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Daryl

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I was just thinking a small detachment of Amevia might help the White Ibis keep the bugs at bay.  They only seem to show up once a week these days..

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Summer bugs..

Grey Bird Grasshopper, Adult stage..


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Citrus / Apache Cicada

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Orange Sulphur.

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..and the biggest AZ bug of em' all:  Our infamous Palo Verde Root Borer..  Iv'e found dead ones, pieces of others in Coyote Scat ..but never a live specimen,  let alone any here at the house, despite there being plenty of Palo Verde planted across the street / in the neighborhood.

Was tracking the scent of something dead last night and caught sight of what i first assumed might be some sort of Carrion Beetle wandering around one of the sheds out back.  Was only after i used the camera to put light on what i was seeing to figure out these were P.V. Borers  ...doin' bug things..

As big as they are, Female esp, they are harmless,  though those big jaws of theirs can give ya a good nip if you were " smart " enough to stick a finger in front of them.  Very common and important ecological player in the Sonoran Desert and while the grubs do consume roots on Palo Verde, it is rare that they cause significant issues w/ individual specimens. If they did, ..there would be no Palo Verde ..or any other trees the grubs might use as a host.  ..simple as that..  Yea, they're big, a little intimidating ..esp. when they land on you ..or a porch on a hot summer night, but,  No need to go dumping toxic garbage all over everything to thwart what is a natural cycle.


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Pennies for size comparison:

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Out front you go ..to continue doin'  ..Bug things,   lol..

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Not in my garden, but while camping at San Clemente State Beach in SO. CA USA.. I would see him or one of his gang pass within 20' of my motor home a couple times a day, every day for a week... Surprised to see them in full daylight...

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Butch

Edited by Butch
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It may not be the best, or clearest,  but a shot of an elusive photo bomber that comes out only in the evenings.. Not a Bat either...

While a couple sps have been recorded here, this one is most likely  Chordeiles acutipennis,  aka, Lesser Nighthawk... 
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/19587-Chordeiles-acutipennis

There's at least two that roam the neighborhood as the sun sets this time of year. Occasionally, 3-5 can be seen drifting across the sky as a gust front from a strong storm is pushing through. 

Unlike the more common ( ...in most of the country )  Common Nighthawk,  Lesser tend to be completely silent as they fly. 

Both are related to... /  miniature versions of...  some really bizarre birds like  Potoos, Whip-Poor-Wills,  and Frog Mouths ( Australia )  and less odd birds like Swifts, and Hummingbirds. 

Interestingly, while often lumped together with Swifts,  both Swallows and Martins are not directly related to Swifts. On the Perching Bird Family Tree, closest relatives to Swallows would be  birds in both the Antpitta, and Ovenbird / Woodcreeper Families.


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11 hours ago, Silas_Sancona said:



Both are related to... /  miniature versions of...  some really bizarre birds like  Potoos, Whip-Poor-Wills,  and Frog Mouths ( Australia )  and less odd birds like Swifts, and Hummingbirds. 

 

There's nothing "bizarre" about the Tawny Frogmouth, they're really cute. Hopeless nest builders but they are masters of disguise when they want to be. They don't hide themselves around my place but out bush you'd rarely spot them. This one could have picked a taller tree though.

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54 minutes ago, tropicbreeze said:

There's nothing "bizarre" about the Tawny Frogmouth, they're really cute.

...Bizarre to anyone who isn't well acquainted w/ birds,  beyond the neighborhood visitors to their backyard feeders...   To the rest of us, they're " cute " ..Though maybe in a different manner than say a Pup might be.

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Not a great photo, but there was quite a feeding frenzy out front this morning. California browns all over something. Often anchovy, but not always. 

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Chris

San Francisco, CA 

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Still on about the Frogmouths, Podargus strigoides, but at my place.

This one threw a few bits of grass and whatever onto the branch of a Peltophorum pterocarpum. Her one egg was barely balanced on the flimsy nest but it eventually fell. She's never built there again so maybe she's learned.

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This is another one just being cute. They hunt much the same way as owls.

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Verdin youngster searching for bugs on the Sunflowers

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Anna's Hummingbird, younger aged Male ..or Female..  Been returning to the ( empty ) feeders  the last few days..   I know it's hot, but, here at least, filling feeders when it is this hot, Even if shaded all day, will kill your Hummers.. Think about it, what does sugar turn into when heated and left to ferment?  ..No bueno for hummingbirds.

