Friday, July 28, 2017

Birding Fort Huachuca - Part II

Of course, in addition to birds there is a wide variety of wildlife: black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, coatimundi -- oh, and deer everywhere.

Not to dismiss those as insignificant, I did get a couple of fun photos:

Arizona Tree Squirrel

White Tailed Deer
Note: My latest book entitled, Warblers of Arizona: A Guide to Finding and Photographing Warblers in Southern Arizona, should be arriving any day now. They will also be available through Amazon.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Birding Fort Huachua

First, let me welcome the 131st Country to visit our blog: Malawi. I must admit that I had to look it up to find out exactly where it was -- and some information about it. It is in East Africa bordered by Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. It is about the size of Ohio but Lake Malawi takes up about a third of its area. And while the population of Ohio is about 11 million, the population of Malawi is about 16 million.

As for birding Fort Huachuca:

The Huachuca Mountains have become arguably the best birding spot in Southern Arizona, which is often said to be the best birding in the United States. Within the Huachucas there is Miller Canyon, Carr Canyon, and Ramsey Canyon all providing wonderful birding. There is also both Huachuca Canyon and Garden Canyon within the boundaries of Fort Huachuca. So it does require a pass to get on the post.

Christine and I went out birding last week early in the morning to try to beat the monsoon rains which can pummel the mountains rendering birding impossible.

The monsoons did finally arrive but not before get some nice photos on the way up Garden Canyon:

Blue Grosbeak

Hepatic Tanager

Loggerhead Shrike

Mexican Jay

Sulphur Bellied Flycatcher

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!!