January 22, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

House Finches
House Finches

Strong Desert Winds

I am forced to take a break in the action today as the wind from the north hits 35-40 mph and I am all but blown off the desert knoll I am perched on.

Wind Cancellation
Wind Cancellation

I made the mistake of filling this feeder with seed for the finches right at sunrise this morning. An hour later the wind began to blow… and blow some more. The wind emptied it, and the other platform feeders in just a matter of minutes.

Outdoor Studio
Outdoor Studio

The calm before the storm this morning. I did get to take a few shots before the wind started howling ( pull in the motorhome slides howling and put everything outside inside howling ). The shot above shows my setup for all the bird images I am posting on the blog.

Verdin
Verdin

This Verdin was a newcomer here….

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

…as was this White-crowned Sparrow.

The Watering Hole
The Watering Hole

I did add a watering hole for the birds this week and it is quite popular with everyone but the Gambel’s Quail. Don’t know why, but they walk right past it several times every day and never stop to drink.

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

I started out with just a single Mourning Dove here a month ago, but that number has increased to as many as thirty in here early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

As much as I’d like to keep trying to get some nice hummingbird shots and perhaps lure in other types of hummers …

Bees
Hummingbird Repellent

… the bees have pretty much brought my attempts to do so to a halt. Other than the first hour or so after sunrise they are constantly swarming the sugar water feeders and very effectively deterring the hummingbirds attempts to approach the feeders. Since they are also hovering around me I end up having to remove the feeders for my own protection.

House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant

Male House Finch Variant

House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant

This guy has obviously caught my attention. Apparently, this color variation is not terribly uncommon, especially in the Southwest. From the Cornell Lab:

 “All male House Finches have the same potential for yellow, orange, or red coloration. Researchers who kept House Finches in captivity found that the red plumage was replaced by yellow plumage unless a carotenoid pigment was mixed in with their food during molt. In the wild, three carotenoid pigments found in natural foods give House Finches their color. Beta-carotene produces yellow to orange colors, isocryptoxanthin produces orange colors, and echinenone produces red colors. Yellow House Finches are frequently seen in the southwest and Hawaii where natural foods are low in some of these carotenoids. In the east birds often feed on the high-carotenoid fruits of ornamental plants.”

House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant
House Finch
House Finch

A ” normal” male House Finch.

Gila Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker

Another newcomer here was this male Gila Woodpecker.

Gila Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker

And he was joined by the Mrs. this morning…

Gila Woodpecker Pair
Gila Woodpecker Pair

…though they usually feed at separate feeders.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

And of course, yet more Gambel’s Quail shots.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail
Gambel's Quail
Windblown Gambel’s Quail

A bit disheveled looking as that north wind pretty much blows this guy right off the top of the knoll.

Quail
Evening Gathering

Taken last night around sunset when the quail come in to feast before roosting. Like the doves their numbers have increased from just a single pair early on to as many as twenty-four in here at one time now.

Sunrise
Sunrise

Lastly, a couple of sunrises from the past week, showing the varying colors from day to day. Most mornings, there are no clouds to produce the dramatic sunrises I like to see.

Sunrise
Sunrise

February 15, 2015 Gunsight Wash BLM near Why, Arizona

Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal

A Weekend of Bird Photography

This weekend I decided to stay home and see what birds I could attract to my campsite here at, and at the edge of, Gunsight Wash. This is a BLM dispersed camping area right on Route 85 just a little south of the village of Why. There is a lot of dense vegetation along the edges of the wash and I had a feeling it might prove to hold a lot of desert birds.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version, and I might suggest that you do for some of these larger versions are pretty nice, if I say so myself..

Gila woodpecker
Gila woodpecker

All of these images were actually taken from inside my motorhome, some taken through the glass when necessary, while others were shot through the open window after I removed the screen ( fortunately there are few bugs here ).

Troublesome verdin
Troublesome verdin

I did set out the hummingbird feeder in the closest Palo Verde tree and while it did attract a few Costa’s hummingbirds, it proved to be difficult to maintain as the verdins and the gila woodpeckers were determined to find a way to drink.

Gila woodpecker
Gila woodpecker
Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal

Only about 20 feet from the motorhome window was a dead saguaro cactus, it’s bare skeleton held erect by the remains of the skin on it’s upper branches, and this provided a great spot to hang out some oranges in an attempt to attract some gila woodpeckers, a bird I did not have any decent images of.

