The Azure Gate Bed & Breakfast

9351 E. Morrill Way, Tucson, Arizona 85749
Innkeeper(s): Dennis & Christine Widman

More Mushrooms 28 Aug 2016, 5:51 am

The monsoon season also brings mushrooms to Southern Arizona. (Who would have thought?)

Here are a couple more photos:

This one was larger than a softball.

Mount Lemmon Warblers 26 Aug 2016, 5:42 am

It is high season for Warblers now. And there is no better place than Mount Lemmon to find them. Some days are better than others, but this time of year you can usually find several species. Yesterday I photographed six different species, but I've had days with 10 and two day periods with 12. 

Some knowledge of where to look, and what kind of foliage for each species is clearly helpful. But, there is always an element of luck. You can be in the right place at a good time, and you'll often find several this time of year.

It is impossible to predict when a flock of warblers will come through. But when that happens, birding is exciting. For the photographer who waits patiently for an opportunity to photograph one bird, it can also be a bit frustrating when all of a sudden you are faced with many species and you must decide which to photograph.

Here are some photographs from yesterday:

Grace's Warbler

Hermit Warbler

Orange Crowned Warbler

Painted Redstart

Townsend's Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

A Good Time for Mushrooms 20 Aug 2016, 5:17 am

Unless you are familiar with the climate in Southern Arizona, you might not think there would be a lot of mushrooms. Well, actually that is true to an extent -- certainly not like the Northwest.

But, Southern Arizona has many mountain ranges. Mountain Ranges get rain. Rain brings Mushrooms. 

And, since it is our Monsoon Season, lots of rain, and maybe not lots, but nonetheless mushrooms can be found. 

Here's a photo of one I found yesterday in Rose Canyon on Mount Lemmon:

Resident Bobcat 18 Aug 2016, 8:50 am

We want to welcome a new country to our blog. Luxembourg has joined our site. That makes 129 countries around the world that have visited since we began 7 years ago. A love of wildlife is common throughout the world regardless of political or religious differences. Thank you all for your appreciation of wildlife.


In our last post we mentioned our resident Cooper's Hawk (He sat in one of our bird baths for over 30 minutes this morning while our guests were having breakfast outside. It was a nice treat for them).

We also have Bobcats that come around our place frequently. Here's one that walked by my office a couple of days ago. It was late afternoon, though still 100+ degrees outside:


Resident Cooper's Hawk 16 Aug 2016, 8:47 am

A Cooper's Hawk hangs out at our place  -- probably because of all the doves and quail we have running around. As a result I've been able to get a great many photos. Here's one from a couple of days ago that I particularly like:

Cooper's Hawk

Sometimes a Photo 14 Aug 2016, 8:45 am

As I was wandering around Sweetwater Wetlands looking for the Purple Gallinule and also hoping to find a Bobcat or Raccoon, I  photographed a dragonfly that was sitting on a palm leaf where I was standing. Didn't think anything more about it as I continued looking for the Purple Gallinule.  

Didn't find the Gallinule, did find a Raccoon family, but was also pleasantly surprised by the photo of the dragonfly (which I had forgotten about),

Turned out pretty nice:


Mount Lemmon: Grace's and Olive Warblers 9 Aug 2016, 7:07 am

Mount Lemmon is an exceptional birding area. There are over 14 different birding sites each affording good birding with a variety of species. As you go up the mountain you start with Molino Canyon Vista, then Molino Basin Campground, Cypress/Middle Bear Picnic area, General Hitchcock Campground, Rose Canyon Lake, Incinerator Ridge, the hill to the south of Mt. Bigelow Trailhead (across from Palisades Visitor Center), Bear Wallow/Sunset Trail, Sykes Knob Road, Inspiration Rock Picnic area, Alder Picnic area, Loma Linda Picnic area, Summerhaven to Marshall Gulch Trail, and Ski Valley to Sky Center Road. 

As you ascend, the eco zones change offers incredible scenery. You start with the Lower Sonoran Desert filled with Saguaro Cacti. Then at 4,000 feet the Saguaros end abruptly. From here it is the Upper Sonoran Scrub Desert and Grasslands. Then Oak Woodland and Chaparral. Rocky cliffs are next with (balancing rock) hoodoos, always worthy of photos. Then the Oak-Pine Woodland leading to Ponderosa Pine Forests and finally Pine-Aspen Forests.

I will often start with Inspiration Rock, Alder, and Loma Linda Picnic sites up on the ridge at 8,000 feet. The reason is that this is the first place the sun hits in the morning. Experience has shown it to have high birding activity early in the morning.

Yesterday was no different. In fact, I ended up spending so much time at Inspiration Rock that I barely had time for anything else before needing to get back down the mountain. (Though I did make a quick stop at Incinerator Ridge).

The Western Bluebirds were there in great numbers, as were the Gilded Flickers. Throw in a bunch of Yellow Rumped Warblers, Pygmy and White Breasted Nuthatches, Plumbeous Vireos, Yellow Eyed Juncos, Robins, Stellar Jays, Ravens, Turkey Vultures, and my favorite Warblers: Grace's and Olives.

The Olive Warbler is found only in Southeast Arizona and Southwest New Mexico. Grace's extends a little farther north into Southern Utah. Both, though, only at or above 7,000 feet. And both spend their lives in the tops of Ponderosa Pines foraging for small insects among the pine needles.

Needless to say, they aren't as often seen given their preferred habitat. And even when seen, photographs aren't always possible -- or don't always turn out. 

Here are a few photos that I took yesterday of the Grace's and Olives:

Grace's out on a branch

Grace's peeking out from a pine cluster

Grace's nestled among the pine cluster

Olive buried in a pine cluster

Olive a bit more in the open

Animal Signs: Blue Grosbeak 8 Aug 2016, 12:58 pm

And finally in our series on "Animal Signs" a couple of Blue Grosbeaks:

Blue Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

Sweetwater Raccoons 7 Aug 2016, 11:43 am

In addition to the Soras I found at Sweetwater Wetlands on Thursday, I came across a Raccoon and her two "Kits" in the down cattails of Keyhole Pond.

It reminded me of my encounter with a female Bobcat and her two Kittens at Sweetwater a few months ago.

The Kits were playing just as the Bobcat Kittens were playing. Here are a few photos:

Animal Signs: Vermillion Flycatcher 6 Aug 2016, 7:38 am

A third photo in the series taken at Fort Lowell Park. This time a Vermillion Flycatcher is using a No Swimming, No Wading sign:

Vermillion Flycatcher