Happy Hummer Days!

It’s Christmas morning….for us, with out kids, all is calm and all is quiet. We celebrated with our family and gift giving the previous night, but it was this morning we got a most wonderful, and unexpected gift!

The weather was sunny and mild, so we took our coffee out on the porch to enjoy the beauty of Arizona this time of year! As we watched the morning sun streaming through the yard, we could catch glimpses of sparkling color among the branches of the trees and shrubs. Just like little Christmas ornaments, the hummingbirds were decorating the desert landscape, as they woke up, preening and warming in the rising sun. Perfect timing for getting some great new photos!

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We wandered through the yard, as if on a treasure hunt, looking for all the little jewels among the branches.

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We are so lucky to be able to spend Christmas with our little hummer friends, as folks in colder climates don’t get this opportunity!

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And, this Christmas morning, the hummingbirds were out in their full glory, chirping, buzzing and trilling!

We were having such a great time! And it got even better when this little broad bill posed for me…

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And gave me my best Christmas present!…Photos of a lifetime…

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Hummmazing!!! A glorious day to celebrate all of God’s blessings 🙂

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Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday season from Todd’s Backyard!

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We had a visitation!….Well, actually our neighbors, George and Eileen had a visitation, but they were nice enough to share it with me! They called yesterday afternoon to suggest I sneak over and bring my camera in hopes that I might get to see their special visitor!

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And it was indeed a very rare site! He let me get pretty close to get these amazing shots!

He has been hanging around our area for a little while. In fact, there have been other owls in area as well.The other night we were awakened by a conversation one was having with his friends. We heard the call coming from the mesquite tree right off of our porch, then from afar, another was responding.Todd went out with a flash light, and spied a small owl. I thought it was our chickens at first, because it really didn’t sound like and owl, more like a baaagghhhk, baaaaaaaaggggk, baghk! But, then I guess that was probably because these owls knew whooooo they were talking to 🙂

Holiday Cheer!

HERE WE GO WILDCATS, HERE WE GO! (STOMP! STOMP!)

HERE WE GO WILDCATS, HERE WE GO! (STOMP! STOMP!)

Tis’ the season to be jolly, especially since the Arizona Wildcat’s have been on a roll! Tomorrow’s game might clinch them the #1 spot in the College polls!

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GIVE ME  A J….JAAYYY, GIVE ME AN O….OOOHHHH, GIVE ME A Y…..WHHHYYYYYY!

Wishing everyone a joyous Holiday Season and Happy College Basketball Season, from Todd’s Backyard!

A Bird’s Eye View

One afternoon, in the soft Autumn light, a figure appeared that caught everyone’s sight. Sitting tall and calm on a twisted tree limb, he surveyed his surroundings to see if the pickin’s were slim.

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The visible visitor was very pleased to find, the pickin’s where plenty and amusingly terrified! He always loved to watch the show, as his prey panicked and scurried and freaked out below!  Now, satisfied he would have a nice hearty meal, he sat back and relaxed to watch everyone squeal!

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The sparrows swarmed and hid in the bushes, the quail dove under cactus to cover their tushes. The doves left the scene in a winged whoosh of flurry and the squirrels dove in their holes in a psycho crazed hurry! All the while, their feathered foe took his time, primping and plotting his culinary crime.

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When he was sufficiently refreshed and ready to rock…”Now, my little morsels, time to eat!” Screeched Mr. Hawk. His tail twitched, his eyes focused as he scanned Todd’s Backyard. He looked and he looked, he looked very hard. Something was amiss…where had all the food gone? He knew he had seen it!…Had he been wrong? Then he reminded himself, he chose to snooze, and of course you know what they say….

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Keep your eyes on the prize!…And don’t be a fool 😉

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NOTE: All events are true and captured as it happened by Todd this morning, over the course of about 1 hour and 1 pot of coffee. (For best entertainment value, read with a Southern drawl)….

Out back by the chicken coop, if you take a stroll,  ya’ll will find some high ground, full of little round holes. We call it this little rise ‘What-the Hill’… And, it’s where the tarantulas live and get on their thrill!

It just so happened, this Sunday morn, Todd stumbled upon some big spider porn. It was actually Daizy that found the big fella who was just out lookin’ for a little tarantella.

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This eight legged dude, with his ass in the air, was prowling with purpose and tarantula flare. In the rain he had been waiting all night, to find to girl of his dreams and do up right!

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He knew what he wanted, and he was on the right track, to his gargantuan gal with a big fuzzy rack. When he got to her place, he gave her a shout, then when he saw her, he thought, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” He never expected this lovely blonde beauty with 8 gorgeous eyes and a nice fuzzy booty!

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“Come on baby, let’s give it a whirl!…You are the most super, spectacular, spiderlicious girl!”

