Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Yellow Warbler

And last but not least a Yellow Warbler. Maybe it symbolizes a "bright" future in the coming year.

Photo taken on Mount Lemmon.

Yellow Warbler

Friday, December 30, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Western Screech Owl

Owls make wonderful photographs. Here is a Western Screech Owl that is so camouflaged that it is almost a "hidden picture." It was taken at San Pedro River in a huge 200 year old cottonwood tree:

Western Screech Owl

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Western Bluebird

Another very colorful bird that could easily be a "Best Photo" every year:

Western Bluebird

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Vermillion Flycatcher

The Vermillion Flycatcher is so photogenic that it seems as though every year it is one of my best. This one taken at Agua Caliente about four miles from us:

Vermillion Flycatcher

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Summer Tanager

Here is a photo of a Summer Tanager that I like taken at Huachuca Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains. Again it is the green background the lets the brilliant red color of the bird stand out:

Summer Tanager

Monday, December 26, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Sora

Soras are one of those secretive birds that are heard but seldom seen. And usually, if seen, not for long. Yet, here again at Sweetwater Wetlands, an opportunity to "sneak-up" on this little girl un-noticed provided several wonderful photos. I love the green water as a background for the bird:


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Snowy and Great Egret

Another wonderful photo from Sweetwater Wetlands. This time a Great Egret and Snowy Egret landing in the same leafless tree:

Great Egret and Snowy Egret

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Scissor Tailed Flycatcher

Here is a rarity to Arizona, whose normal territory is Texas in the US. It is quite an attractive bird with its long "scissor-like" tail.  I was very pleased with the photo, especially how the out-of-focus green background made the bird stand out:

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher

Friday, December 23, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Rufous Capped Warbler

The Rufous Capped Warbler is another rare visitor to the US. When it comes, it comes in much smaller numbers than the Red Faced Warbler. There are just four locations where it has been seen over the years: Hunter Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains, Florida Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains, and Pena Blanca Canyon and Pena Blanca Lake in the Coronado National Forest (all not more than 40 miles from the US/Mexico border.

This photo was taken at Pena Blanca Lake:

Rufous Capped Warbler

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Red Winged Blackbird

The Red Winged Blackbird can be found throughout the lower 48 states year round -- and often in flocks of a hundred or more. Yet, here is one in my list of best photos. I think it is the setting: he's sitting on a downed cattail leaf just above the water and showing off the red on both wings; he's looking directly at me and doesn't seem afraid. You be the judge:

Red Winged Blackbird

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Red Faced Warbler

The Red Faced Warbler is an uncommon warbler to the United States typically only found in Southern Arizona, though occasional reports from the Southwestern Mountains of New Mexico. Although, uncommon, they often frequent the same location each year making them "relatively" easy to find. Two of those places are Incinerator Ridge and Marshall Gulch on Mount Lemmon. This one, taken at Incinerator Ridge, seemed to want his photo taken:

Red Faced Warbler

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Raccoon

I headed out to Sweetwater Wetlands early one morning this past summer hoping to find the Bobcat family. Instead, I found a Raccoon family. And, they surely didn't disappoint. I took a great many photos. I have included two of them here, the first of which is actually my favorite photo of 2016. The mother and her two kits were all precariously "out on a limb," all looking directly at me, all through a sea of green willow leaves, and all in perfect focus. Couldn't have asked for a better photo:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Prothonotary Warbler

Typically only found east of the Missouri River, this Prothonotary Warbler came into Arizona near Tanque Verde Wash about four miles from us. He has stains on his face from the mulberry tree he was in:

Prothonotary Warbler

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Pronghorn

I think Pronghorn are beautiful. They often seem like they are wear a tuxedo. This male was found in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area just north of Sonoita, Arizona:


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Ornate Box Turtle

This photo is included not so much for the "quality" of the photo as it is for the rarity of the animal. The Ornate Box Turtle is listed as "Near Threatened" and to be reported when seen and not disturbed. I found it on a back road in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Arizona.

