Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Little Things Outside My Door

I've been spending quite a bit of time at home this summer due to the very hot, humid weather conditions prevalent during Monsoon season. Lately however I've begun to use the abundant nature in and around my yard to practice with my camera and test out some of it's functions so that when I begin to photograph in a serious way in the coming months I will hopefully make fewer mis-steps in the field. Now I know that the best way to improve the quality of my photographs is to work with a tripod but did you ever try to get a Spicebush Swallowtail like the one in the above photo to stay in one spot long enough to  set up the tripod, focus on the subject and shoot a dozen or so times to capture a memorable photograph. This photo shows the Swallowtail on a Vitex which is also known as Chaste Tree. Here in Tucson this tree/shrub blooms for long periods and more than once a year depending on weather conditions.

The Queen Butterfly is a little more abundant and quite a bit more cooperative than some of the other butterflies. At first glance many people mistake the Queen for a Monarch Butterfly due to it's color and size. We have had dozens of Queens in the yard over the last few weeks and they have provided me with dozens if not hundreds of opportunities to practice.

Rocky II

Hummingbirds are one of my favorite creatures that frequent our yard. Right now during hummingbird migration we have had Costa's, Black-chinned, Rufous, Magnificent as well as many that went unidentified because they were chased off by the two "Rocky's" pictured here. The Costa's in the above photo lives on the carport side of my house and guards both feeders that he considers his! Hummingbirds are extremely territorial and Costa's have established themselves as the ruler of the yard and they will spend the entire day driving off any intruders.

Rocky I

Rocky I considers the front yard his territory and from very early in the A.M. until dark he can be observed doing his rounds. Although territorial many other hummingbirds do manage to find a way to get to the feeders during the day and on some days there are many that breach the defenses of the Rocky's.

Here is a female Rufous Hummingbird feeding at the Vitex. Rufous are migratory here in southern Arizona and breeds from northern California all the way to Alaska. They winter in Mexico and they pass through Tucson and if I am lucky my yard. I had them stay for an extended period one year but that is not the norm and they usually are around for a short period of time.

Not a Hummingbird but a moth the White Stripped Moth resembles a hummingbird and is frequently referred to as a "Hummingbird Moth". They are not much smaller than a hummingbird and their behavior resembles a hummer as they move from flower to flower feeding through what looks like a vacuum hose leading to their mouth.

Hummingbird Moth at the Bird of Paradise in the front of the house.

Vitex blossom.

Texas Ranger blossoming for the second time in a very short period. Very pretty but short lived blossoms. Here today and gone tomorrow, still worth seeing.

Everything has spines here in the desert. This beetle has been on the cactus outside my door for the last few days but I'm not sure what it is.

Cottontails are a regular visitor here as there is very little chance of predators here in the yard although it is not unheard of to see a coyote stop for water on it's way to somewhere else.


  1. Excellent shots! The same here....this heat and humidity is I enjoy the wildlife around the home....lots to see. The chiggers are really bad right now.