I Can’t Blog…

…because I have virtually no photos! It’s really hot so I barely even sit in my yard or go anywhere locally and we haven’t gone on any road trips in over a month. But we will soon…so here are just a few so I don’t get out of the blogging habit!

A new mural appeared on a building not far from my house and provided me a new header image.

AZ Mural Rebel Lounge_edited-1

Macias and Pagac

Pretty cool. Also in my neighborhood is this old-fashioned barber shop that I kept noticing but never stopped to photograph until the other day:

Bel View 1_edited Lomo-1_edited-1

Bel View 2_Lomo

I made a new Facebook cover photo:

FB Cover_01_edited-3

And now a couple from my hot yard. The juicy oranges are a hit every day but especially on a sizzling day.

Orange Birds_01

That’s a juvenile Verdin, an Abert’s Towhee, and a Gila Woodpecker indulging. And from the Desert is Harsh series, I actually like this photo because of the shadow and don’t mean it to be gruesome. The lizard has a certain beauty, I think.

Lizard Decay 1

And not quite so lovely, a staple of Arizona’s monsoon season, coming soon, is a Palo Verde Beetle. They don’t live long once they reach this stage after years as an underground larvae. They’re huge, up to 5 inches, but totally harmless, just kinda creepy.

Palo Verde Beetle.jpg

I haven’t seen much of the fairies that live in this little house since it got hot so things have been a little slow around here.

House in the Woods

Hope to be back soon with some lovely photos of the cool north country.

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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.

 

Lake Pleasant

Burros 2

Burro Tracker

Burros Running

Burros Cavorting

Burros in Field

Burro 1

Burro 2_edited-1

Burro in Field

Burros 4

We went to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, northwest of Phoenix, last week. What I mostly wanted to see were the wild burros and we did! The herd is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and there are anywhere from 480-600 from what I’ve read. They are descendants of burros brought over from South Africa in the 1600s. 100 wild burros (jacks) were freeze marked and 55 jennies (female burros) were radio collared to help study and monitor the herd. Some are removed at times and put up for adoption while living and being cared for at a BLM facility. You can read more about this program here.

WB Trail Sign

This is the trail we hiked to try to find them. We didn’t see any there but, fortunately, we saw them even before we started hiking. It was extra nice to see them with some wildflowers around; they looked especially cute frolicking through the flowers.

And we actually saw a few birds!

Say's Phoebe

Say's Phoebe on Flowers_edited-1Say’s Phoebes

Rock Wren

Rock Wren Singing

Rock Wren Ocotillo

Rock Wren in BranchesRock Wrens

Red-winged Blackbird FRed-winged Blackbird (female)

Black-tailed GnatcatcherBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher (at least the flowers are in focus)

And a few other critters crossed our path:

Painted LadyPainted Lady Butterfly

Checkered White ButterflyCheckered White Butterfly

Common Side-blotched LizardCommon Side-blotched Lizard (check out his tongue!)

And we saw the lake, too, of course! This is a lake I used to go sailing on back in the mid-1980s…all the time…almost every weekend for 3-4 years. Since then it has been enlarged a lot so it didn’t really look at all familiar. The lake now covers 10,000 acres and is fed by the Central Arizona Project Aqueduct which diverts water from the Colorado River as well as the Agua Fria River. It was pretty cloudy when we were there and not many boats were on the lake.

Dam

Dam ControllerNew Waddell Dam

Waddell Dam

The new dam submerged the older, much smaller dam.

Lake View_edited-1

Lake View 2

Panorama x 4_edited-1

This is a 4 shot panorama of the lake. You can see a larger version of it on my Flickr. It was fascinating to see how the lake has changed, I loved everything we saw.

RoseGlobe Mallow

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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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On the Road Again

We finally got started on our AZ day trips again. I’ve been back from IN for about 6 weeks and, with a sick kitty (who now feels better), monsoons, and other assorted issues, it seemed hard to get going. But we went back to Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim (one of our many favorite places) yesterday. The temperature was 68 degrees, quite a nice relief from the constant Phoenix heat. Cool, refreshing, beautiful, peaceful. Here are some of our sights in semi-chronological order.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

We were feeding these guys peanuts, which you can see are stuffed in this one’s cheeks, but we also dropped the occasional piece of popcorn. This one was particularly greedy and unafraid of us so kept begging for more.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel and Grey-collared Chipmunk (in foreground)

Most Jays are very loud, very pretty, and fun to watch and these are no exception.

Steller’s Jay

I was very surprised to see this guy land quite close to me before he took off in a hurry. We also saw several members of its family flying over the lake.

Bald Eagle, immature

It was so lush in the forest after all the monsoon rains. No mosquitoes, though!

Speaking of loud and boisterous:

Common Raven

It was not real birdy, though, oddly. Other than hearing the Jays and Ravens, it was pretty quiet. We did also see, briefly, some sort of wren, warbler, and woodpecker but not long enough for photos.

Then we stopped on the Rim for the views before we left and there we saw more birds. There were many Turkey Vultures riding the currents.

This is the very edge of the Rim, looking down, glad I didn’t trip:

Lesser Goldfinch

There were several varieties of pine (or fir?) trees here.

Dark-eyed Junco, Red-backed subspecies, juvenile

Plateau Fence Lizard

Mountains as far as you can see. It was great to be out again and to have something different to blog about again! Hopefully, we are back in our routine of regular adventures.