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Spot Winged Glider, Pantala ( ..Not " Pantera ", lol ..Inside Joke ) hymenaea.. The other species in the genus. Unlike it's more Cosmopolitan relative, Pantala flavescens, P. hymenaea is restricted to the Americas, but will also " wander " between the hemispheres depending on the season ..those that hang out in colder areas of both hemispheres during the warmer season esp.

While the two look very similar, the two dark " spots at the lower base of the hind wings defines P. hymenaea..

Was spending the night hangin on one of the Sunflowers..



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Because 1 bee just ain't enough to get the " Pollination Work " done.   ..Likely someone within the  Halictidae ( Sweat Bee ) Family.

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17 hours ago, D. Morrowii said:

Manatee momma and baby came by for a visit. 

 

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I'd nominate you for "Best Picture of Garden Visitor(s)" for this week! Very nice!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ever wondered why Marchflies hurt so much when they bite? This is one of our locals, a bit larger in size than a large Blowfly, Tabanus strangmannii.

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Some kind of catepillar has climbed onto my gardenia.  It's completely green and blended in with the leaves and almost fooled me.

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That's the larva of a Sphinx Moth, I think specifically it's Manduca rustica, but a Manduca species anyway. They (the larvae) have a varied diet so would be happy in any garden. Gardenias are on their menu too.

 

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With the heat and lack of much rain of late, usual summer critter appearances are limited. Still, a few things out there, esp. as it looks to start cooling down now.

Digger Bees utilizing the Sunflowers, along w/ -at least- 6 other sps.


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One ..of 3 or 4 locally common Striped Sweat Bee   species..  due to the lack of contrasting white-ish or yellow-ish striping on the Abdomen, thinking this is Angeles Striped Sweat Bee, Agapostemon angelicus ..Tough call though since there are observation shots of specimens w/ distinctive yellow stripes on iNat.. Other two sps, Texas, and Honey Tailed look very similar.

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/270393-Agapostemon-angelicus

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Officially declaring 2023 as the year of the Med. Gecko..  Have had 5 babies roaming around inside the house at times this summer,  and at least a dozen encountered both out front and out back.  These two were hanging out by the water spigot out front before they darted for darker crevices in the bricks at the top of the windows.

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Verdin youngster hanging out in the Sunflowers, on bug removal patrol.

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Yea it's from the Farmer's Almanac,  but an interesting story behind the history ..and not so completely absurd predictability  ...of Wooly Bears..  Tis' the season..  About time for road crossing Tarantulas too..

https://www.almanac.com/woolly-bear-caterpillars-and-weather-prediction
 

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Angeles ( Most likely ) Striped Sweat Bee   ..Day time shots..

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Hatchet Wasp that found her way inside.. No Roaches in here, ..so back outside she went to continue her pest control mission..

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One, of two  pleasant surprises this morning... While i planted them more for the ease of growing / extra boost of summer color,  i was hoping the Sunflowers would entice the appetite of a special bird i'd yet to see here, one that reminds me of the many special places -far removed from city life, where the views are wide, air is cleaner and peaceful,  and the land is wild ..or at least less butchered and subdued as most of suburbia.   Aside from that, these fairly small birds are often associated with such things as prosperity, abundance, optimism, sacrifice and redemption.  They are one of numerous animals considered to have powerful symbolism in such far flung cultures as those in Egypt, Native Americans, and Christianity.

While i'm not 100% exactly which sp. this morning's visitors were, my thought is Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria  since they are the most common species in the area.  That said, all three of the new World Goldfinches can be encountered here, so, it's not out of the question these could be younger aged American, or Lawrence's Goldfinch.. 

Regardless, now that it will be cooling down more, hopefully they'll be visiting for awhile ..and bring their friends..  A flock containing younger and adult aged birds of all 3 sps.  stopping in for breakfast would be pretty sweet.  Now that i know they're around, i'll likely put up a feeder for them for the winter.


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What's better than encountering one of the " cool " native Sparrows in habitat?  how about one poking around the yard..  Black - Throated Sparrow, Amphispiza bilineata.

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Inca Doves

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Another ..of many.. HTID Bee sp.  Not a Digger, or Longhorn ..Or Resin / Leafcutter..

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Yellow legs / Yellow butt = Honey-Tailed Striped Sweat Bee, Agapostemon melliventris

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Gray Hairstreak,  Strymon melinus

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Med Geckos galore.. 

Adult #1

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One ..of many.. babies hanging around the front yard atm..
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Adult #2 and mini-me
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...Batch of baby Ornate Tree Lizards, Take #2..

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14 minutes ago, miamicuse said:

Is this a toad or frog at the bottom of my pond?

