Archive for Critters

Sphinx Moth and Red Bird of Paradise

Sphinx Moth

Last evening at dusk, I was in the courtyard photographing the sunset colors. I turned around toward the Red Bird of Paradise shrubs and saw several hummingbird moths browsing the flowers. I got the close-up above of one of the moths.

Hummingbird moths are actually an entire family of moths called Sphinx Moths. Family Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths, Hawkmoths) contains a very large number of related sub-families and species.

From the Butterflies and Moths of North America website:

The Sphingidae belong to the Superfamily Sphingoidea. Members of this family are commonly called “hummingbird,” “sphinx,” or “hawk” moths, and some can be mistaken for hummingbirds. Most are medium to large moths, with heavy bodies; wingspread reaches 5 inches or more in some species. The Sphingidae are strong and fast fliers, with a rapid wingbeat. Most species in the group are active at dusk, and most feed much like hummingbirds, hovering in front of a flower and sipping nectar through the extended proboscis. The proboscis rolls up when not in use. Some species lack scales on large portions of their wings, resulting in transparent or clear wings. In most species, the larval stage is called a “hornworm” because the caterpillar’s posterior end has a harmless hook or hornlike appendage protruding upward. Unfortunately, the caterpillar of some species can be very destructive to agricultural crops and ornamental plantings

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Caught on Google’s Aerial Image

walking-the-dogs-on-google-maps-2.jpg

I was casually looking at the Google™ satellite map of our neighborhood (actually an aerial photo mosaic, not taken from a satellite) when I noticed a couple of objects on our neighbor’s driveway. I zoomed in to have a closer look and the conclusion I came to was that the objects in question are us walking our dogs!

Our morning routine after breakfast: we feed and then walk the dogs. We generally walk them up the road to the west toward our neighbor’s house up the hill from us. In the image, the dark colored part of the road running to the left side is where we are. You can see our light colored cowboy hats, our shadows and the dogs and their shadows. Damsel is further up the road than I am by about 30 yards. The image below will clarify where we are in the top image.

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I think it’s a funny coincidence that we happened to be out where we were when the aerial photo plane flew over. I estimate the time frame for the image is last summer. My clues are that the RV is not in the usual place as it was being serviced down in Avondale last year and the shadows are shorter on the north side indicating summertime.

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Varmint Control

Havahart Small Animal Trap

For the last couple of days, one of our small Antelope Ground Squirrels has been getting into mischief in the courtyard. Damsel has several planters out there and the little varmint tries to dig up the roots for a snack, I guess.

Today, we caught it in the act of burrowing down into one of the pots. After running the squirrel off, I went into the garage where the trap in the image above is kept in between varmint attacks. I got the trap set up and baited it with a peanut butter smeared tortilla chip. When the little critter shows up again, I assume the peanut butter smell will attract it into the cage and ==SNAP== the doors will close with the squirrel inside.

The plan is, that if something other than a squirrel or rat takes the bait, we will release it (cactus wrens, etc.). If it is a rat, I will drown it. If it is a squirrel, I will release it a couple of miles down the road where it can return to a similar habitat.

We’re pretty sure that we have a problem with just one individual squirrel and not a bunch of them. I will update this post when there is something to report.

UPDATE: 06/03/2018 1:32 PM - Gotcha!

Gotcha

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Safe Arrival at Home

Cactus Wren on Saguaro Buds

We’re safe at home today, after a five week absence. We drove from Bullhead City over to Kingman and then down US 93, also called the Joshua Tree Forrest Arizona Highway, but there is lots more to see along that scenic route going from I-40 down to Wickenburg. Damsel and I are happy to be at home again, having missed our beautiful retirement home. Our two small dogs seem equally happy to be getting back in their routines.

The Cactus Wren in the image above was waiting on the big saguaro out front to greet us. It is our State Bird perched on the buds of our State Flower. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Ammospermophilus Leucurus Fortitudus

White Tailed Antelope Squirrel

Damsel and I maintain a wild bird and animal feeding station on the hill just behind the RV drive behind our house. I was up there this morning replenishing the feeders when this little white-tailed antelope squirrel came right up to me and seemingly begged for a tidbit. I broke off a little piece from a sunflower seed bird bell and tossed it to the little critter. I had my little camera, so I snapped pictures of it as it consumed the tidbit I threw down.

The title of this post comes from the binomial name of this variety of squirrel combined with a bastardization of the Latin word for fortitude or “courageous.” It seemed like a brave little critter to come within a couple of feet from where I stood.

There were several other squirrels and a few birds in the area; a cardinal in the mesquite tree behind me and a curve billed thrasher already pecking on the bird block I just hung up as I started back down the hill. We certainly enjoy our desert critters and flowers.

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Second Spring in the Desert

Butterfly on Rosemary Flower

Many of the flowers are gone this late in the season, but the rosemary bushes we planted five years ago along the RV Drive still have their tiny blue flowers. This butterfly was kind enough to pose while this photo was taken a couple of days ago. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Second Spring Butterfly and Red Bird

Butterfly and Red BirdNow that the really hot daytime temperatures have abated, we have what we call “second spring” here in Arizona. That is the time when there are still flowers blooming, bees buzzing and of course hummingbirds and butterflies browsing the remaining flowers.

I captured this image of a black and yellow butterfly alight on one of the red bird of paradise flowers in the courtyard. The butterfly browsed there long enough for me to get my camera, go out into the courtyard and take several images of it before it flew away in the late morning breeze.

Second spring will be over within just a few weeks, giving way to actual autumn-like weather with leaves turning or falling and the red bird shrubs going dormant for the late fall and winter. Although we love the summers here, it will be nice for some cooler weather to prevail and, as we know, harsh winter weather seldom comes our way. In nearly six years of living here, we have seen snow stick to the ground only once.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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