Thursday, March 31, 2011

More from Patton's in Patagonia

Thanks to Diane from helping identify the Plumbeous Vireo.

Since the Violet Crowned and Rufous Hummingbirds were present at Patton's I decided to stop by again on Wednesday -- with good results:

Young Male Anna's Hummingbird

Male Broad Billed Hummingbird (with tongue extended)

Male Rufous Hummingbird 

Male Rufous Hummingbird

Violet Crowned Hummingbird

Violet Crowned Hummingbird

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Last from Pattons -- for now.

Finally, for now anyway, are photos of birds I can't identify.  The first two appear to be rather non-descript sparrows. (I have trouble with the identification of the LBB's). The last two photos are of a bird eating an insect. It could be a vireo, don't know. I would welcome help from anyone with their identification. Thanks in advance. Dennis

Monday, March 28, 2011

More from Patton's in Patagonia

In addition to the hummingbirds and orioles, it was a good day for a few other birds:

Although we have Cardinals here at The Azure Gate, this female seemed to want her photo taken.

Same is true of this House Finch

A brief appearance by a Rufous Crowned Sparrow was a pleasant surprise.

White Breasted Nuthatch

White Crowned Sparrow

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Patton's in Patagonia - revisited Part II

I have always liked the Orioles. Especially since the Washington Senators moved out of Washington for the second time back in 1969. But, it wasn't until moving to Tucson that I found other kinds of Orioles. The Bullock's Oriole is a migratory bird found throughout the Western US during the summer months. The Scott's Oriole, also migratory, found throughout the Southwestern US during the summer months. And, the Hooded Oriole, found only in the extreme Southwestern US (again in the summer). We occasionally get the Hooded Oriole passing through the Azure Gate. We had one just last week which I was unable to photograph. Here's a photo of a Hooded Oriole I took here last year on one of our feeders:

Although I went to Patton's in Patagonia yesterday hoping the migratory Violet Crowned Hummingbird had arrived (see yesterday's post), I was pleasantly surprised to find both the Bullock's Oriole (male and female) and the Scott's Oriole (male) very willing to be photographed. First up, a Bullock's female that was catching bees from a honey jar:

Next, a Bullock's female sitting on an iron rod which held a couple of hummingbird feeders:

The next two photos are Bullock's males showing their wonderfully colorful plumage:

And, finally the Scott's Oriole (male). The Scott's Oriole would come down and drink from the hummingbird feeder too, but would then fly up into the tall trees. They seem to like the Sycamore's that typically line the Patagonia Creek. Once in the tall trees they would jump around climbing higher and higher, making photographing them more and more of a challenge. The Bullocks, on the other hand, seemed perfectly content to be in the lower branches of the trees. Here's the Scott's:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Patton's in Patagonia - revisited

Spring has sprung. Migratory birds are passing through. And, Patton's in Patagonia (Arizona) provides an outstanding viewing area along the Patagonia Creek. Today, the hummingbirds. While not plentiful yet, I did find Anna's, Black Chin, Broad Billed, Rufous, and Violet Crowned (photographing the latter three):

Broad Billed Hummingbird - Male

Rufous Hummingbird - Male

Violet Crowned -- almost a great photo (hummingbirds are so quick)

Violet Crowned -- males and females have similar plumage

Violet Crowned Close-up

Friday, March 25, 2011


I read a photo article -- can't remember what magazine -- about a nature photographer who took one roll of film (24 exposures) on a 24 day photo trip. His idea was to limit himself to one photo per day. It certainly was an interesting idea with interesting results. If you take a photo at 7:00 AM you are done for the day. If you wait too long looking for a great photo it may never come and you end up with stars in the sky. His photos were very good photos.  Yet, he had to pass up sometimes better photos because he had already taken his daily photo. I admire his willpower. But, I could never do that. What if I came across a Mountain Lion or a Gray Wolf after my one daily photo was taken? Wow. But, also that means that every day you must find something to photograph. You must look at the world and what you see and say  to yourself "there is a photograph here." That's an idea I can get behind! I usually take my camera with me on hikes and many times don't come across a bear, an elk, a bobcat, coyote, bighorn sheep, coatimundi, even deer to photograph. I don't want to go home empty handed. So, I start looking at other aspects of nature. Sometimes it's mushrooms. (Maybe I do that tomorrow)?  But, today I'll show you some dragonfly photos I have taken when nothing else seemed to be available:

This next one is my favorite:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Less Bunny

I have watched with amazement a Cooper's Hawk swoop down, pick up a dove, thrash it in a window to break its neck, then sit on the ground, pluck the feathers, and start eating. I have watched as a Roadrunner chased a Desert Spiny Lizard back and forth, finally capture, and then carry it off in its bill. I have watched as two Coyotes tried -- in vain -- to catch a rabbit even though they had "cornered" it. I have watched as a Bobcat chased after a Desert Cottontail without success. But, now I can say I have watched as a Bobcat pounced on, and captured a Desert Cottontail, then carrying it off in his mouth. 

