Saturday, March 07, 2009

The First Bluebonnets

Today I got someone to go to the park with me for just a short walk. I was happy to find the first bluebonnets of the season. It seemed to me they were in an odd place--on the swimming beach at Joe Pool Lake--the beach that shouldn't be there but is because the lake water level is so low. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me, so this shot will have to do. I afraid we aren't going to have a very good crop of wildflowers this spring because we've had so little rain.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What Bird?

I recently happened upon a bird identification website that I found really helpful called The thing I liked the most about it was the way the search thing worked by process of elimination based on a number of different features like location, bill shape, habitat, bill size, etc. That seems like a good approach for an amateur like me.

For instance, it starts with 891 total birds. Then if you use the location feature and choose Arizona, it goes down to 366 birds. Then if you further refine it by choosing desert habitat, it goes down to 42. And so on, making further refinements based on other features until you have just a few choices. At that point you can click on up to five choices and it the Compare button and it brings up a display of those 5 birds with a bit of explanation about the features of each.

But, I did find at least once case where the search thing led me astray. I was observing birds in the desert, but when I chose desert habitat it eliminated the bird I saw (at least, I think it did!).

The other thing is that it is only for North America birds.

Birding in Arizona

I'm cheating a little to use this photo because really my son, Andrew, took the photo. We were both chasing this cactus wren in the Desert Botanical Gardens near Phoenix, AZ, but his camera did a better job than mine. I was able to add 5-6 new birds to my life list, which you can see on Birdstack, if you are interested. Here's the ones I just added, all seen in the Arizona desert:
  • Anna's Hummingbird
  • Ladder-backed woodpecker
  • Verdin
  • Black-tailed gnatcatcher
  • Curve-billed thrasher
  • Abert's towhee
I also saw Gambel's quail, a very obvious bird, and several others that I'd already had on my life list from a previous visit.

Monday, March 02, 2009


They just don't make oases like they used to.

We returned late last night from a 4-day trip to Arizona to have a quick visit with our son and his family who were here in the States for a business trip. Well, that isn't really quite true. We really went to see the world's most beautiful grandbaby:

I have a lot of photos to sort through and post over the next few days. In the mean time, I've got to recover from this trip and get Gary off on the next.