The World Before Me

An ornate tree lizard perches vertically on a rock face near the summit of Brown's Mountain in McDowell Sonoran Preserve, taken on the Brown's Mountain Trail in September 2019

The sun was just tipping over the horizon this fall as I approached the summit of Brown’s Mountain with an expansive view of the mountains circling my desert home. But as the light spilled across the world at large around me it was the world writ small before me upon which I trained my gaze and my camera’s lens, for I shared that lovely sunrise with an ornate tree lizard scampering about the rock face. I love the scenery here but there is no doubt where my heart lies.

Extra Sharp

The tongue of a male Gila woodpecker sticks out of his beak as he looks out from his nest in a saguaro on the Latigo Trail in McDonnell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2019

It must seem unfair to the insects of the Sonoran Desert, given all the sharp spines they have to navigate, that some saguaros are extra sharp. The tongue of this Gila woodpecker is just sticking out of his beak, it’s a long tongue that wraps around in his head that he can shoot into cavities to snare insects with the sharp tip. I’m so tickled I get to see these amazing birds every day (except times like now when it is dark when I leave for and get home from work).

Land Ho!

A male Gambel's quail looks out from atop a blooming saguaro, his black face completely dusted in yellow pollen, taken on the connecting trail to the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2018

I’m not sure why mariners coined the term “crow’s nest” for the lookout atop the mast as “quail’s perch” seems more apropos. Taken in May of 2018, normally his face would be black but on this morning it was coated in the yellow pollen of saguaro blossoms.

At Home With the Curves

A curve-billed thrasher sings while perching in a dead tree with short curved branches that mimic its bill on the Cholla Mountain Loop Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in December 2019

A curve-billed thrasher sings from a perfect hiding spot, the short curving branches mimicking its bill, taken early Friday morning on the Cholla Mountain Loop Trail. I barely slept the night before but thankfully didn’t crash until later as it was a lovely morning to be out in the desert.

My How You’ve Grown

A close view of a Harris's hawk juvenile looking to my right while perched in a tree, taken from Brown's Ranch Road in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in December 2019

A week ago as I neared the end of my loop hike, walking down a popular trail, I was stunned to see both Harris’s hawk juveniles close by. This one especially so, the other a bit further back in a palo verde. A couple of the adults were a ways behind me on a transmission tower where the two youngsters eventually joined them. Such a treat to see them so close after watching them so long! Of course they got so big by eating some of my favorite creatures of the desert, such is life in our world. The young fliers are much more confident in their movements now although they have much to learn as they enter their first winter.