Bishop’s Cap Flowers

Bishop’s Cap Flowers

Only three this time (I think the record is 20), but they’re as pretty as ever. Click on the image to enlarge.

This cactus started in a two-inch plastic pot and we purchased it in Chandler, AZ, way before we decided to move to Arizona, about eighteen years ago. This is for sure the oldest member of our cactus collection now that we’re living here.

Some of our old cactus collection were lost when we sold the California place, but we’re planning on replacing those with new cacti as we continue to refine our Arizona courtyard and rock garden. One day at a time, we’re getting things done.

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Hawk in the Mesquite Tree

Hawk in the Mesquite Tree

I think that this might be a Cooper’s Hawk that briefly perched in the mesquite tree next to the bird feeders. This hawk, like all hawks, is an opportunistic hunter of small prey including birds that might be feeding in our back yard.

I noticed the bird in the tree when I was in the dining area. I went for my camera and managed to get this shot of the hawk from a distance of about 25 feet. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Red Bird Promise

Red Bird Promise

I am so excited that we’re going to have my favorite Red Bird of Paradise flowers in the courtyard very soon. There are already some more mature Pride of Barbados shrubs here in town and down in the Valley whose flowers are already open, but ours here in the courtyard are showing the promise of those elegant flowers appearing soon.

I took this image of a flower stalk with numerous pods emerging from the fastest growing shrub in the courtyard late this afternoon. Take note of the little green bug to the left of the fourth pod from the bottom. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Desert Cottontail

Cottontail Rabbit

I was in the courtyard late this afternoon and saw one of our little cottontail rabbits browsing in Verna’s rock and cactus garden. I had the Canon SL1 with me and the telephoto lens, so I snapped this quick shot of the bunny as it paused across the driveway: F5.6, ISO 640, 1/400 sec, 300mm and I did some minor post-processing of the image to compensate for the poor lighting conditions. Click on the image to enlarge.

Here is some info about this variety of cottontail rabbit from Wikipedia:

The desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii), also known as Audubon’s cottontail, is a New World cottontail rabbit; a member of the family Leporidae.

The desert cottontail is quite similar in appearance to the European rabbit, though its ears are larger and are more often carried erect. It is also social among its peers, often gathering in small groups to feed. The desert cottontail uses burrows made by rodents rather than making its own. Like all cottontail rabbits, the desert cottontail has a rounded tail with white fur on the underside which is visible as it runs away. It is a light grayish-brown in color, with almost white fur on the belly. Adults are 33 to 43 cm (13 to 17 in) long and weigh up to 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). The ears are 8 to 10 cm (3.1 to 3.9 in) long, and the hind feet are large, about 7.5 cm (3.0 in) in length). There is little sexual dimorphism, but females tend to be larger than the males, but have much smaller home ranges, about 4,000 square metres (1 acre) compared with about 60,000 square metres (15 acres) for a male.

The desert cottontail is not usually active in the middle of the day, but it can be seen in the early morning or late afternoon. It mainly eats grass, but will eat many other plants, herbs, vegetables and even cacti. It rarely needs to drink, getting its water mostly from the plants it eats or from dew. Like most lagomorphs, it is coprophagic, re-ingesting and chewing its own feces: this allows more nutrition to be extracted.

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A New Rock and Cactus Garden Accessory

Radio Flyer Toy Wagon

There is a new addition to my rock and cactus garden west of the RV drive; it’s a toy replica of a Radio Flyer wagon that has been popular for many years. I put some of my cactus cuttings in pots in the wagon to see how they will do out there.

According to the Radio Flyer website, they have flourished for almost a hundred years and are still going strong:

An American Icon For 98 Years

Just like our original red wagon, the Radio Flyer brand has become an American icon. It began with a classic story of humble beginnings, where Antonio Pasin was in search for a better life, and came to America where he found his calling. Not only did he find a better life for himself, but his dreams put a smile on the face of millions of children across the nation.

For 98 years, countless voyages of childhood fantasy have been launched with Radio Flyer toys. Their beauty, simplicity, and standards of safety encourage adventure, discovery, and capture the wonders of youth. Antonio created a legacy of toys that continue to spark the imagination, as Radio Flyer is rediscovered with each new generation.

With a solid commitment to creating the best childhood experiences, we are developing tomorrow’s innovative toys with the same classic quality, and sense of outdoor, active play that have been our trademarks from the beginning.

Radio Flyer is dedicated to delivering smiles and warm memories that last a lifetime, and we are proud to be a timeless symbol of childhood freedom.

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A Gnarly Antique Wagon in Sepia

Gnarly Wagon

Some things seen in the old west like this old wagon just have to be rendered in sepia. This old beauty is located in Congress, AZ, in the compound of Mike Yacos who has an eclectic collection of old stuff, old-looking buildings and a ton of wonderful art.

One of Mike’s guys, Roger, is building a custom gate for the back of our courtyard. We visited with Roger today and gave him some specifications on how to finish the gate which should be ready to hang in a week or so.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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The Curve Billed Thrasher Nest

Nest Caretaker

We peeked in the Curve Billed Thrasher nest in the cholla cactus in front of our courtyard a few days ago and were delighted to see several chicks had hatched. I took this photo of one of the parents tending the nest as it was getting ready to depart to forage for more food for the hatchlings.

There has been a nest in this cactus and little thrashers have hatched every year since we have been here. This year, the nest is almost inaccessible to our camera as it is buried deep within the spiked arms of the cholla.

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