Gila Woodpeckers

I was at Bill and Alice’s long enough to observe the habits of several birds and be ready when they showed up.  The Gila Woodpecker was one of the most predictable.   It would always land near the top of one of the Palm trees, peck a few times, look around,

and dive down

to the Hummingbird feeder, or at least what was intended to be

a Hummingbird feeder, 

though I think the Gila Woodpeckers had taken possession since I never saw a Hummingbird land on it.

I’ll admit that I always thought it was the same Gila Woodpecker that was visiting the feeder, but when I started working with the photos I realized that it was at least two different birds that followed the same pattern since one of these birds is a male (the one with the red topknot) and the other one is a female.  

Gambel’s Quail

We spent seven days visiting  Bill and Alice in Arizona.  We didn’t manage any hikes since Bill’s health has become a concern and he’s forced to use a walker, but we did go out for dinner a couple of times and had dinner with Kel and his friend another night.  We even managed to get in a couple of short walks. 

Since I knew we wouldn’t be getting out much, I brought several of books to read. I brought them home unread and spent most of my free time birdwatching.  Alice has set up several fountains, three hummingbird feeders, and a feeder in her backyard that attracts an amazing number of birds.

There were a lot of Gambel’s Quail in the yard that seemed largely indifferent to anyone who stayed on the patio. I. tried to get a shot of a male and female together, but the Quail were so close that I could never get a shot where both male and female were included.

There are definitely times when I wish I was using one of my zoom lenses instead of an 840mm setup, and this was one of them.  Actually, it was much more common to see males and females together than one by itself.  This was a typical situation,

but I had to use the Panorama setting in Photoshop to join two sequential shots.

Truthfully, though, the male is just more photogenic than the female so I concentrated on getting the best possible shot of one of them.

There were a lot of shots to go through, but this is my favorite.

I especially like the background and that the eye and beak are clear and distinct from the rest of its head. I don’t think I could have asked for a better pose.

A Fresno Walk

We didn’t do a long hike on our second day in Fresno and didn’t see nearly as many flowers as we did at the San Joaquin River Gorge Special Recreation Area, but we saw more birds.  In fact, we were greeted at the beginning of our walk by this White-crowned Sparrow who seemed too busy eating leaf buds to be disturbed by people out walking.

I also saw my first Tree Swallow of the year.

Shortly afterward, we saw a pair of Ravens, birds we might have confused with crows if there hadn’t been an experienced local birder who confirmed it was a Raven and not the more commonly seen Crow. 

A little later we sighted this Great Egret, another bird we seldom see in the Pacific Northwest.

Near the end of the walk we heard several ground squirrels chattering excitedly and 

we looked up to see a Red-tailed Hawk circling overhead.

It was great to get out for a long walk for two days in a row, particularly when we had just spent two days in the car getting there and were about to spend two more days getting to Phoenix. We celebrated the day by stopping for Smash Burgers, another “lifer” for me.

Hiking the  San Joaquin River Gorge Special Recreation Area with Jeff and Debbie

Leslie and I decided that while we were visiting Bill and Alice in Phoenix we should also visit Jeff and Debby for two or three days on our way there. Jeff and Deborah decided we should take our first hike of Spring/Summer at the  San Joaquin River Gorge Special Recreation Area.  (At least it was warm enough that it seemed like summer to those of us from the Pacific Northwest where the temperature has yet to reach 70 degrees so far this year.  

The view of the Gorge was quite spectacular, 

but the real highlight of the hike, for me, at least, was the flowers, which ranged from the delicate beauty of this Dodecatheon,

and these Cowslip

to this huge Silver Lupine, which dwarfs the Lupine we are used to seeing in the North Cascades.

That’s Leslie and Deborah on the left, showing just how big this plant was.

However, the Lupine seemed small in comparison to the Red Bud that lined both sides of the canyon.

This might not have been a very challenging hike if I were hiking it in the middle of summer, but I’ll have to admit that I was sweating on the way back up the trail and my knees were a little sore by the end of the hike.

Luckily, it was beautiful enough that I didn’t feel tired until we were almost back to the car.