Thursday, September 12, 2013
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
It has been a while since I visited this wonderful place and when I received an email announcing an impromptu bird walk with some wonderful and excellent birders with AZFO, of course I was going to check it out and see what was new. The first thing to greet me was the redesigned parking area. Much more parking spaces and much better defined. I do miss some of the older trees that were in the original parking lot, but in a couple of years some of the new plantings will make up for the loss. Since this was a short notice bird walk, most of the people that showed up were members of AZFO and very good and knowledgeable about birds, so I was in very good company. While the day was cloudy and overcast, the opportunities for photos was not as good as they could have been, so will have to share the few photos that did turn out ok.
I arrived a little earlier than most and I went in and down to the first hummingbird feeder area and I could hear two Yellow-breasted Chats calling but they were not being very active and as usual were hiding in the trees. Finally caught a glimpse of some yellow and located one. Of course it was not going to expose itself and make the photo any easier, so I had to be content with what I got.
When walking near the herb garden area a Rock Squirrel carried a fruit from one of the nearby trees up onto a rock and was proceeding to chow down. Caught it with its mouth open!
Another interesting critter just happens to be an insect, the Tarantula Hawk Wasp. Only the females sting and their sting is rated as the second most painful sting on the Schmidt sting rating. Only the Bullet Ant is worse. I have no desire to test the sting rating, but thankfully, this is not an aggressive insect towards humans. Females will find a Tarantula and sting it and paralyze it then drag it back to a burrow and lay an egg on the spider. When the egg hatches it feeds on the tarantula before it pupates. You have to admit, they are rather attractive to look at though.
About 30 minutes before AZFO was to hold their meeting, I took a quick hike up and around the higher trail and found an Ash-throated Flycatcher. Did not have much more time for birding so headed to the Smith Center to attend the meeting.
I did take a slight detour off the highway just outside of BTA and traveled to the Picketpost Trailhead. I always like to stop here when I have a little free time and in my 20 minutes of walking around, I discovered a Cactus Wren gathering grasses. Not sure if it was going to attempt nesting and breeding again, but it is highly possible as the monsoon rains can do this to many species of birds.
This place never disappoints. We had lots of birds and a large variety of birds, but with the overcast skies and large number of people around, getting photos was a bit more difficult. But it is not always about the photos, seeing and observing the birds is a enough of a reward in itself.