Tuesday, September 30, 2014

White Faced Ibis - I

I have three White Faced Ibis that I call "5" Star. This first one was taken at Whitewater Draw in Southeast Arizona. The White Faced Ibis is a migratory wading bird that can pretty much be found Spring, Summer, and Fall here in Southern Arizona:

White Faced Ibis

Monday, September 29, 2014

White Eared Hummingbird - II

Another "5" Star White Eared Hummingbird photo:


Sunday, September 28, 2014

White Eared Hummingbird

The White Eared Hummingbird, more common in Mexico and Central America, is a very rare summer visitor to West Texas and Southern New Mexico, but a little more frequent in Southeast Arizona. That's not to say they are abundant and easy to find. When seen they are always reported in the ABA Birding News. The best place to see them is at Beatty's Orchard, Miller Canyon, in the Huachuca Mountains of Southeast Arizona. That may mean less than 20 days a year.

White Eared Hummingbird

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Whiskered Screech Owl

Continuing with my alphabetical series of my "5" Star Photos we come to the Whiskered Screech Owl. It's range is primarily Mexico and Central America, yet occasionally wanders into the Madrean Sky Island of Southeast Arizona. This photo was taken in Madera Canyon:

Whiskered Screech Owl

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Birding Juan Bautista de Anza Trail


"Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them." Daryl Zero, the Zero Effect


Yesterday, I arrived early at Montosa Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains in hopes of finding the Black Capped Gnatcatchers. Very, very quiet, though. No Black Capped Gnatcatchers. So I headed further south to the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail just south of Santa Gertrudis Lane. There I was hoping to find either or both the Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes. Although I saw many Lark Sparrows, a few Lucy's and Wilson's Warblers, I didn't find the specific birds I was looking for. 

So what was I to do? I didn't want to come home empty handed so I found a couple of non-bird photos that turned out quite nicely:



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Western Tanager

Up next, the Western Tanager which is found throughout Western North America. They breed here in Arizona, usually in coniferous forests. Being close to Mount Lemmon, they stop by at our place occasionally. They stay in the trees foraging for insects and occasionally fruit.

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

From wildflowers to rattlesnakes. The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake's range is from Arkansas to California and into Mexico. Typically it grows to about 4 feet, less than half the size of a bull snake. Yet, obviously a bit more dangerous. 

If you believe what you see and hear at the movies, they are everywhere in the desert and you have to kill them before they kill you. We just watched a delightful movie (Fools Rush In) where the male lead goes with his hispanic wife's brothers into the desert where he finds himself surrounded by a dozen rattlesnakes. Maybe there is a place/situation like that but I've been hiking and photographing in the Arizona desert for 12 years and never seen more than one rattler at a time. And, never ever had to kill one.

We have them living on our property although rarely see them -- maybe four times a year. For the most part they stay underground. Nonetheless, I always marvel at their beauty and significance when I see them.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Friday, September 19, 2014

Western Coral Bean

Another wildflower hits the "5" Star mark. The Western Coral Bean is found only in Southeast Arizona in the US, but throughout Mexico in canyons, rocky hillsides, pinyon-juniper forests in semi-desert environments.  It flowers from March to May, and provides a wonderful color contrast to the desert.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Western Bluebird

Continuing my alphabetical series on my "5" Star Photos we come to the Western Bluebird. The Western and Mountain Bluebird ranges are nearly identical (the Western halve of North America). But the Western Bluebird has a bright orange breast (duller in the female) while the Mountain Blue is pretty much all blue. The photo of the male came from Mount Lemmon, Arizona while the photo of the female was taken near Joshua Tree National Monument in California.

Western Bluebird Male

Western Bluebird Female



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Water Lily

It seems like quite a while ago that I was doing a series on my "5" Star Photos. But we are nearing the end -- on "w's" anyway. So I will try to get the series completed within the next couple of weeks. Today, not a bear, not a caribou, not an elegant trogon or a tri-colored heron, but a simple water lily. 

