At the top of the cul de sac I enter the desert. Here is my sunset lookout point. Here the sentinel saguaros stand and I search them yet again for signs of bird life, but I see none. Last year these holes were full of purple martins, Gila woodpeckers, and gilded flickers. Now the sentinels stand silent, their openings empty. Along the tops the little knobs of green will open soon to creamy white blossoms which provide nectar to bats and birds alike.
As I walk along the canyon rim I photograph the buds of prickly pear that will be blossoming soon. The foothills Palo Verde are making a riotous display with their tiny yellow blossoms covering their green twigs.
These tiny blooms are covered with bees and other insects drinking up nectar as fast as they can. Standing nearby one the hum of insect life produces a loud steady buzz. The ash-throated flycatchers have also returned to Sycamore Canyon and I see three of them on this short ¼ mile walk today. I reach the point on the trail where the stairs take me down to the canyon floor. I find this cholla in blossom just as I am about to leave the desert and return to suburbia. My dry mouth encourages me to return to the house, but I look longingly at the path before me. As the sun blazes I decide to return home thinking perhaps I will take an evening walk in the desert instead. Along the sidewalks the fairy dusters are in bloom. Believe it or not, these red tulle looking blossoms actually attract hummingbirds. When the bloom is finished it turns into a pinkish petticoat-like puff which I assume then disperses the seeds. These do grow wild in the desert with dwarf sized shrubs as well as taller bushes.
The desert willows are also in bud with the first blooms just starting to open. Desert willows bloom in shades of wine, pink, scarlet and lavender. When the blooms are finished they produce long bean-like pods full of seeds and some have already started to self-sow in the vacant areas around the neighborhood. Desert willows are deciduous, dropping their leaves over the winter and sprouting new again in the spring. The trees will continue to blossom over the course of the summer before dropping their leaves again late in the fall. Then the empty seed pods dangle like paper tails from the branches.
Larry of the Brownstone Birding Blog recently asked what spring migrants we are seeing. Well here in Sycamore Canyon these birds have returned: turkey vultures,