Tag Archives: Phoenix

Usery Mountain and Red Mountain

Red-tailed Hawk on Saguaro

We’ve been fortunate to have some cool days in Phoenix lately, before the true summer heat begins, so last week we took a local trip about 30 miles away to Usery Mountain Regional Park (a county park). It was very pretty. We made another stop first that I didn’t care for as much so I’ll put that at the end of this post…

I was glad to finally see this sign above. It has been around since the 1950s (although I’ve also heard it was already present during WWII) when a Boy Scout troop built it to help direct pilots to the Phoenix airport, 20 miles west. It’s made of rocks from Usery Mountain: each letter is about 100 feet high and 12 feet wide. The sign is 1,000 feet across and it took 5.5 years to assemble. More on this marker here.

Pass Mountain

Viewing Pond

This little pond and waterfall draws wildlife in for drinks and baths.

House Finches, male and female

Gambel’s Quail

Curve-billed Thrasher on Saguaro

Lesser Goldfinch

The Nature Center at the park had feeders set up behind it. I always appreciate feeders to draw birds in. No lifers but lifers aren’t everything…I guess.

This is the view looking south toward Apache Junction.

Our original destination that day was Red Mountain Park in east Mesa, where we went first. We had heard they have a wetlands area. Well, sort of, but not really. This park did not thrill me at all. I’m sure it’s nice for a city park if you live close by but it wasn’t worth the drive (to us).

The place was dominated by grackles and doves. We saw a few other birds but they’re the sort of birds we see at most of the ponds and lakes around town.

Canada Goose gosling

Cooper’s Hawk

Pied-billed Grebes, adult and immature

Western Wood-Pewee

Brown-headed Cowbird

Snow Goose

The highlight of that park was seeing this Snow Goose, which should really not be in the area and shows up on the rare bird alert regularly. It must either like it there or it can’t fly although it certainly looked fine. I’ve seen a migrating flock of these before but never one up close like this. It is a handsome bird.

Oh, the very first shot of the hawk on the saguaro? It cost me $24. I took it from the side of the road and laid my lens cap on my car. Hours later I remembered. It’s a big cap, 95mm. The replacement just arrived now.

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The Countdown

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I wasn’t going to get into the election because I don’t want to alienate anyone…but I changed my mind plus these are all the photos I have right now.

Both of these murals were done by local muralist Angel Diaz about voting against Maricopa County’s long-time, attention-grabbing, controversial Sheriff, Joe Arpaio. His opponent is ahead in the polls right now. Do you see the additional hidden message in the top mural? I didn’t notice it when I was there but see it now.

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I know tensions are running high on both sides so I won’t say much here. We voted early and dropped our ballots off at an early polling location a couple weeks ago.

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The Arizona Democratic Party has a sense of humor

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And they really had a taco truck there.

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Google’s PSA:

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You can probably guess who I’m voting for…

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At any rate, it will all be over in a couple days and we can get back to just the normal scary stuff like creepy clowns.

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Fisheye Fun in Phoenix

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This is the Water Room at Arizona Falls which I’ve blogged about before (1, 2). I thought I would take a little break from taking/posting bird and butterfly photos and play around with my fisheye lens for a couple days.

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Arizona Falls is a public art project as well as a working hydroelectric plant providing power to 150 households. It’s a great place for photography and has a lot of interesting angles and features itself so using a fisheye only enhances that.

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Not too far away is Papago Park which I have also written about numerous times.

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With a fisheye, where you center the image vertically and horizontally affects how “bulged out” the image will be. If it’s centered horizontally, it will not be as distorted and will just provide a wide angle of view.

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If you enlarge the above photo (a lot), you can see our downtown area with tall buildings, not quite skyscrapers. And here are a few more shots in a business district close to my house.

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No birds! But you can actually see a couple ducks and a turtle in the office complex pond above.

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Little Free Library Tour

27 Flower 1

27 Flower 2

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27 Flower 4

Summertime is for a lot of things…even reading, right? Whether it’s because you live in steamy hot Phoenix where reading is one of the few things you can do or you enjoy reading on a nice sandy beach or poolside, it’s a fun pastime. So I went on a self-guided tour of 5 Little Free Libraries the other day. None of these are in my immediate neighborhood but they are in my general area, central Phoenix. This was my favorite; it was gorgeous with mosaic tile on it. The whole yard was full of beautiful artistic touches…I wish I knew the owners and could be friends with them!

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And it looks like they like birds!

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And cats! We need to be friends!!!

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This one was also very pretty, matching their house. It’s such a nice thing to do, I think, to promote literacy and build community by maintaining one of these libraries. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors.

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This library also matched the vivid blue trim on their house. This particular one seemed to be mostly full of children’s books.

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I like how there is a little bench by the next one so you can peruse before you choose your book. Very welcoming.

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Do you have any in your neighborhood? Would you like one? I definitely want one but we have sprinklers in our yard that would damage it fairly soon, I think, so I’m trying to figure out how we could get around that. This is the one I would like from the Little Free Library website: the Urban Reader. It’s also one of the cheaper ones they have and it’s made of stucco so I’m thinking it might be more durable. Then you fill it with some books and become the “steward” of your library. You can register it on their website so that it shows up on the map and you’re in business! (You don’t have to use their libraries if you prefer to build or make one yourself. I’m considering making a portable one out of a wooden crate with wheels so I can bring it in at night.)

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Here’s the 5th library I saw but this one seems a little weather-beaten and it apparently is not a registered Little Free Library. It still had some good books in it and serves the same purpose.

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No little free libraries around you? Everyone but me probably knew this already but most public libraries now have e-books you can download to your various e-readers for FREE! All these years I’ve been helping Amazon grow when I could have gotten a lot of them for nothing. The only drawback is you (at least in the case of the Phoenix Public Library) only have 2 weeks before the book disappears from your device but sometimes you can renew. If the book is really good, 2 weeks is more than enough time to finish it.

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The book above (that I paid for) is one of my 2 favorite books I’ve read so far this summer. The other is this one, by a local Phoenix journalist and author (that I also paid for, in hardback):

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Check ’em out!

Edit: Phoenix New Times used some of the photos from this blog post on their blog!

 

Critters Prettily Lit

Thrasher BuffetedCurve-billed Thrasher

The above bird was seen at Glendale Xeriscape Garden (on a very windy day). I’ve been to quite a few locations in the past couple of weeks looking for birds but didn’t get enough good shots at any to make a post on their own so the theme here is “pretty lighting.”

Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center:Hummer AudubonAnna’s Hummingbird, male

Phoebe Stick 1Black Phoebe

Sorry, Dragonfly :(

Sorry, Dragonfly 😦

Tempe Town Lake:Verdin Munch 2Verdin

Desert Botanical Garden:Finch BabyHouse Finch, juvenile

RT Ground SquirrelRound-tailed Ground Squirrel

Glenrosa Estates (our yard):Towhee PineAbert’s Towhee

2 SkippersCommon-checkered and Fiery Skippers

IncasInca Doves

Liz MesquiteTree Lizard

Gila WPGila Woodpecker, male

BCHU BuzzyBlack-chinned Hummingbird, male

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*I’m adding this post to the weekly WordPress Photo Challenge because it represents how I view the Earth through my lens. Check some of the other blog posts out.