Monday, September 29, 2014

My Gardens Today

Several hours after the glorious sunrise the day became overcast.  I checked the growing cage this morning and found 5 butterflies had enclosed overnight.  My sister released 40 Monarchs last week so with the last group released we have raised over 65 Monarchs not counting the 2 dozen or so in the gardens/yard.

Monarchs continue to dominate the gardens with Sachem Skippers slightly more in numbers but not in presence. Again there were big numbers of Monarchs on the Tropical Milkweed stand including a tagged Monarch that I reported to the organization tracking them..  I found more Monarch caterpillars not counted yesterday.

There were 4 Eastern Black Swallowtails butterflies along with several Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars not seen yesterday.  I saw Cabbage Whites, Orange Sulphur, American and Painted Ladies, Red Admiral and Mourning Cloak nectaring on rotten fruit.  I saw Common Buckeye, Gray Hairstreak, Ocola Skipper and the first of the year Long-tailed Skipper.   We did not have any Long-tailed Skippers in the yard last year.

Long-tailed Skipper
 I also saw two Ruby-throated hummingbirds feeding on the flowers several times during the day.


A glorious sunrise over the trees at my house this morning!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Coming home to my yard ~ Awesome!

Just back from my wonderful vacation to find my yard alive with butterflies of all kinds.  The Tropical Milkweed patch that measures about 3 ft by 9 ft had over 25 Monarch butterflies, over 12 caterpillars of varying sizes and several chrysalis attached along the back wall.  On the rotten fruit there were Mourning Cloak, Red Admiral and an occasional Painted Lady.  There were Painted and American Ladies nectaring on flowers, 5 Orange Sulphur, Cabbage Whites, Common Buckeyes, Black Swallowtails and lots of different skippers.  Plus we still have 2 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds here that haven't migrated yet.
Monarch butterflies, Caterpillars and a Chrysalis

Orange Sulphur
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Friday, September 26, 2014

CA ~ Desert Valley Resort ~ Costa's Hummingbird

It's been a great week here at  the resort.  I just love that there are hummingbirds buzzing around everywhere.  They greet us in the morning when we eat breakfast nectaring on the Lantana.  While you're walking around the grounds they are 6-8 hummingbirds in sight at all times.  When at the pool they fly around just over your heads and then sit in the trees above you.  Here's a picture from this afternoon.

CA ~ Big Morongo Canyon Preserve ~ con't

As I walked along the trail I enjoyed looking at the mountains that are nearby.  In an outcropping of rocks there was a growth of wildflowers where Anna's Hummingbirds were feeding.  Across the trail there was an area of native plants where I saw several Queen Butterflies.  I finished by sitting for a while by the feeding area watching both Nuttall and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, White-crowned Sparrows, Scrub Jays and both Costa and Anna's Hummingbirds.

Anna's Hummingbird
Queen Butterfly

CA ~ Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Vermilion  Flycatcher
Nice to be able to visit this nature preserve again today.  I must admit  this area is one of my favorite places to see birds around Palm Desert.  Here are some of today's pictures and some scenery.  I started birding at the ballpark where I was lucky enough to again see the wonderful and colorful Vermilion Flycatcher and had close up looks at a Lincoln Sparrow. There were 5 Western Meadowlarks feeding in the outfields, some Western Bluebirds, Lesser Goldfinches and House Finches were in closer.  Next, I moved over to the Preserve where I hiked the Mesquite` Trail where I had great looks at an Orange-crowned Warbler and Western Wood Pewee.

Lincoln Sparrow
Orange-crowned Warbler
Wilson's Warbler

Thursday, September 25, 2014

CA ~ Afternoons at Desert Willow

Greater Roadrunner
Some images taken on today's walk around the grounds.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

CA ~ Big Morongo Canyon Preserve ~ con't

White-throated Sparrow

 Black-throated Gray Warbler
 Anna's Hummingbird

And how cool was it the a Mule Deer came into drink from the water feature!

CA ~ Big Morango Valley Preserve

This morning started with a birding walk at the Preserve that I looked forward to all week.  Last year I went on this walk also and was excited then to add 11 life birds to my list.  I didn't have any hopes to add more birds to my life list this year but I was pleasantly surprised to add a Black-throated Gray Warbler seen at the water feature when Margaret and I were sitting chatting.  We were a group of 14 birders including host Dee plus leaders Margaret, Gary and several others whose names I didn't get.  It was great to meet a couple from nearby MD who I can connect up with to bird in their area.  Hal and Joanne were here to see if Joanne could add to life birds to there lists - California Thrasher and Nuttall's Woodpecker both of which we saw on the walk.

Nuttall's Woodpecker
Scrub Jay

California Towhee

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CA ~ Desert Willow Resort ~ American Kestrel

While sitting at the pool this afternoon I saw a fairly large bird flew by to a cactus.  I wasn't motivated to get out of the pool to check it out but decided I should.  I was excited to see an American Kestrel with the closest looks I have ever seen of one.

CA ~Big Morongo Canyon Preserve ~ con't

Lesser Goldfinch

Rufous Hummingbirds
Hummers at the feeder

CA ~Little San Bernardino Mountains ~ Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Our choice for hiking was Tarquitz Trail but when we got to the entrance we found out it's only open on the weekends.  My suggestion was to go hiking in the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in the Little San Bernardino Mountains.  To get out to the canyon you pass along the Wind Farms along Hwy 10. It's quite a sight to see all of the wind turbines in lines in the desert.  Once at the Preserve we hiked the Desert Willow Trail and part of the Marsh Trail.  Hiking was pretty hot since we didn't arrive until about noon so when Jim and Dawn wanted to hike the Mesquite Trail I decided to stay back at the sitting area by the bird feeders.  There is also a wonderful water feature with a drip.  There was a great variety of birds to see.
me on the trail

Jim & Dawn

Monday, September 22, 2014

CA ~ Sights around Desert Willow

Afternoons are spent up at the pool as this years temperatures have been anywhere from about 98 to 105F.  Usually at some point during the afternoon I take a break from the pool and go off in search of birds and nature to photograph.  It's a photographers delight here especially as there are good numbers of hummingbirds - both Costa's and Anna's.  The surprise of this afternoon was the Cooper's Hawk that landed along the railing of the pool area.  Later this evening he was out hunting birds for his dinner.
Costa's Hummingbird
Lizard sunning on rodk

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Sunday, September 21, 2014

CA ~ Relaxing at Palm Desert ~ Desert Willow Resort

Great Egret

Relaxing for me is to get up and go out walking looking for birds in the early morning  Club Intrawest has lots of good areas to walk around their grounds and see more of my old friends. This morining I saw Pied-billed Grebe's, Great and Snowy Egrets, White-faced Ibis, Verdin's, House Finches, and lots of  Anna's and Costa's Hummingbirds.

Snowy Egret & White-faced Ibis

American Coot

Female and Male House Finches