Spring Fling

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Giant Swallowtail

Aloe

Black-chinned Hummingbird, male

It is definitely spring here in Phoenix. Sorry if it isn’t where you are. Soon enough, we will be trying not to be miserable while you are basking in lovely weather. We had a lot of rain (for us) this winter so it’s extra vibrant this year. These photos are mostly from my yard but a few are from Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden (the first one and the last 3).

Hibiscus

Geranium

Painted Lady

Lantana

Palo Verde Sap

I noticed this colorful Yellow-rumped Warbler, below, feeding off the aloe and thought he looked unusual. He seems to have the characteristics of two different subspecies, the Myrtle and the Audubon’s. When I got home, I checked with my bird experts and they agreed that he is what is known as an “intergrade.” I think that’s a fancy word for “hybrid.” Anyway, these 2 subspecies only breed in a small area of Alberta, B.C., so he had a long trip down here. They are somewhat uncommon but not really “rare” in Arizona. Nevertheless, I was excited.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Myrtle x Audubon’s Intergrade, male

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The Locals

eagle-young-2

eagle-young

eagle-young-3Bald Eagle, immature

This is either Hope or Joy, one of 2 Bald Eagles hatched in a nest in a Scottsdale golf course last spring (in a densely populated area). They were well-known locally then and each of them fell from their nest as nestlings and were placed back in by Arizona Game and Fish and Liberty Wildlife rehabbers. You can read their story and see them as babies here and here. I never saw them last year as their exact location was a secret, for their safety.

Anyway, I was at Lake Marguerite, which isn’t far from that golf course, a couple times recently looking for a Hairy Woodpecker and the second time I looked up and Hope or Joy was watching me! It’s always exciting to see a bald eagle, I think, and he/she took off right as I watched, zipped over the lake, swooped down, grabbed a fish, and flew off right by me. And I even saw the Hairy Woodpecker (which was my 12th lifer this year) but the photo is basically a black and white blur so I won’t show it here. However, I got a couple shots of this girl:

lbwp-4

lbwp-2Ladder-backed Woodpecker, female

ruddy-ducks-lmRuddy Ducks

I was also at Granada Park recently, my old standby park that I don’t visit much anymore, and I was surprised to see this beautiful guy watching me from the trees. While not a lifer, it was the best shots I’ve ever gotten of one.

coop-hawk-1

coop-hawk-2Cooper’s Hawk

cormy-1Neotropic Cormorant

ring-necked-duckRing-necked Duck

yrwa-1Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

And when I was recently volunteering at the Desert Botanical Garden, I walked around afterwards and saw a few more critters.

gila-wp-1-17-17Gila Woodpecker, male

costas-1-17-17Costa’s Hummingbird, male

costas-girl-1-17-17Costa’s hummingbird, female

squirrel

squirrel-2Rock Squirrel

thrasher

thrashers-1-17-17Curve-billed Thrashers

towheesAbert’s Towhees

Tiny Cuties

yrwa-1_edited-1

yrwa-2

yrwa-3Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, male

These cute guys show up in the Phoenix area in the winter but they’re so fast that it’s often hard to get a clear shot. However, this little guy was very cooperative the other day at the Desert Botanical Garden and almost seemed to enjoy my attention. So did this guy, who let me get about a foot away from him:

costasCosta’s Hummingbird, male

I never see Costa’s in my yard. We have many Anna’s year-round and a couple Black-chinned in the spring.

annas-12-10-16

h-bird-12-30-16

annas-1-1-17Anna’s Hummingbirds, male

My little yellow yard bird has done many cute things lately.

orange-ocwa-12-10-16_edited-1

ocwa-suet-12-30-16Orange-crowned Warbler, male

And the tiny Verdins are always busy and love their fruit:

verdin-orange-12-30-16

verdin-pom-2

verdin-pomVerdins

finch-chollaHouse Finch, female

finch-12-30-16House Finch, male

Did you know that House Finches were originally a southwestern bird but can now be found all over the US? I just found that out recently.

black-phoebe-sculpture_edited-1Black Phoebe

I’ve been to two places in the last week looking for specific Lifers and didn’t find either! I’m declaring two 2017 Goals here:

  1. Find at least 60 Lifers (this will require more day trips but as Tony is now retired, he is willing to come along to interesting places).
  2. Volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden for at least 100 hours (which isn’t really much over a 52 week period).

