Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Animal Signs: Bald Eagle

Next up in our "Animal Signs" series is a Bald Eagle perching on a sign:

Bald Eagle

Monday, June 27, 2016

Animal Signs: Wild Turkey

Today we start a new series: Animal Signs.

Okay, this series is about man made signs that animals (and birds) use for a variety of reasons.

To start it off, here is a Wild Turkey:

Wild Turkey

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher

Had a chance yesterday to go looking for the Scissor Tailed Flycatcher that's been seen along Moson Road in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

The STF is summer visitor to semi-open country ranches and farmlands with scattered trees in Texas and Oklahoma, with rare sightings elsewhere. And such is the case with this one here in Arizona. It is often seen resting on roadside fences and wires.  In fact, when I first spotted him he was sitting on a barbed wire fence along with three Western Kingbirds. 

As such it was hard to distinguish it from them at first. Only until it flew away showing off its salmon color under its wings and the long tail streamers flaring wide behind it was I sure of its identity. 

It feeds most on insects including grasshoppers, beetles, wasps, bees, bugs, flies, caterpillars, and moths. It typically perches in trees, fence posts, or shrubs striking out to capture prey that flies by. It sometimes will hover near the ground and pick up insects. 

Here are several photos showing the different perches it used yesterday:

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher on Fence with Western Kingbirds

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher on Fence Post

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher on Shrub near the Ground

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher in Cypress Tree

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Birds with Fish: Snowy Egret

Finally (in this series) the Snowy Egret -- also taken at Sweetwater Wetlands:

Snowy Egret with Fish

Snowy Egret with Fish

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Birds with Fish: Green Heron

Next up the elusive Green Heron. Obviously, not quite so elusive at Sweetwater Wetlands where the following two photos were taken:

Green Heron with Fish

Green Heron with Fish

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Birds with Fish: Great Egret

Next up, the Great Egret. The first photo was taken at Sweetwater Wetlands. The Second photo from Agua Caliente Regional Park in Tucson:

Great Egret with Fish

Great Egret with Fish

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Birds with Fish: Great Blue Heron

Welcome Barbados! Barbados is now the 128th country to visit this blog. How nice!

Now, continuing my series on Birds with Fish, we come to the Great Blue Heron. While not the best photo (the weed bed is too distracting), here is a Great Blue Heron with an enormous fish. How he got that down is beyond me -- but he did:

Great Blue Heron

Friday, June 17, 2016

Birds with Fish: Brown Pelican

A curious bird is the Pelican
His beak can hold more than his belly can
He can take in his beak, enough food for a week
And I'm darned if I know how the helican.

Here's a Brown Pelican taking in a fish from Lakeside Park in Tucson:

Brown Pelican

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Birds with Fish: Black Crowned Night Heron

Up next in the series, the Black Crowned Night Heron. Lakeside Park is probably the most reliable place in Southern Arizona to find the BCNH. 

Here a Black Crowned Night Heron decides to show me his catch:

Black Crowned Night Heron

Monday, June 13, 2016

Birds with Fish: Bald Eagle

Back on April 29th I started a series on Birds with Fish (having just completed a series on Birds Eating Bugs). That series was interrupted by several birding trips yielding good photos. Now, it's June 13th, no more scheduled birding trips for another 10 days, so I'll try to finish the Birds with Fish series.

Today's photo comes from the Skagit River in the Washington State Cascade Mountains. The Skagit River is a favorite spawning ground for King (Chinook), Red (Sockeye), Silver (Coho), Pink (Humpy), and Chum (Dog) salmon. It is also a major spawning ground for Steelhead Trout.

With such a feast available, it is a favorite dining spot for Bald Eagles. Between November and January, 500-600 Bald Eagles live along its banks, feeding on the salmon once the salmon die.

Here is an adult Bald Eagle sitting on a 30ish pound salmon (probably a King).

Bald Eagle with Salmon on Skagit River, Washington

Friday, June 10, 2016

Florida Canyon Birding

Madera Canyon is well known, well birded, well hiked, and well picnicked. Just prior to getting to Madera Canyon there is turn-off on to a dirt road that goes about three miles into Florida Canyon. Florida canyon, though not as big, not as many trails often gets birds that Madera Canyon doesn't -- or at least not on a regular basis. Rufous Capped Warblers live year round in Florida Canyon but have never been reported in Madera Canyon which is less than a mile away as the crow (or warble) flies. Black Capped Gnatcatchers are also often present in Florida Canyon.

A trip through Box Canyon to both Florida Canyon and Madera Canyon produced some nice results last week:

Black Headed Grosbeak Male

Blue Grosbeak Male

Scott's Oriole Female

Varied Bunting

Western Meadowlark

Northern Shrike

White Tailed Deer

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Still More From Agua Caliente

And just a few more photos from the usually productive Agua Caliente here in Tucson.

Anna's Hummingbird Female

Bell's Vireo with Bug

Lucy's Warbler Showing Distinctive Crown Patch

Vermillion Flycatcher Male

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Agua Caliente: Vermillion Flycatcher

One of the most reliable places to find the gorgeous Vermillion Flycatcher is Agua Caliente. They are just always present. Here are a few photos taken this past week at Agua Caliente of this beautiful photographable bird:

Male and Female




Sunday, June 5, 2016

More from Agua Caliente

More from my birding Agua Caliente:

Lucy's Warbler Singing

Lucy's Warbler with Worm

Black Tailed Gnatcatcher

Broad Billed Hummingbird drinking from Flowering Cholla

Bobcat Streaking By

Roadrunner with Desert Spiny Lizard

Friday, June 3, 2016

Agua Caliente - Unusual MacGillivray's Warbler

We have reached our "off-season" at The Azure Gate. So, I had a couple of days without having to make breakfast for guests. A couple of those mornings I went over to Agua Caliente (about four miles from us). On one of the mornings I photographed what looked like a MacGillivray's Warbler except that there weren't any white eye arcs. So, I hit the books and found that it looked much like a Mourning Warbler. Yet, there have only been two reported sightings of Mourning Warblers in Arizona and the last was in 1998 along the San Pedro River. 

I've never thought I had much chance winning the lottery, so it seemed unlikely that it was a Mourning Warbler.  I sent the photos to Andrew Core at the Audubon Rare Alert site who sent the photos to Mark Stevenson and a few others. The conclusion is an "unusual" MacGillivray's Warbler -- which I agree with.

You'll note in the photos the lack of pronounced white eye arcs (usually the first thing you see when you see a normal MacGillivray's):

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bobcat Stalking our Bunnies

Our "resident" Bobcat has been quite busy lately. I watched the other day this Bobcat try to sneak up on a Desert Cottontail -- no luck with this one, though I'm sure he gets his share.