Zoom Zoom

It’zzzz Zeptember and the yard is abuzzzz with all the little zoom zoomers pazzing through to their winter digzzzz. Almost like science-fiction…Imagine hundreds of tiny heat seeking missiles chasing each in swarms, everywhere in your field of vision! (It’s probably not exactly hundreds, but hard to tell as they are too fast to count!). However, you better be prepared to duck as many of these buzzing warriorzzzzz zoom past your head! It’s quite startling when two warring hummers brush past you so close, you feel a little poof of air in your hair!

The frenzy only lasts a day or two, then calms down a few days until another group passes through. The – we call it the annual event the ‘Humming Bird Wars’.  And, it came this weekend!

Here’s a little sample….If you turn up the volume, you might get the zoom zoom!

 

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Yellow…But not Mellow

Everywhere you look, you will see pops of bright yellow frantically bouncing around the yard. The Orioles are back in full force this Spring! We get several different Oriole varieties in Todd’s Backyard. All slightly different, however they share the same shrill chatter, as shocking as their brilliant hue!

Their chatter reaches all time highs when they are playing their high-stakes game, we like to call, Who-Can-Get-The ‘Oriole Glory Hole’!

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In this game, there are 2 prizes!

1st, their ‘watering hole’. They constantly fight over position on the hummingbird feeders to quench their appetite for their favorite sugary treat! Not only are they competing amongst themselves (or similar versions of themselves), but they have to fend off the ferocious little hummers!

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And the 2nd prize….or maybe this is the 1st prize…

oriole2The female  ‘Glory Hole’ if you will….eeehhhhem.

Anyway, the Oriole fun and games, be it a bit noisy, are always fun to watch! You can’t help but be a little excited when these spectacular specimens of  fine feathered fellows come back to Todd’s Backyard every spring.

Here they will stay until fall in all their ‘Glory’!

oriole6This is a Scotts Oriole.

And below is a Bullocks Oriole.

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orioleThe Hooded Oriole

Oriole, Oriole, sprightly fellow. Flitter about all brightly yellow. Have your fun, but don’t harsh my mellow!!!

Wood You Be Mine?….Or not…

It IS that time of year….a frantic buzz of excitement- the chirps , squawks and squeaks- the birds and the bees are stirring!  Spring mating time is noisy! One of the more raucous merry makers, are the quail. Their distinct “cacaaawww…cacaaaaaaawwwww!” is heard frequently. They have a funny little ritual of climbing trees to call out their potential tweet-hearts! Let’s say, they get high on love 😉

Late afternoon is when they particularly like to ‘get high’. It was at that time, last week, when we witnessed  a would be wooer going wacky!

Todd had installed an ironwood quail carving on the branch of one of our mesquite trees a while ago. I never noticed that it had ever drawn any attention from the local bird population. That is, until a lovelorn quail discovered it and was apparently enraptured.

He climbed to the limb above, that had been conveniently cut into the perfect perch. There, he would try to get his wooden maiden to notice him….When she ‘wooden’t’, he jumped down and climbed back up again….and again….and again…putting his male to the quail…to no avail.

The poor guy was so distraught that Todd had to take down the tree trapped temptress.  I had to set this sad love story to little music…..

And with that, my friends, we raise our glasses to this lonely quail’s attempt at romance- certainly a great ‘CaCaaaaaws’!

Meet the Varmints- Episode 1- Rocky

Todd’s Backyard is filled with an assortment of furry little creatures….Varmints, if you will. In fact, we seem to have created a varmint paradise. Supplying a plentiful bounty for our birds, of course invites these little bastards. But, they keep the hawks, snakes, bobcats and coyotes fat and happy around here! You could call it Todd’s  Backyard Wildlife Diner!

Now, ‘Diner’ really fits since we got our new little Bird Photo Booth (www.birdphotobooth.com)- a feeder that is attached to a motion activated camera! We decided to introduce the contraption to the ground dwellers, as they might provide some entertainment before the jaws of nature snap them up.

The first varmint that decided to check it out was our resident rock squirrel, as we so dubbed him Rocky. Not totally original, but fitting….

