So the Christmas madness is over and we are setting off on another new year. That means it is time to wrap up the best of 2014. As usual I couldn't possibly choose one representative for each category but I think that is indicative of another amazing year of wildlife sightings.For once I am going to start off with the mammals. We had a couple of new surprises this year, a Gray Fox which I don't yet have a clear photo of and a Badger! Captured by one of our wildlife cameras. What a lovely and unexpected treat.
We know we have Bobcats passing through regularly as they are frequently caught on the wildlife cameras but it was a rare treat when this youngster paid a visit in the middle of the afternoon to hunt birds around the feeders.
The Javalinas visit almost nightly but these two images appealed to me. Is this guy smiling for the camera or what?
Ans as for this little pip-squeak! ADORABLE!!!
We have been very lucky this year to have some big bucks calling our land home. They really are majestic.
I introduced the sky category last year because, well how can you not? Every day offers a jaw-dropping moment at some point.
The invertebrate section has a sole representative this year, For no other reason than, it's super cool! The Tailless Whipscorpion.
The other category with a single winner is the fungus group. We had some good rains this year and one of the things that appeared as a result was Slime Mould. It can best be described as looking remarkably like scoops of vanilla ice cream scattered about, quite bizarre.
In the plant group we had a new arrival, again as a result of the good rains. The Desert Unicorn Plant exists as a tuber underground until it collects enough moisture then is shoots out thick, squash like leaves and yellow flowers which produce these wonderful pods that give the plant its name.
Many people clear cholla plants from their land and when I get spiked by one I can kind of understand why. But I only have to remind myself how vital they are to Cactus Wrens and Thrashers and the pain seems totally worth while. Quite apart from the fact, they have lovely flowers.
I was very happy to see that the Ladderback Woodpeckers have been much more in evidence this year, enjoying the various feeders as well as the natural food sources.
The next entrant in this category appeared right at the beginning of the year and gave me hours of delight as he snoozed the days away.
The last two representatives in this group are both species that I knew were around but had never managed to get a photo of until now. The Lesser Nighthawk is so cryptically coloured I am not too surprised that I had missed it up until now.
And the Rock Wren was my nemesis, always managing to appear when I didn't have my camera. At last, my patience was rewarded.
The amphibian section is represented by an old favourite who appeared shortly after we installed a small pond which seemed to meet with his approval. The Sonoran Desert Toad otherwise known as the handsome prince.
It was rather a banner year for the reptile group as we were honoured to be visited by not one but two Gila Monsters.
We had two new additions to our snake list, the Black-necked Garter Snake and this very handsome Kingsnake who decided to take a dip in our pool.
We were very lucky to have numerous rattlesnake sightings throughout the year, all of which were entirely peaceful, this was my favourite shot.
So there it is, 2014 highlights complete. I am looking forward to the next year of new arrivals and repeat visitors. Nature never fails to delight, who knows what she will offer up for us next.