Readers’ wildlife photographs

Once again I have wheedled Peter Moulton out of some Facebook photos, which constitute our offering for today. His notes:

Here are a few new images, including some you specifically asked for. My significant other and are just back from our annual Labor Day weekend trip to the east side of the Huachuca Mountains in southeastern Arizona, and most of the pix are from that trip.
First up is the Lesser NighthawkChordeiles acutipennis, on its dayroost in the parking lot of the Desert Botanical Garden. Lesser Nighthawks have used this roosting site annually for at least ten years, and it’s well known to the local birders. Birds can be found there from late August through September.
Over Labor Day weekend (2-5 September, for those readers who don’t know) we stayed with some friends in Hereford, Arizona, a few miles south of Sierra Vista. They’ve set up their yard as a bird and photographer-friendly spot with a photo blind (‘hide’ for European readers), a water feature, and feeders. The yard most notably hosts a nesting pair of Elf Owls, Micrathene whitneyi, from March through June, but the owls return to Mexico shortly after the young are on the wing and self-sufficient. No matter–many other birds like the yard just fine, and photo ops abound. I photographed Acorn Woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) there every morning before we set out on our planned activities. This image shows an adult male on the right, with one of this year’s youngsters to the left. These are real clowns of the avian world, and great favorites of my brother, who doesn’t get to see them where he lives.
We spent a lot of hours visiting with another old friend at her house in Ash Cañon, only about three miles from where we stayed. Her yard is one of Arizona’s premier hummingbirding spots, and we observed at least nine species there during the weekend. One I particularly wanted to photograph was the male Lucifer Hummingbird, Calothorax lucifer, because its gorget is especially spectacular. Here are a couple of perched adult males showing their gorgets, and an in-flight of a juvenile male, which shows the curvature of the Lucifer’s bill.
Finally, one for the herpetologists in the crowd: a Clark’s Spiny Lizard, Sceloporus clarkii. Clark’s is more arboreal than other spiny lizards, and is much shyer and harder to photograph than its congeners, so I ended up standing off at some distance and shooting it with the lens zoomed out to 400mm, just like shooting a small songbird.


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Very nice photos. Interesting, the acorn woodpecker with different habits than most of our woodpeckers in the Midwest.

  2. Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Very nice photos, thanks! That purple throat on the hummer! Wow!

  3. GBJames
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    In another shot, that Spiny Lizard would be a great candidate for a “Spot the…” challenge.

    • bluemaas
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      O, I am thinking that as well !
      Pretty, pretty camouflaging !


  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Those are just fantastic, and I am pretty awed. That 2nd hummer with the reflected gorget colors on its beak is really special. I also think the woodpecker picture captured some of their personality.

  5. Karen Bartelt
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Great photos. Woodpeckers and hummingbirds are my favorite birds.

  6. jaxkayaker
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Great photos, thanks for sharing. I attempted to see the lucifer hummingbird at Big Bend National Park once, but wasn’t even able to walk to the location where it is supposed to occur within a day.

    • Pete Moulton
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      Thank you, jaxkayaker. Just as a reference for your next trip to Arizona, the current hotspot for Lucifer Hummingbirds here is the Ash Canyon B&B in Hereford, and the ‘hike’ from the parking area to the comfort of a chair is probably no more than 30m. Lucifers occur there from late June through September, with an especially large buildup during the week centered on Labor Day. Last year there were about 20 Lucifers in the yard, and this year there were at least a dozen.

      • jaxkayaker
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Pete! I’ll try to get there next year.

  7. Christopher
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic pics! Lovely hummingbirds! So envious that other states have more than one species.

    and the nighthawk! Caprimulgidae is just chock full o’ beautiful, cryptic species and is one of my favorite families of birds. I love listening to whip-poor-wills singing in the country or the common nighthawks locally flying about over parking lot lights, feasting on the insects.

    Clark’s Spiny lizard looks so similar to the fence lizards (Sceloporus undulatus) I spent my youth catching around Table Rock Lake in southern Missouri. They loved the cedar fences my step grandfather had built along the steps from the house to the well house, and blended wonderfully to the aging shredded bark.


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