Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An Active Day!

Vermilion Flycatcher(male) and curious:)
It was El Presidio Gardens 2nd clean up event for this year and thank you to all the homeowners who came to help out on this very important day.  Without your help, our property would grow into a jungle!
Say what you like about pigeons but they do look beautiful in groups flying circles.  In fact, Miramonte Neighborhood has a group that swirls in circles AM and PM.  A signature piece to the Country Club/Speedway corners.
But on this day of write(10/6), something bigger would be revealed.  It has been hot here and now with the cooler temps arriving, it seems everyone has been breathing a sigh of relief!  Even the birds.
African Brown Goose
During our workday, I was overwhelmed by the number of bird species coming to visit El Presidio.  And let's not forget the butterflies.  For me, it was a testament that the gardens are serving their purpose.  Certain plants attract certain critters and for the first time(during the entire day), I was able to see how our property is attracting these magnificent creatures.  The research is paying off.
Black Crowned Night Heron
Certain areas have natural springs and of course, there are the parks......
Which is where I took these photos today.  Two Arizona blocks away is Reid Park.  I needed to get some birding in before our workday because I knew I would be exhausted afterwards. So I got up early and headed to the park where I would get my best shots ever of the Black Crowned Night Heron.
I was floored!  Never had I expected to find these magnificent creatures up in this tree.  In fact, there seemed to be an entire rookery up there!  But even stranger was this Great Egret on the adjacent branch!!!  Between this one bird and the many herons, I was snapping off shots for a half hour!  Even better was that I was finally able to get a nice shot of the Egret.  If you've tried to photograph these birds in the wrong lighting, you know what I'm talking about:)  In Tucson, our sun is intense and this bird glows on the shots because the white feathers reflect the sun!  Not today:)
But then, I nearly crapped myself.  And I almost missed it but thanks to my constantly evolving "bird sense", I spotted my first Kingfisher for the year!!!  The cherry on top of that delicious ice cream sundae.  This is the Belted Kingfisher.
I hope to get better shots of this wintering bird this year so we shall see.  But this bird is like spotting an owl....it makes me go "Ooooooo":)
Reid Park is my recommendation for those wanting to spot the Vermilion Flycatcher.  They are numerous here and seem to love the bandstand area.  Look at the trees around the building.  If this is on your life list and have limited time in Tucson,  head here early in the morning.  I spotted 5 pairs.  My female shots weren't so good.  She's yellow and has that black band around her eyes. 
While the pic below isn't up to snuff, I wanted to help you find where these birds like to perch.  This fence held two species.  The Gila Woodpecker stopped in for some fun.  It's one of the most reliable birds to see in the landscape.  You may not see the billion birds out there, but you'll always spot this Tucson favorite. And hear them as well:)
Like the Great Egret, this bird can also be difficult to get on camera because it's so small and if the sun hits the red feathers right, you may get blurry images.
There's plenty of water for these birds in this park.  I got there before the humans arrived with their dogs.  It was quiet, peaceful and the birds were happy.
Birding is definitely something to do bright and early.
Surprisngly I felt recharged and refreshed for some great gardening afterwards.  Although today as I type, my hands are full of cacti spines!  Yes, I wore gloves but none of that matters because our place looks fabu.
I came back and everyone was ready to work.  I pulled out my mental list.  Trees that needed pruning.  Weeds that needed pulling.  Plants that needed planting. Etc etc.
And while we were having our HOA meeting outside, I had a difficult time concentrating.  Because of the amazing life around me in the canopy of the trees.....the Curve Billed Thrasher, House Sparrows, House Finches, Cardinals, Verdins, Mourning Doves, Anna's Hummingbirds, Northern Mockingbird, etc etc.  They were all there and it was incredible. Truly incredible. And the butterflies hovered and clung to many of our leaves.  There were Queens and Swallowtails galore.
And I realized that once we add a water feature to the courtyard, we will have the perfect storm for maximum critter activity. Who knows?  We may become an EBIRD hotspot:)
And yet another shocker for me......this Starling.  They have invaded Tucson.  I thought I was seeing things but no....indeed, this was the Starling that gets everyone all angry.  But for me it was a life bird like the Belted Kingfisher so I kind of looked at this bird differently:)  Pretty scary looking.
And vocal!!!
To finish this post, I thought I'd end with a Swallowtail on Lantana shot.  Look at the wings of this beautiful butterfly.  You may notice that they aren't in great shape.  This is their last hoorah for the year and I will be sad when they disappear.


33 comments:

  1. Beautiful birds, there are so many that it is different, but, my favourite is the Egret.

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  2. A grand selection today.
    Nothing is growing here or nothing is growing very quickly.

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  3. Hi Chris

    You have made again beautiful bird pictures.....i like that little red one.... we don´t have them her in Holland......compliments for this post.

    greetings, Joop

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  4. A lot of birds today ha! plus a butterfly, which i haven't seen for long because i didn't go home to the province for the last 3 weeks. I love the composition mostly of the first one!

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  5. These are fantastic bird shots. I'm inspired to get a telephoto lens soon as there are lot of birds visiting my garden. I need not go far to start with. That picture of the butterfly on the Lantana is a good exit for your post.

