April 3, 2015 Portal, Arizona

Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird

Hummingbirds at Cave Creek Ranch

Last week, I had to leave Sierra Vista before the hummingbirds arrived, this week I am in Portal, Arizona, still a bit ahead of the start of the prime season for these guys, but some of them are now on the scene at the Cave Creek Ranch.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version, and to truly appreciate these little hummingbirds, you really should take a peak at the larger images.

Cave Creek Ranch
Cave Creek Ranch

Cave Creek Ranch sits alongside Cave Creek in a lush riparian environment conducive to many species or birds. They have several detached buildings providing lodging catering to  birdwatchers. Above is the view from the porch of their office building that doubles as a viewing platform for some of the many feeders they have scattered throughout the property.

Towering Over Cave Creek Ranch
Towering Over Cave Creek Ranch

Photos cannot do justice to the imposing sight of these rock formations towering over Cave Creek.

Towering Over Cave Creek Ranch
Towering Over Cave Creek Ranch

I spent two five hour sessions here concentrating on just one hummingbird feeder located alongside the walkway to the office.

Black-chinned hummingbird
Black-chinned hummingbird

The Black-chinned hummingbird is a regular here and I must have taken a couple hundred shots of this species, trying to capture their little bit of color, the purple under the chin, but they are quite drab in relation to their more colorful cousins here, so I tended to concentrate on them.

Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird

I guess I would have to consider this species, the Broad-billed hummingbird, the little jewels of the hummingbird kingdom. The irridescent blues and greens, offset by the bright orange bill, make these guys some of the most spectacular of their kind.

Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird

A hummingbird I had never seen before is the Blue-throated hummingbird. Though not brilliantly colored, his size makes him standout amongst the crowd.

Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird

This is the largest of the hummingbirds found in the United States, measuring five inches in length, with a wing span of eight inches, a giant amongst his kind.

Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird
Blue-throated hummingbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though I have seen the Magnificent hummingbird once or twice in the past, I have never been in a spot where I had the chance to get some decent shots of this large hummingbird.

Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird

Thees guys are almost as large as the Blue-throated, but are definitely more colorful. The brilliant purple head is particularly difficult to capture in an image.

Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird

I am unable to use any kind of flash when taking these photos since most commercial operations like Cave Creek Ranch, understandingly,  don’t want photographers ruining the birding experience for their other customers. Thus the only way to attempt to capture these birds brilliant color is to get them in the shade, where then adequate shutter speeds become a problem.

Hummingbirds Come in Many Sizes
Hummingbirds Come in Many Sizes

I include the above image to give you an adea of the size difference of these guys, the Blue-throated on the left and the Broad-billed on the right, taken at the same feeder.

While here in the Portal Area, I also took a trip out to Paradise to check out the feeding ( and banding ) station at the George Walker House. There I had a nice conversation with the owner while relaxing in one of the many sitting areas there amongst the various types of feeders. This is also a great spot to see birds, but isn’t really terribly conducive to photographing birds.

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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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