Big Breakfast

A verdin, missing most of its tail feathers during a molt, sticks its head into a prickly pear fruit to eat on a cloudy morning in the Troon neighborhood of Scottsdale, Arizona in September 2019

Watching the verdin eating from fruit almost as large as themselves, I wondered how it would look if I tried to wring every drop of sustenance from a five foot watermelon using only my face. This one had to fly precisely onto a cactus with thorns as long as its legs while missing many of its tail feathers but it did it with aplomb. Given their short beaks I don’t know if they open up the fruit themselves or if they leave the honors to something like a woodpecker with a longer beak and a head designed for hammering.

Verdin

A verdin covered in prickly pear juice looks at me as it pauses while eating from a fruit almost as large as itself in our neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona in September 2019

Sunday morning instead of going for a hike I took a long walk through the neighborhood. It was my first time doing it alone since we moved here, my wife and I took a short one a few months ago, but this time I walked much farther. Natural landscaping abounds so I was greeted with many of the same creatures I’d see on the trails, but many communities are gated so I was limited in where I could wander. The hardest part was walking without Ellie, my constant companion for a decade, so I was delighted when on the way back a 3 year old pup named Jackson strained at the leash to meet me and then showered me with kisses when I crossed over to meet him. As I neared the house I saw familiar faces flitting about a patch of prickly pear, dining on fruit almost as large as themselves.

Two For Breakfast

Two curve-billed thrashers perch atop the fruits of a saguaro, both of their beaks caked in dried pulp, as one eats as the other watches on the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2019

I thought there might be a tussle when the thrasher on the right flew onto the saguaro as the other ate from one of the fruits but perhaps they were a pair as they got along fine. They had both been enjoying their breakfast as their beaks were caked in dried pulp.

The Growing Banana

A banana yucca fruit begins to grow along the Upper Ranch Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in May 2019

A banana yucca fruit begins to grow along the Upper Ranch Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I hadn’t photographed them last year when we moved to Arizona, I saw all and noticed little, but this year I realized how beautiful the entire process is from bud to flower to fruit. Towards the end of Ellie’s life I didn’t have much time for hiking when they were budding and flowering and after she died I wasn’t in the mood for photographing them regardless. I knew I was healing as the days progressed as though I initially walked past I came back and took the time to get out the macro lens and tripod and photograph the growing fruit amidst dried flowers in the soft light before sunrise.

I suppose it was a sign of my mental state that I posted this elsewhere but somehow it didn’t make it to the blog until now, not sure what happened.

Bookends

A white-winged dove and a canyon towhee bookend a fruiting saguaro before sunrise on the Latigo Trail in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in July 2019

A white-winged dove and a canyon towhee bookend a fruiting saguaro before sunrise on the Latigo Trail. The morning lows are in the 80’s now, even I am wearing short sleeves on the trails. Normally I prefer long sleeves to physically keep the sun off my skin but for the next couple of months I’ll rely on sunscreen and being off the trails early before the sun gets too bright. Still wearing long pants though, too many things in the desert want to poke you when you get down low to photograph lizards.