Saturday, August 31, 2013

Julia Longwing

One thing about doing my "5" Star Photos alphabetically is that you jump around from animals to birds, to plants to .............  now butterflies. This gorgeous butterfly, Julia Longwing, is found as far south as Brazil, but also common up through Texas and Florida. It is also called the Julia, The Flame, or Flambeau. It loves lantana which thrives throughout the southwest. As with many butterflies, it is a real treat for the photographer:

Julia Longwing

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Allen's Hummingbird

I took this photo yesterday at WOW Arizona, a wonderful little wildlife heaven just east of the town of Catalina, Arizona. Christopher Vincent with the help of 27 hummingbird feeders, an assortment of various seed feeders, and flowering plants has created a paradise for hundreds of hummingbirds and other wildlife. We don't see a lot of Allen's Hummingbirds here in Arizona, but Christopher has several. Here's is an exquisite immature male Allen"s photo:

Allen's Hummingbird

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Joshua Tree

Sometimes a "5" Star Photo can be a landscape or plant or most anything. Today's is not an animal or bird, but a Joshua Tree photo taken in Joshua Tree National Park. What I love about this photo is the magnificence of the Joshua Tree itself, the much smaller and more distant one in lower right corner, and the coloration due to the sun setting. 

Joshua Tree

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Javelina Nursing - II

When you live in the wilderness, often you don't need to go far to find wildlife. Now, while I wouldn't say we lived in the "wilderness" we have 5 acres of sonoran desert which attracts wildlife  -- especially Javelinas. The last of my "5" Star Javelina photos is again a mother nursing. This time two (a little older) young ones:

Javelina Nursing

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Rare Lucifer Hummingbird

Yesterday I got the day off to go photographing. I was again looking for the Yellow Billed Cuckoo in Las Cienegas. And, again I struck out. But I continued on to Ash Canyon to find the Lucifer Hummingbird --- with success.

The Lucifer Hummingbird is one of those very rare hummers to be found in the US. The most reliable place to find the Lucifer is at the Ash Canyon B&B. It's been spending its summers there for several years. They don't arrive in the US in large numbers, and they don't frequent hummingbird feeders like the Black Chinned, Anna's, and Broad Billed. Early in the season, it might come to a feeder once or twice a day. This time of the year it is a little more often, maybe once every 30-45 minutes. A couple of things make them special beyond their rarity. First they have long decurved bills. Second, the male has a very long and brightly colored gorget. From time to time they will be seen in the Santa Rita and Chiricahua mountains, as well as the Huachucas. They are sometimes found in the Southwest corner of New Mexico and Southwest Texas. 

Here are a few photos from yesterday:

Lucifer Hummingbird

Lucifer Hummingbird

Lucifer Hummingbird

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Javelina Nursing

Here is another "5" Star Photo of a Javelina, this time nursing its young. The photo was taken just outside my office. I like the nice green color in the background and, of course, the fact that the baby seemed unaware of my presence. As you can see, mom kept a close eye on me, however.

Javelina Nursing

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day Old Javelina

The next "5" Star Photo is another Javelina. This time taken on it's birthday. The mother was squealing during the night before. The result was this little guy. He was barely six inches tall, and could hardly walk. 

Such a cutie!

Javelina Piglet

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Javelina and Piglet

Back again to my series on "5" Star Photos. Still on Javelinas, this photo was taken just outside my office as a group of about 15 Javelinas came wandering though. Here a newborn "piglet" walking under the protection of his mother. Like many animals, the babies are adorable.

Javelina Mom with Piglet

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Leucistic Mourning Dove

We have well over a hundred Mourning Doves on our property year round. They nest here from Mid-March through Mid-August. It's easy to find their nests. And, after 11 years here a rare event occurred yesterday while showing guests from Rhode Island around our property. A young Leucistic Mourning Dove (probably just out of its nest). Leucism is a rare condition similar to an albino condition that affects pigmentation. There are many abnormalities that affect coloration in birds (animals too). Sibley likes the idea of calling all of these conditions either "true albino" or "partial albino" which in a general sense is okay, even if not correct.

