Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sudden, Solar-Induced Lassitude!!

This cool looking dude is a Desert Spiny Lizard, so named because he lives in the desert and is spiny. Like all other reptiles, this modest dragon is cold-blodded, so he feels at his best when the sun is shining and his body is heating up!

I guess we all feel that way, to an extent. However, I must insert a strong caveat. I do not feel like that when it hits 104 °F and we're only half-way through April. Granted, it'll get much hotter in Phoenix as summer gets underway. Oddly enough, the 118 °F temps of August are more bearable, because they're expected. 
It is not often that I am compared to an Avocet, or that I make the comparison myself (though now that you mention it, we are both rather gangly...), but usually when I get out and birding, I start romping around and feel like a million bucks, much like this guy: 

However, when it hits triple digit temperatures in mid April, it can really dampen one's spirit (how that's for irony?). When that happens, I feel more like this guy, baked and bewildered:

All that complaining aside, I still enjoyed some nice birding this past weekend, even if my neck is now more crimson than the Red-Necked Phalarope so recently seen at the Glendale Recharge Ponds. The little pretty bird had taken the scorching heat as his cue to move on. Who took his place? Everybody's favorite Turkey of course!

"Hey guys, what's goin' on?"

For some reason, there were vultures everywhere. I counted 18 circling in the sky, and they were also feeling free to come in and land somewhat nearby, which in my experience is less common than one might expect. Vultures are well known for urinating on their legs. It serves the dual purpose of keeping them cool and killing bacteria. To answer your question, no, no I didn't try it myself.

These odiferous undertakers were not the only bird on display. There were some nice Cinnamon Teal out on the ponds as well as one Western Grebe and three Eared Grebes in full regalia. There were small groups of Dowitchers trying to find shade along the banks, and a few Cliff Swallows flying their erratic rounds with the usual vivacity, as if they were solar powered.

One of the upsides to the extreme brightness is you can get plenty of shutter speed. Of course, aiming and focussing quickly are still areas wherein my human error can exert itself : )
There goes a Long-Billed Dowitcher (someone please tell me if it might be Short-Billed), searching for a more private shady spot. 

This Cliff Swallow photo was actually taken near Tempe Town Lake, but the setting looks nearly the same and the picture is nothing special, so I'll shove it in here. I feel like in-flight Swallow photography must be the apex of photographic skill. This is perhaps the first time I've gotten a Swallow in frame and been able to tell its species. Progress!

There were Black-Necked Stilts and American Avocets doing their thing in the mudflats too. This particular Avocet seemed to be so proud of his breeding plumage that he'd show it off to anyone who cared to look. We can all relate.

He waded over near a Black-Necked Stilt, eager to showboat his rusty neck and remind the black and white Stilt that television and photography have been in color for years and years now, that the Stilt was behind the times.

He was looking pretty good, but the other birds didn't seem to be giving him due recognition. Soon, he decided he was too cool for that pool, and he moved on to a more suave watering hole. Can't blame him there.  

After seeing off the Avocet, I called it an early day and went to find a potable watering hole of my own.