Friday, 27 December 2013

Alternative Santa

This handsome fellow was captured outside our dining room window by my wildlife camera, I thought he looked very festive wearing his warm red winter suit.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas Beauty

I can't help but feel festive when I look outside the kitchen window and see this handsome fellow looking picture perfect.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Well fed.

The nights are chilly now and when you have a tiny body and a high metabolism it is vital to feed quickly upon waking from the night of torpor. I am kept busy making sure all the hummingbird feeders are kept full at this time of year.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Winter Visitor Part Two

The great thing about wildlife cameras is they work in total darkness without a flash, so again, a totally natural image. Just passing through.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Winter Visitor

I have some wildlife cameras around our property. A lot of the time they capture images of quail and doves but occasionally something else puts in an appearance. I like using these cameras because the images are totally natural, the animals demeanour is not influenced by a proximity to a photographer. Check out this handsome fellow.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Keep Off!

We have tried to keep our yard as natural as possible, allowing all the naturally occurring species to come and go as they please. This does lead to some trial and error when we want to plant new things though. Does it have enough weaponry to protect itself from hungry passers-by? Or will it have mysteriously disappeared the next time we look? Needless to say, nothing has tried to make a snack out of this fearsome little cactus!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Perfect Blue

Chilly mornings and clear blue skies, what could be better? This little House Finch was perched atop the big old saguaro in our backyard to welcome the new day. How do they manage to balance on all those spines I wonder!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Keeping Warm

It is getting to that time of year again when the nights get cold and all the creatures need to eat more to keep warm. Of course the Cottontails are back at the quail block gnawing away every morning when I wake up. I think this one should consider a new career as a sculptor though don't you?

Thursday, 28 November 2013


Well I haven't blogged for a while and frankly it was because I was being a wimp. I am a self-confessed technotard and when I started having problems with blogger I just couldn't work it out. I tried for a couple of weeks with zero success. Eventually I had to admit defeat and rope in my hubbie - what he doesn't know about computers isn't worth knowing. And, of course, BINGO! I'm back. Thanks My Love <3

We had a lot of rain last week, don't worry I'm not looking for any sympathy I am only too well aware that a large proportion of the country has been hammered with snow, hail and ice but it does tie in with the picture for this post. A toadstool, growing in my yard! So bizarre to see this in the middle of a desert. Life is full of surprises.

Monday, 18 November 2013

An Old Favourite

It is just over three years since I started this blog and my first post was a Gambell's Quail so it seemed only fitting to acknowledge the continued presence of this comical character as a regular visitor on our land. They are so endearing I can totally understand why I chose them for my opening post.

FYI I am having huge problems with blogger, the supposed new layout is playing havoc with all my settings, as you can see, the paragraph breaks don't occur and I can't even see my images when I download them. Very frustrating.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


The cooler fall mornings lead to a wonderful clarity in the air. These are magical days.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Wanderer Returns

The Mockingbirds disappear from my yard during the summer months, they are in the area, just not in my yard. Quite mysterious. Last weekend I heard a familiar squawk and sure enough, the wanderers had returned and they will now be a regular fixture around my feeders through the winter and spring.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A Fall Feast

The Barrel Cactii are a blaze of orange flowers in August, now they wear clusters of plump yellow fruit. If you have the technique to avoid the massive spines, they are a popular feast. The javalinas and the deer seem to have worked it out and these juicy snacks will be around for the next couple of months.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Part of the Scenery

All the herps on our land are very special to me because they don't appear too often so I consider myself very lucky to have seen two beautiful Horned Lizards in as many months. While this one was not quite as 'up close and personal' as the last one, it did give me a perfect demonstration of its amazing cryptic colouration.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Happy Halloween

Those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis know very well that the only species I find remotely scary is Homo sapien. So the concept of any creatures being horrifying to people makes me sad. I want everyone to see the amazing beauty in the diversity of species around us. That being said I am prepared to enter into the spirit of the Halloween holiday with some of my most beloved 'terrors' from the past year.
Have a wonderful Halloween everyone.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Playing With Other Peoples Toys

I have mentioned before that I was more than a little skeptical about the concept of a hummingbird swing but clearly I don't know what pleases hummingbirds and I should just keep my opinions to myself.

It seems that there maybe a potential niche in the market that has not yet been catered to though, a Thrasher swing!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Almost Perfection

A true sign of old age and failing eyesight I suppose but I didn't notice the damage on this Flame Skimmers wing until I downloaded the images onto my computer. Still beautiful in my (aging) eyes though.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Hunter

My husband bought a new macro lens for his camera and has been experimenting with it on various obliging subjects. I might be slightly biased but I think he did a fantastic job.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Hear Me Roar!

Here is a very ferocious dinosaur that happened to be in the right place at the right time when I had my camera handy. Actually it's a rather over-heated Zebra-tailed Lizard but he certainly does look the part.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

It's a Long Way Down.

