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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March 10, 2015 Sierra Vista, Arizona

Red-shafted Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker

A Morning with the Birds at the Ash Canyon B & B

Got up and was out the door at 7 AM, driving south down Route 92 to Turkey Track Road to visit the Ash Canyon B & B and do some bird photography. Several years ago I found several types of orioles as well as hummingbirds here, including the rare Lucifer Hummingbird. Mary Jo, the owner of the B & B has been tending several bird feeding stations here in the foothills for many years, and as such attracts huge numbers of resident birds as well as migrating species, without a doubt one of the best spots to see birds in the Sierra Vista area. There are many comfortable chairs arranged around the feeding area as well as under the veranda and Mary Jo is often out there with you sighting and identifying birds as they fly in and out in fairly large numbers. She also has laid out a variety of birding books by her door to help folks with ID’s. Without a doubt, a must visit spot for anyone visiting southeast Arizona !

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

Red-shafted Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker

This Red-shafted Northern Flicker was a first for me, and alone would have made my day, but although it is still too early for hummingbirds and orioles to be arriving, there was more than enough action to keep me entertained.

Rufous Crowned Sparrow
Rufous Crowned Sparrow
White Breasted Nuthatch
White Breasted Nuthatch
White Breasted Nuthatch
White Breasted Nuthatch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small guys like the White-breasted nuthatch and the Rufous-crowned sparrow plus …

Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Bewick's Wren
Bewick’s Wren

 

 

 

 

 

… really tiny guys like the Bewick’s Wren.LadderbackWoodpeckerVert

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker
Ladderback Woodpecker
Ladderback Woodpecker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acorn Woodpecker
Acorn Woodpecker

Ladderback and Acorn Woodpeckers we’re there as well as several Gila Woodpeckers.

Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay

These rather large Mexican Jays were a constant presence.

Audubon Warbler pair
Audubon Warbler pair

Large numbers of Audubon Warblers were here with an equal number of House Finches, several types of sparrows, spotted and canyon towhees, and yet more species that I did not get any good shots of.

Pyrrhuloxia
Male Pyrrhuloxia
Pyrrhuloxia
Female Pyrrhuloxia

Pyrrhuloxia were represented there as well as some interesting Yellow-nosed Cotton Rats, along with Arizona Gray Squirrels and Rock Squirrels. Very early in the morning there were a couple of deer that nosed up to the fence surrounding the property.

Mary Jo says she has two pair of Gray Hawks that nest on her property and she pointed out their calls a couple of times while I was there and I did get a quick glimpse of one drifting far above the property.

So, even though the stars of the show have yet to arrive, I spent a very rewarding 4 hours there today, and will return again next week to check on the orioles and hummingbirds.

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March 31, 2014 S. Llano River State Park, Texas

3 Tom Turkeys
The morning commute to work

Early morning turkey hunt yielded a couple of shots down by the old barn in the park.

The day started out solidly cloudy but by 1 PM the skies were blue and the temps were again in the upper 80’s but without the nice breeze of the last couple of days.

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

Rio Grande turkey
Rio Grande turkey
Two Tom Turkeys
Two Toms

 

 

 

 

 

A pair of Toms
A pair of Toms
A pair of Toms
A pair of Toms
A pair of Toms
A pair of Toms

 

 

 

 

 

When I see these two guys strutting and dancing around with each other, I guess trying to impress the ladies, even when there are none in sight, I can’t help but think of the old Saturday Night Life routine of Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd, the ” two wild and craaaazy guys! ”

Nashville warbler
Nashville warbler
Orange crowned warbler
Orange crowned warbler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walked into the Acorn Blind around 8 AM and did get a couple of new birds for me, the Nashville Warbler and the orange-crowned warbler. Not great images, but they are newbies.

Lincoln sparrow
Lincoln sparrow

This Lincoln Sparrow also was a new one to me.

Audubon Warbler
Audubon Warbler
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing

Kind of an interesting pose for this cedar waxwing.

Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing

 

 

 

 

 

Carolina wren bath
Carolina wren bath

 

Carolina wren bath
Carolina wren bath

 

Carolina wren drying after bath
Carolina wren drying after bath

 

Carolina wren drying after bath
Carolina wren drying after bath

I know the Carolina Wren is a pretty common bird, but for some reason this tiny, hyperactive guy always gets me unable to resist snapping away.

Fox squirrel
Fox squirrel

And lastly, always an unwelcome visitor around a feeding station, this fox squirrel’s coloring warranted at least one shot. A pest, but an attractive one.

