Adios, Midwest!

The mighty and muddy St. Joe River

The St. Joseph River is approximately 206 miles long, zigzagging through southern Michigan and northern Indiana, draining a primarily rural farming area into the watershed of Lake Michigan. You really can’t drive very far without continually crossing over it.

So I am now back home again in Arizona, out of Indiana, hoping that all will be well with my mother for quite awhile, for her sake as well as mine. These first few photos were taken at St. Patrick’s County Park in South Bend, IN. It’s really a beautiful park.

Eastern Bluebird, juvenileRed-Winged Blackbird, femaleWhite-breasted Nuthatch

Great Blue Heron

I got 7 lifer birds total while back there. Some are in my last post. Some are in neither post as I either got no photos or blurry photos. Those ones are Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Baltimore Oriole, and American Goldfinch (seen several times with no photos). Seven isn’t that great for 5 weeks but, considering I was only out in nature for about a total of 8 hours, pretty good. If I had spent more time and had my birding lens with me, it would have been awesome, I’m sure, but I had many other things to do on this trip. I did not get my target Pileated Woodpecker nor the fairly common Red-headed Woodpecker. Someday…

One day, a friend, Judy, and I went to Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Niles, MI. What a beautiful place. The birding was slow and we got caught in a downpour about 2 hours in but it was lovely before that.


This stick structure was awesome. At the time, we saw no signage so did not know what it was made from but I have since found out that the artist is Patrick Dougherty and the sticks are willow twigs. This piece is called Take Five and was done in 2014. Here is more info on it.

This park is also on the St. Joe River and had some creeks draining into it.

They have had a very wet spring and summer (so far) back there so everything is very lush but we also saw many big trees down.

Jeremiah (he had many friends)

There was a bird viewing area and that is where I saw the lifer hummingbird mentioned earlier. Here are a few photos taken there, through glass that was very reflective on a cloudy day, so they look a little funky.

Blue JayWhite-breasted NuthatchRose-breasted Grosbeak, femaleBlack-capped Chickadee

Many, many flowers there were being visited by many, many bumble bees.

The other places I visited while back there, with photos in my last post, were Rum Village Park and Nature Center in South Bend, IN, and Madeline Bertrand County Park in Niles, MI.

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In Exile (in IN)

I’m still in Indiana for a few more days, cut off from the real world or at least it feels that way. Last night my laptop croaked. I knew its days were numbered as I had been told a couple months ago when I went to get it a new battery that the particular year that it was (2011) was known for its bad video component and to not bother sinking more money into it. Sure enough, that’s what happened so I went out and bought a new MacBook Pro today. My old one was a 15″ but those are pricy so I downgraded to a 13″. I actually like it quite a bit so far and think the smaller screen won’t be an issue.

I have not gone birding much. I hope to get out another time or 2 but it rains a lot here so I just don’t know. Anyway, I’ve stopped briefly at a couple parks and I also went to a nature center in another park so here are a few photos I got. The nature center and feeders are right by the viewing area so the birds came in really close. That was nice as I don’t have my long lens with me. I still hope to see a Pileated Woodpecker and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird while here and anything else I can find without too much time expended. I’m open to anything, especially lifers!

Blue Jay RVBlue Jay

Hairy Woodpecker

I have seen a Hairy Woodpecker before, in Scottsdale, but I didn’t get a good shot. And looking very similar to Hairys are Downy Woodpeckers and that was a lifer! They are smaller and have a few other subtle differences, bill length, head size, tail feather markings.

Downy Woodpecker (lifer)

And I was very excited to see this lifer, too:

Red-breasted Grosbeak (lifer)

I don’t know if the whole midwest is like this but these squirrels are everywhere! I must see 30 a day and then a bunch of chipmunks, too, with a groundhog and bunny here and there. Also saw 2 deer yesterday.

House Finch
Red-bellied WoodpeckerNorthern Cardinal

Eastern Bluebird (lifer)

Eastern Phoebe (lifer)

Song Sparrow

St. Joseph River

I have many more photos but they are all on my old hard drive which I will get downloaded when I get back to Phoenix. I also have Carbonite backup and I can see that everything is available to me there; it would just take forever to download it all. I had to use it to just get these few photos off my old hard drive. And I backed up my laptop in November. Should have done it since but I think I pretty much have everything covered this way. Don’t forget to back up.

