The Azure Gate Bed & Breakfast

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

White Eared Hummingbird 26 May 2015, 9:38 am

The White Eared Hummingbird is a very rare visitor to the United States. And the most reliable place to find one is in Miller Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, at Beatty's Guest Ranch. Tom, Sr. usually posts sighting results on the ABA Birding News site, so if you want to see this beautiful little hummer, check that site daily.

I stopped by the other day when I couldn't get into Ramsey Canyon and saw a male White Eared about every 20 minutes.

Here are a couple of photos:

White Eared Hummingbird

White Eared Hummingbird

Huachuca Canyon and the Elegant Trogon 25 May 2015, 7:33 am

As our busy season has winded down, I had a free morning -- no breakfast. So off I went. I was hoping to find the Flame Colored Tanager and the Tufted Flycatcher that have been reported in Ramsey Canyon. However, when I arrived at Ramsey Canyon I found the parking lot full with the docent greeting me with an apology and suggesting I try again later.

So, back to Huachuca Canyon. Huachuca Canyon was quite birdie. Lots of singing. And a wide variety. I kept hearing one or more Elegant Trogons the entire time I was there. It wasn't until I was just about back to the trailhead that I saw one. And as luck would have it he felt like a photo.

I remain convinced that Huachuca Canyon is the most reliable place in the US to find the Elegant Trogon. A few years ago I would have said Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains. But since the fire/flood of 2010 it's not been quite as good.

In any rate, here is the best of the day:

Elegant Trogon

Red Tailed Hawk with Chicks 22 May 2015, 11:34 am

As you drive south on Arizona Highway 83 toward Sonoita there has been a Red Tailed Hawk nesting for the past several weeks. Last week when I drove by on my way to Las Cienegas there were a couple of chicks peeking over the nest's edge. Lovely photo:

Red Tailed Hawk with Chicks

Huachuca Canyon: Whiskered Screech Owl 16 May 2015, 12:22 pm

Had a great time in Huachucha Canyon. The find of the day: a Whiskered Screech Owl. This is a very infrequent visitor to the United States. Really only in the southernmost mountain ranges of Arizona: Santa Ritas and Huachucas (probably Chiricahuas as well).

The photo shoot starts with a "hidden photo":

Need a little closer view:

There he is, keeping cool in the creek.

And closer still:

Black Bellied Whistling Ducks: Cottonwood Pond, Las Cienegas, Arizona 14 May 2015, 12:51 pm

Had a nice day yesterday starting in Huachucha Canyon, then Las Cienegas and Empire Gulch.

Starting with Las Cienegas, a "pass-by" of Cottonwood Pond revealed eight Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, . Wonderful half acre pond, great lighting, great setting: great photos (plus a Great Egret):

Black Bellied Whistling Duck

Black Bellied Whistling Duck

Black Bellied Whistling Duck

Great Egret

Gila Monster - Baby 12 May 2015, 7:53 am

Gila Monsters are venomous lizards -- the only venomous lizard in the United States. They typically grow to about 20 - 22 inches long and a little over a pound in weight. Their conservation status is "Near Threatened" and protected by law in Arizona. It is illegal to kill, capture, or disturb Gila Monsters.

They spend most of their life underground, only coming out of their burrows to eat and mate. Mating usually occurs in April and May. The female lays eggs in July or August with a nine month incubation period. So hatchlings emerge in the April - June timeframe. Hatchlings are about 6-7 inches long when they emerge.

And such it was with the little guy that crawled by my office last week:

Gila Monster Hatchling
We know Gila Monsters live on our property although we don't see them every year. But, this little guy obviously was born on our property. (Those are pomegranate flowers on the ground next to the lizard).

Guests had reported seeing an adult Gila Monster the day before over by our Catalina Guest House, which is where we usually see them.

