Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Best of 2011

The whole point of this blog was to only photograph flora and fauna that ventured onto our land and despite a number of temptations I have stuck to it. To close up the year I have picked out one or two favourites from the last twelve months.
To start the ball rolling we will do Reptiles, this was a tough one but in the end I had to go with this glorious male Desert Spiny Lizard that I spotted sleeping in a tree one night during the monsoons.

A natural progression from here of course is to Amphibians, something I really didn't expect to find in the middle of the desert but again the rains provided and the monster that turned up in our yard was truly impressive - A Sonoran Desert Toad.

Next the Mammals and, despite some serious and far bigger competition, there could really be only one - my favourite cheeky little visitor, the Antelope Ground Squirrel :)

And on to Birds (sorry no fish!) Again I have gone for attitude rather than scale and so the 'mighty' Broadbilled Hummingbird is the avian representative.

The Invertebrate lovers amongst us will cry foul but I am not going to do a representative from every group, two stars will suffice, for colour the Flame Skimmer is my choice.

And for grand scale the somewhat daunting Arizona Blonde Tarantula

I couldn't possibly do a 'best of' without some Cactus representation and the king of them all is the mighty saguaro. Rather than the classic arms akimbo shot I went for something a little more intimate

I love photographing cacti when the sun is sinking, the soft light against the severity of the spines is such a great contrast and none highlight that better than the fearsome cholla

So animal, vegetable or mineral (they are all gems after all!) these are some of my favourite sights from 2011.
Happy New Year everyone.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Love or War?

You know how cats can be when they meet in the darkness, lots of growling, snarling and caterwauling. Well double the volume and that is what we just had outside our kitchen window. I was just outside checking the last of our Christmas lights when I heard what sounded like several javelina galloping down the path beside the house, straight towards me. I thought cats were supposed to be soft-footed! There were several blood-curdling screams and I wondered if something had caught a javelina but it was too dark to see. Then I saw two shapes rapidly climbing up a mesquite tree. Lots more screaming and then quiet. I decided to pop inside and get a flashlight and see what the drama was. It turned out that there were two bobcats in the tree, one chased up there by the other. The aggressor climbed back down and sat under the tree, leaving its victim/beloved in the top of the tree. If you look very closely amongst the branches in this picture you can just about make out the shape of a cat.

We were able to get a couple of lovely photos of the bobcat at the bottom of the tree by opening our sliding glass doors, it was not the slightest bit bothered by our close proximity, or the flash going off!

The treed bobcat started to growl very loudly which caught the interest of the cat on the ground and he started to circle the tree.

The snarling and growling went on for several more minutes before the cat on the ground seemed to loose interest and wandered off into the thickets. This gave the treed cat the opportunity he had been waiting for, he scrambled down out of the tree and disappeared into the darkness. And peace and quiet once more resumed.

Nature Notes hosted by Michele at Rambling Woods

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Must Try Harder

How many times did I get that written on my school report card? Still trying very hard to get a decent photo of the Cactus Wren.

But I definitely have a way to go yet.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Morning Routine

Now that the mornings are getting a little cooler the Roadrunner has a new routine. Stroll down the wash to get the circulation going, soak up some early sun

and fluff up the feathers!

Having warmed up he is ready to go in search of breakfast.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Who could resist?

If you follow this blog you know I have a soft spot for the cheeky Harris's Antelope Squirrel. It is the single species that has the most posts but that being said I realized that I haven't posted any pictures of them for a while. Well I just had to rectify that situation didn't I?

Can you see why I find them so charming now?

Nature Notes hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods

Friday, 4 November 2011

Very Blurry Proof

There seems to be a local joke in Tuscon that if you spend more than 5 thousand dollars on landscaping you will get Javalinas in your yard. Well we haven't spent anything on landscaping and I was beginning to think there was some truth to this strange myth.
I know these are awful pictures but it was six o'clock in the morning and I was running back and forth trying to take a photo through the window screening.
We had been finding evidence of Javalina in our yard all year but never caught a glimpse of them until now, so until I get a better sighting these blurred images will have to suffice to catalog a Javalina visit - and no landscaping damage done either!

Friday, 28 October 2011


From Ghoulies and Ghosties
And Long-legged Beasties
And things that go Bump in the Night
Good Lord Deliver Us!

-Traditional Scottish Prayer

Happy Halloween everyone.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Battle Royal

The Broad-billed Hummingbirds are monopolising the nectar feeders right now. Males chasing off other males and pursuing females.

And the females, not to be outdone, chasing off other females and even the males who try to feed on the nectar.

All the chasing requires constant stops to replenish the energy levels.

Nature Notes hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Our New House Guest

We had been sitting chatting out on the patio for about twenty minutes when something landed with a splat next to our table, it was a rather healthy sized poop! We looked up into the beams of the roof to see who had 'dropped' it and there was someone staring back at us!

Clearly we weren't the only ones enjoying a relaxing afternoon in our backyard. And now these noisy humans had come along and disturbed the peace.

We actually sat with our wide-eyed friend until darkness fell and he went off to find himself some supper.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Rewards for Bravery

The Antelope Squirrels are always front and centre when it comes to picking up fallen seeds underneath the feeders in the yard but the Round-tailed Ground Squirrel is always much more hesitant. Normally all I ever see is a flash of tail disappearing under the gate as I walk into the yard.

I was sitting quietly reading when this beautiful little individual finally plucked up enough courage to forage amongst the rocks and aloes. It kept a very close eye on me though and if I so much as moved a muscle it would scurry into a gap in the rocks before cautiously reappearing for another snack.

What a sweet little face. I am so glad it is learning that I mean no harm.

Nature Notes hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods

Friday, 14 October 2011

Lots of Legs

This poor old centipede is missing a couple of appendages at either end but all its legs seem to be intact. Another reason for being careful when moving rocks in the yard!

Monday, 10 October 2011

A New Visitor

As the seasons change, the bird species that visit the feeders change too.

I heard this shy little character long before I saw it. A sweet, mournful whistle that I hadn't heard before.

I eventually spotted her perched in the trees but it was several more days before she finally plucked up the courage to come to the feeders.

A female Black-headed Grosbeak refueling on her migratory route.
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