Thursday, 29 March 2012

Neighbourhood Watch

The quails were the first ones to raise the alarm, running along the top of the wall chattering loudly and every so often pausing to stare over the edge before resuming their running and fussing.

Next was the Round-tailed Ground Squirrel peering over a rock, chattering and flicking his tail whilst staring very intently at the base of the wall.
OK guys I get the hint - there is a problem!

Oh I see what all the noise is about now it's the local rodent control officer doing her afternoon rounds. It is very hard for her to focus when you are all making such a fuss!

And you know she has a very important job to do because if it wasn't for her we would be over-run with Packrats and that is never a good thing.

Although other members of the local population are not so keen on this afternoon routine, I am always delighted to see our beautiful Gopher Snake quietly making her way around the yard.

Maybe it's because I have one of her cousins at work, I don't know but I think they have such beautiful faces.

And she can wind herself round the base of my birdbath in the shade during a lazy afternoon any time she wants.

Nature Notes hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A Unique Legacy

The Saguaro Cactus stands sentinel over the desert for longer than any of us, often for over 150 years so when one finally reaches the end of it's life it is a sad time indeed. Death is not immediately apparent. Usually a Saguaro will continue to look the same for up to three years as death takes a hold.

One of the Saguaro Cacti in our yard died a couple of years ago and has been slowly returning to the earth from which it grew.

What remains stands as a monument to this magnificent plant with arms raised to salute the setting sun. Often in the evenings we walk up the yard and sit next to the ancient structure and watch the sun dip below the mountains. Amongst the vegetation rubble at the base of the bones of the cacti we spotted something very sought after in the West - cactus boots!

In life the Saguaro plays host to numerous species of birds that gouge out nesting cavities in the cactus' limbs. In order to protect itself the cactus develops a 'boot' inside the cavity which hardens into an amazing and utterly unique structure. As the cactus died away these boots fell to the ground, where we found them. The two shown above are the most common type of shapes found but we found two others that were even more special.

One bowl and one pot! Aren't they amazing?
Whilst I would far rather have the huge Saguaro towering over me, if I have to loose one I am so grateful for these truly unique gifts that it has left behind.

Nature Notes hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Today was a red bird day, first the beautiful Pyrrhuloxia stopped by to brighten my morning,

I just love his striking colouration.

And then, not to be outdone, his flamboyant cousin dropped by for a visit too.

Friday, 16 March 2012

A Notice to the Wildlife

If you wear your skeleton on the outside and see the world through a matrix,

If your babies live and breath in water and you need external temperatures to warm your body,

If your scales have evolved into beautiful feathers and you have mastered the skies,

If your gender can be influenced by the temperature your eggs are incubated at and you have the ability to grow some of your extremities back,

If you carry your young inside your own body and then when they finally emerge you feed them rich, nourishing milk that you produce,

You are all welcome into my yard!* I am honored to share this space with you and I will do my utmost not to interfere in your existence. Please forgive me if I am a nosy neighbour because I love watching you all going about your day to day lives and photographing you.

*The only exception is humans!!!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Don't Make Him Angry!

I have posted before about the tiny tyrant that lives at the south west corner of my house. He is very fierce and chases all comers from his domain be they bird, make-believe or human.

One morning as I was passing 'His Lordship' was looking particularly angry.

Glaring up through the branches in a very focused manner

Then I realised why - someone had the AUDACITY to drink from his nectar feeder! Really!!!? What is the world coming to?

After several more very hard stares and a whole string of what I have to believe were hummingbird expletives, the little Verdin realised the error of it's ways and left the area.

Normal service has been resumed.

Nature Notes hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Partners on High

This beautiful pair of Kestrels are regular inhabitants of our yard. They are fiercely territorial of all other raptors that enter their air space irrespective of how much bigger than them they are.

I love the markings on the back of the head that makes a potential predator think that the kestrel is looking at them, even when it is actually looking the other way. Spoils any potential thoughts of ambush!

Despite their diminutive size I never tire of watching them soaring and wheeling in the clear blue sky.

Before they swoop in to land atop a power pole or saguaro to keep an eye out over their domain.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

There is Magic in the Air!

Sunrise and sunset are my two favourite times of the day although I am not always very good about getting up to see the sunrise :)

Sunset however I can manage! And this one seemed to be particularly spellbinding. Add to it, four Great-horned Owls calling back and forth across my yard and I wouldn't have been at all surprised to see Harry Potter strolling up my driveway!

And just when I thought things couldn't get anymore magical I noticed the moon. The slenderest of crescents lying on its back.

Nature Notes hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods.
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