Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Not So Elusive Green Heron

The often elusive Green Heron is a small wading bird that likes to hide in weed beds.  I suspect several call Sweetwater Wetlands their home, yet finding them is not always possible. But occasionally you come across one that is out in the open, intent on fishing or getting its photo taken. Such was the case last week on two separate visits to this birding paradise:

Nice little fish he caught.

That's the small fish he is "flipping" so it goes down easy.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Another Bobcat Photo Shoot

Even though I've been photographing wildlife for 25 years -- including grizzlies, wolves, moose, caribou etc, one of my favorite animals to photograph is the Bobcat. I never tire of seeing them. 

Their diet depends on their location. Here at The Azure Gate rabbits and squirrels are their favorite prey. In other areas ducks, geese, and swans are their premium choice. So, a place like Sweetwater Wetlands that has rabbits, squirrels, and ducks represents an area with a lot of potential.

NOTE: In wilderness areas, Bobcats will take down and eat young female deer. In farm/ranch areas they will take down and eat sheep. There is an organization that reimburses farmers/ranchers who have lost sheep to Bobcats. You may ask "Well, how often does that happen?" The answer is that Bobcats kill around 30 sheep per day in the US.

Okay, back to my story. Last week, I arrived at Sweetwater Wetlands early hoping to find a Bobcat. And, as luck -- or maybe intuition had it -- there was not one, but two young Bobcats. Soon they went their separate ways, so I followed one who was clearly on a hunt. Sometimes I'd follow behind. Sometimes I'd be right along side. And, sometimes I'd be in front of him so I could get a good photo. It didn't seem to matter much to the Bobcat. Never once did he show his displeasure with my being around. And even when I was in front of him he still kept coming. Somehow I think he wanted his photo taken.

So here they are, 8 out of about 200 photos that I took:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: White Eared Hummingbird

The White Eared Hummingbird is also very rare to the United States. There have been the rare sightings in Southwest Texas and New Mexico, but it is Southeastern Arizona where they go when coming to the US. The most reliable place to find them is at Beatty's Orchard, Miller Canyon, in the Huachuca Mountains.

Not abundant, and not always present, but the White Eared finds its way to Tom Beatty's CAS feeders every 30 minutes or so many days during the summer.

Similar in size, shape, and color of the Broad Billed Hummingbird, the White Eared also has a large white post-ocular stripe arching over top of its eye.

White Eared Hummingbird

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Violet Crowned Hummingbird

The Violet Crowned Hummingbird is only found in Southeast Arizona (in the United States). And fortunately, there is a multi-generational family living in the little town of Patagonia at the Paton House (now run by the Tucson Audubon Society and called The Paton Center for Hummingbirds).

They nest at the Paton House and visit the feeders every 15 to 20 minutes of so. A few hang around all year, but more show up for the summer. It is sometimes found in the Santa Ana,  Huachuca, and Chiricahua Mountains. But The Paton House is almost a sure bet.

Violet Crowned Hummingbird

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Rufous Hummingbird

Other than the Ruby Throated Hummingbird whose ranges is the entire Eastern half of the US and lower Canada, the Rufous would be the next most widespread. At varying points during the year Rufous can be found from Alaska to Central America, from California to Florida, with occasional sightings in the mid-Atlantic states. 

Rufous is one of the more aggressive hummingbirds. I've watched one spend his entire day chasing other hummers away from a particular feeder -- rarely find time for feeding himself.

The male is especially attractive:

Rufous Hummingbird protecting his feeder from a Black Chinned Hummingbird

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Plain Capped Starthroat

The Plain Capped Starthroat is another large hummingbird with the longest bill of any hummer in North America. This is a very rare bird to the US. This year only two locations have been reported, Madera Canyon (Santa Rita Mountains) and Patagonia (along the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek). Last year it was seen in Ash Canyon (Huachuca Mountains). A few years ago there was one at Agua Caliente, a regional park in the NE corner of Tucson. There have been no reports of sightings in any other US state.

Plain Capped Starthroat

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Magnificent Hummingbird

The Magnificent Hummingbird breeds in Southwestern Texas, Southwestern New Mexico, and Southeastern Arizona. It winters in Southern Mexico and Central America. The most reliable place in the US for this very large (5 1/4 inch) hummer is Beatty's Orchard in Miller Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, Arizona. It can be found daily from June through September. The feeders in Ramsey Canyon and Ash Canyon often get the Magnificent as well. And, occasionally it will also show up in Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains and Portal in the Chiricahua Mountains. 