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He figured out quite quickly, this was pretty cool…

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As did a few others.

Rocky got a nice dinner and gave us some great mug shots…

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

 

And that, my friends is Rocky!

 

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout the Birds and the Bees and the Flowers and the Trees….

And the Clouds Up Above…. And a thing called Love….

I LOVE this Spring! The desert is bursting with blossoms and buzzing with activity. The unusually wet weather has made this month aMAYzing!! It usually doesn’t get this lush and green until mid July! And the Palo Verde Trees were spectacular with their brilliant canopies of yellow! I just love the Palo Verde Trees!

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 In fact, it’s been a monsoon-like this Spring…Just last week it built up in the afternoon. Big billowing clouds with distant rolls of thunder and a hint of rain wafting in the air. We love these kinds of days before the heat of summer has us in it’s grasp! Gotta Love it!!

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Yesterday, the temperature only got up to about 73! By this time of year it’s not unusual to hit the 100 degree mark. Needless to say, the flora and fauna are flourishing with the cooler, wetter weather!  In April the Cactus started to blossom and paint the desert with their brilliant shades of magentas, oranges and yellows…

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The Buckhorn Cholla. Love them prickles ‘n all!

 

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 The Pencil Cactus…Love!

 And the Prickly Pear  popped with a variety of  peaches and yellows…Love, Love Love!

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Some of the blossoms are bugged 🙂 Love…not so much!

The bounty of blossoms attract all kinds-

Even the beezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

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Um…..Love them????

A few weeks ago, we were shocked to discover the mesquite tree that sits right off of our porch, had been bee-dazzled by a huge swarm! We have never seen anything like this. I didn’t even notice them until my brother-in-law pointed it out! The dogs and I had been walking around the tree and sitting right next to them for some time.  These were, most likely, killer bees…or a killer bee hybrid which, I’ve been told most bees in this area, are now. I’ve also been told that they usually only get aggressive when they’re threatened by certain noises or smells. Luckily, we didn’t buzz them off!…We must smell and sound ok?  They disappeared as suddenly as they appeared, when it warmed up in the morning…Whewwww!

I’m pretty sure that the birds that frequent that particular tree were happy to see them go as well! I noticed while the bees were there, the birds, especially the humming birds were chased away by the buzzy bee guardians.  But after their abrupt departure, the usuals came back to their favorite hangout….

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The Orioles

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The Cardinals

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And the Humming Birds. Love them all!

But unfortunately…

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The dreaded Wood Pecker resumed his perch! Can’t say I love you dude!

Of course we have a huge variety of other feathered residents, but they tend to frequent some of the other trees in the yard.

We did have a different feathered visitor which we had not seen before in Todd’s Backyard….

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The Grackle.

But evidently, he was not impressed with the accommodations and left…haven’t seen him again. Hey…you’re mission’ the love! Oh, well!

So, life goes on in Todd’s Backyard and we are relishing this incredible Spring with the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, and the clouds up above…And a thing called love 😉

Happily Heron After

Last Summer Todd got a blazing hot deal on a couple of Koi fish for our pond. We had originally stocked it with gold fish, which were all sadly snatched by the hawk. So, when Todd decided to restock, he added more plants and rocks for additional camouflage and went to the local Petco to purchase a few more fish. Not only are the fish fun to watch in the pond, but keep the algae down in the hot summer. When he returned from the store, Todd was stoked to have found  some 4″ Koi there, mismarked for $1.99! They usually sell for about $25 at the size!!  He picked out 2 (he should have snagged a few more)…Damn! And I wish I had taken some better pictures!…Damn!

Anyway…

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 The Koi grew and thrived in their new environment and all was well…

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Until one day last January when Todd was cleaning out the pond. To his horror, he discovered they were gone! The pond had been de-koied :0

We spent the next days speculating about what could have eaten them! A fine meal indeed, for any desert predator during the lean winter months! Of course, the hawk was at the top of the suspect list, but our neighbor has insisted that he’s seen a raccoon about at night! (We simply have to get a night camera set up at some point!)  But, we thought there would never be any way to prove who dun it!

Until about 2 days after the fish-a-disappearance, it all became quite clear.

