Thursday, January 24, 2008

Arizona in winter - awwwwhhhhhh - that's better

I had a long weekend with no class on Monday because of the Martin Luther King holiday and so I decided to go out to Arizona to visit my good friends, Paul and Judy Fennell. The Collectors of Wood Art forum was taking place in Scottsdale, where Paul and Judy live, so it seemed like a great opportunity to multi-task. It didn't hurt that the temperature out there was in the 60's with sunshine while we were having snow and temps in the teens.

Paul and Judy live in an area where the landscaping is all native vegetation and there's a nature reserve adjacent to the community. I took my spotting scope and binocular along with me to take advantage of the birding opportunities the neighborhood had to offer. I surely wasn't disappointed, adding 12 birds to my life list. woohoo!

Here's the ecosystem I had the pleasure to explore for a couple of mornings and afternoons. I love the Sonoran desert biome - there are so many interesting cacti to see, including these giant saguaros.

This was one of the first new birds I saw - a curved-bill thrasher. Their yellow-orange eyes are the most striking feature of this species.

I've seen roadrunners before, but not since I started keeping a list. So, I was happy to add this one to my tally.

While I was photographing it, I heard something that drew my eye. . .

No - say it isn't so . . . I don't think its name was Wile E. Coyote, but it seemed awfully funny to me to be seeing these two critters in such close proximity to one another. How cliche!

This is a Phainopepla. I had fun figuring this one out - from a distance, at first glance, it looked like a jay of some sort. It's actually a relative of the waxwings. These birds spread mistletoe seed around.

Oh boy - try figuring out what bird you are seeing when all you get is an AHV (birders will know what I mean).

Whew! It turned around and I was able to identify it as a black-throated sparrow.

This is an Anna's hummingbird. When it was doing a display flight the red crown and throat are quite flashy.

Another new bird for me was this verdin. I kept thinking this was a warbler, but the face and head markings didn't match any of those. I ended up flipping pages in Sibley's until I found a match.

After a relaxing morning of birding, Paul and I went to the gallery exhibits for the Collectors of Wood Art forum. We stopped first at Cervini-Haas gallery where I met a very nice lady who told me that she reads my blog. How cool is that??? (Some of y'all can leave comments from time-to-time so I know who's checking in. . . please!)

The next stop was to see what del Mano was up to. They came over from Los Angeles and brought a nice selection of work from many of the artists they represent.

This is Paul with Jan Peters (L) and Kirsten (R).

I didn't check to see who made the wall piece, but the work on the right is from my good friend, Art Liestman. The work on the left is by Marc Ricourt.

Ray Leier told me that there was an Andi Wolfe from Michigan who had visited the gallery earlier in the day. She happened to come to the gallery while I was there, so here's a picture of Andi Wolfe squared (I'm on the right).

Here are three of my pieces (the ginkgo leaf carving, the maple leaf bowl in front, and an abstract piece, front right).

David Nittmann's work.

Some carved work - I'm not familiar with the artist who made these.

Bill Moore, Joel Urrety, Jacques Vesery and some more work I can't see well enough to identify.

On Sunday morning, Paul and Judy took me to see an exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum - Masterpiece Replayed: Monet, Matisse and More. It was an amazing exhibit. It opened at 10 am on Sunday morning and we had tickets for that time slot, so we were amongst the first people to see the exhibit.

Here are Paul and Judy standing in front of an interesting building that is near the art museum.

Here's a closer look at Paul and Judy. We all enjoyed the exhibit. It was neat to see the masterpiece paintings along with the studio reproductions hanging side-by-side.

The museum provided digital players that had audio and video information to help one understand the exhibit more thoroughly. I really appreciated that a lot.

After lunch we stopped in at Robbie's house to surprise him with a visit and to get a nice cup of coffee from his stock of amazing coffee beans. Robbie showed us what he was working on in the shop, and then I bugged him for some photography assistance. He's a very talented photographer and he gave me some good pointers, which I tried that very afternoon with excellent results. Thanks, Robbie!

Ooops - another AHV, but this one is easy to identify.

Another life bird for me is the Cactus Wren - Arizona's state bird.

Cholla cactus - you have to watch where you're walking to avoid the spines. Ask me sometime about my previous experience with this cactus genus.

Two different types of cholla, side-by-side.

Another one - the Gilded Flicker. It's very similar to our Northern Flicker except it doesn't have red on the nape of the neck, the head is brown and the face is gray.

I saw quite a few of these birds, and they were all very cooperative for the camera.

There were three in this shrub and I really enjoyed watching them.

I don't think I've ever seen a Northern Flicker stay so calm and still, so I wonder if that's another difference between the Gilded and Northern species.

There were a lot of rabbits out there, too. Emma, my miniature dachshund, would have loved this reserve.

Another life bird - the Gila Woodpecker.

A cactus wren doing its cactus thing.

The weekend was warm and sunny, the nights were clear and cool, and I really found the weekend to be a refreshing break. The highlight of Sunday night was sitting out on the veranda with a fire in the fireplace, sipping wine, and then hearing the great horned owls. Better yet - we saw three of them nearby (one on the roof of Paul and Judy's house), and they put on quite a display for the next hour. Thanks, Paul and Judy - I had a wonderful weekend.

My new birds for the weekend were: Lesser Goldfinch, Curved-Bill Thrasher, Roadrunner, Gambel Quail, Verdin, Anna's hummingbird, Great Horned Owl, Phainopepla, Cactus Wren, Gila Woodpecker, Gilded Flicker, and Black-throated sparrow.


Anonymous said...

Not officially a birder (I do mostly landscape photography -- I will shoot a duck picture occasionally), but you don't have to be a botanist to figure out what an AHV would be. I enjoyed the pictures and your comments. I am a woodturner in Texas and a member of the Woodturners of North Texas so I will get to meet you when you are here for the classes on burning and carving.

Andi Wolfe said...

Bill - thanks for the comment, and I'm looking forward to the visit in June.