Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rattlesnake Season and Birding

Today my daughter, Christina, and I woke up early to do a little birding at Sweetwater Wetlands here in Tucson, Arizona. It was quite an exciting morning as we were entertained by the wildlife.

First, we watched a Cooper's Hawk carry small branches to its nest. Then suddenly it swooped after a pair of Mallard Ducks just up the trail from us. The ducks took off very quickly across the pond and disappeared into the reeds. Then as we walked by a marshy area I saw what I thought was a dead animal, when it suddenly jumped up and ran into the reeds. It was a coyote. I think we were as startled as he was.

As we continued we came across a snake spotted by my daughter.  Right along our path was a large rattlesnake stretched out in the cottonwood seed fluff. It was about 3 1/2 - 4 feet in length. We watched as it ate a cotton rat (name given to us by a naturalist).
The rattlesnake didn't show any interest in this large frog nearby.
Our next bit of wildlife was another coyote walking along a path parallel to ours. All at once he charged across our path in front of us and ran into the brush after something only he could see. It amazed me how fast both the hawk and coyote moved when after prey. Made us happy we didn't have any predators after us.

The next few photos were taken by Christina of some of the shore birds and a Common Moorhen.

Black-Necked Stilt and White-Faced Ibis

Long-Billed Dowitchers and White-Faced Ibis

Common Moorhen renamed the Common Gallinule
Our final reward for a great morning of birding was to see the nest of  the Great Horned Owl with 3 owlets. A couple of birders had large binoculars set up on a tripod so we could see the owlets up close. Wow, they were beautiful and so big! I'm not sure how they all fit in the nest. The babies were still covered in their fluffy feathers. I wish we had a photo. We needed my husband with his big lens!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Birding at Reid Park

Great Egret

Walking around Reid Park a couple of weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of birds to be seen. These are just a few. I went with my daughter and between the two of us we got a few good photos.

No matter which way you look at this Black-crowned Night Heron he has a very interesting face! These birds are easy to find. They even go into the zoo to raid the food of the zoo animals.

American Coot

Great-tailed Grackle
 I never knew that there were so many different kinds of sparrows. Actually, this little bird belongs in a family called the weaver-finches.
House Sparrow