Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Loggerhead Shrike in Phoenix

Loggerhead shrikes are songbirds that think they're raptors.  Their carnivorous tastes don't just run to insects and spiders.  They also eat lizards, other birds, and small mammals.  They apparently grab prey and slam it against cactus thorns until they die.  Lovely.  

He's sure got pretty markings, though.  

I see loggerhead shrikes mostly on high perches like this saguaro, where they keep watch for their next meal.


 Spotted in April, Estrella Mountain Regional Park.

Note how close the ribs of the saguaro are, like an accordion pushed all the way together.  It's a scary visual reminder of how dry it is.  A saguaro full of water expands and the ribs get farther apart.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

A Happy Bee

I've been posting a few cooler-weather photos here to combat the summer heat.

This was from April:  a happy bee with a fairy duster.   



Tuesday, July 13, 2021

April in Phoenix

It's really hot here, so I figured I'd post some cooler pictures, taken in mid April.  

This is one of the beauties of spring in the Sonoran Desert:  Palo Verde in bloom!

And a close-up:





Monday, July 5, 2021

A Snake Friend on the Trail

 A new friend on the trail:


He was big enough that my first thought was, of course, "rattlesnake!"  And his patterning looks rather diamondback-y, right?


But his face was all wrong: not big enough or triangular enough and no pits between his eye and nostril, like all rattlers:


When I carefully moved around to get a good look at his tail, no rattle:


So, my new friend was a gopher snake!  These big snakes mimic a lot of things about rattlers, not just their patterning and size.  They'll whip their tails around to imitated a rattle.  They'll even puff up their faces to look wider and more rattlesnake-like.  This guy didn't seem threatened by me, however, so I saw no acting.  


I was very happy.  I'd never had a long enough view of a gopher snake in the wild to be sure that's what I was seeing.  And this one was a beauty.  


Seen in April at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in the Phoenix area.