Saturday, 26 January 2013

The 'Mini' Monsoon?

When the desert seasons behave as they should, we are supposed to have a mini monsoon season during December, sometimes running into January but the mini monsoon has failed to materialise in the last few years. These rains are gentler and less intense than the main monsoon that marks the end of the hottest time of the year (in theory!)
We had been watching today's forecast for a while as it had promised rain, beginning during the night and then carrying on throughout most of the day. Sure enough in the early hours I was awakened by the sound of a steady drumming of rain on the roof. Nothing too severe, just a good steady rain that would allow all the desert plants to drink well.
When I got up at sunrise it was still raining but warm enough to sit outside and watch the animals slowly appearing, seemingly impervious to the rain as they went about there morning routine. First the quails came to the quail block, then the antelope squirrel, the House Finches and Lesser Goldfinches led a cavalcade of avian visitors to the various seed feeders whilst masses of hummingbirds swooped and buzzed around the nectar feeders.
Then the rain stopped and we started doing various chores around the yard. At one point I paused and happened to look to the south. 'Looks like another storm is headed our way.' We carried on working for a little while longer before we felt the first fat drops falling and scurried for cover. Then down it came!

The local Native Americans call the winter rains the female rains and the heavy summer rains are the male rains but today things got a little turned around and we ended up with what would normally classify as a good summer down pour. Within a couple of minutes the rain barrel was overflowing, quite literally.

And the down pipes had turned into a raging cascade!

We sheltered under the back porch watching the deluge before finally giving up and scuttling inside.

It wasn't long before the garden path outside the kitchen window began to turn into a stream.

And then into a slightly bigger stream,

And then into a river!

But then just as rapidly as it had approached us, the storm moved away, leaving the mountains behind us swathed in mysterious swirls of mist and cloud.

Slowly the river turned back into a stream

And the rain began to empty onto our neighbours to the east.

Not exactly a gentle winter rain but that is Mother Nature for you - she'll always keep you guessing.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Santa Likes Goldfinches!

One of my favourite things is watching the Lesser Goldfinches on their nyjer seed feeders. Compared to the other birds they are so polite, happily sharing the feeder, all feasting away in close proximity and not wasting precious energy chasing each other away.

So imagine my delight on Christmas morning when I discovered that Santa had given the Goldfinches an upgrade. Their feeder had been replaced by one twice as big!

Twice the feeders means twice the Goldfinches - perfect.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Kitchen Window Birding

It is COLD! Usually at this time of year the gulf stream dips down round the great lake region delivering an icy blast direct from Canada to folks in the Midwest. But just to be different, the gulf stream is currently way further west and bringing a big chill right into the Southwest.
The birds are eating a lot in order to fend off this cold weather and it is a full time job keeping all the feeders filled. I have several feeders outside my kitchen window so I can still enjoy my feathered friends even when I don't feel like braving the elements.

The Cardinal and the Pyrrhuloxia usually visit together. One will fly in, grab a couple of seeds and then be chased off by the other and so they go back and forth, back and forth.

The Northern Mockingbird pushes all the other birds away when he visits and stands proud to have his meal.

But even the mockingbird takes cover when this guy swoops in.

All these photos were taken at my kitchen sink - very distracting and guaranteed to make washing the dishes take twice as long!

Friday, 4 January 2013


Happy New Year everyone.
It is a rare thing indeed to fall asleep to the sound of steady rain falling on the roof when you live in the desert but this week that is exactly what happened. In the morning we woke up to a washed, refreshed, rejuvenated world. It was still raining and the mountains were swathed in mist.

Later as the mist cleared we could see just how close down the snow had come. Phew, that was close!

All the plants were draped in precious jewels of water. True wealth in the desert. Worth more than all the diamonds in the world and so much more beautiful.

You could almost imagine that you could see the cacti swelling as they absorbed all the delicious water. What a wonderful treat. Rest assured, when we hit the hottest part of the year I will be posting some more pictures from this morning just to cool myself down!

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