Wednesday, 28 January 2015
People often ask me why I don't remove dead tree limbs and my answer is simple, they will fall when they are good and ready and provided they as not going to crash down and damage something I would far rather they stay were they are because they provide all kinds of food for numerous species. It would seem that the Ladder-backed Woodpeckers agree with me.
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Our resident Broadbilled Hummingbird, Twigman has ruled the roost all around our house for so long now we take it as a matter of course. Sure other male hummingbirds sneak in from time to time and grab a slurp from one of the numerous feeders but it doesn't take long for our little tyrant to find them out and send them packing. A few days ago I noticed he had cranked his displeasure up a few decibels and he was getting an equally vociferous response. This went on for far longer than normal so I decided to go out and investigate. Sure enough, Twigman was swooping back and forth chattering furiously but it wasn't having the desired effect. 'Someone' was standing their ground on the other side of the house and refusing to be chased off! A very handsome Anna's Hummingbird had decided that six feeders were all together too much for one chap to rule over and had laid a very firm claim to a couple of them. And so a rather uneasy truce has come about. They spend a lot of time reminding each other just which feeder belongs to who and there is lots of glaring from suitably elevated positions but it would appear that Twigman has had to learn to share.
Wednesday, 21 January 2015
We get so used to the strong, full sun in the desert that when the angle of the sun shifts in the winter it sheds a whole new light (forgive the pun) onto things we see every day. Everything becomes a little more softly lit and because the sun is so low in the sky the shadows are all different. I love it.
Sunday, 18 January 2015
There are many birds who are such regular visitors that they tend to get overlooked. In my yard, the top of this list would have to be the House Finches. They are a constant presence and their sweet little chatter as they squabble over the feeders lets me know I am home. And yet they rarely appear on this blog but as you can see from this photo, it is not because they are not photogenic. So my appologies House Finches, I promise to try to do better.
Wednesday, 14 January 2015
There have been a lot of discussions recently about the lack of Cactus Wrens around. Well I am happy to report that is not the case for me. They are most definitely around in good numbers and as loud, obstreperous, fierce, opinionated, cheeky, pushy and utterly irresistible as ever!
Sunday, 11 January 2015
You know the scenario, it is a couple of days before Christmas, there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done and you wake up with 'to do' lists whirring through your head. As always I stepped outside for a moment of serenity before the day got underway but because I was preoccupied I wasn't paying as close attention as I normally do. I stood quietly letting the cool morning air soothe me as I watched the sun slowly appear over the mountains. Birds were stirring all around, the usual suspects, but wait, what is that big flock in the mesquite? Cedar Waxwings? Really? Yes, really, and here I am without my camera. Of course by the time I had come to my senses, run inside, grabbed my camera and got back outside most of them had moved on. The few that did remain were up on the very unphotogenic electric cable with the sun behind them so appologies for the bad photo. But at least I got proof of another new yard species.
Wednesday, 7 January 2015
I have done my year end 'best of'' post for four years now and every year a certain larger than life character has featured in the bird section. Twigman
Saturday, 3 January 2015
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.