Monday, May 27, 2019

Javelinas at The Azure Gate

Having five acres gives us a chance to see a little more "back yard" wildlife. 

The Javalinas are one such thing of the wild. They have been coming around a little more often, though usually at night. I always know when they have been here because they invariably knock over one of the bird baths. They could easily reach the water without knocking it over ... but the bird bath usually ends up upside-down on the ground with no water for anyone to drink.

They also make a soft bed by digging in the dirt. There are three places where they seem to like to bed down.

Last week they chewed into an irrigation line and we ended up with a mud bath. I've yet to get that fixed so they keep enjoying it.

A couple of days ago they tore into a bird seed block and chewed half of it leaving seeds and wrapping paper all over the place. And occasionally they dig up a plant (often a young agave) and eat the roots.

Yesterday morning five Javelinas came around a little after dawn. Again knocking over the bird bath and getting into a little mischief. Here are some photos from yesterday.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Red Faced Warbler

Here is infomation about the Red Faced Warbler from my book:  Warblers of Arizona

Common Name:Red Faced Warbler
Scientific Name:Cardellina rubrifrons
Conservation Status: Least Concern, population trends are unknown; Red Faced Warblers are sensitive to disturbance during breeding; global estimates are 700,000
Size:5.5 inches

Description: red face, chin, throat, and upper belly; black cap that extends down sides of head; short thick dark bill; single white wing bar; pale white rump; whitish belly and undertail coverts; long gray tail 
Male/Female:nearly identical; female may have a slightly paler face
Range:Southeast Arizona/New Mexico to Honduras
Migration:summers in Arizona and Mexico, winters in Central America
Season for Arizona:April through September
Habitat:higher elevation (6400 to 9000 feet) pine-oak forests; shaded canyons near water
Community Behavior:solitary or with other Red Faced Warblers or Painted Redstarts
Feeding Behavior:gleans insects primarily from tips of mid-tree (deciduous and confir) branches hopping quickly from branch to branch; will sally out to snatch flies
Diet:forages mostly on terrestrial invertebrates including spiders, ants, and caterpillars;
Nesting Behavior:nests in small hole in ground beneath logs or plants; open cup of bark, leaves, or pine needles lined with grass and hair; 3-4 pinkish-white eggs with fine brown speckles; incubation is 13-15 days; nestling is 11-13 days; both parents feed the young
Where to Find in Southern Arizona: Mount Lemmon especially Upper Sabino Canyon Trail, Incinerator Ridge, Marshall Gulch, and Bear Wallow; also Huachuca Canyon, Madera Canyon, Miller Canyon; this is a priority find for out-of-state birders
Comments:either sex solicits copulations; both male and female quiver their wings during courtship with the male showing off its white rump patch; may have multiple partners during the breeding season

Now some photos from Mount Lemmon I have taken in the past two weeks:

Friday, May 17, 2019

Mule Deer Visits The Azure Gate

We have lived in other places where deer occasionally visit our backyard. But this was the first time we have seen a Mule Deer in our backyard here in Tucson.

I was sitting at my desk when I looked out the front window and saw an adult female Mule Deer standing in the middle of our driveway. I quickly took a couple of photos through the window. Then she began wandering around our property giving me photo op at every turn.

Here are a few of those photos:

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Azure Gate Snakes

It's that time of year when we start seeing snakes again.

Over the years we have seen 10 different species of snakes on our property. It's not a daily occurrence. We see a Desert Kingsnake 7 or 8 times a year. We see a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake four or five times a year. They are the most common. We see a Sonoran Gopher Snake a couple times a year and then occasionally Black Racers, Sonoran Coachwhip, Bullsnake, Sonoran Shovel-Nose Snake, Western Long-Nose Snake, and Sonoran Mountain Snake.

Last week we had a Desert Kingsnake in the area around our pool. He was after a clutch of Quail eggs that were in a Red Cane Yucca pot on the upper level of our oasis. It took him quite a while to figure out how to get there. In the meantime, the mother Quail was in a nearby tree squawking. The eggs had just hatched and the baby chicks were scurrying around in the pot trying to figure out what to do. The Kingsnake (fortunately for the baby Quail) finally gave up.

Also last week a large Western Diamondback Rattlesnake paid us a visit. (Large meaning 5 foot in length and weighing in the neighborhood of 6 pounds). When first seen he was drinking water from a bird bath. He then "slithered" under a porch chair and became agitated as more of our guests came by for looks and photos. (Agitated meaning rapidly moving his upper body back and forth while rattling). Christine calmly talked to the rattler and he eventually calmed down and slithered off to a spot under one of our pomegranate trees. After everyone got their photos I suggested that we let him be. I checked back 30 minutes later and he was gone.

Desert Kingsnake

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Monday, May 13, 2019

Madera Canyon, Arizona

There are some wonderful trails in Madera Canyon. One we like is to start at the Proctor Picnic site and trailhead then hike along the creek to White House, the Main Madera Canyon Picnic Site, and finally the Amphitheater (a 3.5 mile hike round trip).

There was still lots of water in the creek. Sycamores, mesquites, oaks, desert broom, and lots of Arizona thistles in bloom throughout.

About half way between Proctor and Whitehouse we heard several Mexican Jays that sounded quite upset. We looked over in that direction and there was a young couple with cameras taking photos. As we approached, they weren't taking photos of the Mexican Jays but of a Bobcat that was in a tree close to a jay's nest. The jays would fly around from branch to branch -- though the Bobcat paid absolutely no attention to them -- never even glanced at them.

As we began chatting with the couple he realized that he had purchased a camera lens from me four or five years ago. I was happy to see them and see that they were still interested in photography -- and evidently become quite good at it.

We didn't hang out there too long. Didn't want to overstay our welcome. The Bobcat probably didn't mind us being there either, but it seemed the most respectful thing to do. 

Here are a few of the photos I took.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Monday, May 6, 2019

Springtime at The Azure Gate Bed and Breakfast - Part IX Blooming

We have other plants around the property also in bloom:

Unidentified bush


Creosote Bush

Palo Verde Tree

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Springtime at The Azure Gate Bed and Breakfast - Part VIII Blooming

Prickly Pear Cactus are starting to Bloom:

As is the Mexican Bird of Paradise

And our Bottle Brush:

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Springtime at The Azure Gate Bed and Breakfast - Part VII Blooming

We have several Pomegranate Trees that are in full bloom:

Pomegranate Blossom