The Lull

Skipper Head-on

Skipper with Bokeh 8.17.19_edited-1Fiery Skippers

The lull is before the next road trip or before it finally cools off here after what seemed to me to be an extra hot summer. We had a record number of 110° plus days. It’s still over 100 most days but, hopefully, it will stay below 110 now. So our yard, once again, is the only place I’ve taken photos.

Anna's Pine

Anna's 9.1.19Anna’s Hummingbirds

Grasshopper 1

Kestrel 8.25American Kestrel

Gila WP 8.15.19Gila Woodpecker

Thrasher Peanut 8.19.19Curve-billed Thrasher, with peanut

Towhee HotAbert’s Towhee

Verdin BokehVerdin

Anna's Up 9.14.19_edited-1

Looking forward to cooler weather and more destinations.

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800!

Robin 4

I knew my next post–this one–was going to be my 800th so I thought it should be something special. However, I haven’t had anything particularly special to show so I figured I’d better do it now or I’ll totally get out of the blogging habit like so many of my original blogging friends seem to have done.

This bird probably doesn’t look very exciting to a lot of you and American Robins are pretty common in much of the U.S. However, they are not very common at all in the Phoenix area so I was totally shocked one day to see this guy in our yard. He’s an immature robin. He hung around all day, dipping in the bird bath, flying here and there. I thought he might stick around awhile but he was gone the next morning. I guess he was just passing through. This was yard bird species #48!

Robin 5

Robin 6

Robin 2

On another extremely hot day, there wasn’t much activity in the yard so I made an effort to find a few things…

Pine Cone Pot_edited-1

Gila FeatherGila Woodpecker Feather

Egg Feather

Skipper Fly Blur

Lantana Fluff

Sitting out in the yard for very long is not appealing when it hits 115° some days and 105° on a “nice” day so checking up on my little yard friends is sporadic and brief.

Thrasher 8.3.19Curve-billed Thrasher

Anna's 6.23.19Anna’s Hummingbird, male

BCHU F 8.3.19Black-chinned Hummingbird, female

Verdin Open Mouth

Verdin Feet In OrangeVerdins, adult and juvenile

This cute little cat drops by every few weeks and meows very pitifully. I thought she was homeless and would probably wind up joining our group at some point but she disappears for long periods of time and looks healthy so I’m hoping she has a home closeby.

Mystery Cat

So on to 900 now but that won’t be for a couple years…

 

Yard Overview

Drama Bee

Bee. 6.1Leafcutter Bee

Skipper HeadonFiery Skipper

Mud DauberWasp

Twinsie BeesHoney Bee Twins

The bees like the birdbath, everyone likes the lantana. Just wish there were more butterflies around this year.

ROFL 5 5.9

ROFL 5.9_edited-1Rosy-faced Lovebirds, occasional visitors

GIWO 6.1Gila Woodpecker

Thrasher ScratcherCurve-billed Thrasher Scratcher

Baby Verdin in Orange 2

Verdin in TreeJuvenile Verdin

There are a couple of juvenile Verdins who are happily feeding themselves but now there appears to be an even younger fledgling Verdin who still needs to be fed by a parent. This is it flapping its wings and begging for food:

Verdin Baby

And it got fed, again and again…

Verdins A and J Orange 1

And here’s an interesting little family of Abert’s Towhees:

Towhee with Nut 5.27.19

Towhee Parent

Here is one of the adults feeding a juvenile Towhee:

Towhee Bio Baby

And here is the same adult feeding its foster baby, a Brown-headed Cowbird!

Towhee Foster Baby

The Brown-headed Cowbird is North America’s most common “brood parasite.” A female cowbird makes no nest of her own, but instead lays her eggs in the nests of other bird species, who then raise the young cowbirds (Cornell Lab of Ornithology). They evolved this way because centuries ago this bird followed bison herds on the Great Plains, feeding on insects flushed from the grass by the grazers, and so did not have time to nest the normal way. Some people hate them and think they are “evil,” because heavy parasitism by cowbirds has pushed some species to the status of “endangered” and has probably hurt populations of some others (Audubon). I think it’s pretty interesting behavior.

BRHC JuvyBrown-headed Cowbird, juvenile

Anna's Closeup

Anna's 5.27.19Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Transitions

Towhee-Bath 2Abert’s Towhees have a very limited range, mostly in Arizona. They’re shy birds but this one wanted a bath so badly that he hopped right in~with me sitting very closeby.

Swallowtail 4.27Greater Swallowtail

Checkered White 5.3

Checkered White 3 5.3Checkered White

I guess this is sort of more of the same from my last post. Late spring/early summer happenings in our yard.

Mock in Pine Needles

Baby Mock 4.29Northern Mockingbird, adult and juvenile

Anna's Young Male 5.4

Anna's 4.29_edited-1

Anna's 2 4.29_edited-1

Anna's Feeder 4.6Anna’s Hummingbirds

Bee Reflection TopazHoneybee (in the birdbath)

BCHU at Feeder 5.4

BCHU Brakes_edited-1Black-chinned Hummingbirds

Verdin 5.4

Verdin Nest Making_edited-1Verdins (last one with nesting material)

We have a reprieve from the 100 degree days for the next couple of weeks, at least. Time to hit the road again…

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.