Springtime Birds…

~Happy Summer Solstice…

Today the first day of Summer and our weather here in Loveland, Colorado is cool and wet. I am hoping for a milder summer. Spring has been very cool and rainy. However, the bird watching has been awesome.

~I saw this Burrowing Owl at Coyote Ridge, Loveland, CO. This cute little owl was hunting food for his mate that was waiting on top of their nesting burrow. He would bring food back to her and she would head down the burrow to feed her babies. It was exciting to see the two interact. It has been a long time since I have seen a Burrowing Owl.

Burrowing Owl (male)

~Howard and I saw this beautiful Bobolink at Reservoir Ridge in Fort Collins, CO. It is only in Colorado for a couple of months. We were lucky to see it land on this scrub and exhibit its mating dance. This is a new bird for me, number 392.

A male Bobolink

~Always a pleasure to see the Kingbirds

Eastern Kingbird

~This female Red-winged Blackbird was taking a break from hunting for food and just seemed to be enjoying the sunshine. She sat on this fence post for a while.

~We were so lucky this spring to have about six pair of Western Tanagers visiting our feeders. They are gone now, probably headed north, and I believed I helped them on their journey by feeding them lots of oranges and grape jelly.

Western Tanager (male)

A baby Western Tanager

White-breasted Nuthatch
Black-headed Grosbeck
Bullock’s Oriole

~We have had a pair of American Robins in our yard all spring. They have built two nests, one in a pine tree and one under our deck. The nest under the deck had three babies in it. I watched the three babies grow bigger each day.  Then one day I looked at the nest and they were gone. I believed that they were too young to have fledged and that something must have gotten them. However, we are enjoying watching three beautiful spotted babies. Don’t really know if they are the same birds, but I would like to believe they are. Yesterday, one of the babies was standing in a tray of mealworms and begging the Mom for food.  Too funny, poor Mom.

American Robin

~A beautiful female Lazuli Bunting


~When on an outing to Barr Lake State Park near Denver, I spotted this Canada Geese family.

Across Barr Lake a Bald Eagle’s nest.
Barr Lake on a cloudy day.
White Pelicans on Barr Lake.

~The header photo is a Western Meadowlark.

I hope everyone enjoys the summer. I wish all my birding friends a summer filled with wonderful bird outing and plenty of birding observations.

 

~A hike to Picacho Peak

From the top of Picacho Peak

On Friday, January 4, 2019, while staying at Picacho Peak State Park we climbed to the top of the famous Picacho Peak. We began our hike at the Hunter Trailhead. The distance to the top is 2.7 miles with an increase in elevation of 2,014.

Our site at Picacho Peak State Park
Our four-hour hike begins.

Description of the trail from a web-site: The trail to the summit is well marked and maintained. The trail is challenging and requires strong arms to grip the cables on ascent and descent- gloves are highly recommended. Views from the trail and the summit are great!

The weather on this Friday was perfect for the climb, not too cool or too warm. Our round trip took us a little over four hours. The path was steep and rocky, and in some places, we were walking along a sheer drop off. Beautiful, old Saguaro Cactus as far as the eye could see.

Along the trail heading to the top.
Heading up, it was cooler.

In several locations, we had to use the provided cables to help us climb the steep, rocky terrain. We had read where gloves were advisable and I was so glad I had mine.

Some of the cabling we used.

In some places along the trail, we would descend only to have to hike straight up again.
Midway point, called “The Saddle”
A very nice view.
At the top of Picacho Peak

Enjoying a snack and the views.
At the top!

I have never experienced anything like it before. I am so grateful that we made it to the top. We sat at the summit enjoying a snack and the view. It was a challenge and difficulty.

Our set challenge was met, it was so much fun and I won’t ever forget this climb/hike.

Some moss along the way.

Didn’t take too many photos, because I needed both hands free to navigate the trail and to use the cabling. Howard took the panoramic, header photo using his Apple iPhone.

The only birds I observed along the trail were several Rock Wrens.

~A nice hike up to an overlook at Picacho State Park, AZ

December 30, 2018, A nice hike up to an overlook at Picacho State Park, AZ.

Temperatures have been in the low 50’s and high 40’s with overnight lows in the high 20’s. Last night it rained and we woke this morning to low hanging clouds below the snow-covered peaks. The sun finally came out and it tuned out to be a nice day with a high of 48.

Our hike on the 30th was very nice. We took a trail that was “training” for us in hopes of climbing to the top of Picacho Peak. Don’t know if we will make it, but it will be fun and interesting trying. Thursday is the day!

