Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birds of Tucson

Dawn asked me if I had been out of town. Well, my husband and I did spend a week early in January in Tucson, Arizona. I don't usually post photos that aren't from around here. But, since I haven't had too much to post because of the cold weather (and me not getting outside like I should), I decided to tell you a little about our trip and publish some bird photos.

We visited missions, Kartchner Caverns State Park, Tucson Museum of Art, and the Sonoran-Desert Museum. Except for the cave, these were sights we have seen before on our previous 6 or 8 trips to Tucson around this time of year. We also hiked on trails in the Saguaro National Monument located on both the east and west side of Tucson.

Perhaps I had not paid attention on our previous trips but it seemed there were an abundance of birds in the desert. The recent rains may have helped or perhaps they were enjoying the warm weather just like me. Everywhere we went, I could hear or see the birds.

Harris Hawk

My best photographs of birds came from the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum which features native flora and fauna of the Sonoran desert. This Harris Hawk was being held by a museum volunteer.

Blue Hummer

The Humingbird Aviary is an enlcosed area where it's easy to get some good photos of the birds. I am not sure what species this one is or if it's native.

Purple Hummer

I am not sure what species this one was either but he cooperated nicely. He was the smallest one there--only about 3 inches.


The Curved Bill Thrasher is a common bird of the desert. This one was singing a lot like a mockingbird in front of the San Xavier del Bac Mission, located south of Tucson. You can almost see his yellow eyes.

On a hike in the Saguaro National Monument, I spotted this Phainopepla, a silky-flycatcher, about 7-1/2 inches in length.

The Cactus Wren is larger than our Carolina Wren. I saw and heard many of these wrens in the desert.

I was surprised to see a Purple Finch in the desert since we have them at our feeders in Virginia. Of course, they have different things to eat, like the fruit of this barrel cactus.

This woodpecker was too far away to identify. It may be using the nest hole of the Gila Woodpecker which makes new holes every year. Then, other birds use the old holes. The saguaro cactus is very plump from the rains in December.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Digital Frame & Frogs/Toads I Like!

My husband gave me a digital frame for Christmas. At first, I thought I didn't want one because I have framed photographs around the house. Also, the frame uses electricity (11 watts per hour). But, I figured it was a gift so I went through all my photographs, downsizing them, and then put them on the frame. I set it up and now I have about 150 photographs on a slide show--some from my blog, travels, and some unpublished. We only use the frame for less than an hour a day so my worries about electricity were unfounded. This frame will hold 315 photos (about 800 x 600 pixels max. each, 8 megapixels resolution). At the end of this blog, there is more discussion of this frame.

Now, we both enjoy seeing the photographs as a slide show. I am learning which photographs are best and how I can improve on my photography techniques. Also, I see which photographs should be retaken (Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Sapsucker).

At this time of year, I enjoy seeing the spring ones. I discovered a had a few good photos that went unpublished. From these, I wanted to show the frogs.....

A Spring Peeper (only about 1-1/2") was calling just outside our house in 2007. The little guy did not mind the flash on the camera and kept calling. This reminds me that the peepers may call as early as late February--next month! So, spring cannot be far away.

On the same Burning Bush but a larger branch, I snapped this photo of a Gray Tree Frog (about 4") in June this year. At first, I thought it was a toad but they aren't in the branches. I identified it by using my Calls of Frogs and Toads CD and listening to the video I had taken (may get that transferred sometime to the blog--that's probably why I didn't post).

Finally, this photo of the American Toad (I think) was taken back in 2006. We have so many of these toads I guess they seem commonplace. But, I enjoy seeing them and know they are good for the garden where they live in some rocks I have stacked up at the edge--no sense buying a toad house when you can use rocks.

Another feature of the frame I like is that you just hook it up to the computer with a USB cable. Then, the frame is essentially a little hard or flash drive. You can just transfer folders of the photos to the frame. You can also delete photos right on the frame-- too time-consuming because you have to do it one by one by pressing buttons. It's easier to do that on the computer where you can delete many at a time and then transfer the folder to the frame.

Working on my old photo files is a good hobby because I don't like to get out in this cold weather!