Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mount Lemmon after the Fire: Part III

Christine and I were on Incinerator Ridge for about an hour and a half. And almost the entire time we could hear two Ravens squawking. At one point one of the Ravens was creating sounds neither of us have heard before. One of the calls was very low in pitch so I couldn't hear it at all. Another was a knock-knock-knock that at first I thought was a woodpecker. Christine thinks that it was a young Raven who couldn't find or hear his (her) parents because it seemed distressed. We watched the young bird as it made several different calls. Eventually the mother came around and the two flew off together.

After during a little research on the subject, fifteen to 30 categories of vocalization have been recorded for this species, most of which are used for social interaction. Calls recorded include alarm calls, chase calls, and flight calls. The species has a distinctive, deep, resonant prruk-prruk-prruk call, which to experienced listeners is unlike that of any other corvid. Its very wide and complex vocabulary includes a high, knocking toc-toc-toc, a dry, grating kraa, a low guttural rattle and some calls of an almost musical nature. So I guess what we heard was normal -- even though some of those calls we had never heard before.

Here is a photo of that young Raven:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mount Lemmon after the Fire - Part II

Mount Lemmon is still closed to camp fires, although that should change soon because we are now in our Monsoon Season and it is getting plenty of rain.

Christine and I came across a singing Hermit Thrush. It was a lovely serenade that lasted several minutes. Here are a couple of those Hermit Thrush photos I took:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mount Lemmon after the Fire

Mount Lemmon has been closed for the past couple of weeks to fight the Burro Fire which has burned nearly 28,000 acres. It reopened on Friday to the general public so Christine and I headed up to hike Incinerator Ridge and see what birds were still hanging around.

While not particularly birdie, we did come across some birds: red faced warblers, hermit thrush, mountain chickadee, bridled titmouse, white breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, and a couple of ravens. Oh yes, and of course, one of the most common of birds on Mount Lemmon, the yellow eyed junco.

Here are a couple of Red Faced Warbler photos I took:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saint Gertrudis Lane, Tumacacori Part VII

And finally some miscellaneous photos from the Santa Cruz River:

Summer Tanager Male

Vermillion Flycatcher Female

Broad Billed Hummingbird Female
 As I was standing on the near side of the river I noticed a bird sitting in a tree on the other side. I took a photo only to realize after taking the photo is was "just" a dove -- which we have hundreds of at any point in time here on our property. However, when I uploaded the photo from my camera I noticed that it was actually an Inca Dove -- as opposed to a Mourning Dove or White Winged Dove. So I was pleasantly surprised. I realized that there was something compelling me to take the photo even though I didn't know what it was at the time:

Inca Dove

And finally, a bird flew into one of the trees along the river giving me less that a second to snap the photo. Usually I take the photo first and identify it second. The problem was he was gone before I could identify it. Again, it wasn't until I got home and uploaded the photos that I realized what I had:

Blue Grosbeak Male

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Saint Gertrudis Lane, Tumacacori Part VI

Further down the Santa Cruz River at Rio Rico, the pond adjacent to the river turned up a pair of Black Bellied Whistling Ducks:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Saint Gertrudis Lane, Tumacacori Part V

Also present and available for photographing were a couple of Lucy's Warblers:

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Saint Gertrudis Lane, Tumacacori Part IV

What excited me the most was finding two (!) Yellow Breasted Chats.

Usually very secretive and seldom seen, yet at 6:00 am there was a gorgeous male singing away atop a tree near the river:

Then about 30 minutes later I found a second Yellow Breasted Chat  down low in the brush -- again along the Santa Cruz River:

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Saint Gertrudis Lane, Tumacacori Part III

While there had been reports of Thick Billed Kingbirds, I only found some Cassin's:

Friday, July 7, 2017

Saint Gertrudis Lane, Tumacacori Part II

Even though we have Cardinals here at The Azure Gate, they are so beautiful it's hard to pass up a photo:

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Saint Gertrudis Lane, Tumacacori

Yesterday I didn't need to make breakfast for anyone -- and no contractors were coming -- so just before dawn I headed down to Tumacacori to see what I could find along the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail where there is usually moving water in the Santa Cruz River.  It was very good birding, especially given that our temperatures have been over 100 degrees since late May.

For the next few days I will show some of those photos, starting with a young Bewick's Wren:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Adventure in Birding Molino Basin Campground - Surprise

This morning Christine and I birded Molino Canyon Campground which is five miles up Mount Lemmon. 

While not abundantly birdie (the temperature was in the 90's) we did find a family of Canyon Towhees. Photographing birds is sometimes a challenge and you are never absolutely sure of a photo until you upload it into the computer. Occasionally, I'll get a good photo of a bird I couldn't really identify when I saw it (moving too fast and gone in a flash).

