Escape to Scottsdale

The above images of a Great Blue Heron and a tiny Verdin were taken at Indian School Park in Scottsdale where I had hoped to find a rarity reported there, a Magnolia Warbler, but did not. I actually do think I caught a fleeting glimpse of it from underneath but not enough to be sure so it will not be added to my life list. It was miserably hot so I sat in my car hoping someone else would come along and help me find it but no one did.

A few days later, it was slightly cooler in the morning so I met a friend while socially distanced at another park, Scottsdale Rotary Park. We sat and talked for a couple hours and I really only got these photos of a Say’s Phoebe:

As it warmed up, I stopped at one of my favorite parks, Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden, where I have found some lovely birds in the past. I didn’t stay too long because of the miserable heat we are still experiencing here in the Phoenix area but here are a few shots;

Bewick’s Wren
Gila Woodpecker, male
Say’s Phoebe
Rosy-faced Lovebird

Like everyone else here, I can’t wait until it’s cool and I can at least go out to parks amidst this stupid pandemic…maybe next week.

Meanwhile, back at home, here are a few shots of doves, not my favorite birds although the little Inca Doves (first 2 shots) are sweet:

And I thought this dove looked slightly angelic:

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Also seen flying around the Phoenix area:

Sequestered

Thanks to my cousin, Deborah, for describing these times as “sequestered,” so I could use it for this title.

Anna’s Hummingbird, male, and yes, nature called in the last photo.

Abert’s Towhee

This is the stalk from an agave that my neighbors gave me as I wanted it for a photo perch. So…this is the only bird I have seen use it briefly! Still hoping for a little more action.

Verdin, immature

The above photo is of a Gray Hairstreak, not a particularly good shot, but you can see how the markings on the hindwing mimic antennae and eyes so that a potential predator may attack there rather than the head.

I had one more socially distanced visit with my friend, Maggie, in a park the other day. It has now become so hot in Phoenix that it is doubtful we can do that for a couple more months. Saw a couple birds:

Black Phoebe
Northern Mockingbird
American Kestrel
Almost full moon on July 2

Here is something else I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on lately. It’s something of a “Vision Board” or “Dream Board,” hoping that it will manifest if I wish it so. It’s a composite photo with several layers of symbolic/representative elements added:

This was the original photo that I used, taken on the Apache Trail:

Some of the elements added were taken from the internet (most of them) and a couple were from photos I’ve taken, including the tiny hummingbird in the upper left.

I’ve also spent many hours collecting some 19th century photos and writing fact-based, fictional stories about the subjects and further hoping to include them in my road trip. In fact, on the road trip photo above, the box of photos is pictured on the lower right hand side. So I want to do a Road Show within a Road Trip. Yes, I know I sound nutty: sequestering can do that to you.

if you would like to see the vintage photos and read their stories, I have linked it here on my blog as a PDF. You can download it or just read it here: Fanciful Facts.

Skyward

On May 8, 3 WWII-era planes flew over the Phoenix area to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. They are part of the Commemorative Air Force from Falcon Field in Mesa, AZ. We went to a parking garage in Scottsdale and they flew right over us.

The lead plane is a B-17 Flying Fortress, known as “Sentimental Journey.” She has Betty Grable nose art. The other bomber to its left is a B-25 Mitchell Bomber, known as “Maid in the Shade,” which also has nose art, and the third plane is a C-47 Skytrain, known as “Old Number 30.” They fly out of Falcon Field in Mesa, AZ.

We had great views of them. I am partial to the Air Force as my father was in the Army Air Corps/Force during WWII. He flew on B-25s, B-29s, and AT-11 training planes as an instructor for Bombadier Navigators. Here is a photo of him and my mother after they were married in 1943 at Victorville Army Air Field in California (way before I was born, by the way):

The week before that, on May 1, 15 planes flew over the Phoenix area to honor first responders in the Covid-19 crisis. They flew over most of the area hospitals. There were 7 F-16s, 7 F-35s, and a refueler. They were from Luke Air Force Base, west of Phoenix. We went to a park closeby, thinking we would get a nice view but we didn’t really. When we got home, we found out they flew right over our street. I don’t really have any good shots.

But we were fortunate to be able to see both flyovers. This is the park we were at, Granada Park:

A few nights ago, we looked skyward and saw the Space Station going across the sky. If you want to see it where you live, go to this website and sign up. They will send you an email if it is visible from your location.

We also attempted to see Comet SWAN the other night, or rather, Tony did. He got up at 4am but couldn’t locate it in the sky. It remains to be seen if we will make another attempt before it disappears.

And that, plus the Flower Supermoon, from my last post, are all the sightings in the sky we have had lately.

But wait, here are 2 trees in our yard, reaching skyward, a Goldwater Pine and a Mesquite:

No birds in this post as I haven’t caught any flying lately. Next time…

A Brief Escape

Say’s Phoebe

We’ve been very good during this loooooong quarantine, only doing essential shopping and initially walking in a closeby park, which we quit doing because there were plenty of social nondistancers. But one day last week I met a friend at Rotary Park in Scottsdale, where we sat six feet apart, and talked and watched the critters fly around and other people walk around. It was a lovely day and nice to have a break in the monotony.

We sat by the Butterfly Garden but only saw a couple of butterflies.

Gulf Fritillary

This little Lesser Goldfinch was the star of our visit, being very brave and seeming to enjoy our attention:

A good time was had by all. Then a few nights later, this was the Flower Supermoon, the last supermoon until April 2021:

And…just so I can file these 4 photos away, Tony and I went to Reach 11 in Phoenix right at the beginning of the quarantine. We easily socially distanced because there was hardly anyone around including birds and other animals:

Cactus Wren
Round-tailed Ground Squirrel
What Lies Beneath
Ring-necked Duck, female

Do you think life will ever be the “old normal” again? I don’t…

Northern California, Part 3

Point Cabrillo Light Station was maybe my favorite part of my short 3 days in Northern California. It’s a special and beautiful place. It began operation in 1909.

The view from the light station:

Squirrels enjoying the ocean view:

We saw many Colombian Black-tailed Deer, common to the coast; guess how they got that name?

We did not see any mountain lions although there were warning signs. I never see them in Arizona either. Maybe I’m just not lucky or maybe I am. I did see a Northern Harrier but I have yet to get a decent photo of one; they’re fast, surveying fields for tasty rodents. Once again, I should have had my birding lens:

What would be really fun would be to rent the Lighthouse Keeper’s House, the Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s House, or one of the 2 little cottages. You can find information about doing this and see more photos on their website.

It would be so exciting/eerie to have the light washing over you at night while hearing the roar of the ocean so close.

Cypress Trees over Picnic Tables

All of that seems so long ago and far away with the “new normal” we are all experiencing. Stay safe.