Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hectic Days, Peaceful Moments

The days seem so hectic this time of year, even for people like me who don't do a lot of decorating or entertaining for the holidays.  There are gifts to buy, cards to send, parties to attend, baking to do, packing to finish, the stores are busy, the pace is frantic, the too-loud-recorded Christmas music is relentless.  Yes, it's easy to get negative about the whole affair.  So, moments of calm and beauty are all the more welcome and appreciated.

We've had a lot of rain this week, which is a good thing.  The desert loves it, and the hope of a marvelous spring display of wildflowers grows with each rainy day. Our biseasonal rainfall is what sets the Sonoran Desert apart from the 3 other North American deserts.  It's what gives us our tremendous biodiversity.  In the midst of a rainy Monday, the sun broke through the clouds and a brilliant rainbow lit the sky, it's faint double rising by its side.  Photos, at least mine, never really do justice to rainbows.  It's one of those things you just have to see for yourself.

  At the Fourth Avenue Street Fair last weekend I purchased a new hummingbird feeder from the artist who makes them and who is also a zookeeper at the Desert Museum.  Not only are they beautiful, but have the added advantage of being bee-proof.

I hung it near the old feeder and it didn't take long for the hummers to find it.

In the winter, I can count on two species of hummingbirds being here every day - Costa's (Calypte costae) and Anna's (Calypte anna).  One male Costa's in particular seems to have some kind of affinity for me, which started when he was younger and has continued into adulthood.  Frequently when I go out to the back yard, which is his territory, he flies right up to my face and looks at me, then sometimes moves around to my ears or neck, flying so close that I can feel the breeze from his wingbeats.  Here is his photo, for which he posed so patiently.

The fog descended again this week, shrouding the desert in mystery and ghostliness, lasting only for a few brief hours before lifting and allowing the sun to do its job.

That's our house at the top of the hill.  Can you see it?

As the blue sky returned, the clouds sat below the mountaintop.  This is the front range of the Santa Catalina Mountains, as seen from my front yard.

There is never a bad day at the Desert Museum.  With the chilly weather on Friday morning, most (maybe ALL) the visitors were at our premier daily event, Raptor Free Flight, showcasing several species of Sonoran Desert raptors flying free and offering eye-poppingly-close views and encounters.

Flying this morning were a great horned owl, a prairie falcon, a ferruginous hawk, a gray hawk and Chihuahuan ravens. It was a birdy morning as my next assignment was interpreting a female American kestrel, North America's smallest falcon.

As the day warmed, the crowds grew.  For my afternoon tour of the grounds, I was joined by four visitors, one couple from the Netherlands and one couple from Washington state.  The perfect size tour, in my opinion,  And these visitors in particular were a joy to tour as their interest and curiosity were endless. We stopped to examine every new plant and talk about its adaptability to the often harsh desert environment, and laughed at the antics of the cactus wren.  The mountain lion lounged in her viewing window just a few feet from us, looking for all the world like you could reach out and pet her.  The time passed much too quickly.  Now I think we have four more desert ambassadors!

Back in my yard, I was thrilled to see a flock of Western bluebirds stop by for a drink and a rest on their way to .  .  . ?  Where?  Somewhere warmer, I imagine.

Many thanks to those of you who follow this blog publicly, and to all my faithful readers.  I appreciate your time and your comments!

There are many reasons and ways to celebrate at this time of year.  I wish you joyful celebrations and tranquil, beautiful days all through 2012!

Here is a link to my holiday photo card.  It is a large file, so please give it sufficient time to download before scrolling (a minute or two depending on your speed):  Holiday Greetings



  1. I love the desert fog photos and the owl in flight!


  2. There is something very special about the Sonoran desert, especially after the rain. And your images capture it so well.

    Saw three rainbows today.

  3. Carole, your blog is the best! The photography is wonderful, and the writing informative, articulate, and passionate. You are, indeed, a star docent!

  4. Great captures of the rainbow, fog, hummers and bluebirds. How wonderful to see the raptors up close!

  5. What fabulous photos! I had a kestral in my tree last summer - eating a vole. Such beautiful raptors!

    I love all the photos of the birds, and owls, etc here. Thank you for sharing!

  6. What a wonderful owl picture. Great blog and absolutely georgous Christmas card. Happy Holidays.

  7. Two years ago I saw bluebirds, robins and cedar waxwings all winter long which was very unusual. This winter, I've seen bluebirds a few times.


I welcome your comments, but those from Anonymous users, or those including links will be immediately reported as Spam to Blogger and will be deleted. Thanks for your understanding.