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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Catching UP: Bewick's Wren

Once common throughout most of the United States, the Bewick's Wren has all but disappeared east of the Mississippi River, though still very common in the Southwest.

It's preferred habitat is underbrush in lower elevations of oak and pines, especially streamside.

It forages by climbing and hopping around tree trunks and branches probing into the bark for insects. It will also forage on the ground flipping over leaves and sticks again looking for insects, including beetles, ants, wasps, bugs, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. Will occasionally eat berries or seeds.

Bewick's Wren