March 24, 2015 Sierra Vista, Arizona

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

Drawn Back to the Birds at Ash Canyon B & B

Rising early, once again I headed south to the Ash Canyon B & B to see if any new birds had yet arrived. I arrived around 7:30 AM on yet another beautiful, warm, blue sky Arizona day.

Ash Canyon B & B Driveway
Ash Canyon B & B Driveway

Don’t let the driveway scare you, the B & B is located just a short distance off Route 92. You turn west on Turkey Track Road off 92 and follow it out until it ends about a quarter mile in at this simply incredible bird viewing venue.

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

Ash Canyon B & B
Ash Canyon B & B

You will see the sign as you come to the gated end of the gravel drive.

Ash Canyon B & B Gateway to the birds
Ash Canyon B & B Gateway to the birds

Parking spaces for birders are clearly delineated and a collection jar hangs on the back side of the wrought iron gate. Be sure to drop your $5 in the jar, although there is nothing to stop you from adding a donation of any size to your price of admission, I’m sure you will agree it is well worth the price.

Ash Canyon B & B Hummingbird Garden
Ash Canyon B & B Hummingbird Garden

Just inside the gate there is a hummingbird garden with flowers and feeders to attract the many different species of hummingbirds found here as well as butterflies. Unfortunately for me on this trip, since it turns out that I am a little early for the big show, Mary Jo hasn’t yet hung all the nectar feeders ( since the hummers aren’t here just yet and the nectar feeders have to be changed and cleaned very few days ).

Ash Canyon B & B The Veranda
Ash Canyon B & B The Veranda

Mary Jo keeps a library of books for identifying birds and more, as well as a small refrigerator with drinks, on the shaded veranda. This area gives viewers a chance to get  out of the sun and I am sure is quite welcome a little later on in the season.

Ash Canyon B & B Morning Birdwatchers
Ash Canyon B & B Morning Birdwatchers

When I usually arrive, early around 8 AM, I generally have had this area to myself, but by late morning, it tends to fill up a little. On this particular day, there happened to be a delightful group from England here admiring North American birds. I have always been a sucker for the British accents and got a kick out of chatting with these friendly bird watchers.

Ash Canyon B & B The Veranda Afternoon Shade
Ash Canyon B & B The Veranda Afternoon Shade

Some of these folks shifted over to the veranda in the afternoon. As you can see from these two images there are plenty of chairs around, all with a great view of the many feeders Mary Jo keeps filled with food. On all three occasions I have been here this spring, Mary Jo has been out with her guests, providing identifications of the many species of birds and animals drawn in here. She is incredibly knowledgeable, as well as friendly and accommodating to all. If you look closely at the first image, you will notice a woman who just happens to have a parrot perched on her shoulder, and that woman would, of course, be Mary Jo.

She tells me that the best time to be here is mid-April through mid-May, as the yard fills with the arrivals of birds that nest in the area as well as all kinds of migrants that stop here on their way farther north to take advantage of the bounty that Mary Jo provides. She stocks this feeding area year round and has been doing so for twenty years. In late August, after the monsoons, and through September is also a peak viewing period, when the surrounding area is lush with new green growth and many of the migrants are heading back south. Now I have missed both of these prime time periods and am still blown away with the number and variety of birds here, as well as with the comfortable and friendly atmosphere of the Ash Canyon B & B.  There is a wealth of information on her website, so please go and check it out.

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey

There was a new arrival here today, a male wild turkey ( Gould’s subspecies ). He wasn’t the least bit shy and wandered in only 20 or 30 feet from a crowd of admirers.

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey

Quite neat to be able to see such a colorful beautiful/ugly bird at such a close range.

Scott's Oriole
Scott’s Oriole

There seemed to be more Scott’s Orioles here today, although the Hooded and Audubon Orioles still haven’t made an appearance.

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

A few immature Scott’s were mixed in with several mature males.

Immature Scott's Oriole
Immature Scott’s Oriole
Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren

Though not very colorful, this tiny Bewick’s Wren was one of my personal favorites …

Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren

… lots of attitude for a small guy, and very active.

Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Red-shafted Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker

The outstanding Red-shafted Northern Flicker made another appearance.

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acorn Woodpeckers were constantly flying in and out, along with Gila and Ladderback Woodpeckers.

Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay

The large Mexican Jays were once again present in large numbers.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

Gambel’s Quail were here along with other ground feeders such as several species of sparrows  ( Lincoln, Rufous Crowned, Chipping, and others ) ….

Dark eyed Junco
Dark eyed Junco

…Dark-eyed Juncos ..

Canyon Towhee
Canyon Towhee

… and Canyon Towhees.

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher,

Orange-crowned Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warblers were present.

Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-billed Hummingbird

And lastly, although the crowd has yet to arrive, there were Broad-billed, as well as Magnificent, Black-chinned, and Rufous Hummingbirds here today. I truly wish I did not have to start heading north so soon, I would love to stay for the arrival of all the spring birds, but Oregon and Alaska await !

Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-billed Hummingbird

 

Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-billed Hummingbird

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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.

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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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March 25, 2014 S. Llano River State Park

Vermillion flycatcher
Vermillion flycatcher

 

Images From the Acorn Blind

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

A nice brisk morning so as soon as there was any light, I walked down to the Acorn Blind here in the campground. The bird activity there was pretty good and steady all AM.

In the afternoon I checked out the other three blinds in the park and decided that the Acorn Blind is the one. There seemed to be the same birds at all four blinds, but a greater number and variety at the Acorn Blind. Also, that blind is the only one that has a seat to use at the one open window you can shoot through.

I was told I missed the turkeys displaying by the office building this AM. I have yet to see even one turkey here.

Vermillion flycatcher
Vermillion flycatcher

Once again, I am posting this entry on a PC in the Junction library, so I apologize for the image sizing and spacing problems, but I just can’t get WordPress to operate properly like it does on my Imac in the RV.

 

Pine siskin
Pine siskin
Black crested titmouse
Black crested titmouse
Black crested titmouse bath
Black crested titmouse bath
Black crested titmouse
Black crested titmouse
Spotted towhee
Spotted towhee
White winged dove
White winged dove
White winged dove
White winged dove
White winged dove
White winged dove
Ground dove
Ground dove
Northern cardinal drinking
Northern cardinal drinking
Female northern cardinal
Female northern cardinal
Northern cardinal drinking
Northern cardinal drinking
Black throated sparrow
Black throated sparrow
Black throated sparrow
Black throated sparrow
Female black chinned hummer
Female black chinned hummer
Chipping sparrow
Chipping sparrow
Bathing chipping sparrow
Bathing chipping sparrow
Chipping sparrow
Chipping sparrow
House finch
House finch
House finch drinking
House finch drinking
House finch
House finch
House finch
House finch