In any case, I did grab my camera and get a decent photo:

Leucistic Mourning Dove

I'll keep looking now to see if it stays around. Unfortunately, these birds seem to have shorter life spans if for no other reason than the fact that they get picked on by others.

But, no question, these abnormalities are fascinating, beautiful, and fun when you see them.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cliff Chipmunk, What a Cutie!

One of the main differences in photographing animals versus birds is that with animals you rarely find them by their sound. It is almost always by movement or just sheer size. Birds are more often found by their sound which can be a problem if you are deaf or hearing impaired (like me). For me, finding a Moose is much easier than finding a Rufous Caped Warbler. 

Yesterday, I checked out Rose Canyon Lake and Incinerator Ridge on Mount Lemmon. Black Hawks had been reported at the lake (all summer). And at Incinerator Ridge I was hoping to find several of the Warbler species that had been reported in the past week. Five hours of searching netted me a couple Yellow Eyed Juncos, but not much more. No hawks, no warblers. Yet, the day wasn't a total loss. I did come up with a cute photo of a Cliff Chipmunk:

Cliff Chipmunk

Monday, August 12, 2013

Creekside Javelina

First, a Big Thank you to all of those who read my blog. It's pretty amazing. 106,000 views from 113 different countries around the world including every country from South America except Paraguay; 41 of the 50 countries in Europe; 29 countries in Asia; and 12 countries from Africa including:  Algeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Zambia.

Now, back to my series on "5" Star Photos. Another "5" Star Javelina photo today. This one I especially like since it was taken somewhere other than our "backyard." I was wandering up and down the Patagonia Creek mainly looking for birds when I came across three Javelinas. This one I just happened to "catch" as he walked into a small "sunspot".


Sunday, August 11, 2013

No Screech Owl, but a Whistling Duck

Yesterday I headed out to Madera Canyon to find the Whiskered Screech Owl, Berylline Hummingbird, Lucifer Hummingbird, and Calliope Hummingbird all reported in the past couple of days. Four hours later without finding any of them I decided to head over to Empire Gulch at Las Cienegas to look for the Yellow Billed Cuckoos that have been reported there. Again no luck.

So, somewhat disappointed (it's hard to be too disappointed when you are out in nature), I drove the back road down to Highway 82 which would take me to Sonoita.  I took a few spurs looking for Pronghorn or, Black Tailed Prairie Dogs. To my joy, luck turned and I found a Black Tailed Prairie Dog. These little guys that roamed Arizona (and north to Saskatchewan) had all but disappeared in Arizona by the year 2000. However, with the help of the US Fish and Wildlife, they had been reintroduced to Arizona in general and Las Cienegas in particular. So, I was quite happy finding one. Here are a couple photos:

Black Tailed Prairie Dog (note the tip of the tail is black)

Black Tailed Prairie Dog calling to his friends

So, I was feeling pretty good for the day. But, as LUCK would have it, my day got even better. Five minutes later I checked out the little Cottonwood Pond which is tucked off behind a pea green pond. There I found a lone Black Bellied Whistling Duck. This is a rare bird to the US. It only finds its way into the southernmost tips of Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana. As the crow flies (well, I guess as the duck flies too) it was only about 30 miles from the US/Mexican border. This was a lucky find. However, even luckier was that he was posing on top of a rock right in front of the pond and let me get within 10 feet. The result was several photos any of which could be "5" Stars. I had to pick just one however. Here it is:

Black Bellied Whistling Duck

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Lovable Javelinas, or NOT

Next we come to the well-loved, or not so well-loved Javelina. Living in the Sonoran Desert means visits from one of its inhabitants, the Javelina or Collard Peccary. It is a pig-like animal weighing up to 60 pounds. So, we're not taking about a small animal here. We are also talking about an animal that usually arrives in large groups. The largest group we've had was 24. Many times we've had 15-20. Unfortunately, they like to eat  -------- anything. They've knocked over our garbage cans many times spreading garbage all over the property. I've tied our two large 96 gallon trash cans together but they still manage to knock them over. They also like to eat plants, especially the plants you just bought at a nursery. Yet, I have to concede that they were here first and are just trying to survive the desert. So, I can't get too upset. (There's nothing to do about it anyway, so why get upset?) This photo was taken near a tree that was on our sprinkler system. Oh yes, the Javelinas also like to eat through the watering hose to create a pool to play in.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ivyleaf Morningglory

