Friday, July 19, 2013

Quail Update—Climbing the tree to roost

This is a promised followup to my earlier post about the quail family roosting in my olive tree. It was just a few days ago, and I observed that the juveniles in this very large family lined up and climbed the tree via a large sloping branch.

Last night I finally got a video, but the juveniles have grown so much that many of them are flying up to roost. The light is poor here, but you can still see four climbing, and one flying, then climbing.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

BEEP-BEEP! Visit from a Roadrunner

Greater roadrunners are common in the Tucson area. I once saw one crossing the road—at the crosswalk!—at the busy intersection of Grant and Craycroft. We often see them at Tohono Chul Park.
Yesterday afternoon a handsome roadrunner visited my porch, presumably looking for lizards, one of their favorite things to eat. He did not find one, so went on to explore the pond and the quail block. It was hot, and you can see him using the gular flutter, in which a bird rapidly vibrates throat membranes to create evaporation and cool off. (This is the avian equivalent of panting.)
Roadrunners have a variety of odd calls;  none of them sounds like the cartoon character. They are members of the cuckoo family, and their most common call is a percussive “Coo!”, which you can hear near the beginning of this video. The plaintive call just before the roadrunner’s is a white wing dove.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Quiet Rove and Quail Update

It’s hot and humid. There has been enough rain at the Park (though none so far at my house) that everything is growing like crazy. This morning two different people pointed out that “it’s a jungle out there.”  Here are some shots of the lush Sundial area:

Sundial Circle 7-15-2013 10-07-03 AM 3616x2712

Lilies and Torso 7-15-2013 10-06-33 AM 3616x2712The pink flowers are rain lilies. The vaguely obscene-looking white plant is a currently non-blooming African import.

Below is a picture shot through the main gallery window, showing my favorite little grotto with statues of javelina. I saw four real javelina this morning, two adults and two juveniles. They were much bigger than these little representations.

Grotto 7-15-2013 9-43-50 AM 3487x1787

Quail update: There are still several families of quail around the house, eating at my quail block, drinking from the pond, and roosting in our many trees. One family in particular, whom I have mentioned before, has around ten fairly mature offspring (college age). Over the last few weeks I’ve watched them go to roost in the old olive trees on the west side of the house. Some of them fly into the trees, but most line up on one of the trunks, which rises at a slant, and walk up it into the higher branches. The line is not always orderly, and there seems to be a bit of squabbling at the top over who is going to sleep where.

Olive tree 7-15-2013 1-25-25 PM 2448x3264The olive tree roost. The quail mostly climb up the right-most slanting branch.

Also, yesterday afternoon I spotted what seems to be a lone juvenile quail—high school age, a bird version of Youth On Their Own. She (I think it’s a female) was sheltering from the sun under the pyracantha bush in front of the house, but I just saw her again—or a very similar quail of the same age—out by the quail block, all alone but proceeding with confidence as if she is sure what she is doing.

How did she come to be alone? I can guess only that she either lost the rest of her family in some sort of catastrophe, or got left behind at some point. She seems to be doing well, and I hope she makes it through the rest of the summer. 

Monday, July 08, 2013

Morning After Bloom Night 2013

I have written frequently about Bloom Night, the one night during the year when most of the hundreds of night-blooming cereus at Tohono Chul Park bloom in unison. This event can only be predicted at the last minute,though it almost always occurs during the monsoon.

I did not work the event last night, but went to my Rove very early this morning, when the Park had been opened to visitors who had not been able to attend last night. Many of the blossoms were still open, and even those that had closed still had a lovely scent. These are some of the things the visitors and I saw:

N Trail Lums 7-8-2013 7-53-23 AM 2867x1782

Luminarias (paper bags, containing a candle and weighted with sand), marking the trails where the cereus blooms were concentrated

4 pink cer 7-8-2013 8-00-29 AM 1184x2051

Four lovely pink cereus blooms.

Emerald 7-8-2013 8-04-22 AM 1993x1082

Partially closed blooms from Emerald, which still has about ten unopened buds.

2 bright white 7-8-2013 8-12-23 AM 1817x1902

Two amazingly open bright white cereus that had apparently not received the message that it was daytime and already over 90 degrees

PR Cereus 7-8-2013 7-52-00 AM 1697x963

In the center of the Park, a Puerto Rican cereus of a different species, which also (and coincidentally) decided to bloom last night