Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bird stuff

The Park is a’ twitter with birds. Courting birds, fighting birds, nesting birds. On Friday we watched a pair of male phainopeplas compete for a female, who sat calmly at the top of a tree ear the Sin Agua garden, while her suitors performed acrobatics all around her, being sure to show off their sexy white wing bars. I’ve seen several pairs of verdins with nesting materials—including one that was apparently putting the finishing touches on a nest along the Texas trail; Gila woodpeckers apparently already tending young inside their nests in saguaro holes; and cactus wrens and doves searching for just the right twig or branch for their new home.

Sueno closeup 10-14-2009 4-56-09 AM 2304x1728 In addition to all these treasures, I was privileged to be the “helper” at our bimonthly Harris Hawk demonstration, featuring Sueno, a captive hawk who was badly injured as a fledgling and is now an education hawk. Sueno is very smart and knows several words; she is also devoted to her “family,” in this case her trainer. Here’s a very brief video of Sueno doing her thing.


Monday, March 05, 2012

More flowers!

So many things are blooming in the Park. Some wildflowers, some cultivated, some trees… everything and everywhere. Here are a few more:

Blackfoot daisies 3-3-2012 10-17-51 AM 1489x926 3-3-2012 10-17-51 AM 1489x926

This is blackfoot daisy, and it blooms practically all year, but looks best in spring.

Creosote blooms 3-3-2012 10-21-02 AM 781x1842

  On the left is creosote bush, with its delicate yellow flower.


Cape Aloe 3-3-2012 10-30-01 AM 2422x3320

And above is a South African plant, Cape Aloe

Gooding's Verbena 3-3-2012 10-28-55 AM 1007x1500          Western Wallflower 3-3-2012 10-27-51 AM 1008x2495   

Gooding’s Verbena and Western Wallflower, a sweet-smelling wild mustard

Friday, March 02, 2012

Spring has sprung

It is truly spring in the Sonoran Desert.  The Park is lush with flowers of every color.

Desert bluebells 2-29-2012 9-02-47 AM 2088x1813  Firecracker penstemon 2-29-2012 9-09-06 AM 3564x1660   Parry's penstemon 2-29-2012 9-02-33 AM 3460x2677


Birds are courting, building nests, mating, and in some cases raising young.  One Anna’s hummingbird nest in the parking lot has already produced two fledglings.  Another Anna’s nest has two ready to go.  The mother is running herself ragged providing insects for her babies.  The other day I saw a male Phainopepla  tenderly feeding a mistletoe berry to his beloved.

                                hummer! 2-29-2012 9-03-06 AM 3616x1395

         This male Costa’s hummingbird flew right into the picture while I was photographing some of the flowers!

Most exciting for me is the new Cooper's hawk nest in the riparian area. It looks like a very large pile of very large twigs—as if, said one of my fellow docents, it had been built by giant mourning doves.hawk nest1 2-29-2012 8-56-54 AM 2274x2591