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But she just turned her back and went back down under, making him think he’s made a big blunder. What had he done?  What had gone wrong? Maybe he had come on to strong!

Or maybe, just maybe he wasn’t playin’ her song….

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So he started to sway and he started to stomp, she poked out her head and said ‘Ok, boy, I guess I’m ready to romp!

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They started to two-step then went to full eight. This wern’t just a flirtin’, it became a full date! They danced and danced…and danced… and danced. They were in a frenzy, they were totally entranced!

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And so was Todd as he captured these pics…Like a Nat Geo photographer out in the sticks! The story that went with them was one to be told…The tale of the day two tarantulas tangoed!

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Pond Stars

Around mid July, when the monsoons are in full swing, the humidity climbs and Todd’s Backyard starts getting lush. And, us lushes start getting a little lushier since the most entertaining activity (that doesn’t require a lot of sweat), is to sit on the porch with a cool drink and watch the desert wild’s. One of the main attractions this time of year, is a little oasis we like to call…the pond….because, for lack of better words, that’s what it is. It started as just a ‘water feature’, but over the years, Todd has added some water plants, and then some fish,  and Wa La!…. it’s a pond!

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It has become it’s own happy little ecosystem, and thriving under Todd’s TLC.

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Of course, as you might expect in the desert, the pond attracts a lot ‘wild’ life!  It’s become a nice day spa for our feathered friends, in need of a refreshing splash…

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Or a nap enhanced with the soothing sounds of trickling water…

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Also a source for liquid refreshment for all kinds of critters! The rabbits, assorted squirrels and javelina frequent the pond to get a drink. We’ve even seen the bobcat quenching his thirst ! (Where’s the camera when you need it!) You might think the bobcat might try his hand at fishing, but either he doesn’t know that these strange bright orange fish are food, or he just hasn’t seen them. The fish are elusive! Anytime anything or anyone gets close, they dart under the rocks.  So, unfortunately, we rarely get to enjoy watching them up close.

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Yes, the pond adds a calming sense of peace and tranquility to Todd’s backyard….

Until the sun goes down!…

Then, let the ruckus begin!

The explosive cacophony of pond partiers starts up just about the time we go to bed, keeping us awake until the party dies down. So, the other night, I took the flashlight and the camera to see if I could catch them in the act, possibly scaring them into silence!  As I approached, I was startled by the brazen display of indifference. I also had to  calm my gag reflex at the disgusting sight…

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Happily frolicking and splashing around, two slimy frogs where having the time of their life! Both croaking at the top of their lungs, with a chorus of others that were hanging around in the bushes.

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I am not a frog fan! But the longer I watched, it was kind of fun seeing them have fun. Their little slimy bodies gracefully swimming and diving in the clear, flashlight-lit water.

Now,  if these were Colorado River Toads, I don’t think I would have been so entranced. (I don’t believe these were river toads as they are much smaller, lighter green and have different eyes).

The toad creatures are hideous!

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 Yuck! (gagging) Toadally gross!

Unfortunately, we’ve discovered Jabba the Toad hanging out in the darker recesses of the pond’s filter system.

Hopefully we won’t discover him in the pond.

Temper, Temper…ature!

WTF! We just survived the hottest June in Tucson history! As a menopausal woman with hot flashes, this is NOT the ideal place for me to live in the summer!  But, regardless of the sweat drenched attempts to sit on the porch trying to enjoy some outdoor time, life in the desert goes on! Everyone and everything is just looking for a little relief, and there are those that can get a little bitchy, a little crazy and even a little tempra-mental! Take the cardinal that’s figured out if he comes and sits on the patio and screams at us long enough, he will eventually get a little refreshment…

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I’d like to think that if I sit on the porch and bitch long enough, someone will bring me a refreshing treat before I burst into flames! But, actually, I need to go into the house for a little blast of air-conditioning, get my own refreshment…perhaps an icy Tangueray and Tonic….ahhhh yes 🙂 And then I’m ready to go sit back out on the porch and sweat some more!

And after a drink… or two, with my irritability slightly extinguished, I can enjoy some summer antics happening in the yard, as the desert critters go about their business.

Now, here’s a guy that loves the heat! When nature turns up the heat, he turns up the colors! …Or wait a minute…did I just have one too many drinks? Actually, I believe his colors go crazy when he’s hot, like in a Van Haleny/ ‘hot-for-creature’ kind of way 😉

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Poor Gerti (our desert tortoise)…

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She can only dream about a ‘hot’ summer romance. No wonder she gets so grumpy!…Really! If you don’t think a tortoise can have a fit, think again! When she’s mad she stomps back into her house and won’t come out for days!

The sizzling summer heat brings out the beast in everyone! Check out these squirrels!…They literally went NUTS!

