Friday, January 4, 2008

Desert Plants, Birds, Bunnies, and ?

On the last day of my stay in Arizona, we paid a visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens outside of Phoenix. It was a lovely day and the low afternoon sun offered many picture-taking opportunities. So I thought I'd share a few with you.

The Saguaro is the quintessential Arizona plant and this one was a fine specimen. The Saguaro is also a very useful plant and one of its uses is as a bird house or even an apartment building!

I hadn't brought along my big lens for the camera, but took some bird photos anyway. I was surprised at how well they came out when I got them on the computer. These are all fairly common birds of Arizona. The Curved-billed Thrasher has a lovely song, the Cactus Wren was everywhere (naturally), as were the Bushtits.

We strolled down Quail run hoping to see Gambel's Quail, the desert member of the quail family, but while I kept hearing quail, we didn't see any. Then we discovered that what we were hearing was an audio tape display on the birds of the area. Someone had kept pushing the quail button. Then we remembered that the last time we were at the gardens, the quail were all on the hill above the cafe! They know where the food is. So we headed up there, sat down quietly at a table, and sure enough the quail came out and gave us a show. Nick had a lot of fun sneaking up on them to take their photo.

Leaving the cafe, a strange cat crossed our path as we meandered down the hill. We are not sure what it was, but it wasn't an ordinary house cat. Notice the raccoon-like rings on its tail. Unfortunately, I didn't get a shot of its head. It had huge whiskers and it's belly was drooping and almost dragging on the ground. Searching the Internet, the best we could come up with was that it was a wild cat. What it was doing in the Arizona desert, I don't know.

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