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Thinking Toad ( Note the rough looking skin / Pair of raised areas  over the shoulders ( Parotoid Glands ) Toes lack round " Suction Cup " tips ..So definitely not a native Treefrog / Cuban Treefrog.  Head is more squarish / blunt-faced, rather than pointed, which is more diagnostic of toads rather than treefrogs / True Frogs ( Rana ) .

Which type of toad?  tough to say from this view..  Could be Rhinella marina, but could be one of the native Anaxyrus  Toads.

Imo, large Parotoid glands are the hallmark of Rhinella  though.

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3 hours ago, miamicuse said:

Is this a toad or frog at the bottom of my pond?

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I agree, looks very toad-like.  I probably see 100:1 or maybe 1000:1 Cane toads to any other kinds of toads around here, so my money is on that.  Other than that…. Jillions of tiny greenhouse frogs everywhere, and a bunch of giant Cuban Tree Frogs, but it’s neither of those..  

Various from around the yard…

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Two common ..but not so common in developed areas..   birds..

Not 100% sure on this one.. One of the Tyrant Flycatchers for sure, ..but,  this group of birds, < one of the most diverse that exists >, contains several similar looking species here in a few different Genera..

First thought was either an immature or female Vermilion Flycatcher, but coloration and size aren't quite right..  Local occurring Kingbird sps tend to be larger as well..  Western Wood Pewee, and /or  Say's Phoebe  are closer, but not quite perfect, matches.

Several smaller Flycatchers here that also " fit the bill " so to say.  Regardless, while Kingbirds roam the neighborhood at certain times of year, i can't recall seeing any flycatchers roaming the yard  here ..or at the old house. 


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This visitor is a bit easier.. but just as uncommon ..or easily goes un-noticed when present  because it likes to stay hidden under thicker bushes.  Green Tailed Towhee, Pipilo chlorurus.  First personal observation of this species anywhere in AZ. 

16 shot series of this kid roaming the yard ...with a few friends..


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For reference, a much more commonly encountered relative that is always roaming yards in search of seeds or bugs,  Abert's Towhee, Melozone aberti

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lesser Goldfinch ( maturing male ) enjoying the last of the backyard Sunflower buffet.

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Praying Mantis, one of several that disappeared around the yards for a few weeks, then returned to their earlier hangouts.

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Honey - Tailed Striped Sweat Bee ..one ..of a couple dozen.. enjoying the Mistflowers atm.   Tough to get more than one visiting an individual flower heat at the same time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Orb weaver in front of an Australian spear lily.

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The plant behind it, worthy of its own photo.

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Chris

San Francisco, CA 

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On 10/19/2023 at 8:21 PM, Rivera said:

Orb weaver in front of an Australian spear lily.

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The plant behind it, worthy of its own photo.

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Excellent article discussing the importance of Spiders, and why the squeamish  should stop over reacting to an often overblown / overly dramatized / miss- guided " fear " of them and their presence.

https://knowablemagazine.org/article/living-world/2023/everyone-should-start-counting-spiders

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3 hours ago, Silas_Sancona said:

Excellent article discussing the importance of Spiders, and why the squeamish  should stop over reacting to an often overblown / overly dramatized / miss- guided " fear " of them and their presence.

https://knowablemagazine.org/article/living-world/2023/everyone-should-start-counting-spiders

We have a superabundance of spiders in our garden. Like many of the critters that pass through, I'm not quite sure what they're eating but they're eating something!

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Chris

San Francisco, CA 

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27 minutes ago, Rivera said:

We have a superabundance of spiders in our garden. Like many of the critters that pass through, I'm not quite sure what they're eating but they're eating something!

Because of last years' wet winter / spring, I'd heard it has been a big year for ..everything insects / spiders out there.. 

On the opposite end of things, its been a weird year here.. Despite it being wet here last winter as well,  insect / spider activity is noticeably  at the low end of the spectrum after our abysmal summer..  Still some activity of course, (... more Dragonflies this year,  oddly enough.. ) but, for instance, butterfly activity is wayyy below what i saw after 2021's wet summer.. No Queens, Monarch, or  Pipevine Swallowtails;  Few late - season " tropical " Sulphurs / Oranges, etc..  and no Snouts in the yard..

This time back in '21, i still had Sulphurs and Snouts passing through.

Strange as it seems, ..Apache / Citrus Cicadas are still active / can hear them calling,  4 days before Halloween.  Don't recall hearing a single one after mid September last year.

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I was removing a tree stump and this came out.  Does anyone know what kind of snake it is.

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Edited by Reyes Vargas
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