Saturday, January 20, 2007

Desert Beasties

It was another cool day here in the desert, and a perfect day, it turns out, for viewing wildlife at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, where my daughters and I spent the afternoon. Here, for your viewing pleasure, I present another of my photography inundations. These shots are courtesy my new 100-300 IS lens, which I must say is awesome for bird photography. But even the landscape photos turned out pretty well. Judge for yourself:

View west from the Desert Museum.

A close-by ridge of the western slope of the Tucson Mountains.

Well, it wouldn't be a Simmons set of photos without flowers now, would it? These are from an aloe.

Even before entering the Museum, which is a museum-zoo-botanical gardens mix, we saw many birds, such as this cactus wren perched in a mesquite.

Hard to miss a cardinal any time of year here in the desert, but especially now in the winter.

When we arrived we headed straight for Raptor Free Flight. The afternoon show featured four Harris' hawks (called bay wing hawks south of the border), which are one of only two species of social hawks.

Apparently they have fairly thick-skinned talons, as well!

No other hawk in the desert southwest looks like these, with their copper shoulders, white-striped tails, and yellow talons.

Ah, I love this zoom lens!

The world is ready for contemplation after eating farm-raised quail.

Trainer and hawk.

Then we scrambled over to the mountain habitat, where the mountain lions were sleeping...

At least for a while. I must say I think this would make a pretty cool painting.

Not to be outdone, the Mexican wolves (there are two at the Desert Museum) were loping along, as well.

Over to the hummingbird aviary, where the lens really got a work out, though I'm not sure if I kept photographing the same hummingbird.

This one's got attitude, at least.

This one drinks from one of the more common desert plant species, Plastica hangingusia.

Then we went to the desert aviary, for larger birds, where we saw this black-headed grosbeak.

Hard to tell the specific species, but I think this is a Northern oriole.

It got pretty chilly once the clouds covered the sun and the wind picked up, so this pyrrhuloxia (sometimes called gray cardinal) puffed itself up accordingly.

I do believe this cardinal is the punk rock star of the aviary. Not unlike Sid Vicious, eh?

Finally, we saw for the first time in uncountable visits a lilac-crowned Amazon parrot in the aviary.

From there we headed over to the desert oasis, which features a troop of coatis---raccoon cousins as comfortable in water as in trees. They have long tails that look prehensile even though they are not.

And finally, a parting landscape shot. We rode off into the sunset. Well, actually, we drove east from there back to our home in Tucson....


Justin Evans said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Evans said...

Sorry for the deleted post.

I think your Northern Oriole could possibly be a female Western Tanager.

The female Oriole is brown, and the male oriole has the black hood. Though I could be wrong because the beak certainly looks like an oriole rather than a taneger.

The female tanager has the black feathers without the red hood of the male.

Still, that beak . . .

Anonymous said...

The "thick billed parrot" you have there is really a lilac crowned amazon. Google it.

Simmons B. Buntin said...

Fixed, thanks!