And, occasionally there will be something else in the photo I didn't see at all. Such is the case this morning with the Canyon Towhees. If you look closely you'll see something else:

Canyon Towhee
 Since I didn't see it while I was there, I zoomed in with my computer to get this:

Lined Coachwhip
Even when I saw the snake in the photo I didn't see his face immediately. It was only after a couple of minutes that I saw him looking directly at me.

Looking still closer it occurs to me that there might be something else (more sinister) going on. There were several birds in this particular tree. The male and female Canyon Towhees were moving around in the tree quite rapidly which was not their usual behavior. And no matter how close I got to the tree they never left the tree during the 10 minutes I was watching.

As I look more closely at the second photo it seems possible that the snake is actually sitting in a nest.  Is it the Canyon Towhee's nest? Did the snake eat a Canyon Towhee chick or egg. May never know but it certainly seems possible.

Lot's of fun today!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

On a Hot Summer Day in Tucson

First, just an interesting note. This morning I looked to see who was visiting our blog today: US and Canada of course; but also Brazil, Australia, Philippines, Pakistan, Russia, Czechia, Germany, France, UK, and Ireland -- and it's not even 7:00 am yet.

It's been a very busy year here at The Azure Gate. We're now in our summer months and yet business is still high. During the summer we get more guests from around the world. Last week we had someone from Taiwan (as I mentioned earlier), this week a couple from Qatar, our next arriving guests are from Switzerland; early next month a couple from Germany, then two weeks later returning guests from England.

We've been having record heat here the past week. So not much to report in terms of birding excursions. In fact, ABA Birding News has had very few posts this past week. Part of it is that birds are in hiding during the heat of the day -- and part of it is that birders are in hiding during the heat of the day.

Yet, life goes on here at The Azure Gate. Yesterday morning around 5:30 I walked out our bathroom door to swim and there at my feet was a beautiful Desert Kingsnake. I didn't have my camera with me, so here is an old photo to give you a picture of one:

Desert Kingsnake
After my swim I looked around for him but didn't see him. Then after getting dressed and on my way over to the office I saw what I thought was him crossing the driveway. As I got closer I realized in was a different snake -- a Sonoran Gopher Snake. I grabbed my camera but couldn't get a good photo before he hid in Christmas and Prickly Pear Cactus. Here is a previous photo to show what he looks like:

Sonoran Gopher Snake
As I returned to the office with my camera, I noticed a beautiful Broad Billed Hummingbird sitting in the big Palo Verde Tree outside the office. So I did get that photo:

Broad Billed Hummingbird
Thinking this was a pretty good start to the day I left my camera out where I could get at it quickly if I needed. During the next hour or so I got the following photos:

Black Tailed Jackrabbit

Male Cardinal

Chihuahuan Spotted Whiptail

Not bad for a day where the temperature reached 120 degrees. And I didn't have to go up Mount Lemmon (where it is 30 degrees cooler) to get any of these photos.

Now, an update. That was yesterday. After I wrote this post this morning I made breakfast for Christine and me. Just as we sat down outside to eat our resident Cooper's Hawk came in and sat at one of our bird baths. He was there for about 30 minutes; first resting, then bathing, then resting again. This is a fairly common occurrence which fortunately guests often get to see. In fact it happens frequently enough that I no longer rush to get my camera. I just sit quietly and watch so as not to disturb him.

We do love the wildlife here. (As do our guests from the US and from around the world).

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Wild Day at The Azure Gate

We have a Wildlife Photographer here from Taiwan (our first guests from Taiwan. It marks the 30th country we have had stay with us). 

He got up early to go looking for birds to photograph. He returned just in time to see a large male Javelina rolling around in the mud:



Then around 6:00 pm, while sitting in the office, our little Bobcat came around. First, she peaked in the door to see what we were doing, then -- as she has before -- jumped up on the wall by the office, walked along the wall, then jumped up on the balcony outside Christine's studio. And there she laid down, cleaned herself, and took a nap. She was there for well over an hour:


We also have a very nice mother and daughter from Oregon staying with us. They got to see and photograph the Bobcat.

And our guest from Taiwan was able to get photos of the Bobcat and the Javelina.

So it was a "Wild Day" at The Azure Gate. Our guest from Taiwan must think it happens daily in America.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Today at The Azure Gate

We have had several nesting Anna's Hummingbirds this year, so there are several immature birds "humming" around. Here's a nice close up of a young male Anna's:

Young Male Anna's Hummingbird

And a nice close up of a male Cardinal:


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sweetwater Wetlands

Tried to beat the heat and got over to Sweetwater Wetlands before 6:00 am. Nothing too unusual, although there was a Tropical Kingbird there (along with some Western Kingbirds).

The Tropical Kingbird is one of those rare birds to the United States; the extreme Southeast portion of Arizona the only place in the US. What's unusual is that they are an easier find because they come in larger numbers - like the dozen or so at Santa Cruz Flats the other day.

Here are a few photos from Sweetwater, starting with the Tropical Kingbird:

Tropical Kingbird

Western Kingbird

Vermillion Flycatcher

Bell's Vireo


Red Winged Blackbird