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!



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


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….


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


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.


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…


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!!


Eat, Drink, Be Merry…and Some Other Shit

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The heat is starting to prickle here in the desert. This week promises temps between 100 and 110…. aaauuugggghhh! So, it’s not surprising that the feeders, water dishes and pond are popular hangouts for the local wildlife. Every morning and late afternoon we see it all! Birds, rabbits, squirrels, javelina, lizards, bobcat, coyote, and just the other day our ‘creature from the desert hollows’ (the toad), crawled out of his hole to find refreshment. When it’s just too hot to do anything else, just eat, drink and be merry!…


Five finches find food at the fully filled feeder.

A quail couple chow down on the ‘Peckasso’ block seeder.



Baby buns have fun nibbling in the cool grassy place.

A red winged black bird gets photo-bombed while stuffing his face!



Hummingbirds flirt and hover around their honey hole hangout.

This Baltimore oriel takes a sip stop on his way-back-home Northern route.




This starling likes to take a sip and a dip.

The bunny takes a drink to put the hop  in his hip!



 The hawk  takes a water break and claims his domain.

 Mr . Toad  took a sip and a dip now just waits for the rain.




The coyote gets a cool drink, soothing and calm.

A closer look reveals…yes it is…another photo bomb!  (Silly quail!)



And be Merry…



 The javelina , you would think, might want some water to swallow. But, they would rather tip over their drink and make a nice mud wallow!

Eat, drink and be merry, then what do we do?


Guess the only thing left…. you just gotta poo!     (Pictured above, a lovely specimen of javelina shit 😉 )

Hot Chicks!…Cool Chicks!

There’s a cool new Summer night spot in Todd’s Backyard!…The party starts at 6pm, nightly at Gerti’s ‘Goody’ Garden, where Gerti (our desert tortoise) host’s a nightly event… the Chick Party! Girls only!!!

And the guests?…


3 hot chicks, one hot dog and one ha ha hot mama 😉 With the daily temps of over 100 degrees for about the past 2-3 weeks, everyone is looking for a little cool down…which we’ve found at sundown when the shadows start to cool the yard and the sprinklers shut off on the grass. Daizy (the puggle) and I round-up the chicks and head off to Gertie’s!


There, the smaller guests enjoy a nice veggie salad while lounging in the wet grass. I enjoy a nice glass of wine, while putting my bare feet in the wet grass…ahhhhhh. But, things can get pretty wild when the chicks finish their snack. This is when the fun and games begin! Daizy never actually eats her snack, she just likes to claim it, nibble on it a bit, then wait for her feathered friends to come after it….a great game!

And quite entertaining to watch the chicks, relentlessly chasing Daizy around until she gives it up, which in the end, she always does!


After the games, there’s time to catch up on some gossip…

chickparty3And time to rock out!


Daizy usually likes to see if she can dig up some other friends (lizards, baby bunnies, etc.) to join the party…


You may be asking, “where’s Gerti?” while all of this parting is going on? Gerti is pretty much a ‘legs-off’ hostess. She’d much rather hang out on the sidelines than get involved in the friendly frolicking! And she really does NOT enjoy the pecks on the cheek!  But she will do a little mingling when there’s a special guest!


Gerti stuck her neck out to join the party when my niece Megan was here! Gerti adored her and the chicks thought Megan was pretty cool too!


The other morning, my neighbor, Eileen, came to my back door holding a tiny hummingbird in her hands. She was afraid it might have hit her window and broken it’s wing, because she found it on the ground and it couldn’t fly. We were both at a loss as to what to do! We tried setting him in a warm spot on one of our patio chairs, but he just toppled over. So, I got some hummingbird food out of our fridge (we keep a gallon on hand), and tried to get him to drink out of an eye dropper . We were relieved when he put his little beak in and drank up! That was a good sign 🙂

So I grabbed a box, a towel and one of the feeders off of a tree and stuck him in the sun sitting next to the feeder, hoping he would have enough energy to get on it. But he just sat awkwardly on the towel, tipping over because he couldn’t move his wing…


He preferred to sit on my finger…


So I put him next the feeder and he drank…


We had spent a better part of the morning with him, Eileen had to go back home and I had to get back to work, so we left him on the towel in the box, next to the feeder. I set the box inside a big cage so a cat or road runner wouldn’t come and snatch him. As I went back to work, I kept wondering what I should do. If his wing was broken, I would have to call the wildlife rescue and see if he could be rehabilitated.

After about 20 minutes I went back out to check on him…


He was facing the sun, wings outstretched. his colors blazing. It appeared that he was soaking in the rays, recharging his batteries! He looked up and in one fast zzzzzip ascended to the nearest tree. Needless to say, I was elated! I watched as he flew to a feeder, got his fill and sat back on a branch.

 I proceeded to dismantle his recovery station, and hung the feeder back on the tree. As I did so, the little hummingbird came buzzing over and just hovered inches in front of my face, chirping! I believe this is what he said ” Thankzzzzzz for defrezzzzzzzzzing me!”

Slightly Rattled

Yesterday morning, Todd went out to feed the birds and had an alarming encounter…

Even though it wasn’t rattling, it was obviously a rattle snake. You can tell by the shape of his head. Todd discovered him sitting under the bird feeder, right off of our porch. Needless to say, not a good place for this guy to be hanging out! We love snakes and appreciate the job they do in keeping down the pack rat, mice and dirt monkey population. But a 4 foot killer snake sitting just off of your porch is not appreciated….so Todd eliminated the threat with a shot to the head. Sad, but better him than us, or our pets!

