Tuesday, October 19, 2004

October 19, 2004

Yesterday afternoon a bird I had never seen stopped for a drink in the pond. At first I thought it was just a big sparrow, but on closer inspection it was way too big for that. It was about the size and body build of a thrasher, with strikingly rufous back, wings, and tail. The throat and chest were cream-colored and streaked very much like a Calliope hummingbird's gorget (only it was brownish streaking, not purple!). The beak was insectivore-looking, black and pointed, but way shorter than a curve-billed thrasher's.

The only thing that looked like it in my bird book was the brown thrasher, which according to the book does not appear west of the Rockies. So I'm stumped. If anyone reading this has a clue, please let me know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

October 13, 2004

This morning the mockingbird—or at any rate, some mockingbird—was singing from the top of the ocotillo behind the pond! So beautiful to hear and see. After a few minutes it flew off, but I suspect it is claiming its winter territory, which means it will be around all winter and maybe I’ll get to hear it in the spring!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

October 12, 2004

We are moving into fall and winter, though it is still hot. Highs in the high eighties to low nineties. I love it, because it’s not really hot, since the air is so dry. That is, it’s hot when you stand out in the sun in the middle of the afternoon, but not at all hot in the shade. We have the doors open all day instead of running the cooler (though sometimes we run it for an hour or two).

The birds and animals don’t seem to be doing much different, though the birds are no longer panting when they come to the pond. Also, I have way fewer hummers, who are presumably pretty much through with their migration. Last night I heard a mockingbird singing in a yard down “in the valley.” He was probably setting up his winter territory. I said, “Everything would be perfect if only we had mockingbirds in our yard.”

This morning I saw a beautiful mockingbird drinking and bathing at the pond. I hope he/she will decide to move in and announce the fact with beautiful songs.

I intend to begin posting pictures here soon. I haven’t quite figured out how to take pictures that clearly show my birds, because there is no good place with the light right from which to photograph. But I can at least post some of the old pix: the species are the same.

Not much other news. The last two mornings I saw a male Anna’s, at dawn, bathing on the flat rock that my waterfall falls on. He stands on the rock, then gets down on his little chest, flutters to spread the water around, and repeats. Then he flies off to preen and dry. Also, I’ve seen a male pyrrhuloxia use the cardinal seed-feeder. Those little guys are so clever!

Monday, October 04, 2004

October 4, 2004

Backyard activity at the bird pond has reached a sort of steady state. Nothing unusual, but plenty to look at as I gaze at my riparian paradise. For example, today I saw a male phainopepla, a male pyrrhuloxia, a female cardinal (at the feeder), a handful of (probably) Anna’s hummingbirds, and lots of quail, finches, sparrows, and doves. They like it. The plants that didn’t fry over the summer have been repotted in much larger containers and I hope will provide better shade next year. The papyrus I planted in the pond is already spreading, and I’ll have to keep an eye on it to prevent it choking the pond.

The weather has become beautiful with an unending series of what my father used to call “patented Tucson days”—sunny and warm during the day, then cool at night, with blue, blue skies and clear purple mountains. If it was like this all year long the valley would have 10 million inhabitants and more clamoring to get in.

Likewise nothing unusual along the river, though the other day there was a traffic jam as two women walkers stopped dead on the path, blocking both lanes as they stared in terror at a small gopher snake that they thought was a rattler. The guy who manicures the path removed the snake with a snake hook, and we all continued on our way.