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  6. What a wonderful selection of images. Especially love the Great Egret and the butterfly :) Nice to see the starling photos too and to hear they've arrived in your area. They have declined over here and where, once I used to moan because they monopolised the feeders, I now only get half a dozen sightings a year!! Glad the Clean Up went well :)

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  7. Chciałabym mieć w pobliżu taki park, gdzie jest tyle cudownych ptaków. Niektóre z nich oglądać mogę tylko na zdjęciach lub zamkniętych klatkach w Zoo. Pozdrawiam.
    I would like to be near a park, where there are so many wonderful birds. Some of them I can only see the pictures or closed cages at the zoo. Yours.

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  8. I like pigeons. And seagulls. People in California call them flying rats. I think they are beautiful soaring over the water and breezes. Same with pigeons.

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  9. Qué preciosos pajarillos!!!.. y esas ardeidas maravillosas.. Enhorabuena amigo.. Un saludo..

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  10. Great post Chris, the Vermilion Flycatcher is a bird i would love to see. Well done seeing your first Kingfisher of the year, excellent

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  11. Great shots Chris, the Vermillion Flycatcher is an absolute delight. Glad to hear that the homeowners mucked in and helped with the big cleanup.

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  12. oh boy what a treat!
    But I wanted to see the clean up
    You reminded of the time I went to an outdoor worship service in the woods.....I never heard a single word of the sermon..too busy eying every bird that passed through...ha ha
    you are a dynamo.....next year water feature....ha
    good for you and the critters
    and thanks for the pigeon shot

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  13. So many exotic (for me) birds a stone-throw away from where you live! You are one lucky man. I am in love with that Vermillion Flycatcher, why oh why can't they come to Canada! The photo of the Egret is perfection, in your second picture it looks like a treble clef :)

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  14. your night heron shots are great, and you're right - those egret shots are wonderful! so jealous of the vermilion flycatcher! whew! pretty!

    now, kingfishers i do get to enjoy here almost all year round. :)

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  15. Those are all beautiful shots Chris. The Vermilion Flycatcher is lovely.

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  16. My fav is the little red bird

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  17. Fantastic birds you are finding there Chris. What a beautiful thing to combine photography, birding, and gardening!

    We had a Gila Woodpecker here last week and it was definitely a work-stopping moment. I couldn't find any info that says it is typically seen this far east. Birds don't read the habitat info online I guess.

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  18. So now at least we know where all of our birds have gone for the winter...

    Did you ever find an amazing amount of wildlife.

    I need to be able to figure out what we have here visiting us...it's hard, darker under the fir trees, and they move so fast. The birds here are not quite as bright, more muted colors.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  19. Fabulous pictures Chris, the flycatcher is a real star!

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  20. That last shot of the egret is frameable. Very nice that your gardens attract so much beautiful life. Maybe that's why I'm not a true birders because I'm dislike getting up early.

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  21. WoW! You DID have a great day with your camera!

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  22. Well done on the two life birds Chris :-)

    Nice to see Starlings have an alternative home for when they become extinct here! 40 million have gone in the last 20 years :-(

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    1. They are spreading!! It's not such a good thing though because they're kicking out our native birds from their habitat. They are few in Tucson but our capital of Phoenix is FULL of them. They've added the Peach Faced Lovebird now to our birds of Arizona because they have also made home here as have several other nonnatives.

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    2. European starlings are problem birds in our garden too.

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  23. Your hots of the egrets are superb, and I know exactly what you're talking about re: that thin white intense light. We have the same lighting condition here in Texas that just washes the color and definition out of so many things. That first shot of the little red vermilion flycatcher is my favorite though!

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  24. What absolutely wonderful shots!! I'm so glad you were there to get the shots of the Great Egret. I had to laugh at the shot of the guy (bird) walking...he looks so hunched over and comical. :) I'm working on making a trip for the Day of the Dead. What is the exact date?

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    1. HI Nancy!!!:) Oh my gosh...really? That would be exciting. Here's the link. It's on Nov. 4th. Call me when you get down to Tucson so we can find a place to meet up. And get your camera ready:) http://www.allsoulsprocession.org/?m=20121104&cat=3 I'll email you my tel. number:) that would be so much fun:)

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  25. Chris, awesome collection of birds and photos.

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  26. Ohhhh... these are all exceptional! I particularly like the grumpy little bird with the big feet and of course even torn bug wings are special.

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  27. Olá, parabéns pelo blog!
    Se você puder visite este blog:
    http://morgannascimento.blogspot.com.br/
    Obrigado pela atenção

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  28. hi chris, what an exciting and successful birding excursion. I saw those egrets up in trees in Cambodia on the shore of the Tonle Sap lake. And I'm really pleased you included the humble old pigeon, they get despised and such a bad rap but I'm quite fond of them. cheers, catmint

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  29. You've done a great job, Chris! I'm still getting my hummers and woodpeckers. I did see a couple of finches at my feeder the other day so maybe there is still hope. :-) I love that little red bird that keeps showing up in your post.

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  30. My goodness! You certainly are seeing quite a few birds that surprise me, in El Presidio and Reid Park! Love the photos! I need to head out early!

    Oh, I jumped the gun on the high 30s temps...it was only mid-40s, but yes, I am loving this cooler weather!

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