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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Madera Canyon

Mexican Jay (lifer)

Although I’ve lived in Arizona for over 40 years, I’ve never been to Madera Canyon before and only really became aware of it a couple of years ago from other birders. So, finally, I’ve experienced it and, like most of the other places in AZ that Tony and I have visited, it was beautiful!

Wikipedia says, “Madera Canyon is located in the Santa Rita Mountains, which is one of the largest of the Madrean Sky Islands. The canyon and its immediate surroundings are therefore home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, ranging from cactus covered desert in the lower reaches of the canyon to aspen and pine forest on Mount Wrightson.

With fifteen species of hummingbirds, elegant trogon, sulphur-bellied flycatcher, black-capped gnatcatcher, flame-colored tanager, thirty-six species of wood warblers, and over 256 species of birds documented in total, Madera Canyon is rated the third best birding destination in the United States. Other animals that can be found in Madera Canyon include black bear, mountain lion, bobcats, white-tailed and mule deer, foxes, coatis, ring-tailed cats, raccoons, wild turkeys, squirrels, and rabbits. Sixteen species of bats have also been recorded in the canyon.”

Unfortunately, we were only there for a few hours as we got a late start and, although it was several degrees cooler than Phoenix, we didn’t hike much because of the heat and time constraints. If you hike around, you can get some rare and unusual birds. We’ll go back in the fall and hike but, meanwhile, I did get 5 lifers and had a great time.

What we mostly did was hang out at the birdwatching area at Santa Rita Lodge. They are kind enough to let people who are not guests in their cabins also have access to this site for a donation to their bird food fund.

If you click on this photo (above), you can see the benches and chairs overlooking the feeding areas. We sat in the shade, a gentle breeze blowing, and watched the birds fly in to eat below…with cameras ready. It wasn’t even crowded since it was a weekday.

Broad-billed Hummingbirds, male and female (lifers)

Magnificent Hummingbird (lifer)

Magnificents are much larger than other hummingbirds but this guy stayed far away in a dark tree so I was lucky to get any photos at all of him. Someday I hope to get a good shot.

Hepatic Tanager (lifer)

Wild Turkey (lifer)

And I was able to get shots of some birds that were not lifers but ones I had never gotten decent shots of before.

Black-headed Grosbeaks, male and female

Bridled Titmouse

And a couple more:

Acorn Woodpecker

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Coues White-tailed Deer

As we were leaving in the late afternoon, we saw 3 deer together and another by itself. It had been many years since I came across a deer and was able to get a photo…the perfect end to a fun day.

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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

A for Adventure

Queen 1Queen Butterfly

CW 8.10.16Cactus Wren

Ground SquirrelRound-tailed Ground Squirrel

Lizard DBG

SulphurCloudless Sulphur

WW Dove PPWhite-winged Dove

Active Bees_edited-1

Hummer

Cacti

I was at the Desert Botanical Garden yesterday volunteering (inside) and went walking around afterwards. It was very hot and humid and not much action in the animal world. I’m looking forward to cooler weather and spending more time there doing fun volunteer things and getting some new birds.

The following photos were taken in my yard. We have a lot of hummers right now. These are at least 2 different Anna’s Hummingbirds.

Anna's 8.5.16_edited-1

Anna's 2 8.5.16

Anna's 8.7.16

I’m heading off for a mini-adventure in a couple days so hope to have some different scenery and maybe some new birds to post soon…nothing exotic like the Galapagos Islands or anything like that…

Early Spring at the DBG

Finch Cactus

Finch Minimalist

Finch Nest BuildHouse Finches

The cacti are not yet blooming but the birds and other critters are busy~singing, nest-building, flying, and running around at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Harris's antelope SquirrelHarris’s Antelope Squirrel

Ground Squirrel

SquirrelRound-tailed Ground Squirrels

Cactus WrenCactus Wren

Cactus

Anyone nesting in there? Guess not.

Gila WPGila Woodpecker

Starling SneezingEuropean Starling

This poor Starling kept sneezing, he must have spring allergies.

YRWA DBGYellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s

3 Hawks

Red-tailed HawkRed-tailed Hawks

There were 5 of these hawks circling together.

Mourning DoveMourning Dove

ThrasherCurve-billed Thrasher

RCKI DBG

RCKI DBG 2

RCKI DBG CrownRuby-crowned Kinglet

I know that’s a bad photo but it’s the first time I’ve actually seen the red crown on one of these very fast-moving birds.

BTGC 2

BTGCBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher

Sign 1

Sign 2

Sign 3

I’ll be spending more time at the DBG because I start my volunteer orientation there this weekend!

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