Monday, February 28, 2011

Moving In - Moving Out

I took this photo this morning of this female House Finch moving in to her nest in a Teddy Bear Cholla.  It’s hard to imagine finches being able to build and use a nest in among the sharp spines of a cactus, but this is the second year I have seen this happen.  I am also struck by the irony that the day I see her moving in, is the same day we are packing to move out.  Today is our last day here a Buckskin Mountain State Park, tomorrow morning we move out and start our journey back to Oregon.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Latest Addition

The European Starling is the latest addition to the CRITTERS of Cascade Ramblings.  You may be surprised as I certainly was that I didn’t already have its photo and entry in Cascade Ramblings. But it’s true.  I guess it’s really not a bird that you would expect to find on the trail high in the mountains, but they have become so widespread that it’s a bird you can certainly expect to see in your own back yard, or local parks. Its addition represents over a dozen birds that have been added or updated to Cascade Ramblings while at Buckskin Mountain State Park this season.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

More Blackbirds

We have been invaded by a flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds for the last three days.  This rounds out our Blackbird Family of birds to four which already include Red-winged Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, and Great-tailed Grackle.  Oh, I almost forgot, make that five, we have the Western Meadowlark which strange as it may seem is also a member of the Blackbird Family.

Friday, February 25, 2011

More Flowers!

Scorpionweed is now also starting to bloom.  Although actually a weed as the name implies, in the rather drab environs of the desert any color is appreciated.  With the different plants starting to blossom it’s a little hard to think of leaving, but Monday is the last day of the month and our last day here at Buckskin for the season.  We head back to Oregon starting Tuesday morning. At the present our plans call for stops at Bakersfield and Lathrop, and then up the Northern California Coast avoiding the snow and ice of the Siskiyous.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

First Blossom!

Every day I have been checking on the Beavertail Cactus looking for the first blossom, today was the day. Yesterday afternoon there were only buds, this afternoon the first blossom, and interestingly enough the honey bees were already at work pollinating. The Beavertail is our showiest cactus here at Buckskin Mountain State Park.  The plants are loaded with buds this year so it looks like a promising spring season.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Update on Vermilion Flycatchers

The last I wrote of Mr. & Mrs. Vermilion they had flown the coup so to speak, or maybe eloped to Las Vegas.  Well, they have been back home here in Buckskin Mountain State Park now for several days now.  I took their photos this afternoon perched on the volleyball net down by the river next to their acacia tree.  They were not on the net at the same time mind you, but it was the same net, so things are looking up.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Great Backyard Bird Count

We invited our campground neighbors Tom & Marlys Imhoff to participate with us in the Great Backyard Bird Count. It’s a four day event to count the birds of the North American Continent.  We submitted a list of the 24 species we observed this morning with a total of 97 birds in an hour and fifteen minutes.  As of this afternoon the total statistics turned in to the event are 25,163 checklists, 526 species, 3,282,909 birds. Click here for our list. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cooper's Hawk

Last evening this Cooper’s Hawk stopped by our campsite and used our satellite dish to check out our area for prey.  Cooper’s Hawks feed on other birds, and because of the excellent landscaping of trees and shrubs here in the park, we have a great variety of birds including large numbers of finches, and sparrows that provide ample opportunities. We see him on a regular basis to the point that I think he is a permanent resident, and in fact, I’d like to think it’s the same bird I photographed last year as a juvenile.                                                                                                        

Friday, February 18, 2011

Forked-tail Lizard

Today I took this unusual photo of a Side-blotched Lizard with a forked-tail.  I didn’t know such a thing was possible, but on further research I found out how it happens. A lizard that loses its tail has the ability to grow back another tail, and it has been documented that it can result in growing two tails or in other words a forked-tail. I learn something new every day!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Successful Fisherman

This morning on our Bird Walk we spotted this Osprey with his fish right out of the Colorado River.  I see lots of fishermen on the river here in their boats making cast after cast, but I have yet to see anyone catch a fish.  This Osprey obviously has it figured out, this is not his first time, I have seen him do this many times.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Continuing Saga

The saga of the Vermilion Flycatchers continues-----the limb under the trysting tree has been empty for two days now, no sign of either of the two love birds.  Did Mr. Vermilion, or “Verm” (rhymes with worm) as I like to call him, just show up on Valentine’s Day like a thief in the night and steal the faithful female?  Did she go against her will, or willingly? What kind of promises did he make, how rosy a picture did he paint? The most positive scenario that I can come up with is that Las Vegas is not that far away, hopefully they will return in a day or two. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mr. Vermilion Shows Up