The Bobcat was perched on top of one of our walls, presumably waiting for a meal to walk by. I didn't arrive on the scene with camera until the moment he leaped from the wall. That photo was a blur. But, I did get the Bobcat showing off with his trophy. (Actually, that probably wasn't what he was doing. I don't think cats of any kind care what people think of it). I wasn't in the best position for a photo, but did manager to get one that was in reasonably good focus. Oh how I wish he had turn to look at me, though. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Who's Been Sleeping in Our Bed?

Who's been sleeping in our bed? Our flower bed that is. 

Every photo has a story. Some stories more interesting than others. Some stories involve driving great distances, hiking up mountains, walking through creeks, bushwacking through chiggers, sleeping in a sleeping bag at minus eleven degrees, etc. Other stories come to your doorstep when you least expect it. 

I went over to my office at 6:00 this morning, raised the shades so I could see out the front and the sides. I was in the middle of responding to an email request when a male Bobcat came walking by the front door. I grabbed my camera (from the credenza behind me) and went out the front door believing that he would head over to the Catalina Guest House. Sure enough he did, but he never looked back at me so the only photos were of his backside. He walked around the front of the guest house, but by the time I got there he was gone -- or, at least out of sight. I didn't want to disturb our guests so I went back the other way thinking he might head down along the fence west of the guest house. But, no luck. As I headed back now toward the guest house he appeared again jumping up on the courtyard wall and then down into the courtyard. I positioned myself for a good photo believing that he would eventually have to jump up on the wall to get out of the courtyard. I waited. I waited. And, I waited some more. Was he in there? So I walked up to the wall where I could see inside. There he was asleep in the flower bed:

I found another angle to get a better photo:

I realized that I needed to get to the market to get food for breakfast, so I said goodbye and off I went. A half hour later I was back from the market and starting to prepare breakfast. But, curiosity got the best of me and I grabbed the camera and went back over to see if he was still there. He was. And he was all curled up -- the way cats do. I took another photo:

Of course I couldn't quite see his face, so went around to the other side:

I had to "zoom-out" to get that photo. Then decided to zoom back in for a closeup:

By this time, I am thinking I better get to work so went back to the kitchen. About 15 minutes later one of our guests came in the kitchen. Sue and her husband Sandy have stayed with us each year for the last eight years. They typically stay 4 to 6 weeks (in our Santa Ana Guest House), but she had never seen a Bobcat. So I thought, I should take her over to the Catalina Guest House just in case the Bobcat was still there. As we approached the Bobcat was sitting on the courtyard wall. Sue was about three steps behind me, but by the time she got around the corner the Bobcat had jumped down. Now, I am afraid that Sue will miss the Bobcat again. But --- NO! Here comes the Bobcat walking at an angle in front of us. A wide open view. Although the Bobcat was not walking directly toward us, he was getting closer and we could clearly see his face. I took a dozen more photos as he was walking. Here is one of those:

So, Sue not only got to see a Bobcat she got to see one up close -- no more than 20 feet away. What a great way to start the morning she said. I agree!!! Didn't even have to get in the Jeep.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Patagonia Lake - Part III

There were a large number of Yellow Rumped Warblers at Patagonia Lake -- many of which were juveniles. There are two sub-species, the Audubon's and the Myrtle. We found both on our hike at Patagonia Lake. The Myrtle is more widespread, being found throughout North America. The Audubon's is found only in the Western US, Canada, and Mexico. Like most small birds -- especially warblers -- the Yellow Rumped is usually moving through the trees making it challenging to get a good photo. Occasionally, they will perch on twigs, so patience is required. They are primarily insectivores but will eat myrtle berries (which is how the name came about). They often flit about like flycatchers in search of insects. They like coniferous and mixed woodlands. 

Audubon's Yellow Rumped Warbler

Myrtle Yellow Rumped Warbler

Myrtle Yellow Rumped Warbler

Myrtle Yellow Rumped Warbler

Friday, March 18, 2011

Patagonia Lake - Part II

Another bird at Patagonia Lake that was receptive to a couple of portraits was the Painted Redstart. The Painted Redstart is a curious little bird that never seems to be far from the trunk of a tree. There range is 5,000 to 8,000 feet in the oak canyons of the Madrean Sky Islands (Arizona and New Mexico) and occasionally on the Colorado Plateau around Sedona and Flagstaff. They are also found in the same kind of terrain in Mexico. They nest on the ground, covering their nest with twigs and leaves. Unlike many birds, the female sings as well as the male. Here are a couple of photos from our hike:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Patagonia Lake, Arizona

Christine and I headed out to Patagonia Lake yesterday. Spring birding has officially arrived here in Southern Arizona. And, Patagonia Lake is a premier birding site. The Elegant Trogon had been seen here earlier this week. (Just as it has for the past couple of years). Although we didn't find an Elegant Trogon this trip, the trip was successful; not just in terms of birding but it is always a beautiful hike and another gorgeous day. Anyway, today I will start with the Vermillion Flycatcher. We were hiking around the north end of the lake and then up the Patagonia Creek. As we approached a large cottonwood tree out in the open there appeared to be two male Vermillion Flycatchers chasing each other always returning to this tree. So, I stood very still near the tree. 30 minutes and 100+ photos later we decided to continue our hike. But it was a a delightful experience. At times they would zip by me -- just two or three feet from my head. Often they would land and sit still for a portrait. Here are some of those photos: