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It’s Almost Wintertime And The Bees Are Still Buzzing

Cactus Flowers and a Bee

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are less than two weeks from the official start of winter. Regardless of that fact, and the unusually colder weather happening everywhere else in the country, here in Wickenburg, we are enjoying our usual mild temperatures with highs in the 60’s or 70’s.

This Bishop’s Cap Cactus in the courtyard had a couple of open flowers today. I took this photo of the cactus while a bee was browsing for pollen. The cacti aren’t the only source for pollen in as much as the Rosemary shrubs behind the RV Drive still are producing flowers. You can see the bees browsing them as well.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Landscape Improvements

Path Through the Rocks

Last week we had our landscapers embellish our yard with some additional red rock gravel ground cover. They did a good job by placing the additional rocks and spreading them over the bare ground adjacent to the RV drive.

After the work was done, Verna went to the retention wall by the little wash behind the house and discovered that she had trouble walking on the rocks. She goes back there to feed some table scraps to the cottontails that live out there.

So, we decided to clear a pathway leading to the wall for easier access. I accomplished the project incrementally yesterday and today by raking away the red rocks and lining the path with medium round rocks. The path is “T” shaped so Verna has her access to the wall going left and I have access to the bird feeders out of view up the hill to the right.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Clear Skies Over Arizona

Clear Skies Over Arizona

Last week (10/22/2019), I captured this image from one of the GOES weather satellites in geosynchronous orbit above the western hemisphere. GOES East showed this area of the southwestern US which I cropped to highlight Arizona which is centered, more or less, in the image. The image showed the area mostly clear of clouds at that time.

October in our part of Arizona has the in-between hot summer and cooler winter temperatures which are still warm (80-90 degree highs) and we call “Second Spring” because of the flowers we have open this time of year. As I write this post, the late October temperatures have started to drop and soon we will be back in flannel and long pants.

Anyhow, back to the satellite image; you can clearly see the Mogollon Rim which is defined by the darker forested area at its southern side that extends from the New Mexico border on the east and arcs toward the north across the northeastern part of the state and ends in northern Yavapai county in north central Arizona. The two darker forested areas continuing north are the Kaibab National Forest. The gap between the southern dark area and the northern dark area is where the Grand Canyon is located.

Other interesting features visible in the image can also be seen; over in New Mexico toward the right lower side of the image you can see the White Sands area where WW2 Atomic Bombs were tested. On the left side, in California, you can see the Salton Sea. Finally, at the bottom left corner, the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Mexico is visible.

I look at the satellite images on a regular basis to help me identify our weather patterns. I use them in addition to radar and other tools to get an insight on our weather. You may click on the image to enlarge.

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Turkey Buzzards’ Farewell

Turkey Buzzards

Now that Summer has abruptly ended (a 20° drop in daily high temperature since the first day of Fall), the Turkey Buzzards (Vultures) have been showing signs of migrating south for the Winter. Today, there were several circling overhead (as they generally do) and these two came to roost on the ridge just to the west of our back yard. It’s as if they dropped in to say adios as they head to Mexico. They will return sometime in the Spring of 2020.

More about Turkey Vultures from Wikipedia:

The Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) is a scavenger and feeds almost exclusively on carrion. It finds its food using its keen eyes and sense of smell, flying low enough to detect the gasses produced by the beginnings of the process of decay in dead animals. In flight, it uses thermals to move through the air, flapping its wings infrequently. It roosts in large community groups. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses. It nests in caves, hollow trees, or thickets. Each year it generally raises two chicks, which it feeds by regurgitation.

We look forward to seeing the Buzzards in the Spring when their return signals warmer weather ahead for us. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Nice Arizona Sunset Colors

Nice Arizona Sunset Colors

We finally got some decent rain yesterday when a monsoon emptied its thunderstorms in the area. We went all summer without a monsoon and finally, on the first day of autumn, we got a couple of inches of precipitation. In the aftermath today, we had some winds and a few clouds, some of which gathered to our west just as the sun was setting. I took the photo above from the courtyard with our front yard mesquite tree silhouetted against the colorful sky. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Last Desert Sun Ray of the Day

Last Desert Sun Ray

The last sun ray of the afternoon shone through some of the natural desert vegetation on the west side of the house just before the sun went behind the hill over that way. There wasn’t a lot of pastel colors or any brilliant desert sunset, but a nice, mellow sepia-like photo portraying the brief event before fading to dark.

We had a great trip home from our August vacation to Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. It was a lot of fun and we accomplished our objective of setting memorials on the graves of some of our ancestors. We came away with a good feeling.

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Radiant Beams From Heaven Above

Radiant Beams

Arizona monsoons have several redeeming qualities:

  1. They provide much needed rainfall over the desert
  2. They cool the summer heat down, albeit briefly
  3. Their clouds can produce some pretty spectacular skyscapes

Verna’s camera caught this array of clouds and crepuscular solar rays a couple of days ago. Click on the image to enlarge.

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