About ten days ago I posted that Mr. Vermilion Flycatcher was a “no show”.  Well he has suddenly appeared, amazingly enough---on Valentine’s Day!  I as well as other birders here in the park was overjoyed to see him. It seems to be OK so far with Mrs. Vermilion; they are launching their fly catching strikes from the same acacia tree, and they have been spotted together at the garbage can. Only time will tell.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Goldeneye Duck

Yesterday we took a sort of “busman’s holiday” going birding at nearby Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge.  We did the peninsula that juts out into Lake Havasu.  By far the most numerous species we saw was this Common Goldeneye, perhaps a hundred.  Most of the ducks have already headed north, but these are still hanging around.  We also saw a number of Western Grebe, and on shore a number of Audubon Warblers. The most surprising site was a Sharp-shinned Hawk that we got to watch preening himself while we ate our lunch. In all we counted 16 different species.  Today it’s back to work leading the Bird Walk at 10:00.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rock Formations & New Routes

On Friday’s Nature Hike one of our campers Mike Wacker was very interested in the various rock formations.  Because Jeanette and I like to hike on our days off, I suggested that Jeanette and I could take Mike and his wife Jan on a hike on Saturday and show them some more interesting rock formations. We drove a short ways and then hiked up a wash and through a culvert on an off trail route that we have done before and I knew had some pretty interesting red rock. Further up I noticed a possible side route, and we decided to explore.  It led to an old road that climbed up to a ridge line where we could see not only the wash we had come up but an even larger wash to the south with even more hiking routes.  By continuing on down into this new wash and out another culvert to the old highway we were able to double back to our car. It was sort of like Christopher Columbus; we set out to do one thing and discovered a whole different thing.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Buckskin Mountain Trail Loop

Today on the Nature Hike we did the Buckskin Mountain Loop.  This photo was taken at the summit junction by Mike Wacker.  His wife Jan is shown in the foreground, I am on the far right.  We had folks from California, Nevada, and Oregon. Great weather made for a pleasant morning of hiking.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tempting the Girlfriend with Dinner

Mr. Phainopepla, a common bird here in the southwest, is shown here trying to entice his hopeful Mrs. Phainopepla with a tasty treat of regurgitated mistletoe berries. It was evidently to her liking as she hung around for some time waiting for more. One of our birders on today's Bird Walk, Mike Fibiger-Crossman from British Columbia, took this photo. It’s the second time I’ve witnessed this feeding behavior, and my guess is that it’s part of their courting ritual, and they will soon be setting up house among the mistletoe in this mesquite tree.  Phainopeplas can currently be seen pairing up in at least three different mesquite trees here in Buckskin Mountain State Park.  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bighorn Sheep

We went hiking this morning in Sara Park at Lake Havasu and hiked a portion of the Crack in the Wall Trail.  The trail is pretty spectacular in itself, but the biggest highlight of the day was spotting a small heard of Bighorn Sheep that we watched for some time. Check out the TRIP JOURNAL for more photos and story. 

The Faithful Wife

Taken yesterday, is this photo of Mrs. Vermilion Flycatcher waiting patiently under the acacia tree on the river for her philandering husband to return. Although not as flashy as Mr. Vermilion, I think she is quite pretty in her own way.  I have no idea where the Mr. has gone or why, but I think it possible he has made an error in judgment.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Missing Husband

This male Vermilion Flycatcher has failed to appear this season at Buckskin Mountain State Park.  Mrs. Vermilion is seen daily catching bugs and faithfully holding down their territory, but her brightly colored flashy husband has yet to show up.  If seen, please call the park, just ask for the bird guy.    

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Eurasian Collared Dove

This is the bird I am most often asked about here at Buckskin Mountain State Park.  Campers hear its coo,Coo,coo dawn to dusk in the campground were it roosts in trees and feeds on the ground in the campsites.  It’s easy at first to be taken in by its beauty, song, and nearness.  But, there is a background,---  this is a very invasive species, having spread clear across the United State in less than thirty years. The end result is that it is driving our most common native species, the Mourning Dove almost out of sight. It’s repeated call now irritates, it constant appearance only serves to remind of the other doves no longer seen, that of the Inca Dove, and Common Ground Dove, as well as the Mourning Dove.         

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spotting a Great Blue Heron

Pierrrette Martineau from Quebec Canada is shown here yesterday looking through my spotting scope to watch her favorite bird, a Great Blue Heron, across the river. Our Bird Walk here at the park has now been moved to 10:00 in the morning for this next month.  With the temperatures warming, the afternoon time of 1:00 was getting a little quiet. We had an active morning, identifying 22 different species of birds.