Walking along a wash, we saw verdins, Gila woodpeckers, white-crowned sparrows, Say's phoebe, mourning doves and tiny ground doves. Large millkweed vines grow up into the ironwood trees, attracting queen butterflies, and some of the seed pods were covered with the colorful milkweed bugs.
Near the end of our walk, a bird swooped low over our heads and flew to a perch across the road. We were both delighted to see a male kestrel, and for our further enjoyment, he flew back to a nearby flagpole, where he sat and gave us a perfect view of his colorful plumage.
We got one more flyover as he moved to a palm tree and perched patiently in the shade of the large fronds.
I hung a hummingbird feeder just outside the kitchen window of our trailer, and by the second day of our stay, a male Costas was happily feeding regularly there. He would perch in an ocotillo only a few feet away from the feeder where he could keep a good eye on it. I felt bad when it was time to leave and take down the feeder, so we hung one in the ocotillo, hoping he would find it.
As we arrived back in Tucson, the weather continued to be unseasonably warm. Can't say as I mind 78 sunny degrees on a January day! And neither did this red-tailed hawk who soared above our house, then settled for a rest on a utility pole in the wash at the bottom of our driveway.
At our request, Tucson Electric Power has added raptor protection to some of its poles, and this raptor, for one, is very thankful!
I was happy to be back at the Desert Museum on January 6th, visiting with my friends and fellow docents, sharing the desert's secrets with visitors, seeing the hummingbirds already nesting in the aviary, delighting in the new blooms, and catching up on all the activity.
|Red Barberry in Bloom (Berberis haematocarpa)|
|Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica) - a hummingbird favorite|
|Ripening berries of the desert mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum)|
A few butterflies are still flying at this time of year, including a lovely painted lady (Vanessa cardui) who was nectaring on the few lantana blooms that had not been hit by the freeze in December.
There's nothing like ending our day at the black-tailed prairie dog exhibit, whose occupants are endlessly entertaining.
Back in the neighborhood, phainopeplas spend the winter in our low desert, feasting on mistletoe berries, flashing their bright white wingbars in flight, and I see them daily in my back yard and on my walks around the neighborhood.
Mornings and late afternoons are the busiest times for hummingbirds at the feeders. They come and go constantly, chasing one another, calling, perching for a minute, zipping by, then returning for another drink.
This is a female, probably Anna's, although I cannot see any red on the throat, so maybe she's a juvenile.
As the sun set on Sunday, the Catalina mountains lit up with a rosy hue, and the clouds matched them in vibrancy.
In a few moments, the night's real show began as the huge full moon edged over the Catalina's ridgetops.
Rapidly the orb rose and lit the landscape, while a few clouds began to encroach. Such a powerful scene!
Sometimes we bemoan the lack of interesting wildlife and plant activity in January. Oh, how I beg to differ. Delightful little moments await around every corner. Take a look. You'll see.