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I mean, holy crap!…You can actually see ’em 😉

Thank goodness there’s only 3 more months of this crazy hot summer!!!

Getting Freaky!

For the past few years, we keep witnessing a phenomenon that is, quite frankly, getting a little freaky! We call it the ‘Peckasso Phenomenon’. The first time we saw it, it was pretty cool. A bird seed block that had been pecked to the point of an interesting organtic form….

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We had been putting bird seed blocks out for many years, but had never seen anything like this. I’m not sure if it’s just because we never noticed, or the birds pecking it had never created such an interesting piece of ‘art’.

So, after this, we did notice!….It was hard not to notice, because now, every bird seed block that we put out is transformed into something! But what’s weird, it’s not just any something! It’s always a sculptural representation of the critters in Todd’s Backyard. For instance, the next creation was on a seed block out in the middle of the yard where lots of rabbits hang out….

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Then, right after Gerti, our tortoise, came to live with us, this is what we found at the seed block that was just outside her enclosure…

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Ok.. you might be thinking, tortoises don’t stand up like that. Well, Gerti actually does like to pull herself upright along the wall…kinda weird.

The next installation was created, again, on the seed block in the middle of the yard. It was in the spring when all of the quail are running around with their babies…

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Maybe a stretch, but, hey, I can see it!

Next?….

PeckassoA crouching roadrunner.

Can Peckasso top this one? I think so!

We were astounded to discover this last week on the seed block that sits right outside the chicken coop…

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WTF!

Weird, True, Freaky!!!

Here Kitty Kitty!

It was a beautiful fall afternoon! Yesterday, we enjoyed the perfect time of year with and an old friend we hadn’t seen in 1o years, and some new friends that he brought with him. They happen to be avid bird watchers and were thrilled with the photo ops that Todd’s Backyard provided! We were hoping that the javelina, or perhaps if we were lucky, the bobcat, might stop by and give them a real thrill! But that didn’t happen…until about 5 minutes after they left! We were treated to a visit from the ‘big kitty’, Bob!

Sometimes he’s rather hard to spot, but luckily we spied him, spying us!

Once he realized he had been discovered, he casually got up and strolled into view, as if to show off his superior status as king of the desert! Such a gorgeous creature! He was obviously not too concerned that I was following him with my camera, clicking away, trying to get a good shot!

Feeling like the paparazzi, my excitement grew that he posing for me! I called out to him, “Here kitty kitty!”  His stubby tail flicked and he turned around and looked at me like, hmmmm really? For a minute, I thought he might actually come! Then I thought OMG, what would I do if he did?

But, of course, cats will be cats, or kings will be kings, and with a flip of his tail he turned his back and I was dismissed.

And off he strolled, back into his desert kingdom, hopefully to be seen again, another day.

This morning we were  horribly distressed to hear from our neighbor, that a bobcat was dead in the road, hit by a car! He and Todd went to get it out of the road. Upon their return, I was somewhat relieved to find out it was NOT this cat, but a younger, much smaller cat. Still, we are so saddened to see this happen!  Be safe Bob!

This Little Piggy

We didn’t see the javelina all Summer…at least not our javelina (Jairy and his buddies). We think that they head for cooler ground, possibly the pecan orchards, when the heat is on. Recently, we have seen them pass through the yard in the mornings, but couldn’t tell if it was Jairy’s gang. We can recognize Jairy because he has a hole in the top of his right ear, which you can’t see unless you get close.

Yesterday afternoon, we were on the porch with family and friends, when a familiar face (and ear) showed up. He was out under the bird feeder, busy snuffling up birdseed that had fallen to the ground. Then he plopped down in his usual spot, just off of the porch. (About 25 ft.)

He looked a little grayer, and a little more grizzled, but he still had a smile on his face. A few moments later, his family emerged from the bushes to join him, which is usually the routine. Jairy makes sure that he’s brought his buddies to friendly territory before the rest follow! But, this time we got a little surprise!

Meet Jairy Jr.

We have seen this group with babies before, but they always keep the babies well away from the house, so this was a treat to get to see one of these cute little critters this close. I’m pretty sure that Jairy Jr.’s mom is one of last year’s  ‘3 little pigs’. They were unusually friendly and inquisitive. Once, one came right up and put her snout on my leg! If this one is now, a proud mommy, I guess she wanted to show off her little bundle of joy. And in doing so, literally brought him/her right up to the porch! (2 ft.)

We were delighted to watch the little guy explore his surroundings, until it looked like mom wanted to come right up ON the porch…

(Notice her friend in the back going “what the ‘F’ are you doing!”)

At this point we had to shoo them away. Jairy moved  his family to his favorite shady mesquite hangout where they lounged under the bird feeder for about 1/2 hour while mom fed the baby. Then, they made their little single file and marched on.

If this is any indication of  things to come…

Yikes!