Archive for Photography

Vulture Peak on a Rainy Day

Vulture Peak on a Rainy Day

On our way out of the Fly-in and Classic Car Show today, I took this photo of Vulture Peak. There were rain showers all around and would soon begin raining here in Town. This photo shows the peak in an uncharacteristic backlit condition with dark clouds overhead and lighter ones to the south, behind the mountain range.

Vulture Peak is the highest point in the Vulture Mountain Range.

The Vulture Mountains are about 29 miles (47 km) long, and east of center, about 13 miles (21 km) wide; the range is somewhat crescent shaped, mainly trending east–west, and narrowing westwards. The northeast is followed by the course of a southeast stretch of the Hassayampa River; the river turns due-south west of Morristown, on US 60, making the east terminus of the range about 7 mi wide, at the rivers floodplain. The Hassayampa enters the north of the Hassayampa Plain, so a small river canyon region lies at the Vulture Mountain’s northeast, with the Wickenburg Mountains northeast, and the Hieroglyphic Mountains east.

The high point of the range is Vulture Peak, (3,658 feet (1,115 m)),[2] at the center east of the range. Another major peak anchors the west region of the range, Black Butte, at 3,612 feet (1,101 m)).

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Harris’s Hawk

Hawk in Flight

Perched on Flagpole

I noticed a large bird in the Mesquite tree up by the bird feeders while doing dishes in the kitchen. I dried my hands, grabbed my camera and went out to see what it might be. I took the top photo while this juvenile Harris’s Hawk was in flight departing the bird feeder area.

The bottom photo is of another Harris’s Hawk perched on our flagpole. This bird does not have the juvenile speckled feathers on its breast. It flew off shortly after this photo and joined five other Harris’s hawks on the large power pole and wires across the road from our place. Harris’s Hawks hunt in groups two to seven birds. I guess we have a group that hunts locally now.

Click on either image to enlarge.

Wikipedia says this about these hawks:

This species occurs in relatively stable groups. A dominance hierarchy occurs in Harris’s hawks, wherein the mature female is the dominant bird, followed by the adult male and then the young of previous years. Groups typically include from 2 to 7 birds. Not only do birds cooperate in hunting, they also assist in the nesting process. No other bird of prey is known to hunt in groups as routinely as this species.

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Second Spring Butterfly

Second Spring Butterfly

Every year since we have been here in Arizona we have experienced what the locals (which includes us now) call “second spring.” Around the official end of summer (autumnal equinox) the temperatures become very spring-like and the flora and fauna react accordingly. Flowers open and butterflies and hummingbirds do their thing.

Late this afternoon, I saw a yellow-spotted black butterfly browsing the Red Bird of Paradise shrubs in the courtyard. I was in the great room at the time, so I grabbed my camera and headed out the front door. Luckily, the butterfly kept on doing what it was doing when I first saw it. I snapped a bunch of pictures of which this was probably the best. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Devil’s Tongue Cactus Flower

Cactus Flower

Our Devil’s Tongue cactus had its first open flower today. Flowers open during the Second Spring Arizona pseudo-season. I snapped this in the rock and cactus garden west of the house this morning. Several bees were busily competing for the nectar. One of them is visible in the photo.

Ferocactus latispinus is the binomial nomenclature for what is commonly called the Devil’s Tongue cactus. Wikipedia offers the following information about this cactus:

Ferocactus latispinus is a species of barrel cactus native to Mexico. It grows as a single globular light green cactus reaching the dimensions of 30 cm (12 in) in height and 40 cm (16 in) across, with 21 acute ribs. Its spines range from reddish to white in color and are flattened and reach 4 or 5 cm long. Flowering is in late autumn or early winter. The funnel-shaped flowers are purplish or yellowish and reach 4 cm long, and are followed by oval-shaped scaled fruit which reach 2.5 cm (1 in) long.

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Second Spring Flowers

Cholla Flower

Flower and Bee

The cholla cacti around the property have several late summer flowers opening. This usually means that our second spring has started with milder temperatures and more flowers to come. Click on either image to enlarge.

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Fishhook Cactus Flowers

Fishhook Cactus Flowers

The little fishhook cactus that we rescued from down the road when they were doing construction a couple of years ago seems to be very happy in its little pot. These are the second set of flowers to open this season. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Saguaro Flowers

Saguaro Flower

Late spring of 2018 has been quite the saguaro flower show in our Sonoran Desert. Our big cactus out front has had many and will have many more flowers opening.

From Wikipedia:

Flowers appear in April through June. They are white and open well after sunset and close in mid-afternoon. They continue to produce nectar after sunrise.[8] Flowers are self-incompatible, thus require cross-pollination. Large quantities of pollen are required for complete pollination because many ovules are present. This pollen is produced by the extremely numerous stamens which in one case totaled 3,482 in a single flower. A well-pollinated fruit contains several thousand tiny seeds. Saguaros have a redundant pollination system, i.e. full fruit set is possible even if only a fraction of the pollinating species are present.

Main pollinators are honey bees, bats, and white-winged doves. In most years, diurnal visitors are the main contributors for fruit, most of them honey bees. Other diurnal pollinators are birds such as Costa’s hummingbird, the black-chinned hummingbird, the broad-billed hummingbird, the hooded oriole, Scott’s oriole, the Gila woodpecker, the gilded flicker, the verdin, and the house finch.

We have enjoyed the “Bumper Crop” of flowers this year. Click on the image to enlarge.

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