Accruing Garden Hours

Harris’s Antelope Squirrel

I’ve mentioned before that I volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden and that one of my 2017 goals was to get 100 hours in this year (because you get a pin if you make 100 and they’re custom-made every year)! Well, it’s looking uncertain but I’m not losing hope yet; I can still get there. Keep in mind that it’s awfully hot here for several months so the Garden doesn’t have as many offerings in the areas I’m trained to volunteer in during the summer which only leaves about 7-8 months. So, in addition to laziness, not many opportunities were available. But they are now and one of the many advantages is that I can walk around before or after my shifts and see the sights.

Last Monday I was there for a meeting and, after that, I went to find some people I know who participate in the Monday morning Bird Walk. So I got to spend some time with them and meet some other birders. This little guy was happy to catch a few grapes. He buried one and dined on this one.

We went off to try to locate the Green-tailed Towhees that have been spotted there lately. I’ve seen one there before but they are often reluctant to come out in the open so we were glad this one cooperated. They are such a pretty bird and not seen very often.

They love lantana berries! And everyone loves to see the roadrunners:

Greater Roadrunner

Yesterday I was an Instructor Aide at the Garden for a local well-known photographer, Lisa Langell, who has a very engaging personality. She not only teaches classes several places but does regular workshops including two every summer in Alaska, which sound unique and wonderful. She guarantees bears and much more. Check out her website if you’re interested. She also sells her prints and one of the ways she displays them to potential clients is by using interior mockups so they can better visualize how the prints might look in their own spaces. I’ve seen a couple other people doing this lately. Although I don’t really sell prints, the mockups looked fun to me so I tried to find some free ones today to play around with. Lisa licenses hers and they’re a little more sophisticated but I didn’t want to spend any money so here are a couple of freebies I found:

Created using Free Wall Mockup in Gorgeous Living Room Environment from ZippyPixels.

I don’t know where the above one originated, found it here.

Shortly after playing around with those for awhile, I found a free WallApp from OhMyPrints. It’s got several different rooms and is really easy to use.

Almost makes me want to sell some prints so I have a good excuse to play around with these. Actually, a man contacted me yesterday and asked if he could purchase a print of the above photo, something I made in 2012 to commemorate Arizona’s centennial. It’s a 1912 AZ map superimposed with a saguaro. Since I don’t have any prints, I just sent him the jpg and told him he could get it printed. Maybe it will look like that.

Anyway, I’ll be spending more time at the DBG over the next couple months. I work on Special Events, too, and they have a ton of them. Coming up will be Music in the Garden, Dia de Los Muertos, Chiles and Chocolate, The Strange Garden, and Las Noches de las Luminarias. So I hope I can get to 100…

 

 

 

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Fall in the Desert

Swiss Chard

Orange Sulphur (I think)

Painted Lady

Our lantanas are filled with butterflies now, mostly Painted Ladies. I have never seen so many before at one time. This article might explain it.

Jeremiah

Costa’s Hummingbird, female

Creosote Seed Pods

Blue Dasher

Flame Skimmer

Lesser Goldfinch, bathing

Queen

I don’t like taking photos of butterflies with torn and tattered wings, too sad to know their lives are ending very soon, but it’s part of nature…

These photos were taken in our yard, the Desert Botanical Garden, and Dig It Gardens, my local urban nursery.

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Montezuma Well

Variegated Fritillary

Montezuma Well is part of Montezuma Castle National Monument in Rimrock, AZ (even though it’s in a location several miles away). It is a natural limestone sinkhole that has been home to many ancient cultures, spanning more than 1,000 years, including the Sinagua, Hohokam, and Salado peoples. By 1425, the people had migrated to other areas but the Well is still a sacred place for the Hopi, Zuni, Yavapai, Western Apache, and other Native American cultures.

