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

March 17, 2015 Sierra Vista, Arizona

Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay

Another Morning at the Ash Canyon B & B

Still sitting in Sierra Vista awaiting my permanent crown ( that would be dental, not royalty ) and hoping the spring birds arrive soon. Since the weather forecast called for a mostly cloudy day, i once again drove out to the Ash Canyon B & B to see what I could get for bird shots.

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

Scott's Oriole
Scott’s Oriole
Scott's Oriole
Scott’s Oriole

Although i couldn’t get any great shots of them, it was nice to see a pair of Scott’s Orioles have finally arrived.

Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird

Ditto for the magnificent, Magnificent Hummingbird. This is the largest hummingbird you will find in this country and actually is a year round resident in this area. Mary Jo doesn’t have her full arsenal of hummingbird feeders out yet, since the crowd has yet to arrive, so I am unable to get close enough for any good shots. maybe next week ?

Spotted Towhee
Spotted Towhee

This morning I was able to get this spotted towhee to stay out in the open long enough to get a shot. He seems a little shy and spends most of his time here hiding in the brush pile.

Bushtit
Bushtit

This tiny guy is a Bushtit, hard to shoot because they are very small and very active.

Audubon Warbler
Audubon Warbler

There are many Audubon Warblers here, but this was the first decent pose I was able to catch, again very active birds, hardly ever sitting still for more than a second.

Orange-crowned warbler
Orange-crowned warbler

Yet another tiny individual, I believe it is an Orange-crowned Warbler, but I could have that ID incorrect.

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

A female Acorn Woodpecker ….

Gila Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker

… and a male Gila Woodpecker. These woodpeckers are positioned on the same branch at the same feeder, but notice how the background has seemingly changed. As I mentioned earlier the forecast for today was for mostly cloudy skies, but every so often the sun would break through, thus the different lighting on the background. This type of day makes setting exposures a bit of a pain with the constantly changing light.

Curve-billed thrasher
Curve-billed thrasher

Some dramatic lighting for this Curve-billed Thrasher.

In the post for my trip out here last week, I mentioned that there were also some rodents drawn in here by the banquet Mary Jo provides for the birds, here’s what they look like.

Yellow-nosed Cotton Rat
Yellow-nosed Cotton Rat

This is the Yellow-nosed Cotton Rat, an animal Mary Jo speaks kindly of, not a household pest like the Norway rat, much cuter also.

Rock Squirrel
Rock Squirrel

And this is a Rock Squirrel, filling his pouches with seed,

Arizona Gray Squirrel
Arizona Gray Squirrel

whereas the Arizona Gray Squirrel has no pouches to stuff and thus must dine on the spot. This gray squirrel is quite a bit larger than the gray squirrels I am used to back in New Hampshire.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

March 8, 2015 Sierra Vista, Arizona

Gambel's quail
Gambel’s quail

Two Old Age Casualties in Sierra Vista

Today marks a week that I have been parked in the Thunderbird RV Park here in downtown Sierra Vista. After feeling like it was finally time, Wednesday I had a root canal done at 1st Dental here in Sierra Vista. Absolutely painless procedure … sure wish I could say the same for the next two days. Stayed in and dealt with the pain meds for two days, feeling like like my head was going to explode, before the pain finally subsided on Saturday and I could quit the pain meds.

Making all this even worse, Jenny, my 15 year old Maltese, apparently injured her right rear leg, probably from jumping down from the windshield deck where the pups spend their day when I leave them in the motorhome alone. She doesn’t act like she is in much pain, but now is hopping around on three legs and is unable to get to any of her favorite spots ( off the floor ). She is a very active senior citizen and I hate to see her now have to act her age.  I can’t feel anything broken or out of place, so will have to watch to see if she can recover from this on her own over time.

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

Feeder Portraits

House Finch
House Finch

I happen to have a tree right next to my dinette window, so when I arrived here, I put out a platform feeder and hummingbird feeder to see if I could attract some photo subjects to my campsite.

Feeders
Feeders
Portrait Studio
Portrait Studio

Although no hummingbirds have shown up ( yet ) …

Gila Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker

… this Gila Woodpecker being the only taker so far, the seed tray has attracted several city dwellers over the week It has been out, so on Sunday, I figured I would try and get some closeup head shots of the various birds using the feeder. The tree is actually too close for me to use my 600mm lens so these shots were all taken with my 200-400mm lens, and all were taken through the window glass, yet are quite sharp considering.

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher
Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove

There are actually four different types of doves coming in, Mourning, White-winged, Common Ground, and Eurasian-collared. Only the White-winged and Mourning doves flew up to the feeder, the other two types stayed on the ground below, out of range for the camera.

White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove

Though true gluttons, thus forcing me to replenish the feeders a couple times a day, these White-winged doves are quite handsome and kind of fun to watch when they have emptied the tray feeder and then attempt to squeeze themselves down onto the smaller house style feeder I added to the tree a couple days ago. Love the blue eye liner these guys show off so well.

House Finch
House Finch
House Finch
House Finch

House finches are the most numerous visitors and I find the variations in color kind of interesting. Some sport a lot of yellow feathers in addition to their red, and one individual is a gorgeous orange rather than red ( unfortunately I haven’t been able to get him to come out of the shadows for a good shot ).

House Finch
House Finch

This coming week, after a dental appointment for crown work,  I hope to be able to get started finding some early arrivals at the various birding spots south of Sierra Vista, stay tuned.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

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.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !