Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bust at Boyce Thompson Aboretum

Maria and I made the short drive outside of Phoenix to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum this Saturday. Having heard its sterling reputation for attracting all manner of avian fauna, we made the trip out in pleasant weather with the company of another acquaintance.
The scenery at the Arboretum is stunning. The jagged cliffs and peaks of the Arizona desert mixed beautifully with the palm trees, oak, and eucalyptus that abounded throughout the grounds.
Click on the images for larger viewing

We also came across some particularly impressive cacti, with this saguaro seeming to push 50 feet. I count over 14 arms as well.
I was also surprised to see a domesticated cat in the area--probably an unwelcome invader to this carefully crafted ecosystem. I liked that he had a corner of his ear missing, and took a picture. Little did I know he'd be the best subject of the day.

The hiking itself was very nice. It was most level going, with enough of a breeze and occasional shade to keep our temperatures down. A dried out river bed cut through the canyon to provide the exceptional views seen earlier, and yet amidst the grandeur we still found the small and delicate things to appreciate. This Hummingbird nest was notably unoccupied, but still pretty cute. They don't build any extra space into their domiciles.

While snooping around, I also noticed a determinedly camouflaged grasshopper. He imitated a leaf very well, but his ruby red leggings gave him away. He was lucky I was neither a bird nor John the Baptist.

By this time we had been in the park for a good 2 and a half hours, with still remarkably little seen in way of birds. Turkey Vultures, Verdins, and Hummingbirds were common enough, as were Abert's Towhees. It was a surprisingly unattended party at this fabulous garden all in all, and I only managed some far away shots of a Western Kingbird, and wouldn't ya know it he just had to perch on the telephone wire. Of all the places!

It was a pleasant afternoon, and we had some yummy Mexican food afterwards, but I think I'll be focussing more on the Desert Botanical Gardens and Gilbert Water Ranch for a while yet.