Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kitt Peak A Day to Remember

Our destination is in sight. Only 15 miles to go.
Looking back.

The road rises quickly and the views are spectacular.
Still a long way to the top but it's so beautiful and quiet.

As we ascended the mountain the vegetation became lush and green and the temperature dropped from 84 degrees in the valley to 73 degrees at the top.

View from the top.
Some of the telescopes.
We encountered a group of very friendly Mexican Jays at the top of the mountain.

The Solar Telescope.
A very curious Acorn Woodpecker!

View from the mountain top.
As we left the mountain we stopped to watch this Red Tailed Hawk have lunch.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A New Cooper's Hawk

This little guy finally poked his or her head out after three visits. Mom is there but all I could see was her tail. We also couldn't see the second little one but we know it's there from other people who reported seeing two.

Tohono Chul Birds and Blossoms

We went to Tohono Chul to try to get a shot of the night blooming cyrus and the baby hummingbirds but neither one worked out. The Cyrus was still a day or two away and the hummers had left the nest.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunset on McCain Loop Road

Here are a few shots that I took one evening on McCain Loop Road.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Madera Canyon

The road to the canyon.
Looking back at Green Valley.
Male Wild Turkey considered rare in the canyon.

Acorn Woodpecker

Family of White Breasted Nuthatches

We had a great day at Madera Canyon which is the number two spot for birding in the USA.
Our day started off well with the arrival of a male wild turkey in full display. Although I have seen wild turkeys before I had never seen a male. Following right behind in the same spot was the Acorn Woodpecker which had taken up a position on a metal pole for about 10 minutes, also a first for us.
We decided to move up the canyon and were surprised by a small area of residential camps and a couple of lodges. As we moved to the upper parking lot we had trouble finding a parking spot. This was the end of the road and the beginning of several trail heads. All trails move steadily upward and we walked out about a mile or so out the Super Trail. It was very quiet with very little bird activity as it was late morning so we decided to head back to the truck, have some lunch and then head back to where all the earlier activity was.
We arrived back at the lower trail and walked out onto the bridge over the stream bed which was dry and immediately saw several Painted Redstarts. They moved around very quickly so no good pictures were possible. Next was an unidentified hummingbird who didn't stick around. At this point Nancy spotted a Rose Breasted Grosbeak which I was able to get a good look at too. Next a Bridled Titmouse did a little dance for us flitting from one place to another so fast that no picture was good enough to show.
We also saw what I believe was a Berwick's Wren but I could be wrong on this one. The best was yet to come when Nancy spotted movement in the trees but could not locate the source. We finally got some great views through the new binoculars of a Blue Grosbeak. Very pretty and a first for us.
We moved further down the road to the parking lot of one of the lodges and this is where we saw the Gray Breasted Jay and the White Breasted Nuthatch. We also saw a Coopers Hawk, White Winged Doves, and Lesser Gold Finches, all in all a really nice trip.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Nice Day

It was a beautiful afternoon in Saguaro National Park on the west side of town. It was about 93-95 degrees and dry.

A Little Rain

Over the past several days here in Tucson it has been mostly cloudy, humid and actually raining at times. This kind of weather is not due until July so it is to say the least unusual. While we were at Tohono Chul yesterday it actually sprinkled to the point where we took cover. If you look closely at the picture on top you will see the tiny droplets of water on the tree and the bird! I'm still working on identifying this one.
I was greeted this morning by a pair of Greater Flycatchers and a most unusual Cedar Waxwing. Living on the edge of a great expanse of unspoiled desert has lots of benefits especially this time of year.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hummingbirds a Week Later

Evidently identifying hummingbirds is not as easy as I would like it to be. It is certainly a challenge as I am relatively new to Arizona Hummingbirds and I am convinced I miss-identified this as a broad-billed. According to my guide broad-bills do not have spots under their chin and she definitely does. Two things about this female are not right for it to be a broad-billed. The bill is black not red and it has spots on it's neck. In these pictures the bill is coated with pollen so it looks yellow. I think this is probably a Broad-Tailed female.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Vitex in Bloom (Chasteberry)

The Vitex in the front of the house is in full bloom and it is gorgeous!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


These are native to the area and we have seen one in the yard after dark. As I'm sitting here writing this a coyote ran by the window. It is a regular lately. So far tonite we have seen a American Kestrel, a couple of rabbits, Black Headed Grosbeak,Gambel's Quails and the usual assortment of doves, sparrows and finches. The other day I spotted a pair of Western Bluebirds which is very unusual for here.
I'm headed back to Tohono Chul this week-end to check on the progress of the hummingbirds and their offspring. Hopefully I'll get a few more good pics. There is also a coopers hawk and little ones there but all I could see was the nest because it was high up in a sycamore tree.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Desert Lizards

These guys were everywhere at Tohono Chul. I believe this one is a Twin Spotted Spiney Lizard