Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Notes From My Nest: Birds, Beasts, and a Grandson

1. Barn Owl-kab Barn owl in Tucson 9-17-13

It’s been over a month since my return from our trip to Yellowstone and Utah. While I am still busy processing photos and writing blog posts, I have also still been out birding. With migration practically over, I have seen the changes in the bird populations around town and in my yard. Autumn has brought a return of our winter raptors, while the summer birds have flown away. One windy, stormy day  as I sat on the balcony watching birds I added three new yard birds in one day with a Black Phoebe that was blown into my yard, as well as a Northern Rough-winged Swallow seen flying overhead. Then, to my utter surprise, I saw a couple of Vaux’s Swifts! A few days later a Ladder-backed Woodpecker came by increasing my Tucson Yard List to a total of 67 species of birds! I saw this Barn Owl at Sweetwater Wetlands one night when I met my friend, Chris Rohrer there in the late afternoon. As evening fell we found this bird hiding in a willow tree.

2. Coha-kab Cooper’s hawks are here year round, but it seems we see more of them in winter. After a calm period during the month of August the Cooper’s Hawks have returned in force to my back yard and have been hunting my feeders on such a regular basis that all the birds have become skittish and I rarely see them at all during the middle of the day. There have been times when the Coop’s has swooped down repeatedly, or taken up residence in either my front or my neighbor’s backyard mesquite tree. Sometimes I do not know it is there until I hear its “bark” as its calls from deep within the foliage. But the birds know it is there, and they vanish, and my yard falls silent.

3. NOHA-kabI continue to count birds at Michael Perry Park and was amazed to find a Northern Harrier there one day in late September.

4. TUVU-kab Chris and I found these Turkey Vultures one Saturday in September along Mile Wide Road just west of Tucson. It’s funny that the Turkey Vultures usually leave Tucson for the winter but can still be found up in Phoenix. We saw some at Gilbert Water Ranch when we went birding there this past weekend.

5. western kingbirds-kabWestern Kingbirds on Mile Wide Road 9-20-13

These are probably the last Western Kingbirds we will see until next spring.

6. cactus clouds-kab I love puffy cloud days and this one was a beauty back on September 20th. I took this shot in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park. Little did I know back then that the government would shut down and I would not be able to go back into the park for over two weeks! In truth, I have not been back since it has reopened. So, I am equally glad that I visited the Rincon Mountain Unit with my friend, Celeste of Celestial Ramblings on September 24th. We had a breakfast picnic at the Javalina Picnic Area, one of my favorite places to bird.

7. cactus wren-kab As we sat sipping our tea a young Cactus Wren popped up to say hello!

8. antelope ground squirrel-kab A little Antelope Ground Squirrel came begging.

9. rock squirrel-kab Then a Rock Squirrel came by!

One of these moved into my back yard recently and excavated a huge den. I saw the beast a few times climbing my trees and scurrying over the rocks, but suddenly I have not seen it al all and I wonder what has happened to it.

10. coues deer-kab After our picnic Celeste and I drove the 8-mile loop road through Saguaro NP and we were pleased to find this pair of Coues White-tailed Deer peacefully meandering along the roadside. This species of White-tail is much smaller than its eastern counterpart but nonetheless serene looking with wide soft eyes.

Like everywhere else, our days are getting shorter and our temperature is fluctuating. Last week it seems we had a stretch of endlessly dull days with clear blue skies and warm temperatures and no wind. I start to feel dull and stupid myself after a few days of sameness like that. I like a little drama in my sky and in my weather. Yesterday a cool front blew in some clouds and though today the wind has died down, there are still a few lingering clouds and a few strong gusts of winds to remind me that change is in the air and the dullness is blowing away!

11. grandson running-kab My Grandson, Xavier running his first Cross Country Meet 9-30-13

I feel such need for a change, to do something different; to be creative. I have spent a lot of time recently playing with my photos and creating pictures for my Artsy Fartsy Fridays. This has helped dispel the dullness that I feel, and it just makes me smile. I have also had fun writing poetry and creating pages and poems for Halloween. I have a Halloween Post scheduled for this blog, and for over a week I have had poems and pictures on Kathie’s Poet Tree. It is all kid friendly, so bring your children and grandchildren by to see the pictures and read the poems. There is even a link to a You Tube recording of Mother Ghost Nursery Rhymes, a recorded book from back in the 1960’s which I remember from my childhood and which my grandson, Xavier just loved when I played it for him. Yes, I have also been a busy grandma baking cookies and going to my grandson’s first Cross Country Meet. With a family that is obsessed with running we are all glad to see him take an interest in this. Perhaps next summer he will be ready for the annual Adams Family Road Race!


  1. Love the Barn owl, Kathie! The hawks shots are awesome. Love the sky & cactus photo and congrats to your grandson on his first meet. Happy Birding!

  2. Love your birds Kathie, especially the secretive owl. I well understand your feeling of ennui, I feel the same way although weatherise we have had some nasty hot windy weather already although it is not yet summer. I love living on my own some and don't get lonesome but I do miss a travelling companion since I can no longer change a tyre and drive too far without getting exhausted. My eyesight has diminished so I don't see anything smaller than a robin if it is not moving and close by but I still hear them and have had three new birds settle into my territory. Life goes on and I love every minute of it and my thoughts are again turning to poetry and painting.

    Love your son and grandson running together, what a joy that is to all of you.

    1. Arija, the owl was an amazing find! I have heard of the bad fires in Australia. I hope all is well where you live. Painting and poetry are wonderful distractions and escapes for the spirit and nourishing to the soul!

  3. Finally getting caught up reading blogs... LOVE your photos.... that barn owl is just great! Makes me antsy to get back to doing some birding and just being outdoors. Very Nice!

    1. the odd essay, I am so glad to hear this post inspired you to get out in nature! Thank you for your visit!

  4. I've been lazy and dull ever since returning to Yarnell. Is there something in the air? But you are getting out, birding and creating. Cold up here today and I'm not good with that.

    1. Gaelyn, could be! I hope it warms up soon for you!

  5. Hi Katie Your Barn Owl and Hawk shots are stunning. Loved the whole post, great read.

  6. Enjoyed your post! Great photos! I understand when you speak of needing am outlet for some fun and creativity! We all need to somehow fill that hole! Good luck with yours! Love the Friday photos and the poems!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.