Up next, the Western Tanager which is found throughout Western
North America. They breed here in Arizona, usually in coniferous
forests. Being close to Mount Lemmon, they stop by at our place
occasionally. They stay in the trees foraging for insects and
From wildflowers to rattlesnakes. The Western Diamondback
Rattlesnake's range is from Arkansas to California and into Mexico.
Typically it grows to about 4 feet, less than half the size of a
bull snake. Yet, obviously a bit more dangerous.
If you believe what you see and hear at the movies, they are
everywhere in the desert and you have to kill them before they kill
you. We just watched a delightful movie (Fools Rush In) where the
male lead goes with his hispanic wife's brothers into the desert
where he finds himself surrounded by a dozen rattlesnakes. Maybe
there is a place/situation like that but I've been hiking and
photographing in the Arizona desert for 12 years and never seen
more than one rattler at a time. And, never ever had to kill
We have them living on our property although rarely see them
-- maybe four times a year. For the most part they stay
underground. Nonetheless, I always marvel at their beauty and
significance when I see them.
|Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
|Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Another wildflower hits the "5" Star mark. The Western Coral
Bean is found only in Southeast Arizona in the US, but throughout
Mexico in canyons, rocky hillsides, pinyon-juniper forests in
semi-desert environments. It flowers from March to May, and
provides a wonderful color contrast to the desert.
Continuing my alphabetical series on my "5" Star Photos we
come to the Western Bluebird. The Western and Mountain Bluebird
ranges are nearly identical (the Western halve of North America).
But the Western Bluebird has a bright orange breast (duller in the
female) while the Mountain Blue is pretty much all blue. The photo
of the male came from Mount Lemmon, Arizona while the photo of the
female was taken near Joshua Tree National Monument in
Water Lily 17 Sep 2014, 11:22 am
It seems like quite a while ago that I was doing a series on
my "5" Star Photos. But we are nearing the end -- on "w's" anyway.
So I will try to get the series completed within the next couple of
weeks. Today, not a bear, not a caribou, not an elegant trogon or a
tri-colored heron, but a simple water lily.
Sometimes simple is good:
I had a late start yesterday, so didn't arrive at Sweetwater
Wetlands until 11:00 -- or more importantly until it was 104
degrees. The consequence was a very quiet visit. I did see a Green
Heron fly in a weed bed and a Belted Kingfisher heading somewhere
cooler. Probably my best photos were a Savannah Sparrow and a
couple of Mexican Mallards:
I didn't fare any better at Christopher Columbus Lake. The
few birds there were stayed pretty much deep inside the trees where
they were foraging. The best there was this Yellow Rumped
I went again to Huachuca Canyon looking for the Sinaloa Wren
and now the newly reported (one time) Prothonotary Warbler. And,
again no luck. However, as is usually the case I didn't come home
without some photos, including a couple very nice photos like the
ubiquitous Wilson's Warbler and Painted Redstart. Even though often
seen I thought those two in particular turned out well:
|Black Throated Gray Warbler
Christopher Columbus Lake is on the West Side of
Tucson and a recreational area for fishing, picnicking, kite
flying, and remote controlled flying machines. It gets quite a bit
of use, so is hardly "wilderness."
Yet it provides a haven for birds -- and birders. And,
since it gets a lot of people, birds are a little more "friendly"
and can be approached if done slowly and quietly.
There are two essential areas: 1) the lake, and 2) a
riparian area created by a small creek coming from the north side
of the lake.
The lake is the most reliable place in Tucson for
finding and photographing Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets. There
are often Black Crowned Night Herons as well.
The riparian area attracts warblers, vireos, with the
occasional rarity like the Northern Waterthrush. It is often quite
birdy and certainly well worth exploring if going to the
Here are some photos from yesterday's trip to
Yesterday I headed down to Randolph Park to see if I could
find the reported Northern Waterthrush. As is often the case, the
reported "rare" bird wasn't found, but there were other interesting
birds to see and photograph:
|Black Crowned Night Heron
|1st Year Wilson's Warbler
Every year about this time migratory bats arrive in Tucson.
How do I know? My hummingbird feeders tell me so.
We have 8 hummingbird feeders which get changed every
two - three days (depending mostly on the weather, not because they
are empty). But all that changes in late August or early September
when the bats drain the hummingbird feeders every
It is the Mexican long-tongued bat from Venezuela,
Central America, and Mexico that arrives for dinner at our feeders.
In nature they feed on nectar and pollen from agaves and other
plants. Their tongues can extend up to a third of their body length
which allows them to reach nectar deep inside an agave or cactus
blossom. The young are born well-furred for additional
warmth in the cool mountain canyons where this species
A couple years ago I sat up patiently with my camera
waiting for them to show up. Wasn't until about 11:00 pm, but I was
able to get a few photos: