Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Best of 2016 - Let's Try Again

Not quite sure what happened last year, my blog kind of fizzled out. I'm taking another stab at it, we'll see how far we get. In previous years I have kicked off the new year with a 'Best of' from the previous twelve months. So here goes - The Best Of 2016.
First off we'll go with our spineless friends, the inverts..................
I don't get many cicadas around but this one posed very obligingly and allowed me to get a fun, eye shot.

The next photo was not fun to watch but we mustn't interfere with the natural course of things. This is a tarantula hawk, it has just caught and paralyzed its prey and then proceeded to drag it away. Nature is harsh.

For the amphibians we have our regular representative, the fabulous Sonoran Desert Toad. He seemed quite delighted with the new fountain we installed and could be found sitting in it most evenings during the summer.

Our feathered friends continue to delight and as always I struggled to prune down the photos. This first little beauty is a Black-throated Sparrow. They have a beautiful call that sounds like a little bell.

At the other end of the scale is this lovely guy, just looking for a hug!

It's always a happy time when we hear the first Purple Martin call of the summer. We are very lucky that they choose to use the saguaros on our land to nest in each year.

We had a major power shift this year. For almost the entire time that we have owned the property the south west side of our house has been ruled with a rod of iron by a Broad-billed Hummingbird that we christened Twigman! This year the reign ended and he was succeeded by an even smaller tyrant. Here he is.

We didn't have a good year as far as snakes go, just a couple of sightings of a Coachwhip. We did have other reptile representation though. This was one of three Gila Monsters that we saw this year - not so rare for us apparently!

Something that made me laugh was this Desert Spiny Lizard who found some of the dried mango that had fallen from a bird feeder. He pounced on it and shook it before carrying it off.

The absolute highlight of the year was definitely this little Desert Tortoise who trundled up to our front door one afternoon. Our first! So exciting, it bought tears of joy to my eyes.

The plant stars are all about agaves this year. The first is purely sculptural

The second is another agave that decided to end it all this year by throwing up a flower stalk. Going out in a blaze of glory.

The landscape winners evoke a specific mood, firstly with silhouettes

And then secondly with a whole palette of colours.

The final group for the year is mammals and we have had some beauties this past twelve months. A first sighting of a jackrabbit was a great surprise.

I was very happy to see that one of our wildlife cameras finally captured a daylight picture of one of our beautiful Hog-nosed Skunks.

It won't win any prizes but I was  delighted to finally get a photo of a pocket mouse at night with his cheeks filled with seed.

The new fountain has provided lots of great sightings and so we had to put a wildlife camera next to it. Look at these two lovelies.

Our Bobcat activity has been amazing this past year. They felt so at home that they bought their kittens to visit many times. This one loved sleeping under the bird bath on the back patio.

And here is Mom with her two youngsters walking past the kitchen window.

So there we are, another amazing year full of natures treasures. I feel very lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing species. Long may it continue.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

King of the Castle.

One of our fabulous Cactus Wrens reminding everyone within earshot who is the boss around here.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Patio Decor

How plain would my planter look if it didn't have this charming Ground Squirrel ornament?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

New Kid on the 'Block'

My first sighting of this Bewick's Wren was through the kitchen window when I was busy. Of course by the time I had dried my hands and grabbed my camera, it had disappeared. A couple of weeks later I put out a new seed block and guess which bird was the first to arrive? This time I was ready and waiting with my camera.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Nom, Nom, Nom.

I will never tire of the antics of the Antelope Ground Squirrels. They are especially cute at this time of year with their extra fluffy winter coats.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Tyrant in the Bushes

We have lots of Desert Hackberry  on our land and very often when we walk past one of them we get scolded. Usually we don't get to see the source of the noise but if we don't move away promptly this bossy little bundle of feathers pops out. Those fierce little eyebrows just emphasize the Gnatcatchers' displeasure. 'Move along please!'

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Windows to the Soul

One last 'Kitty' pic. She seems to have found a new place to sleep these days so we are not seeing her so regularly. I hope she comes back soon, I miss those pretty yellow eyes.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Look

Is it the severe eyebrow or the intense glare? Either way you don't forget that look!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Feline Fine - Part Five

Lion, Tiger, House Cat, Bobcat, they all act the same. The vast majority of time is spent sleeping, when they wake up, they stretch, then wash and then either go back to sleep or go to look for food.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Tools of the Trade

It is hard work making a living in the wilderness. It is a constant battle for survival, an arms race. Your weaponry is the only thing that keeps you from starvation.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Feline Fine - Part Four

The only drawback of sleeping on the back patio is that the bird feeders are overhead so you get liberally sprinkled with nijer seed while you snooze.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Golden Eyes

This little beauty seemed to be just as fascinated with me as I was with him as he peered through the kitchen window at me. I wonder what he was thinking.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Our Watchman

He tells me if there is a snake, he tells me if there is a bobcat, he tells me if there is a coyote, he tells me if the feeder is empty, he tells me if the birdbath is empty, he tells me lots of things, very loudly, very frequently and I think he's great.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

My Neighbours are Making Me Lazy.

