New Growth

A Say's phoebe perches on the broken arm of an old saguaro in George Doc Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

It is not necessarily a death sentence when an old giant loses an arm, they seal off the wound as best they can to prevent water loss and go on to live their best lives. While a new arm will not grow where the old one once stood, sometimes the saguaro will slowly push out a phoebe in its stead.

Stay Off Target

A female Gila woodpecker peeks out from behind a joint in a saguaro in George Doc Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

I was heading up to photograph a particular saguaro when I got pulled off target by a phoebe. As I made my way over to the saguaro in the last light of day I heard a siren’s call up the trail and got pulled off target again, thankfully instead of luring me to my demise she posed for a picture. Based on her call and her hammering I could guess well enough where she was but had to hope she’d sidle around into view before the light faded. Finally she not only popped into view but stood far enough out of the shadows for the fading light to catch her face.

As the Phoebe Flies

A Say's phoebe perches in a tree near sunset at George 'Doc' Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

In February I was headed up to an interesting saguaro in the last light of day when I stopped as I saw a bird flying straight towards me. I was a little surprised as I was wearing my bright orange jacket and easily visible on the trail though I had just rounded a bend. I feared I had inadvertently strayed too near a nest but the bird wasn’t agitated and landed so closely in the tree above I almost dared not look up. I walked back down the trail as quietly as I could until I got a better view of what turned out to be a Say’s phoebe, a bird I first identified last June at the house but hadn’t seen since. It hung out in the tree for a while before it flew to the saguaro that had been my original target, trying a few perches before flying off for good. Pleased to meet you little one and thanks for the introduction.

Open Late

After sunset the sky is covered with pink and blue clouds as my 2020 Lexus UX 250h waits in the parking lot at George Doc Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

Even though Cavalliere Park is the closest to us I didn’t initially think I would visit as my favorite trailhead lies further up the street with a diversity of trails beckoning. But my mind changed when I discovered the small multi-use park has an advantage the other local parks don’t have: you can stay through sunset (and even later). Probably not something I’ll take advantage of during the high heat of summer but on this winter evening it let me photograph some birds in the last light of the day. I took this quick picture of the car as the light was rapidly fading, I was always happy to see my Subaru after a long day at work or a tiring trek on the trails and thankfully I quickly came to feel the same way about the Lexus.