Continuing with my alphabetical listing of "5" Star Photos we come to a very simple wildflower. What I love about this trumpet-shaped flower is that it is often by itself. Unlike Mexican Poppies, for example, there aren't fields of them with hundreds of flowers. The Ivyleaf Morningglory is a hairy vine typically found in dark wooded areas which give it wonderful contrasting color. There is so much you can do in terms of angles, lighting, composition etc. Here is one of my favorites:

Ivyleaf Morningglory

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Indonesian Batwing

From a Hummingbird Moth in our backyard to an Indonesian Batwing 12,000 miles away. This butterfly has a bright red body and jet black wings with red splashes. Gorgeous. And, as with many butterflies can make for some wonderful photos. This photo was not taken 12,000 miles away in it's normal habitat, but at the Tucson Botanical Gardens "Butterfly Magic" exhibit which runs from October through March here in Tucson.

Indonesian Batwing

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Not a Grey Wolf from Yellowstone, But a Hummingbird Moth from The Azure Gate

Well ............ the Photo Trip to Yellowstone got cancelled. A huge crack in the sewer line beneath our kitchen was the culprit. 

Here is what was/is involved: remove kitchen cabinets, remove 16 square feet of tile, drill into concrete in three different places, dig down and remove two feet of dirt, tunnel between the digs, remove the old pipe, put in a new pipe, then fill the dirt back in, pour new concrete, buy and install new tiles, reinstall kitchen cabinets, cleaning the entire house from all the dirt and dust flying around (meaning dusting/washing  absolutely everything). Pouring the new concrete will happen today (hopefully) tomorrow and Thursday installing and sealing the tiles and reinstalling the kitchen cabinets. Friday and Saturday the washing and cleaning. There goes the Photo Trip.

So, no new Grey Wolf photos from Yellowstone, sorry. Instead, back to the "5" Star Photos and ......... seems anti-climatic .......... a Hummingbird Moth photo taken in our back yard. 

Oh well,

Hummingbird Moth

P.S. Christine says look on the bright side, because I was going to be away we had not scheduled any guests this week. So, no guest was inconvenienced by what happened. It's true. It could have been worse.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hooded Skunk: A Favorite

Nest we come to one of my favorites, the Hooded Skunk. Tell me this isn't a beautiful animal. They are very businesslike, constantly looking for food: insects as well as vegetation. Their range is mostly Mexico, but also Southern Arizona in the US. This photo was taken in the Galiuro Mountains.

Hooded Skunk
NOTE: This will be the last post for about a week or so. I am off to Yellowstone National Park. Hopefully I'll have some nice photos to show when I get back. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hooded Oriole

Next up on my alphabetical listing of "5" Star Photos is the Hooded Oriole. Such a beautiful bird its hard not for it to be "5" Stars provided you get close.  The Hooded Oriole doesn't have the range of the Bullocks (West) or the Baltimore and Orchard (East) so it is less often seen. It is found only in the Southwest, primarily Southwestern Arizona. And a real treat when you do.

Hooded Oriole

Friday, August 2, 2013

Hoary Marmot

Sometimes a "5" Star Photo can be a simply thing. You just get very nice detail, very nice coloration, nice composition -- oh, and its an animal not frequently seen. The Hoary Marmot is just the case. It lives near the treeline (10,000 feet or more) in the Rockies and Cascades of the US. It's a fun little animal, just like our ground squirrels here in Arizona. Curious little fellows.

Hoary Marmot

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Hepatic Tanager

Continuing with my "5" Star Photos we come to the Hepatic Tanager. All the Tanagers are beautiful. Even more so because they aren't abundant. When you find one you can't help but be excited. Of the four Tanager species in the US, the Hepatic Tanager has the smallest range essentially just Arizona and New Mexico. The Hepatic is similar to the Summer Tanager but has grey auriculars and flanks as in this photo.

Hepatic Tanager