Sometimes simple is good:

Water Lily

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sweetwater Wetlands and Christopher Columbus Lake

I had a late start yesterday, so didn't arrive at Sweetwater Wetlands until 11:00 -- or more importantly until it was 104 degrees. The consequence was a very quiet visit. I did see a Green Heron fly in a weed bed and a Belted Kingfisher heading somewhere cooler. Probably my best photos were a Savannah Sparrow and a couple of Mexican Mallards:

Savannah Sparrow

Mexican Mallard

Juvenile Green Heron
 I didn't fare any better at Christopher Columbus Lake. The few birds there were stayed pretty much deep inside the trees where they were foraging. The best there was this Yellow Rumped Warbler:

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Huachuca Canyon: Always Good Birding

I went again to Huachuca Canyon looking for the Sinaloa Wren and now the newly reported (one time) Prothonotary Warbler. And, again no luck. However, as is usually the case I didn't come home without some photos, including a couple very nice photos like the ubiquitous Wilson's Warbler and Painted Redstart. Even though often seen I thought those two in particular turned out well:

Wilson's Warbler
Painted Redstart
Black Throated Gray Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Gilded Flicker
California Sister
unidentified butterfly
Pipevine Swallowtail

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Birding Christopher Columbus Park, Tucson

Christopher Columbus Lake  is on the West Side of Tucson and a recreational area for fishing, picnicking, kite flying, and remote controlled flying machines. It gets quite a bit of use, so is hardly "wilderness." 

Yet it provides a haven for birds -- and birders. And, since it gets a lot of people, birds are a little more "friendly" and can be approached if done slowly and quietly.

There are two essential areas: 1) the lake, and 2) a riparian area created by a small creek coming from the north side of the lake. 

The lake is the most reliable place in Tucson for finding and photographing Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets. There are often Black Crowned Night Herons as well.


The riparian area attracts warblers, vireos, with the occasional rarity like the Northern Waterthrush. It is often quite birdy and certainly well worth exploring if going to the lake.

Here are some photos from yesterday's trip to CCL.

Great Egret

Great Blue Heron

Roadrunner

Wilson's Warbler

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Randolph Park Birding

Yesterday I headed down to Randolph Park to see if I could find the reported Northern Waterthrush. As is often the case, the reported "rare" bird wasn't found, but there were other interesting birds to see and photograph:

Green Heron
Black Crowned Night Heron

Sharp Shinned Hawk

Wilson's Warbler
1st Year Wilson's Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler

Drab Bell's Vireo

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Bats are Back - And I'm Not Talking Baseball

Every year about this time migratory bats arrive in Tucson. How do I know? My hummingbird feeders tell me so. 

We have 8 hummingbird feeders which get changed every two - three days (depending mostly on the weather, not because they are empty). But all that changes in late August or early September when the bats drain the hummingbird feeders every night.

It is the Mexican long-tongued bat from Venezuela, Central America, and Mexico that arrives for dinner at our feeders. In nature they feed on nectar and pollen from agaves and other plants. Their tongues can extend up to a third of their body length which allows them to reach nectar deep inside an agave or cactus blossom. The young are born well-furred for additional warmth in the cool mountain canyons where this species roosts.

A couple years ago I sat up patiently with my camera waiting for them to show up. Wasn't until about 11:00 pm, but I was able to get a few photos:




Friday, September 5, 2014

Huachuca Canyon

I got out to Huachuca Canyon a couple days ago continuing my search for Arizona's warblers. And, much to my delight added a new warbler to my list: the Nashville Warbler, which gives me 19 of the 22 warblers found in Southern Arizona:

Nashville Warbler
There were reports of the Sinaloa Wren, but all I found was the Bewick's Wren:

Bewick's Wren
 Also got some other nice photos:

Wilson's Warbler

Sulphur Bellied Flycatcher

Female Summer Tanager

Female Black Headed Grosbeak

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cooper's Hawk

We have several very large Giant Blue Agaves on our property. One such agave bloomed this year shooting up a 30 foot stalk. It has become a regular perching post for a great many birds including our Cooper's Hawk. 

Cooper's Hawk