Picacho Peak State Park, campground in the background, left.
Saguaro Cactus
Even though it has been cold here, there are still a few blooming plants.
Picacho Peaks
A Saguaro Cactus skeleton.

I don’t know why, but the fallen skeleton of these giant Saguaro Cactus fascinate me. Interesting fact sheet on the Saguaro Cactus can be found here:  https://www.desertmuseum.org/kids/oz/long-fact-sheets/Saguaro%20Cactus.php

Just a couple from the fact sheet: simply amazing!

Life Span-With the right growing conditions, it is estimated that saguaros can live to be as much as 150-200 years old.

Size-Saguaro are very slow growing cactus. A 10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall. Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall (12-18m). When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds.

Arizona Barrel Cactus

Can’t see the trail, but it was mostly vertical.
Typical terrain.

Yesterday, the 31st, I spent some time trying to capture a few bird shots at the motorhome. I don’t like to take photos of birds at the feeder, but with no trees around I had no choice.

Anna’s Hummingbird.

This male Anna’s, spent so much time watching for other hummingbirds. It is comical to watch.

The sunlight shining on his beautiful, pink throat.
Ever watchful.

Lark Bunting
White-crowned Sparrow
Gila Woodpecker

I would like to wish everyone a very healthy, happy, loving, and adventurous, new year. Enjoy what nature has to offer.

 

~Sunset over the Catalina Mountains

~December 22, 2018, Catalina State Park, Oro Valley, AZ

A lovely walk, at sunset, on the Romero Ruin Loop Trail.

Howard at the beginning of the Romero Ruin Trail in Catalina State Park (6:15pm)
The mountains are gorgeous with the beginning of the evening sunlight shining on them. (6:16pm)
Shadows add to the drama taking place.
(6:20pm) Sunlight kissing the Saguaro Cacti.
(6:22pm) The evening sunlight turns these mountains into a fiery, gorgeous sight.
(6:30pm) Looking west.
(6:31pm)  A different view
(6:32pm)
(6:33pm)
(6:34pm)
(6:37pm)
(6:48pm)

The Romero Ruin Trail Loop is one of my very favorite trails. The views, from atop this hill of the Catalina Mountains are spectacular, the foliage diverse, and the birding rewarding. At sunset, the scene is peaceful and breathtaking.

Earlier in the day, on the same trail:

Curved-billed Thrasher

A list of all the other birds I observed while visiting Catalina State Park:

Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk(new), Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Prairie Falcon, Mourning Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Anna’s Hummingbird, Gilded Flicker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Gila Woodpecker, Vermilion Flycatcher, Say’s Phoebe, Common Raven, Western Scrub-Jay, White-crowned Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Canyon Towhee, Pyrrhuloxia, House Finch, Cassin’s Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

I wish I would have seen more!

 

~The Moon Sits Atop a Saguaro

December 20, 2018, Catalina State Park, Oro Valley, AZ

A stroll at dusk back a nature trail in Catalina State Park to watch the moon rise over the Catalina Mountains was a lovely way to spend the evening.

The Moon sits atop a cactus.

The evening light brings out the gorgeous colors of the Catalinas.
The Moon rises higher.

It was a lovely walk, watching the glow of the setting sun play its magic over the mountains.

On Saturday, December 22nd, the moon will be full and it is also the winter solstice. Winter is here.

~Ducks

December 19, 2018, Oro Valley, AZ

The featured photo of the Pied-billed Grebe and the female Green-winged Teal were taken at Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, AZ during the week.

Female Green-winged Teal

For more information on the Sweetwater Wetlands, you can visit their website: Sweetwater Wetlands

The photos below were taken today at Aqua Caliente Park in Tuscon, AZ. It is a lovely place to enjoy the day.

Things to do include, learning about the history of the area and what it is currently being used for, walking the trails looking for birds or just sitting on one of the park benches relaxing.

For more information on the Aqua Caliente Park, you can visit their website, http://tucsonaudubon.org/about-us/our-locations/745-2/

 

American Wigeon pair. The male is stretching his wing.
American Wigeons. I don’t know what they were eating, but they sure were clustered around each other trying to feed.

I loved the reed reflections on the pond and where the duck was snoozing; however, the buoy in the background ruined the photo so I included some with it cropped out.

Ring-necked
Ring-necked Pair
He was watching me with one eye open and then he decided he better check me out more closely.
It looks like he got really mad at me.

 

Enjoying retirement: On The Road & At Home