The Well itself is 386 feet in diameter and holds over 15 million gallons of water. It is fed by Beaver Creek through a long, narrow cave (called the swallet) to reapppear on the other side at the outlet. The water contains arsenic and high quantities of carbon dioxide so fish cannot live in it but five endemic species have evolved here that exist nowhere else on the planet: amphipods, predatory leeches (not blood-suckers), water scorpions, spring snails, and a unique, single-celled diatom.

The people of the Sinagua culture began building the dwellings in the cliffs around the Well seen here.

These 125 steps, above, lead to the swallet. We went, instead, to the outlet which was only 45 steps down.

The largest sycamore tree in Arizona is down at the outlet.

Creekside

Along the creek at the outlet

I’m pleased that I finally broke my losing streak of ZERO lifers lately by finding one down by the outlet.

Summer Tanager, male (lifer)

We also saw the female but she was shyer and much less colorful. We also spotted a few other birds that we don’t see too often.

Bridled Titmouse

Brewer’s Sparrow

Western Wood-Pewee

There are ruins of other cultures scattered over the whole area.

Sinagua Dwelling

The ranger told us that we could probably see a Great Horned Owl if we went over to the picnic area. After much searching through the big cottonwoods and sycamores, Tony spotted him!

Okay, not really, but it had us fooled for a minute. We never did find the real owl.

Here is a short, minute-and-a-half video that the National Park Service did about the Well. This really is a strange and fascinating place.

 

 

Globe

House Sparrow

This handsome sparrow posed so prettily for me that I had to take his photo.

Lesser Goldfinches

We went on a day trip to Globe last week. Once again, a trip with no lifers or even very unusual birds. I had a goal to get 60 lifers this year and I’m at 43, I think, but have not had good luck the last few trips.

Vermilion Flycatchers, male and female

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Phainopepla, female

Besh Ba Gowah

Our main destination in Globe (other than trying, unsuccessfully, to find a good birding place) was Besh Ba Gowah, a partially restored ruin of the Salado people who occupied the site between AD 1225 and AD 1400.

First surveyed and mapped in 1883 by Adolph Bandolier, the ancient ruins occupied by both the Hohokams and the Rio Salado Indians beginning in AD 1600 came to be known as Besh Ba Gowah. It means “a place of metal” in Apache. Later in 1920, a local woman, Irene Vickery, supervised the excavation for the next 20 years and uncovered nearly 200 rooms and 350 burial sites. After her death in the 1940s, the site was left unattended.

But in the 1980s, a Globe councilman, Louie Aguirre, stepped in and rallied support from the city and local community to bring in the Department of Anthropology at Arizona State University to undertake a re-excavation and reconstruction of the site. Parts of it have been left in the excavated state and parts were reconstructed (which, apparently, is controversial in the archaeological world).

Anyway, it was interesting, inexpensive, the employees were very friendly, no one else was there but us for most of the time, and they had bird feeders. They also had a botanical garden and an ethno-botanical garden. They have some crops growing that are similar to crops grown when it was an active Salado community, including teosinte, an ancestor of corn and maize. It was also cooler than Phoenix with a nice breeze blowing…so, all in all, it was a good trip and a pretty drive.

Roasting pit

 

Fain Lake

Fain Lake is in Prescott Valley, AZ (in Fain Park). We stopped there on our way home after going to Lynx Lake in Prescott recently. It’s another place that’s supposed to be “birdy,” but wasn’t when we there, of course.

It might look like the lake is dirty but it was really from severe flooding a few days prior to our visit. There was recently a forest fire in that area and then monsoon rains washed a lot of debris down into the lake and over the dam.

More than 2 feet of water flowed over the dam and it looked like this (not my photo, borrowing it from here).

Back in the day, the dam was used for gold mining but I didn’t quite understand how in the information I saw there.

This is where the water flows after it goes over the dam:

There was old mining equipment throughout the park.

It was a very pretty little park and, as it got to be around 5pm, the locals started heading in after work to enjoy it, too. But because of the stagnant water, these guys were everywhere so we headed back to the desert!