The Azure Gate Bed & Breakfast
Innkeeper(s): Dennis & Christine Widmans
Great Blue Heron - III 18 Jun 2013, 11:29 am
It's really a treat to be able to get Up Close and Personal with wildlife. Great Blues sometimes provide that opportunity. This photo taken at Christopher Columbus Lake in Tucson:
|Great Blue Heron|
Great Blue Heron: II 17 Jun 2013, 5:56 am
Continuing with my "5" Star Great Blue Heron photos we come to one I took along Patagonia Creek here in Southern Arizona:
|Great Blue Heron|
Great Blue Heron -- Part I 14 Jun 2013, 4:55 pm
We have finally arrived at the Great Blue Heron. Living in the Northwest for so many years and with the abundance of water, herons were fairly easy to find. In fact, in some places, like Padilla Bay, when the tide went out, hundreds of Great Blues could be seen. However, even in Southern Arizona, we find Great Blue Herons. This photo taken at Agua Caliente about four miles from our house:
|Great Blue Heron|
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel 13 Jun 2013, 6:31 pm
Next up in my series on "5" Star Photos is the Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel. This little chipmunk looking squirrel is typically found in several of the Western mountain ranges. This particular one was at the very top of Mount Elden just outside Flagstaff, Arizona (9,000 feet). He was very curious about me and seemed to want his photo taken. I obliged and took a bunch. This is one of the ones I like:
|Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel|
Gilded Flicker - Part II 12 Jun 2013, 5:44 am
We have 50 or more large Century Plants on our property. I'm not sure how it got its name (century plant) because it typically only lives 20 to 30 years. It is an agave with leaves up to 7 feet long and very sharp points at their ends. (Drawn blood several times over the years). It flowers only once and at the end of its life. The stalk shoots up what seems like overnight. I know of no other plant (at least in North American) that grows so quickly. It can reach up to 26 feet high in a matter of weeks. The stalk produces a cyme of yellow flowers. At its base the stalk can have a diameter of five inches and is as strong as a tree trunk. The plant then dies but typically leaves "babies" near its base.
The stalk provides viewing platforms for a wide variety of birds. In addition to the Gilded Flicker (below) I have photographed Northern Mockingbird, Black Tailed Gnatcatcher, Gila and Ladderback Woodpeckers, Mourning and White Winged Doves, Red Tail and Coopers Hawks, Cardinals, Phainopeplas, Pyrrhuloxias, Orioles, and others on these stalks.
As you can see from the photo you can get a lot of detail:
Gilded Flicker 11 Jun 2013, 10:06 am
Up next on my series of "5" Star Photos is the Gilded Flicker. The Gilded Flicker although similar to the Northern Flicker which can be found throughout North American is only found in Southern Arizona and the extreme Northwest corner of Mexico. It is not nearly as abundant as the Gila Woodpecker so we see them just a few times a year here at The Azure Gate. They are strikingly beautiful though.
Gila Woodpecker, can you say "Noisy"? 10 Jun 2013, 11:13 am
Alphabetically speaking after Gila Monster comes Gila Woodpecker.
So, today a male Gila Woodpecker photo taken here at The Azure Gate. This is one of those strange dichotomies where 1) it can be a rather annoying bird, but 2) is only found in Southern Arizona (in the US) so could be a "life bird" for a great many birders. It is though, a woodpecker and frequently seen in suburban areas. Oh, and frequently heard pounding on gutters or anything metal. He's got quite the personality to match. He will be drinking from one of the hummingbird feeders when I walk by. Then he'll fly up into a nearby Saguaro and squawk at me incessantly. As soon as I leave he's back on the hummingbird feeder. Oh well, he has to eat to.
Gila Monster --- II 9 Jun 2013, 6:47 am
I have one other "5" Star Gila Monster Photo. This one was taken here at The Azure Gate. I was sitting in my office when I saw something slowly crawling across the driveway. So I grabbed my camera and went to see. Yep, a Gila Monster. He continued to the center of the driveway where we have a 125+ year old Saguaro that used to have a Creosote Bush under it. I had cut away the Creosote so it left a little "chair" for the Gila Monster to sit on. I laid down (several feet away) and took the following photo:
Gila Monster: Docile but Deadly 8 Jun 2013, 6:20 am
I am up and about after my cochlear Implant surgery. The external equipment (processor and remote) won't be added until the surgical area heals completely. So, still six weeks before I can start hearing again.
In the meantime, I will get back to my posts of "5" Star Photos. Continuing alphabetically we come to the Gila Monster. Although its venom is just as deadly as a rattlesnake, the Gila Monster is a shy, docile, slow moving lizard that secrets its venom from its lower jaw into its prey as it chews. So, the more it chews on its prey, the more venom.
Dr. Ward, of Phoenix, an old practitioner in the valley, says: “I have never been called to attend a case of Gila monster bite, and I don’t want to be. I think a man who is fool enough to get bitten by a Gila monster ought to die. The creature is so sluggish and slow of movement that the victim of its bite is compelled to help largely in order to get bitten.”
September 23, 1899
September 23, 1899
We have at least one that lives on our property though we rarely see it. (every two or three years). It stays underground most of the time. We have had guests see it twice so far this year -- although I haven't.
The Gila Monster is protected so it is illegal to pick up, keep, or kill one. The photo below was taken at Saguaro National Park where there have been two Gila Monster bites recorded in the Park's history. Neither resulted in death, but in both cases severe vomiting, pain, and swelling occurred, resulting in hospitalization and treatment.
Giant Swallowtail -- II 3 Jun 2013, 1:57 pm
Seeing the Giant Swallowtail from this angle gets a completely different view. Such is the case with many (most) butterflies. This photo was taken outside of the Tucson Botanical Garden: