The bugs are gone. After the mesquite tree was invaded by hoards of insects I water blasted them off the tiny leaves. This mesquite tree has only been in the ground for a year and already is providing lacy shade to our new patio. I am rather fond of the tree, especially since the birds seem to love it. It is a native Velvet Mesquite, the kind that grows scrubby out in the desert, but here in the landscape with a regular supply of water, it will grow tall and lush.
(Velvet Mesquite Tree taken by Kathie 6-22-08 @ 10:59 a.m.)
Yesterday the temperature was 111 degrees Fahrenheit here in the shade of my patio at 1:30 in the afternoon. I sought shelter in my room and watched a movie while keeping an eye out the patio door. Suddenly a strange bird landed near the door. I watched this small bird with a bright white eye-line that was different that anything I have seen around here before. I knew it was a sparrow and I was hoping it was the elusive 5-striped sparrow which I have never seen and is only in a few locations here in Southern Arizona. It would be Big News if it was here, but I would have to have proof. I crept out of my room and grabbed my camera which was in the den with the 18-70 mm lens on it. I changed it as quickly as I could and crept up to the back door where the strange sparrow was now perched in the ever friendly mesquite tree.
(Juvenile Black-throated Sparrow 6-22-08 by Kathiesbirds)
I started taking pictures but the bird soon got leery of me and flew off. As usual when I am excited, these are not the best, but once uploaded to the computer I was able to identify this new mystery bird as a juvenile black-throated sparrow. While it does not have the black throat of the adult, it has already developed the dark cheek patch and the white eye-line seen in its parents. Black-throated sparrows are frequently spotted here in the Sonoran desert. They make a lovely tinkling sound, like a tiny bell choir when they sing amongst the desert scrub.
(Adult Black-throated sparrow taken by Kathie in Sycamore Canyon 3-18-08 8:09 a.m. MST)
By late afternoon the temperature has dropped to 95F in the shade. I join my daughter-in-law on the covered portion of the patio where we sit in the shade and sip strawberry smoothies and talk. The sun is getting ever closer to the horizon when the wind starts to pick up. There is a noticeable drop in the temperature and I look towards Mt. Fagan only to find his face obscured by a thick gray veil. I wonder if that is rain on the mountain but as the wind intensifies our skin is being sandblasted. We gather up our stuff and head indoors. While we frequently have high winds here in the canyon, it is rare for us to have dust storms. This wind is blowing over the top of Fagan and down-slope to my house. It is now I realize that if the Rosemont Mine goes in this dust would be full of poison and there would be nothing I could do except flee inside and shut my door.
Dust obscures Mt. Fagan; Palo verde tosses in the wind. Photo: Kathie 6-21-08 @ 7:22 p.m. MST)
The wind is so fierce it lifts the seat cushions from my chairs and I remove them to the safety of the house. The flag in front of the model homes is full out and I wonder if it will be torn from its tether once again. Now the air is full of dust and the sinking sun is cast as an eerie copper glow in the sky. The sight is ethereal, beautiful, and mysterious but the beauty belies the possible danger to come.
(Dust over the desert by Kathie 6-21-08 @ 7:21 p.m. MST)
(Gilded Flicker 6-22-08 by Kathie)
The birds are back at the feeders with gilded flickers and Gila woodpeckers eating peanuts, finches feasting on Niger and sunflower seed, while doves and quail fight for position beneath the feeders, scrambling for every scrap.
(Juvenile Gambel's Quail Poto by kathie June 22, 2008)
These scrappy juvenile quail showed up and joined the fray with the rest of them. The trees look none the worse for the bashing they received last night, and the temperature is rising once again. Let’s see, should I read a book, or watch another movie today?
(Peaceful Palo Verde and Mt. Fagan June 22, 2008 @ 10:55 a.m. MST Photo by Kathie)