Ornate Box Turtle

Friday, December 16, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Olive Warbler

The Olive Warbler is  only found in southeast Arizona (and Northern Mexico) -- and only above 7,000 feet, and only in Ponderosa Pine trees. So it is a more difficult little bird to find and photograph. I got two photos this year that I liked quite a bit and couldn't decide which I liked better. I find it interesting that it is called an "Olive" Warbler when there is no olive color on the bird whatsoever. I wish I could rename it a Butterscotch Hooded Warbler. Anyway, here are both photos:

Olive Warbler in Ponderosa Pine

Olive Warbler in Ponderosa Pine

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Lucy's Warbler

This Lucy's Warbler wanted to show me the worm he had caught. Lucy's is the smallest of the warbler family. It has a chestnut rump (which is not always visible) which she wanted to show me as well:

Lucy's Warbler with Worm

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Hooded Oriole

A pair of Hooded Orioles nested here at The Azure Gate Bed and Breakfast this year. And here is a juvenile male that resulted. He's sitting on a Fan Palm which is one of the Hooded Oriole's favorite resting spots:

Juvenile Male Hooded Oriole

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Grey Hawk

The Grey Hawk is rare visitor to the United States. Typically only found close to the US/Mexico boarder in southeast Arizona and the extreme southern tip of Texas. Over the years I have photographed a few. Here is one from this year that I particularly like:

Grey Hawk

Monday, December 12, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Green Heron

This was an even more difficult choice. Sweetwater Wetlands is a very good place to search for the elusive little Green Heron. And while I don't find one every time I visit there, I've done so enough to get some very nice photos. I'll let you be the judge which is "the best."

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Grace's Warbler

Up next is Grace's Warbler, a small warbler that lives primarily above 7,000 feet in the tops of ponderosa pines. As such it is not an easy find -- nor an easy photograph. I couldn't decide between two photos I took this year of a Grace's on Mount Lemmon. In the first, the Grace's is nestled in a Ponderosa pine cluster and I love how the yellow breast shines through the cluster. In the second photo the Grace's is perched out in the open (again on a ponderosa pine branch) and I was able to get very fine detail. So here are both:

Grace's Warbler

Grace's Warbler

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Elegant Trogon

The Elegant Trogon is a prized bird from Mexico and Central America that in the past few years has extended its yearly range into the southernmost mountains of Arizona. Found near mountain stream beds containing Sycamore Trees, it is a large colorful bird that "barks" like a seal. This one I photographed in what I believe is the most reliable place to find one --- Huachuca Canyon inside Fort Huachuca.

Male Elegant Trogon

Friday, December 9, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Cooper's Hawk

The Cooper's Hawk is commonly seen here at The Azure Gate --- as is a pile of dove or quail feathers under one of our trees. This photo, however, was taken in Tanque Verde wash as Christine and I traversed the water filled wash:

Adult Cooper's Hawk

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Common Merganser

The Common Merganser is naturally -- uncommon to Southern Arizona yet occasionally found during the winter months. This one I photographed appropriately enough at Christine's "Alternate Universe." There was no water for miles, yet here a water bird usually only found in relatively deep water which enables it to dive for food. 

Male Common Merganser in non-breeding plumage

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Cardinal

Cardinals are relatively common at The Azure Gate. This photo, however, was taken in Florida Canyon. What I liked about it was the bright red color of the male Cardinal amidst the bright green foliage in the woodlands. And he was singing away as I photographed him:

Male Cardinal

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Buff Breasted Flycatcher

Here a rare to the US Buff Breasted Flycatcher taken near Rose Canyon Lake on Mount Lemmon.

Buff Breasted Flycatcher

Monday, December 5, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Brown Crested Flycatcher

Next a Brown Crested Flycatcher taken along the Santa Cruz River just east of Tumacacori:

Brown Crested Flycatcher

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Bobcat

And one final Bobcat again from Sweetwater Wetlands:


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Bobcat

I could probably have had a whole month of Bobcat photos. Here's one more of the two sibling Bobcats playing:

Bobcat Siblings

Friday, December 2, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Bobcat

Here two sibling Bobcats playing at Sweetwater Wetlands:

Bobcat Siblings Playing

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Bobcat

Another best Bobcat taken here at The Azure Gate:

Bobcat sitting on top of one of our walls

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Bobcat

Bobcats once again take up several slots in my best photos of the year. Something about them -- no matter how often seen -- is exciting. This photo taken here at The Azure Gate B&B:


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher

Next up a Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher taken in Saguaro National Park:

Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher

Monday, November 28, 2016

Best Wildlife Photos of 2016: American Kestrel

With the Thanksgiving Holiday over, I have a bit of a break and will try to catch up on my posts. So starting today, and for the rest of the year, it will be my best (or favorite) photos taken this year. I'll do this alphabetically starting with an American Kestrel sitting on top of a Palm tree that had lost its top during the cold January (2016) winter. The photo was taken in what Christine calls "The Alternate Universe," or, on the map Santa Cruz Flats.