My neighbours really do spoil me. I can sit in my living room and watch a Bobcat and I can stand in my kitchen and look into the eyes of this beautiful Coopers Hawk. Life doesn't get much better than this.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Feline Fine - Part One

We have very limited access to our back patio these days as a certain glorious feline has decided that she likes to spend her days there. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, I have more than enough other space and I love looking out of the window and seeing her sleeping in the sun or strolling past the door. I consider myself blessed. Be warned, my blog is going to become clogged with Bobcat pictures for as long as she stays around.

Monday, 4 January 2016

The Best of 2015

My goodness, where do the years go? Here we are again looking back through the last year. This is a tradition that I follow every year. I find it fun to look back and remind myself of all the delightful critters that have allowed me to photograph them.
I am starting with the resplendent reptiles, it was a good year for our scaled friends, I think they did well with all the rain. 

This was our accidental catch. A very forgiving rattler that my husband managed to catch in a trap he had put out for a packrat. She didn't bear a grudge and posed obligingly after leaving the trap.

On the opposite end of the scale, this is a little baby rattler, barely twelve inches long. Being so diminutive he was a little more hesitant about posing for the camera but with quietness and patience I was able to get some nice pics.

No such demure behaviour from this spiny beauty, he struck the pose like a supermodel! I just love these characters and never tire of photographing them.

I did say it was a great reptile year and this was an absolute gem. A baby Gila Monster! At approximately six inches long it was probably not much more than a hatchling. I feel truly blessed to have seen such a unique little treasure.

The last reptile has been my nemesis for years. The Coachwhip, so fast that a photo seemed a forlorn hope until this year when, for some reason it decided to stick around for the paparazzi! Even going so far as to trace my steps up to the pool one day and watch me take a dip. Maybe it was the snakes revenge for me following him around?
And now onto the ones with exoskeletons.

I do love having these beautiful 'fluffies' around. I know they not everyones cup of tea but I think they are magnificent.

Something more conventionally pretty. I liked this shot because of the contrast between the fierce spines and the delicate butterfly.
An old favourite reappears as the sole representative for the amphibians.

The splendid Sonoran Desert Toad. This hefty lovely took up residence on our back patio, hanging out under an agave during the heat of the day, taking a dip in our little pool in the evening before heading out to hunt for dinner. He had a special place in our heart as he only had one eye.
And now onto the feathered ones...........

What's not to love about the oh so expressive Roadrunner? 

This isn't the best quality photo but it was indicative of the day. It was grey and wet when this flock of Western Bluebirds appeared. What a perfect way to brighten a day.

I just love this shot! Mrs quail looking absolutely irresistible.

Some colour here, a little Verdin feeding amongst the aloe blossoms.

This super fancy Black-throated Sparrow posed very obligingly outside the window one morning. I don't often enthuse about sparrows but this one is so smart looking with that sharp black and white colour scheme.

This was a new yard species right at the end of the year. A Peregrine Falcon feeding on an unfortunate dove.
Now onto the sky category.

We had a stunning supermoon this year that I just had to try to photograph. Such a magical sight.

My much photographed twisty twig makes the grade this year. I love this view and take endless shots throughout the seasons.

The mountains always provide a dramatic backdrop to the vivid colours of sunset.
The next group is plants.

One of our agaves threw up a flower stem this year and as the months went by it got taller and taller. Inevitably it was christened Audrey II.

The chollas flourished with all the rain, I like this macro shot, pretty but spikey!

A tiny little hedgehog cactus that goes virtually unnoticed for the majority of the year has its fifteen minutes of fame when it bursts into spectacular bloom.
Finally, the mammals.

It's tough enough to photograph the shy Round-tailed Ground Squirrel but getting a shot of them coming out of their burrow? I struck it really lucky with this one.

The naughtiest photo for the year. Wiley Coyote making it quite clear whose territory this is!

And finally our beautiful resident pussy cat. I am probably going to bore you all with endless photos of this gorgeous Bobcat that has decided that our back patio is the perfect spot to sleep during the day after spending the night hunting.

Shhhhh! Let sleeping dogs cats lie.
Happy New Year everyone.
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