Verdins
Verdins

Turns out that almost all the birds here were interested in the oranges.

Brown towhee
Brown towhee

Took me a while to figure out just who he was, for this is a new bird to me, but this brown towhee was a regular visitor over the weekend,

Rufous-sided towhee
Rufous-sided towhee

and his more secretive cousin, the rufous sided towhee, also raced in and out first thing in the morning when there was never enough light to get a good shot.

Gambel's quail
Gambel’s quail
Gambel's quail
Gambel’s quail

This lone Gambel’s Quail showed up a few times, always alone, kind of an odd thing for this bird, always seen in flocks.

House finch
House finch
House finch
House finch

There were lots of house finches,

White crowned sparrow
White crowned sparrow
White crowned sparrow
White crowned sparrow

White crowned sparrows, as well as other unidentifiable ( by me anyhow ) sparrows, often as many as a couple dozen ground feeders in a t once.

Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal

But the star of the show was this male northern cardinal, without a doubt, the most perfect specimen of this species I have ever seen. He absolutely glowed, the most brilliant plumage I have ever seen on a cardinal.

Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal

He was very aggressive about chasing the female cardinal out anytime they both were here, which seemed a little odd,

Female northern cardinal
Female northern cardinal

so she was a little more of a challenge to capture since she was always forced to eat and run.

Verdin
Verdin

I finally did get a nice closeup shot of a tiny verdin.

Antelope squirrel
Antelope squirrel

A pair of antelope squirrels joined in downing the bounty here. They often were gathering seeds shoulder to shoulder with the birds, who exhibited no fear whatsoever of these small rodents.

Gila woodpecker
Gila woodpecker
Gila woodpecker
Gila woodpecker
Gila woodpecker
Gila woodpecker
Gila woodpecker
Gila woodpecker

And, of course, now I can say I have a few shots of the gila woodpecker.

It actually rained a little Saturday night, as in even hearing raindrops on the metal roof. The “Green Desert” the Sonoran, is going to now get even greener, as if that were possible.

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December 26, 2014 Imperial Dam LTVA California

Imperial Dam LTVA
Imperial Dam LTVA

Imperial Dam LTVA and Wild Burros

Imperial Dam LTVA
Imperial Dam LTVA

My campsite in the Northwest territories of the Imperial Dam LTVA ( long term visitor area ) is nowhere near as appealing as the ones I occupied north of here around Quartzsite and it is so very much more expensive! I had to pay $40 for a 14 night permit to stay here where I have been getting very used to paying nothing. Stiil, pretty hard to seriously complain about spending less than $3 a night to camp here, and for that small fee, trash dumpsters, water, and dump station are conveniently provided.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Imperial Dam LTVA
Imperial Dam LTVA
Imperial Dam LTVA
Imperial Dam LTVA

But as you can see, this place is best described as barren desert, not much in the way of foliage and I can see one lonely saguaro way off in the distance to the north. And although no one is uncomfortably close to my site, there are definitely a lot of folks staying here.

Costa's Hummingbird
Costa’s Hummingbird

I have my hummingbird feeders set up and I have spent just one very chilly morning sitting out there trying to get some shots of the Costa’s hummingbirds …..

Costa's Hummingbird
Costa’s Hummingbird
Verdin
Verdin

and this single little verdin that comes in and commandeers the hummingbird feeder several times a day, defending it from the hummers I am trying to attract. His beak obviously doesn’t fit into the hole provided for the hummingbirds to feed, so this tiny guy tilts his head and somehow laps up all the nectar that spills or leaks out around the feeder port and collects in the bottom of the ” flower “.

 Wild Burros

Wild Burro Road Block
Wild Burro Road Block

I drove about 7 1/2 miles out the Ferguson Lake Road from my campsite to the Fishing and Hunting Clubhouse on the shore of the lake today. This is a nice ride through the desert on a pretty good dirt road except for the final mile when you get close to the lake and encounter several rather hairy 20% ( or more ) short ups and downs, though I was able to navigate them with the Prius.

On this short trip I made my first encounter with these desert dwellers, wild burros, descendants of miners’ escaped or abandoned pack animals many years ago, or so I have read.

Wild Burros
Wild Burros

I wonder who trims the bangs on junior ?

Wild Burro Family
Wild Burro Family
Wild Burros
Wild Burros

These last two were seen pretty much right in the area where everybody is camped and I since have seen burros walking through the camping area on a couple of occasions, so I’m not sure just how “wild” they really are.

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