I know what most of you are thinking, "Not this place again! Gordon needs to find some new territory to explore!" And I can definitely understand that way of thinking, but one of the reasons I hit this spot is that for me it is a great place to get some much needed vigorous exercise and it sure beats getting on the treadmill at home day every day and starting at the same old walls. That will happen in due time, when the summer heat arrives and makes the outdoors in the afternoon a bit unbearable. Right now the Pima Canyon Wash and its many trails is very green due to our wonderful winter rains and the wildlife is usually pretty much the same, but I have come to realize that every once in a while something different is discovered. Such was the case this last Wednesday afternoon.
As I was hiking up the wash, I heard the unmistakable call of a Western Screech Owl softly hooting in the distance. This is a bird I have never seen or heard in this location before. So of course I had to go exploring to try and locate it I finally came upon the source of the hooting; it was a very tall Saguaro Cactus with several holes in all sides of the cactus. Took me a complete walk around the cactus to figure out which hole the sound was coming from and once I did, I could see with my binoculars the owl back inside the hole, but with just enough of its head looking out and checking me out. I took some photos even though the hole was on the shady side and the interior was dark. Got just enough of a its head to see the owl. Not great photos, but was very happy to find it. It is about nesting time for these birds in parts of Arizona, so I am not sure if this was a nesting cavity or a roosting cavity, but I decided to get out and leave it alone. It is far away from any of the main hiking trails, and I don't think it should be disturbed by too many people.
Western Screech Owl
The owl was the highlight, but found some other interesting birds as well including a Greater Roadrunner. I don't always see them out in this area, but every once in a while I stumble upon one and they always make me smile. Also found a Brewer's Sparrow, which is not always very common at this location. Yes, it is one of the plainer birds without much for color or contrast, but it is a good sparrow to learn to help with identifying other sparrows.
One bird I see and hear on every trip to this area is the Verdin. Along with the Curve-billed Thrasher which can be seen on just about every visit to this location.
Moving on to non-avian creatures I had a cute little Harris's Antelope Ground Squirrel pose very nicely for me on a rock. And right below it on a smaller rock closer to the ground a Common Side-blotched Lizard was sunning itself.
Harris's Antelope Ground Squirrel
Common Side-blotched Lizard
This winter has been a blessing in the moisture department for the parched desert with nice rainfall and it looks like the desert will be blooming in color before long. As I write this bog, we have received another wonderful rainfall to keep the spring flowering spectacle continuing. Have to stop and enjoy the flora along with all the fauna that can be found on these birding adventures. Enjoy these flowers!