Gateway Trailhead

mtn view

This is the third time we’ve been to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale. It is comprised of 30,500 acres of Sonoran Desert, 7 trailheads, and over 200 miles of trails. This particular trailhead, Gateway, is the closest to town and it was very busy on a weekday afternoon last week. The trails were also very rocky so it was hard to look up while walking with cameras. Basically, it’s not a place that we would go to again but I’m sure many people love it…since there were a ton of them there. Nevertheless, it was still pretty…

painted ladyPainted Lady

brittlebushCreosote

Birds, none for most of the trail until we got towards the end…

btsp 2

btsp 1Black-throated Sparrow

mtn view 2

mtn view 3

cactus

downed cactus

gila on cactusGila Woodpecker

thrasherCurve-billed Thrasher

looking down

mtn with antennae

antenna close_edited-1Thompson Peak

flicker over cityGilded Flicker

finch

finches flyingHouse Finches

These are the other trailheads we’ve been to which were farther north, away from the city, and with nicer trails, more dramatic scenery, and better mountain views: Brown’s Ranch Trailhead and Granite Mountain Trailhead. Next time we’ll go to the trails that are farther north again…

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Holiday Cheer

OCWA in Snow 2_edited-1“I’m glad I’m wintering in Phoenix!”

Are you in the mood for the holidays? Hmmm, I’m not really (yet, anyway) but here are a few photos of my yard birds beginning to celebrate.

Finch Christmas Tree_edited-1

Thrasher with Present_edited-1“For me? I hope it’s peanuts.”

Hum 12.18

GIWO House_MC-1“I pecked that myself.”

That was an Orange-crowned Warbler (“Tink”), a House Finch, a Curve-billed Thrasher,  an Anna’s Hummingbird, and a Gila Woodpecker.

Google Sweater“Mom, I wish we had a fireplace and I wish I had a Christmas sweater.”

And here are a few from holidays past…beginning with Google in 2009. He still likes the Christmas tree but mostly lays under it instead of in it now.

Goog in Tree sharper

Our Perch 1_edited-1

Robin

Starlings in Cactus with ornament_edited-2

santa-verdin

Christmas Mocks ps

Say's Phoebe Ornament

Bun Antlers

House Sparrows, an American Robin, European Starlings, a Verdin, Northern Mockingbirds, a Say’s Phoebe, and a Desert Cottontail were all hoping for some holiday cheer.

merry-and-bright

Cats x 10_edited-2

Svengali, Kit, Stripey

Jessi, Ivory, Ferguson

Ebony, Google, Edie, Torti

Happy Holidays, Happy Solstice…if you celebrate…

 

October Yard Action

Powdered DancerPowdered Dancer Damselfly

Bee FrontalHoneybee

Fiery Skippers (click to see larger)

We’ve had the best October ever, weather-wise. Due to some Pacific tropical storms, we had over 3 inches of rain in early October and it’s been far cooler than normal. Usually it’s still unbearably hot in October…not this year!!!! It’s been awesome.

Although I didn’t see any migrating birds in our yard and no new yard birds lately, we have had some colorful and more occasional visitors this month.

Lizard 10.15Ornate Tree Lizard

Mushrooms

The rain brought fungi, gnats, and mosquitos. No fairies under those ‘shrooms.

Towhee 10.1

Towhee 10.15

Towhee Peanut ButterAbert’s Towhees

Thrasher 10.15Curve-billed Thrasher

Inca 10.20Inca Dove

Rosy-faced Lovebird and Lesser Goldfinch (click to see larger)

Hummer 10

Hummer 10 b edited-1Anna’s Hummingbirds, males

Stripey Birdbath 10Stripey

Gila WP Girl 10.15

Gila WP SidewaysGila Woodpecker, female

Look who’s getting excited about Halloween Trick or Treats!!!

Curve-billed Thrasher, House Finch, Northern Mockingbird (click to see larger)

And the most exciting visitor is this little bird (“Tink”). This is his/her 4th winter to come to our yard and this year she showed up a couple weeks earlier than last year. She loves grape jelly and usually stays until about April. I’m so glad to see her back. I know she will pose nicely for me several times this winter. According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The oldest known Orange-crowned Warbler was a male, and at least 8 years, 7 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California.” I just find it amazing that a bird can find its way back to a specific place year after year but it does happen. I feel flattered that she likes the accommodations.

OCWA 10.19Orange-crowned Warbler

Hope your October is as awesome as ours is!

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Stifling, Stagnant, Sticky

Southern Dogface

It sure is hot here in Phoenix. We hit 115 and 116 last week. This week it’s just down to 110 or so. Too miserable to venture out much but I was glad to see two of these butterflies cavorting around together. I’m not seeing many butterflies lately. I imagine it’s hard on everyone. The birds sure manage to look pretty pathetic.

Gila Woodpeckers
Abert’s Towhee
Anna’s Hummingbird

Curve-billed ThrashersEurasian Collared-Dove
Verdins, adult and juvenileNorthern Mockingbird

Here’s our humor for the day. Spotted by Tony while we were grocery shopping. We didn’t have a phone with camera with us so we had to buy it:

Learning the Ropes

This cute little immature Verdin can now eat all by himself. A few days ago I watched him (or one of his siblings) try to figure the big world out with the help of a parent.

“Feed me some orange!”

“Yum!”

“Look, grape jelly, yum!”

“Yum, crawly bugs!”

“Yum, pomegranates!”

“Yum, a dragonfly! Thanks, Mom.”

So I haven’t blogged, haven’t taken many photos, haven’t gone on any day trips, or even birded locally. One of our kitties, Google, who is diabetic, now has kidney disease, too, and was hospitalized for a few days. Now we have a bunch more things we have to do to him in hopes of keeping him alive longer as he’s only 10…sub-q fluids, different meds, testing his glucose twice a day, giving insulin (which he’s been getting for 3 years)…it’s a lot but he’s very sweet and deserves more time, we think.

That, combined with worrying abut my mom and hoping that all is going smoothly with her caregivers back in the midwest, plus the extreme heat and humidity here, has dampened my enthusiasm for all the things I like to do. Hope it comes back someday. Meanwhile, a few minutes in the yard now and then is about all I can do.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

I haven’t seen the Ladder-backed Woodpecker from my last post again but, since I only go out to put bird food out and seldom stay long, he could very well still be here. I hope to see him again.

All the birds are looking very hot and raggedy now. I believe many of them are also molting, accounting for the stray feathers popping up all over on them.

Gila Woodpecker, male

Google

Google is accepting warm wishes, thoughts, prayers, vibes for his improved health if you want to send any his way.