Tuesday, May 26, 2015

White Eared Hummingbird

The White Eared Hummingbird is a very rare visitor to the United States. And the most reliable place to find one is in Miller Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, at Beatty's Guest Ranch. Tom, Sr. usually posts sighting results on the ABA Birding News site, so if you want to see this beautiful little hummer, check that site daily.

I stopped by the other day when I couldn't get into Ramsey Canyon and saw a male White Eared about every 20 minutes.

Here are a couple of photos:

White Eared Hummingbird

White Eared Hummingbird

Monday, May 25, 2015

Huachuca Canyon and the Elegant Trogon

As our busy season has winded down, I had a free morning -- no breakfast. So off I went. I was hoping to find the Flame Colored Tanager and the Tufted Flycatcher that have been reported in Ramsey Canyon. However, when I arrived at Ramsey Canyon I found the parking lot full with the docent greeting me with an apology and suggesting I try again later.

So, back to Huachuca Canyon. Huachuca Canyon was quite birdie. Lots of singing. And a wide variety. I kept hearing one or more Elegant Trogons the entire time I was there. It wasn't until I was just about back to the trailhead that I saw one. And as luck would have it he felt like a photo.

I remain convinced that Huachuca Canyon is the most reliable place in the US to find the Elegant Trogon. A few years ago I would have said Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains. But since the fire/flood of 2010 it's not been quite as good.

In any rate, here is the best of the day:

Elegant Trogon

Friday, May 22, 2015

Red Tailed Hawk with Chicks

As you drive south on Arizona Highway 83 toward Sonoita there has been a Red Tailed Hawk nesting for the past several weeks. Last week when I drove by on my way to Las Cienegas there were a couple of chicks peeking over the nest's edge. Lovely photo:

Red Tailed Hawk with Chicks

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Huachuca Canyon: Whiskered Screech Owl

Had a great time in Huachucha Canyon. The find of the day: a Whiskered Screech Owl. This is a very infrequent visitor to the United States. Really only in the southernmost mountain ranges of Arizona: Santa Ritas and Huachucas (probably Chiricahuas as well).

The photo shoot starts with a "hidden photo":

Need a little closer view:

There he is, keeping cool in the creek.

And closer still:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Black Bellied Whistling Ducks: Cottonwood Pond, Las Cienegas, Arizona

Had a nice day yesterday starting in Huachucha Canyon, then Las Cienegas and Empire Gulch.

Starting with Las Cienegas, a "pass-by" of Cottonwood Pond revealed eight Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, . Wonderful half acre pond, great lighting, great setting: great photos (plus a Great Egret):

Black Bellied Whistling Duck

Black Bellied Whistling Duck

Black Bellied Whistling Duck

Great Egret

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Gila Monster - Baby

Gila Monsters are venomous lizards -- the only venomous lizard in the United States. They typically grow to about 20 - 22 inches long and a little over a pound in weight. Their conservation status is "Near Threatened" and protected by law in Arizona. It is illegal to kill, capture, or disturb Gila Monsters.

They spend most of their life underground, only coming out of their burrows to eat and mate. Mating usually occurs in April and May. The female lays eggs in July or August with a nine month incubation period. So hatchlings emerge in the April - June timeframe. Hatchlings are about 6-7 inches long when they emerge.

And such it was with the little guy that crawled by my office last week:

Gila Monster Hatchling
We know Gila Monsters live on our property although we don't see them every year. But, this little guy obviously was born on our property. (Those are pomegranate flowers on the ground next to the lizard).

Guests had reported seeing an adult Gila Monster the day before over by our Catalina Guest House, which is where we usually see them.

Now a word about the danger of being bitten. Although the venom is as toxic as a coral snake,  the Gila Monster only produces a small amount. Unlike rattlesnakes that have fangs and inject its venom into prey, the Gila Monster's venom is produced by glands in the upper jaw and transferred to the prey by chewing.

There have been no deaths resulting from Gila Monster bites since 1939. Prior to 1939 there are accounts of Gila Monster "attacks" many of which seem greatly exaggerated: In the Tombstone Epitaph  on May 14, 1881 (the year of the Gunfight at the OK Corral) it was reported that a 27 inch "35 pound" Gila Monster was caught by H.C. Hait. 

In another account:

"On May 8, 1890, Empire Ranch owner Walter Vail captured and thought he had killed a Gila monster. He tied it to his saddle and it bit the middle finger of his right hand and wouldn't let go. A ranch hand pried open the lizard's mouth with a pocketknife, cut open his finger to stimulate bleeding, and then tied saddle strings around his finger and wrist. They summoned Dr. John C. Handy of Tucson, who took Vail back to Tucson for treatment, but Vail experienced swollen and bleeding glands in his throat for sometime afterward."

Wild West Magazine published an article three years ago about Hollywood's fascination with Gila Monsters in "Godzilla type" movies.  In one movie there was a poster with a Gila Monster the size of a school bus. (As a reality check, the article included one of my Gila Monster photos).

Gila Monsters are very slow moving. The don't strike like a rattlesnake, i.e. can't jump 4 - 6 feet. You would pretty much have to pick one up and stick your finger in it's mouth, but nonetheless caution is the rule of the day when -- if -- you see one.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Apple's New "Photos" Software in Yosemite 10.10.3

My apologies for the lapse in posts. 

Apple has made my life a bit more challenging (frustrating) -- still with several unresolved issues.

I've been an Apple user for 25 years. A month ago they upgraded their operating system with a significant change: iPhoto would no longer exist. It was replaced by "Photos" which is part of the operating system now and not a separate application. 

However, in so doing Apple eliminated many important functions: 

There is no longer the ability to sort photos by Title (or keyword or rating). By default they are all sorted by date -- and in some cases date added as opposed to the date the photo was taken. 

Photos no longer has the ability to input photo location information. (I need to be able to identify where a photo was taken: Jasper National Park, Canada; Yellowstone; the Chiricahua Mountains; etc.)

It no longer provides the ability to drag and drop a photo into another application. 

In the process of migrating the photos from iPhoto to Photos several thousand titles were lost, many dates didn't migrate accurately (they migrated as date added instead of date taken). 

So I have spent the last three weeks trying to get my photo library back into useable condition. Not being able to sort by title is a deal breaker. If Apple doesn't add that functionality back I will have to go to a different photo organizing/editing software -- which, of course, will add more countless hours.

I'll try to get another post off within a couple of days.

Thanks for understanding.