Nature Photography

I have something new for my photographs. After seeing many of my photography and birding friends using a watermark on their photos, I decided to join the club after fighting it for awhile. I don’t think I will always use it but sometimes…

I have several Anna’s Hummingbirds in my yard but I think it’s usually the same male that lets me take his photo.

Curve-billed Thrashers

Lesser Goldfinch, female, nest-gathering
White-winged Dove

Verdins

Gila Woodpecker, female
Gulf Fritillary

I ordered the custom watermark from Photologo. Very reasonably priced.

Gilded Flickers, female and male
Rock Pigeon, cooling off

Winter in the Desert

We went to the Desert Botanical Garden again a few days ago. It’s not quite time for the wildflowers to begin blooming but it’s always a pretty place to walk. No new birds either but I’ll keep trying…

Cactus Wrens, Arizona State Bird

Gilded Flickers

Curve-billed Thrashers

Gila Woodpecker

Back to the Woods

Untitled_Panorama1_edited-1

Woods Canyon Lake, east of Payson, that is. It’s one of our favorite places but we hadn’t been there yet this year. It didn’t disappoint and the temperature was 70°! We saw some areas of the lake we hadn’t seen before.

WCL Boat

WC Other Area

Some of the animals appreciated the peanuts (and a little popcorn) we brought for them.

Chippy Stripes

GC ChipmunkGray-collared Chipmunk

Puffy Cheeks

Puffy Cheeks 2Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Chipmunks have stripes through their faces, squirrels do not.

Hermit Thrush bokeh

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush JuvieHermit Thrushes (last one is a juvenile)

Okay, I’m sorry, I have way too many photos of the following birds but they were so loudly excited about the peanuts and so pretty that I couldn’t stop. I still have way more; maybe a post featuring just them will be forthcoming:

STJA Wings

STJA Windy

STJA Sun

STJA Green

STJA Rock Grayer

STJA RockSteller’s Jays

Almost as raucous as the jays were several of these guys:

Raven

Raven Rock

Raven 4

Raven 1Common Ravens

FlickerGilded Flicker

Hint of Fall

Red LeafA Hint of Fall

Shroom

Pine Root_edited-1

Pines and Bushes

Awesome, as always, to be back in the woods.

Reach 11 Nature Trail

Roadrunner_edited-1Greater Roadrunner with lunch

Reach 11, in north Phoenix, is part of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department but it exists for flood control. A 7-mile long earthen dam keeps flood waters out of the nearby canal and out of housing developments to the south. The area where the nature trails are is only about 1 mile wide. Amazingly, this place is not well-known at all. I only heard about it from some birders recently. Driving down the busy street where the entrance is, one would never know what a beautiful place it is. Someone described it as a “hidden gem,” and it really is. From the street it just looks like desert scrub.

This poor, old, decrepit saguaro is at the beginning of the trail. We saw a bird fly into it so stopped to watch.

Saguaro R11

Who’s that?

Gila in Cactus 1

Gila in Hole_edited-1

It’s a male Gila Woodpecker. There must be a nest in there.

Gila Bill in Hole_edited-1

He was kind of shy. But then we saw more action…

Starling in Hole_edited-1

A European Starling. It had a nest in one of the center holes and kept flying in and out with food. We could hear babies chirping every time a delivery was made.

Then we saw someone else fly in the other side…

Flicker on Cactus_edited-1

A Gilded Flicker (male) seems to have a nest, too…

Flicker Butt in Hole_edited-1

Flicker in Hole_edited-1

We stayed on the trail and didn’t disrupt the nesters but I’m sure they were pleased we left. We also saw another Starling head into a hole in the back so this saguaro is home to at least 4 different nests now. Who knows what else might be living in there? The wind was really blowing hard and gusting while we were there so I hope when that poor saguaro falls that there are no nests left.

After we walked a little more, we started to see the “hidden gem” part of this area. It was very lush back in there, all sorts of grasses, wildflowers, etc.

Wild Plants

Thru the Trees

There was a mesquite bosque and a little hidden pond in there, full of tadpoles, called Bullfrog Pond. It was really peaceful and pretty. No one was around but one biker.

Pond 1

Tree Tunnel

Globe MallowGlobe Mallow

LizardCommon Side-blotched Lizard

BTGCBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher

Hummer R11Anna’s Hummingbird

I know this place is teeming with birds and other wildlife but it was so windy that day that the birds were having a hard time staying airborne. It’s definitely a place we will return to as it’s only about 20 minutes from our house and very unique.

*The reason this recreation area is called “Reach 11” is because it’s on the 11th reach of the Central Arizona Project canal. Across the street from the nature trail is a huge sports complex with 20 soccer fields, an equestrian area, and more.

 

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…