They've all flown now and won't be back until next year but earlier this summer this fledgling Purple Martin was less than impressed with the prospect of taking her maiden flight. Despite repeated coaxing from both parents she was very hesitant about launching herself from on high. She kept looking at them and then looking at the distance to ground and she just didn't want to take flight.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

There's an Alien in My Tree!

Considering how inconspicuous the moth is, this rather daunting caterpillar more than makes up for it. This armour-plated behemoth is soon to be a Hubbards Small Silkmoth. I must say, if I was a bird I would think long and hard before trying to catch this guy!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Good Morning

Is there a more raucous character than the Cactus Wren? I think not. I was sitting on my front step having my cup of tea and watching the world wake up around me when this individual flew in and took exception to my presence. I was severely scolded for several minutes before he decided that it wasn't working. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Can I Come In?

At this time of year we have to be very careful where we walk at night as we have a lot of nocturnal neighbours. This beautiful big lady seemed to be rather keen to come inside the house. She was planted between the doormat and the door frame and I was a little flummoxed as to how I was going to slide the door open and get in without her joining me. I thought the vibration of the door sliding might bother her but luckily she didn't move and I was able to get in without her. Don't get me wrong, I love our tarantulas but I would rather they lived outside!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Dramatic Skies

Goofy I know but over time we have ended up naming some of the Saguaros on our land. This is Madala which is a term of respect for an elderly man. Madala has many battle scars where numerous creatures have made their homes over the decades. On this particular morning he was a perfect foil for the storm clouds rolling off the mountains.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Smiling For The Camera?

I love all the creatures that I observe on our land but some of them raise an extra large smile. This big Horned Lizard is one such character - what is not to love about that face? And all those spines! I must say he was a very obliging model who sat patiently with me sitting next to him taking dozens of photos and telling him how handsome he was.

Sunday, 8 September 2013


The drama of the monsoon season needs very few words. Everything just seems brighter, fresher and more alive.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Breakfast Is Served!

The Roadrunners have been chasing our baby quails and when I looked out of the window and saw this I thought one had been caught. I took the shot through the window (which is why it is so bad) and then waited for the Roadrunner to finish up before going out to see what was left of the meal. Well the good news - it wasn't a baby quail, I think it was probably a fledgling House Finch, hard to tell as there were only a few feathers left.

Sunday, 1 September 2013


Every evening after dinner my husband and I go 'on safari' around our yard. This has special sentimental meaning for us as we first met when I was living in Zambia, working as a safari guide and he came on safari. Anyway - ancient history but we still continue our tradition of night safaris. During the rains there is a mass of activity of all shapes and sizes. We have many beautiful Arizona Blonde Tarantulas around the yard. This one has made her burrow right near our front door. Here she is waiting for supper to walk by!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Sleeping Beauty

I know I am in a minority but I was delighted to find this scaly neighbour curled up next to the house a couple of evenings ago. Once I had convinced my husband that it was a snake and not a rock we walked quietly up to it and took photos. We stood near the snake for between 10 and 15 minutes, trying different camera settings and light levels, talking quietly to each other and moving around to get different angles. During the entire process the snake showed absolutely no aggression at all, no rattling, no strike position, just a relaxed, peaceful snake and it wasn't because it was cold - far from it. Lesson to take away, if these snakes are treated respectfully, they intend us no harm. And my goodness, they are spectacularly beautiful.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Not an easy subject to photograph as they are constantly on the move but I do love trying to track down the goofy Roadrunner. They are gradually getting used to the crazy lady with the camera and realizing that I mean them no harm. I must admit every time I observe these birds they remind me of the missing link! They have something very prehistoric about them.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Beauty In The Beast

The fearsome Chollas are best given a very wide berth, especially the uncannily clingy, Jumping Cholla but they are capable some very eye-catching flowers. Just don't stick your nose near them to check their scent!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

So Tiny.

Nature is a brutal mistress so I never cease to wonder how on earth the tiny precocial Gambell's Quail chicks manage to survive. Especially when my resident Road Runners are hot on their trail. Of course, many of them don't survive which is why the female quails are capable of producing multiple broods throughout the summer. Good luck little guys, its a big scary world out here!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

It's Behind You!

Hard to see it in this picture but there is a wall of rain falling behind this Pyrrhuloxia, it never actually got to us but it smelt wonderful! Such is the nature of the monsoons, one road is flooded and the next one bone dry.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

I'm Sorry, Are We Boring You?

I regularly grumble about the power lines that run along the edge of our property, after all who wants to look at those ugly poles. But I do have to admit that the birds of prey do like to use them as viewing platforms or sleeping platforms. I had a magical view of a Great Horned Owl who was very obliging about letting me photograph him in broad daylight even though I woke him up from his siesta - briefly!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Singing In The Rain.

Tucson is known for the outrageous number of sunny days it has annually and I am not ever going to complain about that but I will admit I do love the novelty of the monsoon season. Sitting watching storms rolling over the mountains never grows old. The desert looks so entirely different under an iron grey sky. 
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