The campground has really emptied out this AM, but I went online while at the library to check on this coming weekend in case I wanted to stay and it is completely booked solid Friday and Saturday, a harbinger of what I am apt to run into everywhere this coming summer.

Went to the Junction Library to do some posts and check on end of month financial stuff, but really don’t enjoy attempting to get a PC to work properly. I’ll be glad to get somewhere with Verizon coverage soon.

March 27, 2014 S. Llano River State Park

Strutting Turkeys
Strutting Turkeys

Finally Some Strutting Tom Turkeys!

Awoke to the usual grey, solid overcast morning, but strangely enough, still no rain. Appears Texas is capable of experiencing an extended drought yet also never seeing the sun, in the winter at least. Was wakened from a sound sleep twice last night by the exceptionally vocal deer in the campground, they let out a vocalization like that of a screaming eagle, probably in response to some perceived threat.

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

Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Displaying turkey
Displaying turkey
Displaying turkey
Displaying turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decided to do a road trip north of the park but had my plans changed when I finally ran into some strutting Tom Turkeys on the park road. I had about five minutes with them before a motorhome scared them off the side of the road and sent them running out of range. I turned around and travelled the park road back and forth hoping to see them again, but no such luck.

Wild turkeys
Trouble ahead!
Retreating Turkey
Retreating Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

During my time with the turkeys, the sun came out and the temperature started to climb. I stopped at the office to check the forecast and it called for sunny skies and temps in the upper 80’s! With good weather finally here, I decided to stay in the park and do some shooting from the blinds.

Female cardinal bathing
Female cardinal bathing
Northern cardinal bathing
Northern cardinal bathing

These Northern Cardinals really put some effort into their baths.

Chipping sparrow bath
Chipping sparrow bath

As does the Chipping Sparrow.

Lark sparrow
Lark sparrow

The Lark Sparrow was a new bird for me.

Black capped vireo
Black capped vireo

As was this Black-capped Vireo, a federally endangered bird with a sharply declining population due to habitat loss and brown headed cowbird nest parasitism.

Lesser goldfinch
Lesser goldfinch

Another new bird for me was this Lesser Goldfinch, not yet quite displaying the vivid demarcation of yellow and black that will be visible in a few more weeks.

Carolina wren
Carolina wren

Yet another new bird for me was this Carolina Wren, darting in and out so fast as to be almost impossible to catch.

Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing

Also making an appearance at the water feature in the Acorn Blind was one of my favorite birds, the Cedar Waxwing.

Audubon warbler
Audubon warbler

Another bird showing up regularly was this Audubon Warbler.

Bathing Inca doves
Bathing Inca doves

I got a kick  out of this Inca Dove going submarine while it’s mate tried to figure out what it was doing.

Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca dove

These Inca Doves have colorful red/orange wing feathers on the underside and topside of their wings that only show in flight – or if they are trying to dry themselves after a bath.

Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca dove
Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca dove

 

 

 

 

 

Serengetti in Texas
Serengetti in Texas

Along the park entrance road there is large high fenced enclosure that gets you to thinking you have arrived on the Serengeti Plains of Africa.

Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing

 

 

 

 

Lark sparrow
Lark sparrow

 

 

 

 

Another Neighbor From Hell

A very large motorhome pulled into the space next to me today. This space is at least 100 feet away but there is nothing between us but grass. A really nice, new 45’ Class A. Just a little after it got dark, I had made a drink after concluding a long conversation with my other next door neighbors, and was getting ready to go sit under the stars for a while. One of the nice things about this park is the absence of road or site lighting, you can really enjoy the night sky here when it is clear. Just as I was about to step out the door, a flash of light hit, that I assumed must be a car going through. It wasn’t. The new neighbor had turned on his outside spotlights, THREE high intensity spots on the driver’s side of the coach ( turns out there are three more on the passenger’s side too ), front, mid section, and back, all pointing directly out at the neighbor’s site. And when I say they were bright, I mean I could read a book on my sight, over 100 feet away, with the light from his unit. I went over and knocked on their door to see if I could get them to turn them off so I could sit outside and enjoy a gorgeous starry night, but even though their car was there and the TV was on, no one would answer the door. This was only about 7:30, so I don’t know what they were doing, but they wouldn’t answer the door for the campground host either a few minutes later when I enlisted his help to get the spotlights turned off. So, I had no choice but to go inside, pull all the shades and watch TV instead of the stars. About 9:30, they finally turned the lights off. About 11PM, just after I went to bed, they turned them back on. Nice folks!