Thursday, March 29, 2012

Star-of-Bethlehem Flower


And you know spring has come when these little lilies start to bloom. These are called Star-of-Bethlehem and grow about six inches tall.

They are actually native to southern Europe and northern Africa and were imported back in the 1800's. They are now considered an invasive by the National Park Service, although in my small garden they've never really expanded past the three or four plants that have naturalized around my Stella del Oro daylilies.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lady Banks Rose with an IPhone


No, not a scan of an old picture.

I've gone over to the dark side and bought an IPhone (it's a 3GS, not the 4) and proceeded to download three camera apps for it. This was taken with the Hipstamatic app which replicates the photos from the old Kodak Instamatic camera.  I've also downloaded the Instagram and Camera+ apps and will pass along my Panasonic FP8 to my mother who was looking for a small point and shoot that she could keep in her purse.

Using the IPhone as a pocket point and shoot seems to be the way a lot of people are going these days. I just got this month's National Geographic Magazine and they had statistics on how many photos we are taking annually - and people are taking more and more photos with their cell phones than they are with digital cameras.

I can see taking photos with my IPhone just for fun using these apps, but I still want to carry my camera with me to take the really good snapshots.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Carolina Chickadee in a River Birch


My favorite little bird sitting in my most unfavorite tree.

Here's one of a nesting pair of Carolina Chickadees up in the river birch in front of my house. I have two birdhouses hanging off limbs of this tree just as decoration, but this pair tried them out before deciding there was just too much foot traffic around to make it a good nesting spot.

I think they may be nesting in one of the cypresses that my next door neighbor planted out back several years ago.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Striking Sunday Skies


Since Friday night through this morning, we've had wave after wave of strong thunderstorms  come through the area. I looked at the rainfall amounts recorded just down the street at the Lake Brandt city water facility and we've had a total of 3.25 inches in less than two days.

I stood in the parking lot of my townhouse community to take this photo of the storm building to the west. This particular storm was the strongest and scariest of the bunch as we not only got strong winds, rain and lightening, but also marble-sized hail.

More thunderstorms this afternoon. Obviously no daytrips this weekend.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


What you can find if you just look up. Monday is garbage day and I generally am looking down when I take the garbage can to the curb as my neighbors with dogs ignore the pleas of the homeowners association to pick up after their pets. But yesterday I heard something unusual and so I looked up.

Up in the maple was a yellow-bellied sapsucker, one of our larger woodpeckers. Here's an interesting bit of trivia - ruby-throated hummingbirds also use the holes drilled by these woodpeckers while the weather is still cold and few flowers have bloomed to get to the sap and use it as food, too.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Birds at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Diane over at Desert Colors posted some of her photos that she took at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum which spurred me to post some of my bird photos that I took the day we went to ASDM while I was in Tucson in February. It is a wonderful combination museum and zoo which would take several days to see all of it, time we didn't have.

So, a trip through the aviary and the hummingbird aviary took precedent this trip. Here are some of the birds:


A cactus wren, the largest of all the wrens in the United States. Actually he was out in the bushes, not in the aviary.




An Inca dove, a small cousin to my mourning dove. Its territory has moved up from Central America to include the Southwest US.




A not-so-good picture of a Black-chinned Hummingbird. The little point and shoot camera is not so good at taking bird pictures with its macro setting like my bridge super-zoom is.




A Curved-bill Trasher. A large songbird found in the southern most of the Southwest United States, similar in size to my Northern Mockingbird which frequents my bird feeder here in the small garden.

I'm trying to think of some good excuses to get back to Arizona and the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum sooner than a ten years span like this past trip.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gates Pass Road, Tucson, Arizona

Our last day of our three-day mini-trip was spent in Tucson. Our plan was to go to Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and Zoo for the day. Not knowing Tucson as well as I did 30-years ago, I reserved a room at a motel on the far east side of Tucson near the Tucson Country Club. It meant the next day we would have to drive Speedway Boulevard all the way from the far east side of Tuscon through Gates Pass Road.

Gates Pass Road takes  you through Tucson Mountain Park where the landscape is that of what most people think of when they think about the Southwest's desert areas - full of saguaro and prickly pear cactus, cholla, rocks and dirt. It is also considered one of the most dangerous roads in Arizona due to its hairpin curves and lack of guardrails. Those who are familiar with the area know that Kinney Road is the best way to get to the museum. I guess I like to live dangerously . . .

Looking Back Towards the East and Tucson

Cholla, Prickly Pear Cactus and Saguaro

Somewhere in the Middle of the Picture is a Hiking Trail 

Saguaro Cactus and Prickly Pear at its Feet
It takes a saguaro cactus 75 years to grow an arm and most saguaros can live to 150 years or longer.






Stunning Sunday Skies, Santa Cruz County, Arizona


Since I can't decide whether it is Sunset Sunday or Stunning Skies Sunday, I thought I'd let you all admire the sky I caught at a rest stop on Interstate 19 just south of Tubac, Arizona.

For the majority of the week, the skies over Arizona were a brilliant blue with nary a cloud in the sky. This day brought a storm system from southern California and a grand total of three drops of rain which is why Arizona is in a years-long drought. And with the clouds came the wind which made the clouds so interesting but made my allergies to the dust unbearable.