Magnificent Hummingbird

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Lucifer Hummingbird

The Lucifer Hummingbird is rare to the US, only found in Western Texas and Southeast Arizona. However, it is a regular at The Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast in the Huachuca Mountains of Southeast Arizona. He remains most of the summer. This year there were up to 20 of them hitting the hummingbird feeders each day at Mary Jo's B&B. So if that's the one you want to see, that's the best place in the US.

Lucifer Hummingbird

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Costa's Hummingbird

Costa's Hummingbird breeds in Southern California and Southern Arizona, wintering along the West Coast of Mexico. We do find some that reside in Southern Arizona, so it is not unusual to spot one here during the winter.

Costa's Hummingbird

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Calliope Hummingbird

The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird in North America. The Calliope breeds in the Northwest US and Canada, wintering in Southern Mexico. It's quite a migration for this little guy, so he stops for a month or so in Southern Arizona.

Calliope Hummingbird

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Broad Tailed Hummingbird

The Broad Tailed Hummingbird breeds during the summer in seven interior western states: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming. It winters in Mexico and Central America.

It is very similar in plumage to the Ruby Throat but since the two don't overlap in range, easy to identify.

Broad Tailed Hummingbird

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Broad Billed Hummingbird

This beautiful little red billed hummer is another hummer pretty much restricted to Southeastern Arizona with occasional reports out of Texas and New Mexico. We see them here at The Azure Gate most days.

Broad Billed Hummingbird

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Blue Throated Hummingbird

The Blue Throated Hummingbird is one of the largest of the Hummers that come to the US. And, although there have been rare sightings in several southwestern states, it is essentially only found in the southeastern part of Arizona. In particular if you wanted to find one, Portal in the Chiricahua Mountains is the most reliable spot -- even year round. Other than the Chiricahuas, Beatty's Orchard in Miller Canyon seems to attract a few every year.

Blue Throated Hummingbird

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Black Chinned Hummingbird

The Black Chinned Hummingbird's normal range in the summer is essentially the Western United States excluding Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. It winters along the Mexican and Central American west coast. 

The Black Chinned is abundant in its range. So you find one, you find many.

Black Chinned Hummingbird

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Berylline Hummingbird

Next up the very rare Berylline Hummingbird. This is not seen -- or at least reported every year. I've come across them in Miller Canyon and Madera Canyon. There have been a few reports over the years from Texas, but it's most likely spot in the US is the Huachuca and Santa Rita Mountains of Southern Arizona.

Female Berylline Hummingbird

Friday, October 9, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Anna's Hummingbird

The Anna's Hummingbird is found along the West Coast of Oregon and California, but seems to like the interior part of Southern Arizona as well. We have Anna's year round. They nest here between October and April. It is our most common hummingbird at The Azure Gate.

Anna's Hummingbird

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hummingbirds of Southern Arizona: Allen's

The hummingbird season is pretty much over, still a few strays, but most just our year round hummers (Anna's and Broad Billed).

So I though for the next 15 days, I'd show one of the 15 hummingbird species that with luck and persistence can be found here during the Hummingbird Season.

Starting with Allen's. Allen's very closely resembles Rufous, especially the females. Normally it is found on West Coast of California during the summer and winters in south central Mexico. But for a brief period in late summer Allen's can be found in Southern Arizona.

The Male Allen's has a green head and back as seen in the following photo:

Allen's Hummingbird

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Bobcat Fast Asleep

I was looking through some of my old photos and came across this little series of a Bobcat that I found fast asleep in our Flower BED, four years ago.

This all took place in the courtyard of our Catalina Guest House. I was up and wandering around our five acres early one morning and happened to look into the courtyard of the Catalina. This is what I saw:

Being excited as always when I see a Bobcat, I went and got my camera, took the above photo, then went to the other side of the courtyard for a different angle. There he was, still fast asleep in the Flower Bed. What better place? An actual bed. I took several photos.

Using my 100-400 zoom allowed me to get closeups too:

It was a nice little experience, captured in photos.