Granite Reef

This beautiful Ladder-backed Woodpecker was busy excavating a hole in a mesquite tree when we were at Granite Reef Recreation Area on the Lower Salt River last week. This is the first time I’ve been able to get photos of one at eye level. He was not bothered by me at all and I got within 10 feet of him.

It was a big hole because he was able to get all the way inside.

Granite Reef is the best place to see Red Mountain. Its real name is Mount McDowell but everyone refers to it as Red Mountain because of the way it looks in the sunset. It was not quite sunset when this photo was taken. Red Mountain is on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation and is off limits to hikers, climbers, and photographers.

Western Kingbird

Vermilion Flycatcher, male

Say’s Phoebe

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Song Sparrow

We really went to try to find the Bald Eagles that nest there as well as a Peregrine Falcon who returns every year. We never saw the falcon and all our views of the eagles were from across the river. We did see two parents and there are two chicks in the nest. Bad photos…

This guy was up in the air the whole time we were there:

And, just as we were leaving, we were lucky enough to see five of the Salt River Wild Horses having a drink and snack right by the parking lot.


The Locals



eagle-young-3Bald Eagle, immature

This is either Hope or Joy, one of 2 Bald Eagles hatched in a nest in a Scottsdale golf course last spring (in a densely populated area). They were well-known locally then and each of them fell from their nest as nestlings and were placed back in by Arizona Game and Fish and Liberty Wildlife rehabbers. You can read their story and see them as babies here and here. I never saw them last year as their exact location was a secret, for their safety.

Anyway, I was at Lake Marguerite, which isn’t far from that golf course, a couple times recently looking for a Hairy Woodpecker and the second time I looked up and Hope or Joy was watching me! It’s always exciting to see a bald eagle, I think, and he/she took off right as I watched, zipped over the lake, swooped down, grabbed a fish, and flew off right by me. And I even saw the Hairy Woodpecker (which was my 12th lifer this year) but the photo is basically a black and white blur so I won’t show it here. However, I got a couple shots of this girl:


lbwp-2Ladder-backed Woodpecker, female

ruddy-ducks-lmRuddy Ducks

I was also at Granada Park recently, my old standby park that I don’t visit much anymore, and I was surprised to see this beautiful guy watching me from the trees. While not a lifer, it was the best shots I’ve ever gotten of one.


coop-hawk-2Cooper’s Hawk

cormy-1Neotropic Cormorant

ring-necked-duckRing-necked Duck

yrwa-1Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

And when I was recently volunteering at the Desert Botanical Garden, I walked around afterwards and saw a few more critters.

gila-wp-1-17-17Gila Woodpecker, male

costas-1-17-17Costa’s Hummingbird, male

costas-girl-1-17-17Costa’s hummingbird, female


squirrel-2Rock Squirrel


thrashers-1-17-17Curve-billed Thrashers

towheesAbert’s Towhees

Sappy and Happy

RB Sapsucker 5


I heard this Red-breasted Sapsucker was in a park in Scottsdale and even had directions to the exact tree he likes the best. As it was, he was in the tree across the path but two women were already photographing him so I didn’t even have to look for him. He’s an Arizona rarity as he is really a northern Pacific coast bird who likes coniferous forests. He’s settling for mesquite trees in Arizona for now.

RB Sapsucker 2

RB Sapsucker 3

He’s beautiful and totally cooperative as shutters click all around him.

RBSS face

RB Sapsucker 4

I have about 80 photos of him so he might reappear on my blog again someday. I then went to a nearby pond and saw 2 Mute Swans.

Mute Swan 12.15

And some Killdeer.


As if all that wasn’t exciting enough, I stopped at Granada Park on my way home and saw this cousin of the Red-breasted Sapsucker:

LB WoodpeckerLadder-backed Woodpecker

And, speaking of coniferous forests, this guy dropped by our Goldwater Pine just in time to wish everyone Happy Holidays!


Bees, Birds, Butterflies, & More

Bee Purp

Bee Yellow_edited-1

These photos were all taken at the Franciscan Renewal Center’s (The Casa) Healing Garden. It’s on my route to work and I sometimes stop on my way home and usually get a few good shots. It’s a magical, peaceful place.




Kale. They have many vegetables and herbs growing in the garden.




Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

Gila in Palm

Gila Woodpecker


Great-Tailed Grackle, female


European Starling



Their slogan: “Paz y Bien/Peace and Good.”

More than Honey

If you’re interested in how bees affect our ultimate survival, check out this fascinating film, More than Honey (on Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, etc.) One of the featured beekeepers is Fred Terry, one of Tony’s good friends for many years, the “Singing Beekeeper” of Oracle, AZ. We’ve seen Fred’s hives in Oracle before. The film was the 2013 winner for Best Documentary at the Santa Barbara Film Fest 2013, German Film Award 2013, and Swiss Film Award 2013. It’s compelling, troubling, informative, beautifully photographed…and Fred looks great (he’s been stung 100-250 thousand times!!!!!!).

Birds of Color




American Kestrel, male



Ladder-Backed Woodpecker, male


Northern Flicker, Red-Shafted, male

Flicker 1

Gilded Flicker or Northern Flicker, Red-Shafted, male


Gilded Flicker, female


Gila Woodpecker

Lovebirds 2  Lovebird 3

Rosy-Faced Lovebirds

Lovebird Nibble

Rosy-Faced Lovebird, juvenile


Rock Pigeon

White-Crowned Sparrow

White-Crowned Sparrow


Anna’s Hummingbird, female






House Finches, female and male


European Starling

*Note to birds: When posing for photos, please make sure there are no branches, leaves, cactus needles, string, or other obtrusive objects between you and the camera. Thank you.