The House at the Top of the World

A bird's nest sits near the top of a teddy bear cholla atop the debris field along the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in December 2018

I was a bit surprised to see birds building nests in cacti when we moved here as it didn’t seem to be the most comfortable place to raise your children but I can see how it might keep ground predators at bay. This nest in a teddy bear cholla looked out over the desert from atop the debris field along the Marcus Landslide Trail. The nest was no longer in use as I took this at sunrise on Christmas Eve, I’m glad I didn’t wait as over the winter the nest slowly disintegrated.

Backyard Beauty

A female Anna's hummingbird looks at me while perching on a bougainvillea branch in front of pale verde trees in our backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2019

Though I haven’t spent much time photographing them we do get a variety of birds to our small backyard. Our house is on a slope with a narrow common area below the back of the house with some trees and cacti and grasses, although it isn’t easy to get back there it does provide a nice backdrop. This spring a verdin couple nested in a buckhorn cholla below the house and if I angled my lens just so against the metal bars of the fence I could photograph the entrance. As I watched them a female Anna’s hummingbird occasionally flew into the bougainvillea I was sitting next to, eventually I pulled the camera away from its precise setup and took some handheld shots of her. The dark patch on her neck will glow a bright red if the sun hits it from the right angle.

In Honor of World Lion Day

Our cat Sam snuggles on my legs as I relaxed on the couch in May 2018

Taken last spring as the oldest member of our pride adapted to his new desert home, learning to nap and snuggle in this arid landscape. Shot with my iPhone as Sam curled up on my legs as I relaxed on the couch. There are only a few of today’s technologies that it pains me we didn’t have in my youth, having a capable camera in your pocket is one of them.

A View of the Wash

A frontal view of a dilapidated chair sitting in the middle of a desert wash beside the Gooseneck Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2019

In Oregon we got occasional heavy downpours but mostly the summers were bone dry while the winter had frequent drizzly showers that kept everything damp and preposterously green. In Arizona we get some rain in the winter but it’s summer that brings the monsoons. Rain may be rare but when it arrives it often pours down in buckets, perhaps accompanied by high winds and thunder and lightning (I can count on one hand the number of lightning storms I saw in two decades in Oregon). I haven’t seen much rain this year, when it has rained I’ve either been at work or it’s been dark, so I still haven’t seen a wash run. Our neighborhood is on a hill so there are washes running through (one beside our house), some more natural looking than others, so one day it will happen. This chair would have an excellent view of a running wash, sitting in the middle of a desert wash along the Gooseneck Trail, and by the looks of it has probably seen its fair share of summer storms.

A Second Look

An overhead view of a male (I think) desert tarantula as he sits on grasses and a rock beside the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in August 2019

The trend of being too tired to go hiking in the morning continues with one exception, I woke up early on Monday and couldn’t get back to sleep so I went for a short hike before work. I was rewarded with my second look, and first good look, at a tarantula since we moved here. I’ve just started researching them but I think this is probably a male, and probably out looking for a mate. If so, he’s not got much time left on this earth. Given that I saw the bobcat on a quick hike before work, perhaps next time I’ll also see something unusual. Fingers crossed, maybe the Sonoran sasquatch aka the desert yeti!