Posts Tagged ‘Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch’

While viewing yesterday’s osprey, I chatted with a couple, then shared with them where the white flowers are once again blooming off the beaten path. You’ve seen these before, once in a video and in a macro. But this time I had a bit of a surprise. They knew exactly what these beautiful flowers were and they weren’t what I expected.

The couple told me that these are datura and very poisonous! As for names? Moonflower sounds nice, but devil’s weed, hell’s bells and devil’s trumpet? Not so much.

Datura is a genus of nine species of poisonous vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. They are commonly known as thornapples or jimsonweeds but are also known as devil’s trumpets (not to be confused with angel’s trumpets, which are placed in the closely related genus Brugmansia). Other English common names include moonflower, devil’s weed and hell’s bells. The Mexican common name toloache (also spelled tolguacha) derives from the Nahuatl tolohuaxihuitl, meaning “the plant with the nodding head” (in reference to the nodding seed capsules of Datura species belonging to section Dutra of the genus). Wikipedia

Datura wrap-up waiting to bloom…

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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. 🙂

Several weeks ago while I was walking at the Preserve on the lookout for something interesting and unusual, a birder with the requisite long-lensed camera hurried up and asked me if I’d seen the spoonbill. I had to tell him no, but instant spoonbill-spotting envy struck. Unfortunately I didn’t see hide nor hair of one . Maybe beak and feathers would be a better phrase.

Today I reversed my usual path and although it was a lovely, cool morning, I didn’t see anything exciting until I stopped at one of the little open areas along one of the lakes where I often see egrets, which by now are usual. I did see an egret…and then by golly, a roseate spoonbill! And I was the only photographer in the area. 🙂 Oh, yeah!

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At the Preserve, I’m both a photo and bird novice, drifting along among the die-hard birders with elephant-trunk-length lenses, camp stools attached to some of their persons, and an encyclopedic knowledge of what bird they’re seeing. The other day I came upon a group raptly gazing into the brush, looking at something I couldn’t even find. Reminded me of Yellowstone, where a group of stopped vehicles either means an accident or an animal sighting. Anyhoo…

During a recent visit, I took a few minutes to sit on a bench overlooking one of the smaller ponds and spotted what I thought might be a type of cormorant, as it was a prodigious diver. When I perused the internet, I found that it was in fact a pied-billed grebe. (If you’re trying to identify a bird, I highly recommend The Cornell Lab’s All About Birds site. I’ve had more luck with identifying birds there than wildflowers on most wildflower sites.) So without further ado, I offer you three various shots (two are edits) of the pied-billed grebe.

The original with all the lovely ripples and colors…

An edit with just the circular ripples…

A close-up of the grebe with only the most immediate ripples…

He’s kind of cute, isn’t he? Thanks for stopping by and I hope your week’s off to a great start.

This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge might have you seeing double. Although most things aren’t truly symmetrical, many are so close that you can’t tell the difference or you feel that you’re seeing symmetry.

When I think of symmetry, the William Blake poem springs immediately to mind:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Fortunately for you, there’s nothing fearful about the symmetry I’m sharing today. The snowy egret in this first shot is almost dancing on the water and with the water’s smooth cooperation, it’s almost perfectly symmetrical.

“Symmetry is what we see at a glance; based on the fact that there is no reason for any difference…”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Here’s another almost symmetrical shot from the Riverwalk in Naperville, Illinois.

Although this photo is less symmetrically perfect than the previous ones, there’s still a pleasing almost-symmetry about it and it feels balanced.

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for Lens-Artists Challenge #115: inspiration

It’s cooled down a bit, making an early morning walk in the Preserve much more enjoyable. Of course, “cool” is a relative term in Arizona. Let’s just say it’s been below 80F at 6 am in the morning. But where there are trees and water, even if the latter is reclaimed, there’s more coolness in the air and people and animals are out and about.

“Diversity” is the “in” term now and the Preserve’s got it as this photo of a great blue heron (GBH to Sylvia) and a great egret, both preening away, getting primped for the photographers, shows. The GBH nickname amuses me because in many of the British police procedurals I read, that stands for “Grievous Bodily Harm.” I imagine the fish in the area might go for that meaning.

Look in the background, there at the bottom of the reeds. Sneaking around behind the larger, flashier birds is a juvenile night heron.

Gamboling about looking for food is a Gambel quail. There are lots of these ground dwellers around but you’ll also see them in trees and bushes. The babies are adorable, but even when small, they can all run like crazy.

For many, birds are the main attraction here, although this guy (?) night beg to differ. I did look up how to figure out what sex a turtle is, but it’s not easy even if you can get up close and handle the turtle, which certainly isn’t happening here! Too bad it’s not a snapping turtle or I could use one of my husband’s favorite turtle lines: “Turtle soup, waiter, and make it snappy!”

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