We hope you enjoy some of the photos that attempt to capture the incredible natural world around us:-)
We experienced the Blood Moon and Lunar Eclipse with our friends at Rusty's RV Ranch in Rodeo, NM
The Blood moon already in partial eclipse rising over the Peloncillo Mountains
Butterflies and bugs everywhere....
Bordered Patch Butterflies
Spring Azures and a Bordered Patch Butterfly
Horse Lubber Grasshoppers
Visitors at Rusty's in the San Simon Valley
This Belted Kingfisher was feeding at Rusty's pond in the middle of the San Simon Valley....not a likely place to see a Kingfisher....probably coming into the area for the winter. They winter in the southwest to northern South America.
The White-crowned Sparrows have started arriving for the winter.
Adult male White-crowned Sparrow
MacGillivray's Warblers are migrating through to Mexico and Panama.
MacGillivray's Warbler taking a dip at Rusty's
Red-shafted Northern Flicker outside our window at Rusty's. These are year-round residents.
Vermillion Flycatchers are a spectacular resident of the area.
Adult male Vermillion Flycatcher
This immature or female Lucifer's Hummingbird was a new bird for us. It appeared at the feeders outside our window...we know it is a Lucifer's because of the face pattern and curved bill.
This immature Magnificent Hummingbird was a challenge to id...we originally thought we were looking at an immature Blue-throated Hummingbird because of the white tips on the tail. We ended up learning that the green on the back is diagnostic of an immature Magnificent Hummingbird. Both species can spend the entire year.
This Rufous Hummingbird actually drove off the Magnificent Hummer.
The Rufous victor!
We enjoyed exploring the Peloncillo Mountains of New Mexico. There is a road south of Rodeo near the Mexico border that goes across the Peloncillo Mountains. The road is called Geronimo Trail, and we spent a few days birding it.
We came upon a large group of sparrows that looked different than any we had seen before. We needed the help of a local sparrow expert to identify these birds. It ended up that these birds were the ammolegus subspecies of the Grasshopper Sparrow in their fall plumage: rufous above and buffy overall. Grasshopper Sparrows come into their richest plumage in the fall.
Botteri's Sparrow are known to breed in this area but winter in Mexico.
Cassin's Vireos breed in the northwest all the way into Canada and migrate south to Mexico for the winter. This was one the first Cassin's Vireos we had seen migrating through.
Chipping Sparrows are year round residents. It seems like we have been seeing more lately, maybe because the northern populations are migrating through to Mexico.
Red-naped Sapsuckers are coming back for the winter. This is probably a female since there does not appear to be a white chin, which would indicate a male.
Female Western Tanager loving the berries
It seems like the birds were arriving on a daily basis into the grasslands of the San Simon Valley. Willow Tank is a historic water source for local and migrating birds. The Friends of Cave Creek are working to revive this important bird habitat. The following are some of the birds we have seen there:
Clay-colored and Brewer's Sparrow- these pals provide a great comparison of the two species in the spizella family: Clay-colored on the left with defined cheek patch and Brewer's on the right, plainer and drabber.
Clay-colored and Lark Sparrows
Lark Buntings have arrived for the winter
Immature male Vermillion Flycatcher- you can see the red starting to come in on his head
We came upon this female Elegant Trogon feeding on the berries near the trail.
We think this is a Hammond's Flycatcher. They breed in the northwest part of the continent. This bird has either arrived here for the winter or is on its way south to Mexico or Central America.
Hermit Thrush are year round residents. This bird was enjoying the same berries that the Elegant Trogon was eating.
Sonoran Mountain King Snake- this snake is protected in Arizona. Little is known about this handsome species. It feeds on lizards and small rodents. It is not venomous.
Sulphur Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains
We took a few day trips west to the Huachuca Mountains, another section of the sky islands, to bird Hunter and Ramsey Canyons. The following are some of the wildlife we saw up Hunter Canyon:
This is an immature male Elegant Trogon. We know it is immature because the adult male has a bright green head and upper parts.
His back side is starting to show the green. A female would have a brownish head and upper parts.
The Buff-breasted Flycatcher is a small Mexican flycatcher whose range reaches the U.S. in southern Arizona. The range maps indicate that this bird will probably winter in Mexico.
Hepatic Tanagers breed in Arizona and New Mexico. They winter in southern Arizona and Mexico.Female Hepatic Tanager
Hermit Warblers breed in the Pacific northwest. They are migrating through to the mountains of Mexico or Nicaragua.Immature Hermit Warbler
Lesser Goldfinches are residents of the area.Male Lesser Goldfinch
The Slate-throated Redstart typically lives in northwestern and central Mexico. It is occasionally observed in southeast Arizona, southwest New Mexico and west Texas.
We had wonderful views of the rare Slate-throated Redstart!! a first for us...
Another Mexican rarity ....the adorable Rufous-capped Warbler. I think it acts more like a wren than a warbler.
The Wilson's Warblers are migrating from the northern part of the continent to anywhere south from Mexico to Panama for the winter.
Adult male Wilson's Warbler
Adult male Wilson's Warbler
Birds seen in Ramsey Canyon
Townsend's Warblers breed in the Pacific Northwest of North America. This bird is heading south to winter anywhere from Mexico to Costa Rica.
Male Townsend's Warbler enjoying a snack
Turtle & Hawk