Summer Doldrums

Summer is here and hot temps continue. When the monsoon rains arrive, usually by mid-July, the cloudy skies and rains will bring some relief. I never tire of the beauty of the walls of Cave Creek Canyon near Portal, AZ. As I was taking the header photo, I noticed there was an arch that I hadn’t seen before.

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Arch in Cave Creek Canyon, Portal, AZ

View Flickr album for higher resolution photos – Summer Doldrums

Nesting season is in full swing. Like many bird species, the Elegant Trogon parents share the duty of incubating the eggs. During the hot part of the day, the one sitting on the eggs may come out of the nest for a few minutes for a snack and some relief from the heat. Many birds, including Elegant Trogons, nest in the Arizona Sycamores found in the riparian areas.

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Male Elegant Trogon emerging from nest cavity

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He found a snack!

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Female Elegant Trogon

A pair of Thick-billed Kingbirds has been nesting in a nearby spot for a few years now. They are uncommon in this area, so birders have a lot of interest in seeing them. The nest is right on the road and the birds don’t seem to mind the traffic too much.

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One of the Kingbirds on nest

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Thick-billed Kingbird

One afternoon when I was visiting the bird feeder station at Cave Creek Ranch, there was a bush that was loaded with Queen Butterflies. There haven’t been too many butterflies yet, but they should increase as we get further into summer. Each August a butterfly count is conducted in the Canyon. I look forward to participating in it this year. Hopefully I will learn to identify some new species.

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Queen Butterflies

This pair of Whiskered Screech Owls had one fledgling. I saw Mr. and Mrs. sitting out during the day, but missed seeing the fledgling by one day.

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Mr. Whiskered Screech Owl

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Mrs. Whiskered Screech Owl

We also had two rare hummingbird visitors whose normal range is Mexico and down into Central America – a Berylline and a White-eared. They were both visiting a temporary nectar feeder. The Berylline also was working on a nest. White-eared hummers have nested in this area in the past and hopefully that will happen again this year also.

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Berylline Hummingbird

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White-eared Hummingbird

The tiny Cliff Chipmunks continue to visit my campsite. There are at least three – a male and female and another that is possibly their offspring. Their body is only about four inches long. Their tail is continuously flicking as they dart from place to place. They are just too cute! This one was in the tree by my door just chattering away.

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Cliff Chipmunk

Located in the San Simon Valley, Willow Tank was restored by   Friends of Cave Creek Canyon  and other groups over the last several years. FOCCC (which also operates the visitor center where I am volunteering) continues to maintain Willow Tank with the help of many volunteers. As one of the few ponds in this desert area, it attracts shorebirds and other types of birds. There are usually several Killdeer around the shore, a few Mexican Ducks and others. Raptors are also frequently seen there. Over the years many rare birds have also visited. When I am down that way, I like to stop by to see what is there.

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Willow Tank, located in the San Simon Valley between the Chiricahua and Peloncillo Mountains

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One of many Killdeer that were at the pond on a recent visit

I had thought I would be leaving here in July, but with the rebound of the virus in many states, I have decided to stay on. It will be nice to experience the other seasons here in the canyon. Soon we will be seeing spotted fawns and perhaps bear cubs. Fun!

I enjoy taking photos of the moon for some reason! And sunsets!

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Waxing gibbous moon about 30 minutes before sunset

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Cave Creek Canyon sunset

 

4 Comments on “Summer Doldrums

  1. I imagine it will be interesting for you to experience Cave Creek during the monsoon season and will look forward to more photos. I agree that it’s a smart move to stay put. I feel good being in our little spot in NW Washington. We will stay until August and then make decisions.

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    • Thanks Martha, I am looking forward to being here through the summer (although not to the heat!) It is a good situation for me which I’m thankful for. Glad you and Ben are well situated also! Maybe we will run into each other this winter, Ajo perhaps.

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  2. Love the owl pictures. I like hearing the eastern screech owls at night. Using a game speaker I once called one into our camp. It perched on the lantern pole about 10 feet away from our campfire. It perched there for about 15 minutes and wasn’t bothered at all by our movements in the campsite.
    Enjoy the canyon. It’s an awesome place.

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    • Thanks Brian! I love to see owls, so cool. They don’t seem to be too bothered by people being nearby. Cool story about the Eastern Screech Owl. Hope you have a nice summer!

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