Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Sunday, August 12, 2012

BTA -- 12 August 2012

Another very HOT day in the metropolitan Phoenix area so that calls for a short journey to someplace a tad bit cooler and away from the concrete jungle.  Boyce Thompson Arboretum was the winning destination today.  A friend of mine, Lynn M. mentioned that he would like to go back to BTA, so I said, name the date and lets go.  BTA is still very hot, but being about an hour's drive east of the metro area and nestled at the base of Picketpost Mountain, it is probably about 5 to 10 degrees cooler.  Plus the place is an arboretum and is covered with trees, which obviously always offer quite a bit of shade from the hot Arizona sun.  Our goal was not to find as many birds as we could, but to try sharpening some photography skills.  Of course, with my birding habits, it was hard for me to not notice the birds.  Even so, we still saw several lizards, butterflies, dragonflies, and of course some birds.

We arrived early and decided to hit the upper slopes and sunny areas first before the sun became too intense and our visit to Ayer Lake presented my first photo opportunity with a Black Phoebe. 

Black Phoebe

From there we took the high trail towards the mansion and along the way we had several Phainopeplas that kept flying a bit ahead of us and finally with a small turn in the path, the photo opportunity presented itself with the sun on the side of the bird instead of behind the bird.  And since this is another black bird, a silhouette photo is something that I try to avoid.  This is a male (females are gray) and of course there just happens to be a branch where I don't want it, but it is hard to pass up a photo of one of these with their red eyes!


As we came to the high point in the trail and started down towards the stream bed and shade, we were surrounded by several Cactus Wrens that were quite vocal and really gave us some very nice poses.

 Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

Also at the top of one of the rocky points a lone Turkey Vulture perched in the full sun.  This place always has a large contingent of these birds in the spring, summer, and fall and  This one presented itself well with the nice blue sky as a backdrop.

Turkey Vulture

Along the trail at various places we found many lizards of all kinds.  Some were very camera shy and did not stick around to allow any photos, but a few posed upon some rocks and allowed us to capture a couple of photos.  While I am not an expert at identifying reptiles, I think this first photo is an adult male Common Side-blotched Lizard, which is a very common and wide-spread species throughout the state of Arizona. 

Common Side-blotched Lizard

This second lizard appears to be an Elegant Earless Lizard.  If a reptile expert is reading this post and can give me a better identification on either of these lizards, please post this in the comments so I can edit my post and make corrections.

Elegant Earless Lizard

Once we retreated to the shade created by the canopy of trees, we paid a visit to the bird bath near the
Smith Center and the Lesser Goldfinches did not fail us with their bathing and drinking.  This flowing bird bath is a great attraction for many birds especially in the hot and dry summer months.  Believe it or not, there really are two birds in this photo below, one of them is really getting into it! 

Lesser Goldfinches

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, this place is one of my favorite spots to visit and I never get tired of seeing what might show up.  If you ever plan a trip to AZ and enjoy nature and wildlife this place is well worth the time to visit.

1 comment:

  1. Nice shots Gordon. BTA has stunning birds and stunning views. You've captured them very nicely, time and again.