Do you have any goals you want to put into writing this year?

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Wintering

annas-1-11-28-16

It’s cold here in Phoenix right now…really. See?

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-7-17-54-am

The birds in our yard are happy to have some food.

hummer-11-19-16

hum-tongue-11-22-16

annas-2-11-28-16Anna’s Hummingbirds, males

I was just telling a birder friend last weekend that I had a sweet Orange-crowned Warbler who wintered with me last year and that I hoped it would come back this year. Monday I walked outside and guess who was here? And I’m pretty sure it’s the same one because it has a little black “muzzle” around its bill. I’m so flattered and amazed that it came back to my yard and hope we have many photo shoots in the future.

ocwa-1

ocwa-2

That same friend and I went on a little birding outing last weekend. She had yet to see the (rare for AZ)  Red-breasted Sapsucker that I mentioned in my last blog post. And I had never seen a Red-naped Sapsucker, reported at the same Scottsdale park. It was a very cloudy day, not the best for photography, but we found her target bird:

rbss-1_edited-1

rbss-backRed-breasted Sapsucker

And we found my target bird, a lifer:

rn-sapsucker-5

rn-sapsucker-2Red-naped Sapsucker

It had been months since I last had a lifer. My friend and I then went back to Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden as she had never been there. No lifers and not much bird action at all on a cold, cloudy day.

mock-sxg-11-26-16Northern Mockingbird

costasCosta’s Hummingbird

LIFE WITHOUT MARBLES

In sadder news, we had our almost 19 year old cat, Marbles, put to sleep last week. The vet came to our house and it was very peaceful. Marbles left purring.

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mar

He loved laying in sunny spots. We didn’t get Marbles until he was 6 so we only spent 12 and a half years with him. He was always a very small cat but very alpha, especially the first few years. He mellowed later on and he and Google were great brothers.

mar-in-sun-crop

This is Google saying goodbye on his last day.

goog-says-bye-to-mar

Kitty dynamics always change when one dies. We still have 3 indoor cats, who don’t get along with each other very well. Maybe that will change now. And we also have our many outdoor cats. Soon I will update on them.

Sharpshooter

verdin-sxgVerdin

Not me, my new lens. I’ve been trying to determine if it is, in fact, sharper than my previous super telephoto lens. It’s definitely sharp in good light but I guess I can’t expect miracles in low light.

So last winter an out-of-range Red-breasted Sapsucker wintered in a Scottsdale park. Amazingly, he returned again this year to not only the same park but the same couple of mesquite trees he preferred last year! I guess he enjoyed his winter in Scottsdale as many other snowbirds do. This year he was a little higher up than last year so my photos are not as good but I loved seeing him and think it’s so amazing that one little bird can find the very tree he was in last year.

rb-sapsucker-1

rb-sapsucker-2

I stopped at Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden on my way home and saw a few other critters (almost all in low light).

cottontail-sxg_edited-1Desert Cottontail

finch-11-19-16House Finch, male

mock-sxgNorthern Mockingbird

monarch-sxgMonarch Butterfly

mourning-dove-sxgMourning Dove

says-sxgSay’s Phoebe

starling-11-19-16European Starling

And back to my yard:

american-snout-11-19-16American Snout Butterfly

hum-11-22-16Anna’s Hummingbird, male

inca-doveInca Dove

This guy, thankful for nuts…

thrasher-nut-11-22-16_edited-1Curve-billed Thrasher

happy thanksgiving!