A Nutty Argument between an Acorn Woodpecker and a Steller’s Jay

A Red-headed Acorn Woodpecker

An Acorn Woodpecker settles in to feast at the feeder.

Acorn Woodpecker

Aware of the other birds and squirrels in the area, the woodpecker looks around.

Acorn Woodpecker

The woodpecker admires the selection of seeds and nuts available.

Acorn Woodpecker

Always on alert, the woodpecker checks again for trouble.

Acorn Woodpecker

The woodpecker spots a rival bird.

Steller's Jay and Acorn Woodpecker

As the Steller’s Jay lands on the feeder, the Acorn Woodpecker stands his ground.

Steller's Jay and Acorn Woodpecker

The jay tries to intimidate the woodpecker by looking tall.

Acorn Woodpecker and Steller's Jay

The woodpecker defiantly argues as the jay tries to move in.

Argument between jay and woodpecker

A big dust -up between the Acorn Woodpecker and Steller’s Jay ensues.

Acorn Woodpecker takes ownership of the feeder.

And the winner is…the Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

The woodpecker considers the nut options in the feeder in peace.

Acorn Woodpecker

Finally the woodpecker settles in to eat his fill!

Macro Monday

Fuzzy yellow and black fly

Many insects mimic others in their appearance. This bee-like fly is at high elevation near the Arizona Snow Bowl ski area.

You never know what you might find once you start taking macro photos.  Sometimes tiny insects pop out in flower photos that surprise you, or the detail on a beetle might be so much more elegant than imagined. Sometimes the play of light inside a delicate flower is amazing, yet unappreciated in the normal view. Here is a selection of recent macro photos from around northern Arizona.

Water Skater

This water skater made an exclusive home in the little red wagon until a hail storm ended his reign.

Spider in flower.

Spider in flower.

The flowers of the Lupine come in small clusters.

The flowers of the Lupine come in small clusters.

This Crane's Bill flower plays host to some tiny ants and flying insects.

This Crane’s Bill flower plays host to some tiny flying insects.

The Crab Spider is well camouflaged in the white daisy and quickly devoured the smallest insect.

The Crab Spider is well camouflaged in the white daisy and quickly devoured the smallest insect.

This tiny Thistle bud will grow and eventually bloom with a beautiful purple blossom.

This tiny Thistle bud will grow and eventually bloom with a beautiful purple blossom.

The Loco Weed is easily mistaken for Lupine.

The Loco Weed is easily mistaken for Lupine.

Golden Rod

20140720-203836-74316849.jpg
GoldenRod blooms in the Ponderosa Pine Forest.

Just looking at the picture makes you feel an allergic response coming on? Never fear, it’s not the Goldenrod that people are actually allergic to! At the same time that Goldenrod blooms so conspicuously, the Ragweed often found in the same area is the usual culprit.  Ragweed has tiny green flowers that go almost unnoticed, but create huge clouds of very irritating pollen.  So enjoy this golden beauty.

Out of the Den and into my World

The three little kits.

The three little kits.

Lots of animals make an appearance in our little corner of the woods.  We routinely have elk, deer, jackrabbits, Abert squirrels, chipmunks, ground squirrels and even had a porcupine or two.  We have been visited by black bears, coyotes and a mountain lion.

Lately we have been keeping up with our newest neighbors, the fox family.  Now that the kits are out and about, we see them daytime and evening.  I’m sure they are out at night, as well.  The babies have been learning how to climb trees.  There are only two kinds of foxes that climb trees, and these Gray Foxes are one of the two.

Many times a day the crows alert us to the movements of the foxes.  Whether crossing our neighbor’s yard, or moving around in ours, the crows chase the foxes and make quite a racket.  We live on two and a half acres and the farthest corner of our land is almost inaccessible because it is so rocky.  This is where the den is located.  For many years, ground squirrels, skunks, and other tunnel-making animals have lived in this old rock quarry.  At some point last year, these foxes took up residence.

We didn’t notice them until the kits were old enough to be outside of the den, and the whole family began sitting out in the sun for extended periods of time.  Now that we are alerted regularly by the crow alarm, we have been taking time out to sit and watch quietly as they go about their day.