Spring’s Arrival

Verdin

Happy Spring! I know it may not look like spring everywhere but it does here in Arizona. These first 3 shots were taken in our yard on the Vernal Equinox and the others were taken close to it.

Painted Lady on Lantana

There are actually 4 critters in the above photo, 2 besides the obvious butterfly and bee, which I didn’t see until editing the photo. The answers to this puzzle will appear at the end of this post.

Fiery Skipper on Lantana

Black-chinned Hummingbird, male

We only have Black-chinned hummers in the spring. I don’t know if this is the same one that has been coming for the last couple of years but he arrived on schedule and usually stays until May. It’s very hard to get a shot with the purple collar showing but here is one from last year. I hope he will be cooperative again this year. Right now he is very shy and skittish.

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Giant Swallowtail

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Yesterday I was at the Desert Botanical Garden, specifically looking for this one particular bird that has been there for several weeks. I’m always amazed when I can find one little bird in a big place but this time I actually did within about 10 minutes and not where he normally hangs out. He should be migrating to California soon but maybe he has decided to stay. He is molting right now so his throat feathers will be more resplendent in coming weeks but he’s still pretty cute right now.

From Granada Park in Phoenix:

Yellow-rumped Warbler, female

American Wigeon,male

Rosy-faced Lovebird

From Lake Margherite in Scottsdale:

Northern Shoveler couple

From Evelyn Hallman Park in Tempe:

Green Heron

What says “Spring” like baby ducks?

Mallard ducklings

The four critters in the butterfly and bee photo:

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Granite Mountain Trailhead

These photos might look a lot like those I posted a couple weeks ago at Brown’s Ranch Trail. We went back to the beautiful McDowell Sonoran Preserve in north Scottsdale. We were a few miles northeast of Brown’s Ranch at Granite Mountain Trailhead. The difference was this day was cloudy, there were almost no birds, and there was a ton more granite. Oh, and the views of the surrounding mountains were pretty awesome.

Four Peaks

Granite Mountain

Cactus Wren

Curve-billed Thrasher

Verdin

We saw a few squirrels but we also think we saw a Bobcat…no photo, of course.

Weaver’s Needle in the Superstition Mountains

It was a great day for a hike, though, as the weather was very pleasant and the views were great.

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Brown’s Ranch Trail

Brown’s Ranch was founded in 1917 by E.O. Brown, a Scottsdale entrepreneur, and encompassed 44,000 acres at its peak, supporting 3,000 to 5,000 head of cattle. His descendants lived on the ranch until 1970. After changing hands several times, the remainder of the ranch was acquired by the City of Scottsdale in 1999 for inclusion in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Preserve is a large, permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat that includes an interconnected network of non-motorized, multi-use trails (hike/bike/horse) accessed from multiple trailhead locations over 30,500 acres. It is the largest urban park in the U.S.

Brown’s Mountain

It was a sunny, windy day and the 3 mile Brown’s Ranch Trail just got prettier and birdier the farther we went. We’d never been to any part of the Preserve before and I had no idea it was so beautiful. The trails were great. We’ll be exploring more of it soon.

White-crowned Sparrow (on agave stalk)

Ocotillos

I imagine in the spring, when the desert is in bloom, that it is even more spectacular.

Cactus Wren (on agave stalk)

Cholla, glowing

Cone Mountain

Phainopepla, male (on agave stalk)

Saguaro skeleton

Harris’s Hawk

Gilded Flicker couple

Curve-billed Thrasher

Red-tailed Hawk

Yes, those are bullet holes even though shooting is not allowed in the Preserve. But this is Arizona, the Wild West.

Mount Humboldt with FAA Radar Facility

Northern Mockingbird (on agave stalk)

There were no lifers but it is definitely on the “return to” list, at some point. And I learned that birds love dried agave stalks so I am in search of one for my backyard photo props.