January 19, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Male House Finch
Male House Finch

Time Flying By in the Desert

Yesterday I renewed for another two week stay here in the desert, been here a month now and am accomplishing pretty much nothing! Reading a few books, watching the ever increasing number of finches, sparrows, and doves at my feeder, and doing a little painting.

Though there have been a few grey, cloudy days and even a little rain, the weather here just can’t be beat! Every night, for a month now, the temperature drops to around 50 degrees, then warms back up to the high 60’s or low 70’s during the day, a wonderfully moderate range that just suits me to a  ” T “. If I had to design the perfect climate for year round living ( for me, at least ), this last month would be it. Now that we are into the new year, I am aware the temps will slowly start to rise and I will eventually be forced to move on, but for now, this is just paradise for me.

Male White Crowned Sparrow
Male White Crowned Sparrow

I’ve attached a couple of small dead branches to the side of my tray feeder so I can get some closeup shots of the birds that come in to feed. This is a male White Crowned Sparrow, one of probably a dozen or more that visit each day.

Male House Finch
Male House Finch

A male House Finch. if they weren’t so numerous, they would probably be thought of as a particularly handsome and colorful bird. probably a half dozen of these guys showed up at the tray feeder when I first put it out, now there are probably more than forty at the feeder and on the ground beneath it at any one time.

Male House Finch
Male House Finch

It took a week or so for the first doves to show up, a single pair of Eurasian Collared Doves and 4 or 5 Mourning doves. Like the Finches, the Mourning dove numbers have increased daily and now there are a couple dozen feeding on the ground beneath the tray feeder.

Mockingbird Drinking
Mockingbird Drinking

Since I am in the desert, perhaps the most popular item added to the feeder tray is this old tuna can of water. I usually have to fill this at least twice a day.

Harris's Antelope Squirrel
Harris’s Antelope Squirrel
Harris's Antelope Squirrel
Harris’s Antelope Squirrel

In addition to the birds attracted to a free meal, at least four of these Harris’s Antelope Squirrels have shown up to chow down on seeds scattered on the ground. They appear to peacefully coexist with the ground feeding birds and the birds show no sign of wariness, often feeding shoulder to shoulder with these small rodents.

And finally, last week, a small covey of California Quail discovered the seed beneath the feeder. So far they have been very uncooperative photography subjects so I will hopefully post some shots of these comical little birds next post.

Tray Feeder at Sunrise Viewed from Dinette Window
Tray Feeder at Sunrise Viewed from Dinette Window

This is the view from my dinette window where I can keep an eye on the tray feeder and it is through this window that all of the above photos were shot. As I mentioned in the last post, I have found a quiet, fairly isolated spot here at the Imperial Dam LTVA and that is definitely adding to my enjoyment of this really inexpensive spot to while away the winter. In addition to the exquisite weather, this particular spot is blessedly quiet and peaceful, no noisy neighbors, no vehicle traffic, no intrusive lights … hard to believe I could find a spot where I had nothing to complain about.

Adventures in Acrylics

Brown Pelican Acrylic
Brown Pelican Acrylic

I have finally found the inspiration to attempt to resume my painting efforts. Although I had a little success selling watercolors and oils at my art gallery back in New Hampshire, I had only sold one or two small acrylic paintings. I have to admit I just found the medium difficult to handle, thus I would always fall back to doing oils and WC’s.

But with no large, well ventilated art studio now that I am full timing, oils are kind of out of the question and I really want to try and figure out how to handle these very frustrating acrylics.

Truncas Barns and Burros Acrylic
Truncas Barns and Burros Acrylic

So I thought  I might post some ( rather sorry, kind of embarrassing ) progress shots of my venture into acrylics. My reasoning being this might force me to continue working on these paintings rather than give up in frustration as I normally would … and I am getting very frustrated at this point. But if I have a small audience waiting to see a finished painting, my sense of pride will force me to continue on until I achieve some kind of satisfactory result. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, I will get to show you a couple of decent, completed, acrylic paintings.

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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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