A member of the Crow Alert System on duty.

A member of the Crow Alert System on duty.

In the evening the foxes eyes are wide open.

In the evening the foxes eyes are open wide when they come out of the den.

Frequently they watch us watching them.

Frequently they watch us watching them.

Their actions remind one of cats.

They remind me of cats in some behaviors.

Off on an explore

The adventurous baby is off on an explore.

The crows have been chasing this adult

The crows have been chasing this adult all around the yard. The other adult has climbed a nearby tree.

Foxes move very quickly

He makes a decision and moves quickly.

The adult fox scales a tall Ponderosa effortlessly

Clearly an experienced climber, he scales this tall Ponderosa effortlessly.

He cooly checks to see if we are still watching

He coolly checks to see if we are still watching. In the photo below, you can see the tangled branches about 20 feet above the ground on the right of the tree where he was perched in this photo.

The two adult foxes are in this pine tree.  This old tree has witches brooms of branches from old infestations of dwarf mistletoe. These make great nesting spots for birds.

The two adult foxes are in this pine tree. This old tree has witches brooms of branches from old infestations of dwarf mistletoe. These make great nesting spots for birds. The crow in the nearer tree was silent but clearly concerned.

 

 

Slide Fire Update

A drive through Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona this week allowed for a glimpse of conditions since the Slide Fire was extinguished.  Since the beginning of the monsoon season is upon us, worries over the safety of visitors to the canyon in the event of flash flooding has caused many closures.  The camping areas affected by the fire as well as other parking for day use along the canyon are now closed. Thus the photos I post here are all from a moving car, not the best of situations.  However, you can see that if you are looking for fire damage, you will find it, however, most of the beauty that is Oak Creek Canyon remains.

This is the north end of  Slide Rock Park a short time prior to the fire.

This is the north end of Slide Rock Park a short time prior to the fire.

This is the same location currently.

This is the same location currently.

View from bridge at Slide Rock

Heading north, this is the view from Slide Rock Bridge, just below the origin of the fire.

The worst of the burn area, as visible from the road, is where the fire started.  It burned very hot here. Note the discolored ground in the burn area.

Near start of fire Mid burn area First view of burn area above Slide Rock Burn area soil colorAs you drive along the canyon, most of the views to fire damaged areas are blocked by the lush greenery near the creek.

The entrance to Cave Springs Campground

The entrance to Cave Springs Campground

Junipine Resort

Junipine Resort

The fire moved up the steep, rocky hillsides and moved on.

The fire raged up the steep, rocky hillsides and moved on.

As you drive along the switchbacks out of the canyon, you pass some burned areas where fire was stopped right at the road.

As you drive along the switchbacks out of the canyon, you pass some burned areas where fire was stopped right at the road.

You can see from the many signs and banners in Flagstaff, how appreciated the efforts of firefighters were. The question currently on the minds of locals is how much damage could occur due to runoff from the anticipated summer monsoons.  Oak Creek has many fans awaiting the answer, and thinking ahead to their next trip.

A Hike Along Rocky Ridge Trail

Rocky Ridge trail signsAn easy and enjoyable hike near Flagstaff, Arizona, Rocky Ridge trail  is actually a section of the Arizona Trail.  It is 2.8 miles in length and climbs from 7,191 feet to 7,587 in elevation.  The trail begins at Schultz Creek parking just off Schultz Pass road and passes through warm south-facing juniper and pine forest with an interesting mix of cacti.  Along the upper reaches of the trail you find Gambel Oak and more Ponderosa pine.  Besides hikers, this trail is a frequent single track route, connecting to Oldham trail, Brookbank trail,  Mount Elden Lookout road, and can be used to access Flagstaff through Buffalo Park.

Rocky Ridge trailFor a quick hike today, I entered the trail at the 2.3 mile marker, partway up Mount Elden Lookout road, and headed south toward the Schultz Pass trailhead.  The trail lives up to its name, and although having some very smooth stretches, passes through many rocky areas as it follows the base of the Dry Tanks Hills near Mount Elden.