Now a word about the danger of being bitten. Although the venom is as toxic as a coral snake,  the Gila Monster only produces a small amount. Unlike rattlesnakes that have fangs and inject its venom into prey, the Gila Monster's venom is produced by glands in the upper jaw and transferred to the prey by chewing.

There have been no deaths resulting from Gila Monster bites since 1939. Prior to 1939 there are accounts of Gila Monster "attacks" many of which seem greatly exaggerated: In the Tombstone Epitaph  on May 14, 1881 (the year of the Gunfight at the OK Corral) it was reported that a 27 inch "35 pound" Gila Monster was caught by H.C. Hait. 

In another account:

"On May 8, 1890, Empire Ranch owner Walter Vail captured and thought he had killed a Gila monster. He tied it to his saddle and it bit the middle finger of his right hand and wouldn't let go. A ranch hand pried open the lizard's mouth with a pocketknife, cut open his finger to stimulate bleeding, and then tied saddle strings around his finger and wrist. They summoned Dr. John C. Handy of Tucson, who took Vail back to Tucson for treatment, but Vail experienced swollen and bleeding glands in his throat for sometime afterward."

Wild West Magazine published an article three years ago about Hollywood's fascination with Gila Monsters in "Godzilla type" movies.  In one movie there was a poster with a Gila Monster the size of a school bus. (As a reality check, the article included one of my Gila Monster photos).

Gila Monsters are very slow moving. The don't strike like a rattlesnake, i.e. can't jump 4 - 6 feet. You would pretty much have to pick one up and stick your finger in it's mouth, but nonetheless caution is the rule of the day when -- if -- you see one.

Apple's New "Photos" Software in Yosemite 10.10.3 11 May 2015, 10:32 am

My apologies for the lapse in posts. 

Apple has made my life a bit more challenging (frustrating) -- still with several unresolved issues.

I've been an Apple user for 25 years. A month ago they upgraded their operating system with a significant change: iPhoto would no longer exist. It was replaced by "Photos" which is part of the operating system now and not a separate application. 

However, in so doing Apple eliminated many important functions: 

There is no longer the ability to sort photos by Title (or keyword or rating). By default they are all sorted by date -- and in some cases date added as opposed to the date the photo was taken. 

Photos no longer has the ability to input photo location information. (I need to be able to identify where a photo was taken: Jasper National Park, Canada; Yellowstone; the Chiricahua Mountains; etc.)

It no longer provides the ability to drag and drop a photo into another application. 

In the process of migrating the photos from iPhoto to Photos several thousand titles were lost, many dates didn't migrate accurately (they migrated as date added instead of date taken). 

So I have spent the last three weeks trying to get my photo library back into useable condition. Not being able to sort by title is a deal breaker. If Apple doesn't add that functionality back I will have to go to a different photo organizing/editing software -- which, of course, will add more countless hours.

I'll try to get another post off within a couple of days.

Thanks for understanding.


Visiting Bobcat 25 Apr 2015, 1:33 pm

If you go out looking for a Bobcat, chances aren't good. As Daryl Zero would say:

"Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them."

Many times when I go looking for a specific bird -- the yellow throated warbler in Patagonia, for example -- I don't find it, but do find something interesting and come home with a wonderful photo.

But some times, I don't go looking for something and it comes to me. Such is the case with a Bobcat day before yesterday around 5:00 pm. And as luck would have it, he just went about his business, slowly, quietly, without my  bothering him. The result 75 photos which I have had trouble deciding which I like best -- all keepable. Here are a few of them:

Florida Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, Arizona 24 Apr 2015, 2:09 pm

On the way back from Pena Blanca Lake a quick stop at Florida Canyon to look for the Black Capped Gnatcatcher. Yes:

black capped gnatcatcher


hammond's flycatcher

white crowned sparrow

sonoran coachwhip

Pena Blanca Lake, Arizona 23 Apr 2015, 2:06 pm

And another day at Pena Blanca Lake:

zone tailed hawk

zone tailed hawk

zone tailed hawk

turkey vulture

gray hawk

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