Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekly Photographs-Sonoran Birds

My adventures into the desert have been curtailed for some time now by my inability to walk long distances. There is however a glimmer of hope that this may be changing for the better and frankly it will be a welcome improvement. In the last few months, a period where I had planned to hike and get into shape, I have had to spend my time sitting around putting on weight and wishing I could get back in the field and discover new and exciting places. I have stayed close to home but have managed to do a little photography which I'm happy to share here.

Birds generally are the most difficult subject that I photograph. They seldom pose and some of them never stop moving in a relentless search for food. None of this is true of the Curved-billed Thrasher who always seems to stick around until you get the shot. More information on Curved-billed Thrashers can be found at:

Most people associate the Northern Cardinal with Christmas cards and snow but I see and hear lots of Cardinals here in the Sonoran Desert. Information on this female Cardinal can be found at: 

There are many hummingbirds here in the southern part of Arizona including the Costa's that you see here sitting on her nest. I have a feeder outside my window where I sit at the computer and currently count 7 different individuals that are regulars. I have Costa's, Anna's, Black Chinned and recently have spotted a new young fledgling that is just learning the ropes. Information on the Costa's Hummingbird can be found here: .

On a positive note one of my Mexican Gray Wolf photos was chosen to be included in an educational sign at a museum in Sierra Vista. I'll share the proofs as soon as I receive them from the museum.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Arivaca Cienega- I Hear the Cottonwoods Calling...

Each spring the cienega goes though an amazing transformation and standing there is this one particular Fremont Cottonwood that acts as the unofficial greeter to those us fortunate enough to visit this unusual and captivating place. As most of you are aware water in the Sonoran Desert can be hard to find especially in quantities that will support cottonwood trees. The large size that some of these trees attain is truly colossal and if you care to know more about them you can check them out at:
On our visit to the cienega this week the water levels were somewhat less than I expected and the cottonwoods were beginning to leaf out which means that the demand for moisture will increase rapidly as their canopies fill out and provide cover for the many nesting hawks and other birds that make the cienega home. We spotted a Gray Hawk sitting in a tree overlooking the trail but did not see a mate. There are approximately 100 breeding pairs of Gray Hawks in Arizona and we have been fortunate enough to see about a dozen of these birds in our travels along the Mexican border.
The 1 1/4 mile trail is an easy walk and you never know what you might encounter. We have spotted many different hawks including Northern Harrier, White-tailed Kite, Swainson's Hawk, Red Tailed Hawks and many Turkey Vultures along the path. There are usually Black Phoebes and Vermillion Flycatchers as well as Phainopepla, Eastern Meadow Larks, and Summer Tanagers at different times during the year to name just a few.

I always enjoy my visits to the Arivaca Cienega which is a small part of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and on my next visit to the area I will check our Arivaca Creek where we saw nesting Gray Hawks a couple of years ago.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Picture of the Week-Desert Bloom

The desert has many faces. Some are foreboding and hostile while others are breathtakingly beautiful. Spring in the Sonoran Desert can put on quite a display of wildflowers depending on the winter rainfall amounts. This year has been a fairly reasonable year for rain and so far the flowers are nothing short of spectacular.

The Brittlebush has been blossoming for a while and when in full color is amazing to see. Information on brittlebush can be found at:

One of the most delicate looking plants here in the Sonoran Desert is known as Fairy Dusters and it is not what I expected to see when I first visited the desert. Information on Fairy Duster can be found at:

A broken foot has kept me in slow motion for quite some time but I will be out this weekend in the southern most  part of Arizona photographing flowers and of course doing a little nature watching along the way. For those of you who have never visited the Tucson area in the spring it is the best weather anywhere, dry and cool to warm, in short pleasant  and great for being out of doors.