Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Birthday John James Audubon!

April 26th 2011 Google Doodle logo

The doodle in place of the usual Google logo on Tuesday is inspired by the paintings of the famous French-American ornithologist John James Audubon. The doodle celebrating Audubon's birthday has, like many other Google doodles, a pattern of the Google logo visible. In the latest doodle, the Google logo is made up of the branches of the trees the birds in the painting are perched.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fledgling Curve-billed Thrasher

The expression on this Thrasher Mom's face says it all...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Backwards Bumble Bee?

Someone please tell me what this is?  He's the size of a regular honey bee, but the stinger is in the front!  Happily, he was rescued from the pool yesterday and set free.  Last seen buzzing around our blossom filled Palo Verde tree.  Contact me at birdbloglady@gmail.com
UPDATE:  April 24th, 2011

Hello Peggy,

The "Backward Bumble Bee" picture may be a picture of a fly.  I think it is a fly because it appears to have only two wings and it has very short antennae. The object that you see sticking out of the front is its Proboscis. It is not uncommon to see this "tongue" sticking out.

Here is a link for you to use for further study: http://bugguide.net/node/view/15740
The BugGuide is a service of Iowa State University Entomology. 
Here is a book reference:  "Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America"
by Eric R. Eaton and Kenn Kaufman

Happy birding,

William Herron

UPDATE: April 30th, 2011

While birding today at Gilbert Water Ranch, I met an entomologist from Cape Cod, Mass., she further identified the fly in the above photo as a "Bee Fly".  Thanks Honnah, hope you were able to see a Vermilion Flycatcher along the Salt River!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Trail at Granite Reef Rec. Site

An easel awaits its artist with a view of Red Mountain.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica dominica)

No, I haven't taken up painting.  On my last visit to the Granite Reef Rec. Site two artists were there each capturing their own perspective of the tilted strata of Red Mountain.  What a great place to sit and paint, under shady mesquite trees with a cool breeze coming off of the Salt River.  Well its also a great place to bird especialy now that the weather is heating up.  You can see and hear a lot by just sitting in one spot.  Eventually birds start zipping by, or darting down out of all the trees, or swooping out and back over the river.
After sitting awhile I saw that a shady trail winds along the shore so I headed downstream through the mesquite bosque to check it out.  The trail is not the most accessible, but it wasn't meant to be. If you are in a powered wheelchair or a manual you will  need help to get over a few spots, but its not bone-jarring, the majority is smooth.  I managed to catch a nice view of a Yellow-rumped Warbler, for once capturing an image revealing its head, chest, belly, tail, and wingbars, instead of the usual blurry image of a yellow-feathered butt flying away!
Tiny toad found on the trail.
Birds seen (April 2nd, 2011) - Bullock's Oriole, Phainopepla, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ring-necked Ducks, Redheads, Coots, Blue Heron, Great Egret, Turkey Vultures, Northern Cardinal.  Heard or seen  by other more experienced birders - Lucy's Warbler, Bewick's Wren, Gray Flycatcher, Orange-crowned Warblers.  No Vermilion Flycatcher here, but reported at Phon D Sutton.

Its best to come early in the morning, on weekdays, as more people are here on weekends fishing or kayaking and soon kids will start tubing down the Salt River. 

Remember - you'll need a Tonto Pass to park here.  Click HERE for places to purchase a Tonto Pass. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopeleia decaocto)

Just who are these interlopers in my yard, and how did they get here?  Did they take a wrong turn like the Eurasian Teal we had this winter at the Tempe Marsh?  Actually I kinda like em'.  They look like they're ready for a formal event with their black collars, they are not bullies at the feeders, and they arrive in ones or twos - unlike their unruly white-winged cousins.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mesa's Electric Park

Dreamland Villa Desert Nature Walk (a.k.a. Mesa Electric Park) is a nice little hidden gem in Mesa, running along the tall electrical towers between Higley and 64th st., north of University Drive.  The well maintained smooth trail winds through a 2 mile stretch of desert lush with old-growth saguaros, ocotillo, prickly pear, palo verde, creosote and mesquite.  Its quite wheelchair friendly and there are shady spots along the path with rustic benches to rest on, and a few cute home-made bird feeding stations here and there. 

The entire park is smack-dab in the middle of the Dreamland Villa subdivision of 1960s patio homes.  The homes directly next to the park have their back yards open to the desert park, so if you decide to bird here, please be respectful of the homeowners and enjoy the park quietly, staying on the trail.  Parking is available in a small lot by the community pool, on E.Colby st. east of 56th st..

Over the years the surrounding homeowners introduced additional plants to this sonoran desert habitat, as there are a few cacti here that I haven't even seen at Desert Botanical Garden.  There are patches here and there lush with huge aloe plants, or dotted with wildflowers, or filled with agave.  Huge stands of prickly pear are now loaded with hundreds of buds ready to bloom any time now. Everything seems to grow here.
(After checking the HOA rules I found that - All trees, shrubs, cacti, etc., planted on the Nature Walk must be native or common to the southwest and must be able to survive on their own without any care - drought resistant).

A feral flock of Peach-faced Lovebirds has made this place their home and can be heard chattering away up in the palo verdes.  They've also taken over old Gila Woodpecker nests in the huge old saguaros that have been here long before the path, electric towers, or surrounding homes appeared.

This is a great place for an early morning walk or to just sit and observe the wildlife.  You could probably identify quite a few birds by simply sitting in one spot waiting quietly and listening.  There's quite a  bit of nestbuilding going on and a number of nests to be seen from the trail, and critter holes, old and new.
Birds seen included Anna's and Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Verdin, Aberts Towhee, Cactus Wren, White-crowned Sparrow, Inca Dove, Peach-faced Lovebird, Gambel's Quail, Curve-billed Thrasher, and Gila Woodpecker.  I wouldn't be surprised to see an occasional Phainopepla, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal or even a Bullock's Oriole.  Other critters seen were Cottontail Rabbits, Rock Squirrels, Desert Spiny Lizard, and signs of pack-rats, and maybe a coyote.

For a map and more info see the Dreamland Villa website.

To view a slideshow of the trail at Mesa's Electric Park, click on the image below.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Highlights

A night bloomer stayed open for the Monday morning bird walkers!
Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)

Common King Snake on the Wildflower Trail.

Where's my mommy?!
Do you have an event, bird walk, meeting, or nature walk that belongs on this calendar? Please send info to birdbloglady@gmail.com

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