Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’

Tuesday I shared the excitement of seeing my first roseate spoonbill at the Preserve. Those in charge put out a map (I still don’t know which lake is which number) with a list on the back of all the birds that might be/have been seen there and indicating whether or not the bird is there year-round and how rare a sighting is. “A” is the last, rarest sighting designation for “accidental”, meaning it’s very unusual and that’s what the spoonbill is.

Even though I would have considered my day complete with that sighting, I had yet another surprise in store. As I wandered along a small back path, another hiker told me that back and just across the path was a falcon. I hustled over, finding the spot easily by the several birders with binoculars, long lenses, or fingers all pointed in the same direction.

The “falcon” turned out to be an osprey, another bird that’s been on my mental list of birds I’d like to see and this handsome fellow with the piercing gaze didn’t disappoint. He seemed happy to pose for us on a nearby branch. One birder was unhappy not to get a shot of the osprey in action while another regaled us with the description of a photo he got of an osprey catching an enormous fish. Me? I was thrilled to add this to the spoonbill sighting! Quite the looker, isn’t he, even though not rare or unusual here.

P.S. I’d love to see a falcon one day, too, and they have been seen. 🙂

Morning at the Preserve…three views

Posted: September 3, 2020 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Usually there aren’t any clouds in the sky in Arizona but when there are, they not only provide a bit of shade but the opportunity for a spectacular sunrise (or sunset if you’re at the other end of the day.) A few days ago at the Preserve, this one stunned me, the perfect way to start a day, so I share it with you.

This may not be what you imagined when I mentioned “castle” in my title. This is a old new world castle, a cliff dwelling built by the Sinagua (without water) people and inhabited from the early 1100s to around 1425. Although it’s called Montezuma Castle, Montezuma was never here. The park isn’t large, but it is lovely and because of the trees, fairly shady, something always appreciated here.

Montezuma Castle was a cliff dwelling housing about 50 people. Residents of the apartment-style structure used long ladders to reach their high-rise homes. ~National Geographic

Until 1951, visitors to Montezuma Castle National Monument also used ladders to access the cliff dwelling. However, thousands of tourists trekking through the site began to wear down the delicate adobe structure. Ladders were removed and visitors can no longer directly access the castle. ~National Geographic

We’re at a higher elevation here than in the Phoenix area and you can tell that we’re also near water because of the trees and vegetation. The park is small but it’s a lovely walk even in the heat. Because it’s a national park, I was looking forward to using my Senior Pass to get us in for free, but because of COVID, there was no entrance fee. Nice of the park system!

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Although quite poisonous, oleanders of various colors decorate the Arizona landscape everywhere. Presenting as bushes or trees, depending upon how you prune or don’t prune, they make perfect “walls” to protect homes from view, create a boundary, or just provide shade. But keep them away from children and animals (or vice versa) and don’t burn the wood. The fumes are also bad for you.

What makes oleanders attractive is a combination of beauty and hardiness. They stand up well to heat and dry conditions and as we know from only two months experience, that makes them super stars in the desert landscape!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I visited Queen Creek Olive Mill for the first time during a visit some years ago, taking home a large container of mixed olives. That made it one of the first destinations I wanted to visit after we moved.

Of course that didn’t take into account the COVID-19 restrictions, but as there’s a store on the premises, it was classified as essential, although until last week, the eating part of the operation and coffee shop were closed. Besides olives in their “plain” form, you can choose from a variety of olive oils and olive products as well as items from other Arizona producers, including eggs, cheese, meat, flour, and much more. We fell in love with the homemade pasta as well as the olives, putting them permanently on my shopping list.

Sitting among the olive trees is a lovely way to enjoy lunch or coffee and when you’re in the desert, shade is always appreciated! Last week there were people enjoying the morning outside, but on this visit, this area was still closed.

You’ll find flowers as well as vegetables and herbs growing in profusion. Bees and butterflies are happy, but the birds are frustrated by the covering on top of the veggie section of the garden.

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Let’s start our walk this morning in the backyard where overnight our torch cactus has lit one glorious torch. I see that there are a multitude of small buds that will soon flower as well, but for now this bloom is alone.

What I see along the canal is about the same as on any other day: fish surfacing briefly for breakfast bugs, ducks, great-tailed grackles, and lots of mourning doves, the latter flushed out of the undergrowth by my approach. However, this is a day for singular sights: the torch bloom first and then on my way home via a new street, I notice a large fountain, a fountain evidently also serving as a shower for one of the most elusive birds since our move. Who knew getting clean could be so much fun? I was astonished to be able to capture this on my phone, but don’t worry, no R-rating here!

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I saw these on my walk this morning and was instantly enamored. Learning their name (aka peacock flowers, dwarf poincianas and red bird-of-paradise) only made me love them more.

By the way, it was a 17-lemon walk!!! I didn’t want to carry all those lemons for a several mile walk, so I hid the bag behind a nearby bougainvillea and picked them up on the way home. More lemonade tomorrow.

Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!

On this morning, the sun seemed to take a bite out of the top of the house across the street behind us. Let’s get moving before it gets up too high.

The first thing we see in the yard of the family next door.

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