As long as the rattle snakes keep their distance, they can live a long happy life in Todd’s Backyard!

RIP Mr. Snake…You will make a beautiful hatband!. (Our neighbor is tanning the skin.)


A  puffy patchwork of purple and charcoal blue churn in the desert sky. The air is charged with a blend of humidity and anticipation. Critters scurry into their underground refuge. The birds find a strong branch perch. And Todd and I pour a drink and retire to the patio. All await the giant gust of wind and dust that signal the storm to come.

Everything  is very still and quiet. Then, a slight movement catches our eye….

There, behind the blue pot!…It is the creature!

The Creature from the Desert Hollows has arisen and joined us on the porch to announce the arrival of the season. The Monsoon is here!

The storm moves quickly, from the south, and is suddenly upon us. The yard is drenched for several minutes, when the sun breaks from behind the clouds in the west. Still raining, the drops appear as glitter falling from the sky!

It is magical monsoon moments like these that make us swoon!

The next few days hold the promise of more to come. So with camera and cocktail in hand, we will hopefully have some incredible shots of this year’s Monsoon Season!

To be continued…..

Sweet Tree-ts

Todd’s Backyard is basically a desert forest. When we moved here 9 years ago, the property had a lot of mature mesquite trees and Todd decided to plant a few more, just to fill it in. Now, the trees that Todd planted over the years, have grown into beautiful green canopies that shade the desert landscape from the scorching summer sun! A relief to us, as well as our local desert dwellers!

Of course, the yard has become a favorite hangout for all of our feathered friends! The birds have flocked to this branchy paradise, so you will at find at least one bird… or two in every bush 😉

And, since we are on a bird migration route, we sometimes have bird guests, that baffle us. We keep our handy bird book on the porch so if we don’t know who they are, we can look them up!

I think I have identified this one as a White Tailed Kite?…Similar to a Falcon.

The cardinals have been particularly high-profile and prolific this year. There are several cardinal families that have put on some great shows for us, feeding their babies! It’s the dads that actually feed their offspring…who knew!

They make and incredible racket when doing so, so if you don’t spot their brilliant pop of red among the treetops, you just need to follow the tweets!

In Todd’s Backyard, the birds are boutiful, but it’s not just the birds you’ll see in the trees…

We have some real tree-huggers here!

And some tree slitherers!

And some furry little acrobats!

You may want to call Todd’s Backyard a desert forest, but whatever it is, it’s always entreetaining 😉

Don’t Fence Me In!

Gerti’s baby bunny busted out! Now, about 4 weeks old, he’s ready to leave his tortoise ‘mom’s’ plush digs. I got to witness the event, one early morning,when I let the dogs out. The little guy had emerged from Gert’s house and was finally big enough to hop up on the wall and get his first glimpse of the big scary (and prickly)  world that surrounds the tranquil tortoise garden.

He sat on the wall for quite a while trying to decide if he really wanted to go out there. Then, finally he started hopping round and found a little spot in the fence where he could squeeze out.

Once outside the fence, he scooted  under the first prickly pear cactus he saw…the one where the rattlesnake lives.

We wondered if we would ever see him again…and luckily, we have! He hangs out close to the house and we’ve seen him on several occasions. We can tell it’s him because his little ears stick straight out…not up! I’m thinkin’ that they grew that way, living in Gerti’s tight quarters for the first few weeks of his life!

So adorable!!! I call him Floppity:0 It’s fun watching him explore the yard and checking out the delectable array of desert edibles!

Some of the other larger local varmints, have been checking out the delectable edibles as well. Although they are finding that some of them are now off-limits!

Gerti’s House

We always get a little nervous in the Spring, because you never know, after 6 long months, if Gerti, our desert tortoise, survived the Winter. She heads into her den around mid November and sleeps until the heat starts kicking in mid May.

Gerti’s House

This year we were especially nervous because  it’s hit 100 degrees and we still hadn’t seen her. That, and she has collected a variety of roommates that are sharing her den! So we didn’t know if they’ve moved in because she had ‘checked out’! Finally, this past week, Gerti did emerge!

Gerti emerges from her winter digs in need of a bath!

And it seems that her being awake does not bother her live-in friends!

A pair of large collared lizards have made their home in Gerti’s den and have been busy populating the tortoise garden with baby lizards.

Lizard Love

Apparently, so have some rabbits! I don’t know how Gerti feels about this, but her roommates seem to be very comfortable sharing a space with a large, shelled reptile. There have been 2 baby rabbits born somewhere in the tortoise garden, maybe even inside Gerti’s house, but whether they were born in or out of the den, they hang out in there! It’s funny seeing a tiny ball of fluff sitting inside Gerti’s house! The first one grew and moved out several weeks ago, and now there is another one! I would imagine that mama bunny knows that she’s found a pretty safe spot to spit out her babies, so it will probably become a pretty common occurrence.

Unfortunately, not a great photo, but you can see his little eyes aglowin’!

So, it could be a Summer long party at Gerti’s house!

Gerti and her roommates

Mother Nature, May I….

…Take some photos?

The blossoming, pollen packed trees have dropped their adornment, and are now lush, green and shady. The temperatures are gradually easing us into the blasting heat of Summer. The nests are full of baby birds, chirping for their mothers. And it is in May that the cactus are in full bloom, providing the perfect subjects for awesome photos!

We can never get enough photos of the cactus blossoms! Thank you Mother Nature!

May I wish my mother and Todd’s mother (and mother’s of all species), a beautiful and blossoming  Mother’s Day!