American Kestrel

Friday, November 18, 2016

Catching Up: Orange Crowned Warbler

The Orange Crowned Warbler is one of the few warblers that can be found year round in Southern Arizona. 

Once interesting thing about the Orange Crowned Warbler is that the "orange crown" is seldom seen. But no so it this particular photo. It is as if he wanted to make sure I knew who he was:

Orange Crowned Warbler

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Catching Up: Vermillion Flycatcher

The Vermillion Flycatcher is a gorgeous bird from Southern Arizona. Often easy to find due to its bright red color and constant sallying about. While the male gets most of the attention, the female is quite beautiful in its own right:

Female Vermillion Flycatcher

Monday, November 14, 2016

Catching Up: Lazuli Bunting

The Lazuli Bunting male is quite attractive, while the female is rather drab. It is fairly common in brushy habitats not too far from water. Here are photos of a female and a male taken at Arivaca Cienegas in Southern Arizona:

Lazuli Bunting Female

Lazuli Bunting Male

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Catching Up: Lark Sparrow

The Lark Sparrow is fairly common throughout the Western United States. Although most sparrows get "classified" as LBBs (little brown birds), the Lark Sparrow actually is quite striking in its head pattern. It is common in open grassy areas with scattered trees usually foraging in the grasses.

Lark Sparrow

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Catching Up: Loggerhead Shrike

The Loggerhead Shrike is a fascinating bird. It is often seen perched along dirt roads on posts, wires, and scrub brush.  It is so focused it is sometimes approachable. 

It forages from those perches swooping down to capture its prey on (or near) the ground. Prey includes large insects, lizards, birds, and rodents.

Once it captures its prey it often impales it on a barbed wire fence to eat (or store).

Loggerhead Shrike

Catching Up: Green Tailed Towhee

Although not as colorful as the Spotted Towhee, the Green Tailed Towhee has a more subtle coloration of greens yellow, gray, white, and rufous; in its own way, very beautiful. It is relatively common, though not abundant. It forages in dense shrubs looking mainly for seeds.

Green Tailed Towhee

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Catching Up: Common Tern

Terns aren't exactly "common" in Southern Arizona. Yet occasionally one stops at one of Southern Arizona's watering holes on their way south for the winter. Usually, it is the Elegant, Forsters, and Common Terns that stop by.

Here -- again, not a great photo -- but evidence of the Common Tern's presence:

Common Tern

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Catching Up: Common Ground Dove

We have more Mourning and White Winged Doves on our property than you can count. And, though we don't see the Eurasian Collard Dove here on our property, there are several places in Southern Arizona where they hang out. Inca Doves are not abundant, and unfortunately their numbers are declining.  We see them only occasionally. Rarer to the US are the Ruddy Ground Dove and the Common Ground Dove. Note: I'm often puzzled by the use of the word "Common" in a name for a bird that is decidedly "uncommon." But ....

Nonetheless, I did come across a Common Ground Dove a few weeks ago. Not a great photo, but an identifying one:

Common Ground Dove

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Catching Up: Black Bellied Whistling Duck

Let me start by saying this is obviously not a great photo. I'm showing it for a couple of reasons. First, sometimes it is very difficult to photograph water birds because they may be too far out in the water for a nice detailed shot. Second, sometimes water birds show up in water treatment plants -- not the most beautiful setting, but worthy of note for rare birds.

Such is the case with the Black Bellied Whistling Duck which is an uncommon visitor to the United States (It is primarily found in southeast Texas and southeast Arizona). In Arizona it is rarely found more than 50 miles from the US/Mexico border.

Black Bellied Whistling Duck