Friday, January 22, 2010

Birds after the rain

We have a little break in the rains this morning; official total so far this week is 1.69', over the total for all last year of 1.59'. These are the storms coming up from the Los Angeles area that are causing so many problems there. Today was supposed to be the heaviest rainfall, but the forecast has been revised to just random thunderstorms, instead of the steady rain like we had all day yesterday. Normally we get most of our rain in February coming up from Southern California like these storms, but not so much over so many days in a row. Then it’s back to dry, with a usual series of Thunderstorms coming up from Mexico via the Phoenix area (southeast direction instead of the LA southwest direction) during July and August, and back to dry again. The snow level is down to 2,500 feet, so all of the mountains around us are white, with several inches up the street around Red Rock Canyon. Should make the skiers happy, the Mt. Charleston ski resort is less than an hour drive with the ski slope up around 10,000 feet; reports say they received about 24" of snow in the last day, so it will probably be pretty good for a while. Next week afternoon temps on the mountain will probably be around 50f with plenty of sun, so it does get a little slushy for skiing late in the day.

I filled up the bird feeder out back this morning and the birds pictured yesterday are all there eating now. Along with several dozen of their friends: when I put birdseed out we usually have fifty or sixty house sparrows and finches on the ground and fighting for one of the perches on the feeder. They are quite a noisy bunch chirping at each other out there. In addition to the seed feeders we have a lot of bug eating birds, as the rains have driven a lot of worms up to the surface. I counted a half dozen robins, two quail, three or four woodpeckers, and over a hundred starlings in addition to our regular hummingbirds and mockingbirds all out back at the same time. The front yard is full of pigeons and doves eating the fallen olives.

I tried to take a shot of our water fountain out back when the starlings descended - there were about a dozen on the rocks pecking at each other. But as usual some noise startled them and they all jumped up to the trees. So you'll have to settle for five, with a robin in the lower right corner watching.

The starlings come in a flock, I can count a little over fifty in this picture, but my camera doesn’t shoot wide enough to get the whole group, extending left and right about the same amount as here.

It’s funny to watch them all jump up when there is a noise out on the street, or fly together as a group into the trees, wait a bit, and come back down. See what little it takes to amuse me?

Here is the feeder. It took a while to find one that the pigeons can’t perch on, I got this tube one and cut the perches shorter and glued plastic partially over the seed holes so that the birds can’t just swipe all the food out quickly. It holds about a pound of seed, and these guys can clear it out in about six hours.

One of the woodpeckers came back - here he is on the fountain. That black looking mark on his chest is a very iridescent bright red when caught in the sunlight. I think it’s a sapsucker, as they have circled our peach tree with holes then come back a few days later and eat the sap that oozes out. I don’t think we have that many boring bugs in the peach tree.

All the birds have black and gray speckled feathers, and blend into the dry grass and gravel yards. It's hard to see the sapsucker on the peach tree until he starts beating on the trunk and you see his head moving. The starlings turn full black in the summertime, and the robins are not a bright red but have more of a pale redish gray front, not as bright as the ones I remember from back East.

On a different front, my allergies are back and really knocking me right now. I never had problems before we moved here, but have developed an allergy to one of the trees that blooms in January. I guess the rain pushed them, and yesterday my head felt like it was about to explode from the stuffed sinuses. I’ve got some prescription pills an allergist prescribed to me last year; they help but not really enough. I’ve talked about all the pollen produced by desert trees and bushes before, because the plants are so far apart they depend on air pollination, so are quite generous with pollen output.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Must have missed this post when you originally did it. Great sapsucker picture.