Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Detective Work

I had seen them swooping back and forth across our land but with their constant motion I couldn't know for sure if they were breeding here. One afternoon I heard their familiar strident chirping and looked up to see a family unit using the nearby power lines as a rest stop. My hunt was on - did they use one of the saguaros in our yard to nest?

As the Purple Martins swooped and swirled overhead I walked quietly through the vegetation watching the parents teach the fledglings how to become masters of the air. The male settled again


He stared down at me with his intense jet black eyes then the female called to him and settled close by.

She was clearly a little upset by my presence which made me think that her nest must be close by. Of course I didn't want to unsettle her so I walked away and let her settle and quieten down. There was a group of three giant saguaros close by and my suspicion was that her nest was somewhere there. I stayed a safe distance away and sure enough when she had decided I was far enough away she returned to her family and I had my perfect photo op'.

Thank you so much Mrs Purple Martin for letting me share you secret and thank you for making me feel so lucky by choosing this spot to raise your family.

Nature Notes hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods.

Friday, 24 August 2012

A Natural Model

The Thrasher is often overlooked as a rather plain, brown bird but I enjoy them and the very best time to photograph them is in the soft evening light. They have such a dramatic silhouette.

This one was perched atop a dead Saguaro and the light just caught his eye as I raised the camera.

A perfect model.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

I Love Monsoon Season

When the rains come to the desert every living thing seems to celebrate. When the fearsome dark clouds finally offload their moisture there is a collective sigh of relief as the temperature briefly dips and everything is refreshed.

We become complacent about the endless days of clear, perfect blue skies so when the rain clouds roll in the novelty is much appreciated.

It also seems to be a time when the more reclusive inhabitants put in an appearance. This was the first time I had seen Ladder-backed Woodpeckers in my yard and a pair of them spent most of the morning outside my kitchen window.

The Cholla make the most of the rains to push out their delicate pink blossoms, quite out of keeping with the rest of their fearsomely spiny structure.

I always go amphibian hunting in the evening after the rain and this beautiful little Red-spotted Toad obligingly put in an appearance to ensure my efforts were not in vain.

I remember being so shocked to see a fungus sprouting quite vigorously in the Sahara Desert when I traveled there so I suppose I shouldn't have been so surprised to see this splendid specimen pop up in my yard.

There are always a vast array of lizard species scuttling around but it is unusual for the shy Zebra-tailed Lizard to stay still long enough for a photo. No prizes for guessing why it got it's name!

Of course with rains come numerous bugs of every shape and size and with them the appearance of their predators. This beautiful Arizona Blonde Tarantula lives in my back yard and always appears after rainfall to catch supper when darkness arrives.

And for those of you who prefer furry things that are warm blooded and have a skeleton, this Round-tailed Ground Squirrel sat in front of our office window and did some very thorough ablutions during a morning rain shower.

Yes, I think it would be true to say that I am not the only one who loves Monsoon Season.

Nature Notes hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Just Passing Through

I posted about my wildlife camera earlier this year. It is a bit like Christmas, you leave it alone for a few weeks then take out the memory card and download the images to see what has passed by when you weren't looking! I love the surprises. Some of them are pretty predictable like the ever present rabbits.

Some are very shy like the gentle deer. Was she looking in through the kitchen window that morning I wonder?

The javalinas almost always come by at night, I've only seen them once in the daylight so without my wildlife camera I would never know they had been here. (Can you see the second one in the background?)

And the cheeky Roadrunner strolls about with his tail in the air just whenever it suits him!

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


I have had prickly pear fruit ice, candy, liquor, relish and numerous other forms and have enjoyed them all so I can totally understand why all the creatures around my yard enjoy feasting on these beautiful fruit. In fact I love seeing these voluptuous, colourful fruits so I never pick them, preferring to watch the wildlife enjoy the juicy treat.

At this time of year there are a lot of animals going around with pink, sticky faces! I try to ensure that the various bird baths are kept full and fresh so that they can clean themselves up when they have finished their feast.
The House Finches just can't seem to get enough.................

The Antelope Squirrel climbs carefully around the spines and teeters precariously on the edge of the cactus pad to get to the sweet fruit.

And ends up wearing juice and fruit on face and feet!

The Thrasher with its huge curved beak really digs into the fruit and definitely ends up with a pink flush.

Umm, it tastes so good!

Nature Notes hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

A Kill!

When we have had a rain storm our exterior lights become a magnet for a veritable parade of weird and bizarre insects. If I am lucky some of them will still be there in the early morning so that I can photograph them. I noticed this adult form of the Antlion and the light was just right to get a shot.

I then went out to check the bird feeders and when I got back to the front door I noticed there had been a kill!

Not exactly a pride of lions pulling down a Cape Buffalo but pretty remarkable none the less. I think the lesson learnt is don't hang around the light too long - you might become someones breakfast!

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