I walked out onto the porch and almost had a heart attack when a massive winged creature took flight from the top of our roof, overlooking the pond. And with a slow and powerful woosh….woooooosh of it’s 6+ foot wingspan, it was gone.

It was a rare sight,  A Great Blue Heron!!! A wetland bird in the desert! We see them quite a bit on the beaches down in Rocky Point Mexico. The only place you might see them occasionally, here locally, is on the golf courses. I got a snapshot of this one last time I went golfing….

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Here’s a picture I got of a Great Blue Heron on the beach in Mexico…

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I didn’t get a picture of our backyard visitor until the next day, when we caught him hanging out on our neighbor’s rooftop.

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It was spectacular sitting there, just hanging out. I guess he was hoping to find a few more ponds in the area, having depleted ours!

He stayed there for a good 15 minutes while I got some shots…

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So, I guess we won’t be getting anymore Koi, but we are thinking about restocking it with some 99 cent goldfish with which we could afford to occasionally feed our five foot feathered friend! Although, now that he has a taste for Koi, Todd’s Backyard may be beneath his culinary expectations!  I guess we will see!!

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The Lizard of Ahhhs

The lizard has become an iconic symbol of the desert Southwest for a reason. The desert is full of them! And there are many different kinds of lizards that live in Todd’s Backyard. I used to hate ’em. Lizards and snakes. But, having lived here now for awhile, I have come to love the liz! Their fierce scaly bodies and beady little eyes, have become no- so-creepy as I have witnessed their antics!  Having been close up and personal with a few, I must admit they are truly beautiful and intelligent creatures! Plus, they are nature’s best pest control, eating bugs and such   <_> j””””’j——–~

 

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 This Tiger Whiptail is a gorgeous fellow! We caught him hanging out, sunbathing on the side of the house!

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The Spiny Lizard is a spectacular species! We see them everywhere including the trees! When the males go into a mating frenzy, their stomachs turnbright turquoise!  And they are frisky little buggers…

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Actually, not so little…they reach up to 12″ long! We had one last year that started hanging out on our porch begging for a bit of fruit! He eventually would take food right out of my hand!

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Above is a Western Fence Lizard we caught a pic of on our wood pile. We don’t see these very often!

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These are two Zebra Tail lizards I spied doing push ups together on a nice warm rock. The male’s colors are amazing!

Although, all of these lizards are certainly AWEsome!…. There is one lizard that IS the ‘Lizard of Ahhhs’!…

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The Gila Monster!!!

One of only 2 poisonous Lizards. It can get up to 22″ long! This guy is  our local Gila Monster…we believe that his burrow is in our neighbor’s backyard, where this photo was taken.

And, I have a story….

The day before yesterday,  Todd an I were sitting in the living room when I saw this Gila Monster marching up to our sliding glass door!! For a minute, I thought he might scratch to get in, but instead, he found a nice shady spot behind our flower pots and laid down for a nap. Of course, we couldn’t let our dogs out, but we grabbed the camera and went out on the porch to get a few good photos…

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I’m not sure if you can appreciate the size, but he was at least 20″ long! Quite startling to actually see on up this close!  He ended up spending the entire afternoon lounging on our porch, going from spot to spot to find a comfortable place to rest, I’m assuming after a large meal! I figured, if he was ok with me sitting outside at our patio table having a beer with him, he might be amenable to a little love pat. I’ve always wanted to touch a Gila Monster! Todd wasn’t  around, so I did…just a light rub across his stubby tail. The Gila Monster only slowly raised his head a bit. Didn’t seem disturbed at all. But, I did not test my luck and try it again! When I told Todd what I did, he just about bit my head off, as the Gila Monster could have easily bitten my hand off. Or, at least, I could have lost my hand had he bitten it!  But come on, this is what I’ll do for a good story 😉 The large lazy lizard stayed on the porch for another few hours, then went on his way!

Mr. Gila Monster hasn’t been back on the porch since. I hope that if he does come back, he will have the curtesy to knock on the sliding door and let us know he’s out there. I don’t think he would be as well mannered if he were to be stumbled upon!

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OxO j””””’j——–!