-crowned Warbler were chasing each other around the mesquite tree the other day.
I only saw this bird, above, for one day. Last year we had several come in the spring when our mulberry trees got berries…that will happen in the next couple of weeks so maybe they will be back. Hoping for some other berry-eaters, too.
House Finches, male and female
Anna’s Hummingbirds, male and female
Gila Woodpecker, male
House Sparrow, female
Migration will be in full swing soon so I hope to see some new and exciting birds.
The 2 species of birds, above, are among my favorite yard birds, and they both have been kind enough to pose on my perch.
Here’s the “nature” part of this post. The American Kestrel who drops by fairly often was dining on a Yellow-rumped Warbler the other day. I know raptors need to eat but I always feel bad when nature takes its course anyway. The Yellow-rumped Warblers are just returning to town for the winter so this winter visitor didn’t get the welcome it wanted. 😦
I have yet to see one this year so I hope this guy doesn’t eat all of them. Here are a couple more of my year-round favorite yard birds (and I hope they don’t get devoured).
Gila Woodpecker, female