Friday, September 20, 2013

The Dark Night Rises

Tucson Night

I would like to say that this week has been a week of crazy.  The month of September is one hot blazing mess.  Many people not of the desert wonder what we do during the day.  Well I'll tell you that we work in air conditioned buildings.  Or stay inside our air conditioned homes. It's at night that we all become vampires.  So during this past week, Kathie and I have done some late night birding together with some really fantastic finds BUT I won't bore you all with the details.  I'll just share with you all what has happened on our last two outings together on this Friday night roundup. 

Barn Owl

One night we headed out to explore several recharge basins to find some new birds for our Arizona list.  We accomplished our mission by finding the Pectoral Sandpiper.  And I accidentally found the Black-bellied Plover thanks to some Northern Pintails and noisy Killdeer.  Overall, the night was wonderful.  We sat under a gazebo in the dark and went over our lists together.  No one was around except us. Or so we thought.  Normally I wouldn't hang around the area but because Kathie was with me, we stayed a few minutes longer.  Rattlesnakes are still out and about and they love the evening hours. It's also during this time of night that the temps are actually enjoyable! The next day I found out someone had committed suicide not too far away from where we did our counts that night!  Creepy! We were the last people there.  A poor morning walker found the person hanging. The strange bit is that I didn't hear a single thing about it on the news.  But the birder world knew thanks to a rare bird spotted in the area.  Thankfully we both only saw birds. As you'll see in this post, people aren't the only ones out there past dark.

Lesser Goldfinch

In the darknesss, birds begin to hunker down.  Nocturnal animals, birds and reptiles wake up and begin their nightly hunts.  Kathie and I both reunite up again on Thursday for dinner and a quick evening survey of night birds around Saguaro National Park.   We hear a Great Horned Owl, Common Poorwills and see a Lesser Nighthawk. A fat rattlesnake also moves out in front of us along with several Kangaroo Rats. Then we head back to her place to observe the many Nectar Bats feeding from her hummingbird feeders.  And it does not disappoint!  We ate the quiche she made(yum!) and watch bats at her feeders. At one point, one of the bats went to the bathroom on my arm.  It was like a drop of rain but not. 

The giant Jackrabbit

My night vision isn't so great.   My targeting on the lens had to go to manual and I had to be ready for these fast moving bats!  So while I am happy with this shot, I was even happier with my next one.....a surprise guest...well....surprised us.  My hearing and sense of smell are both top notch.  They make up for that blind eye I have.  I sensed a disturbance in the force........

Nectar Bat

......and I looked up to see this Ring-tailed Cat watching us from Kathie's roof!  I am tall so I was able to watch this silent mammal run across her roof with lightning speed.  The long tail and smooth body reminded me of the old cartoon Rikki Tikki Tavi. He would come back several times watching us and then quickly vanish again. A life mammal for me.  And as Kathie discovered on this night, a resident.  I manual toggled my camera and was able to get off three pics before he disappeared. We heard him climb around the building.  Apparently Nectar Bats are delicious.  We both could smell a strong and not so fresh smell.  As we traced the source of the smell, we were led out to her front yard where we discovered that this mammal(not a cat but related to the raccoon family) sprayed around her mesquite tree.  We also discovered that he did indeed use that tree to get onto her roof.

Ring-tailed Cat

Birds, mammals and quiche with a friend.  It doesn't get much better than that. So Kathie's boys watched football(since when is it on Thursday nights??!!!) while we watched the live action stuff going on just right outside her sliding doors. Now that is what I call fun.  Happy weekend everyone!


  1. thanks for the memory of rikki tikki tavi. :)

    the bat shot is pretty darn cool!

  2. The ears on the Jack rabbit are incredible. It sounds like an eventful night. Hot summer nights must make a good opportunity to investigate what goes on in the dark if you have a friend to go with!

  3. A fun evening spent with a friend (at least you only saw the good parts).

    Those photos are amazing, I haven't tried a lot of mobile night shots. A tripod at night is challenging enough!

  4. Chris, what an adventure we had! I am so glad that you are so tall and spotted that ring-tailed cat again! It was a fun night overall and I am so glad you got to see the wild animals in my suburban yard! I am just amazed at what shows up around here! and, I am equally amazed that you got this post up so soon! Well done!

  5. The owl I took a while to figure out. Is he upside down or ? But then I saw his back was to the camera and he had turned his head around.

    I like the Ringtailed Cat shot. I only saw one in the Burnt Valley area of Anza where I once lived in all the almost 24 years I lived there. Recently I found a bunch of photos from a historical archive that showed trappers up in Anza and San Jacinto Mountains in the 1800s. The slaughtered many things which for the most part no longer exist. You wonder what important role they may have played in the ecosystem and what damage their loss has cuased other than their absence.

  6. The ring-tailed cat looks a wee bit like the the Grey Alien that people see so often!

    Great set of pictures.

    Stewart M - Melbourne

  7. The photo of the bat is awesome!!

  8. Wow, cool post! Love the bat shot, amazing! Glad you got to see the critters hanging out at Kathie's. Beautiful dark sunset pic too!

  9. wow,just wow
    how lucky you are to have such a friend as Kathy
    what a great night you had
    sorry about the poor soul

  10. HI Chris great post and I especially loved the bat.

  11. Just love the nectar bat :) Great post and photos Chris - its amazing the wildlife that's around when we are normally sleeping!! Hope temperatures get cooler for you soon.

  12. I never think to hunt for animals when the light dims! It's amazing you saw as much as you did! That ring-tailed cat looks like some sort of alien. ;)

  13. My oh my....spectacular image shares Chris.

    Thanks for stopping by the Bird D'Pot and leaving a comment.

    I'm is the Tucson weather these days?

  14. Hi Anni, it's hot here but the evenings are beginning to cool off again. By October, the daytime will be warm and the mornings cool. Right now it's around 95 degrees by mid-day:)

  15. Wow, it is fun to do vampirism once-in-a while. I imagine it is more exciting to do birding at night. We have fruit bats at night when the lanzones fruits are about to ripen. They are near our roof, but i don't know how to take their pictures.

  16. Chris, sounds like a wonderful evening. The Barn owl sighting is awesome. The ring-railed cat is cool. Great sightings, happy Sunday!

  17. Wow... That was fun! The bat is really cool! Crazy what goes on at night right outside your door isn't it? I have snow pictures with tracks to prove it.

  18. Life tv outside for free and a one time program, what more can you be asking for?
    Sorry for the poor guy.

  19. This night watching is great, except for the suicide. Is it still so hot there during the day? I had long johns on today under my uniform.

  20. Nearly missed this post of yours with the Barn Owl, Chris! Well done in finding and photographing this.

    I can't imagine a UK Barn Owl letting you get this close, though I once did have one brush my face with its wing when it fled a building that I looked inside. I think I was more surprised than it was!

    Some great photos here, but that first one is very atmospheric!


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