Final May Photos

by Dan Weisz

Now that the Western Screech Owlets are gone, I’m having “empty nest syndrome”.  Below are a few odds and ends to get me started again.

At Sweetwater Wetlands, the dragonflies have made their presence felt.  There will be many more as the summer progresses there and at any local ponds, creeks, etc.  The most common ones this week are the Blue Dashers.  These guys are carnivorous and are capable of eating hundreds of insects per day.  Their hunting style is to keep still and wait for suitable prey to come within range.  When it does, they dart out and catch it.

A young Cooper’s Hawk was calling out at the entrance to Sweetwater, perhaps letting its parent know it was hungry.  It’s tail feathers look pretty ratty- it must be molting now.

A female Red-winged Blackbird is neither red-winged nor black.

From a very long distance across the settling basins, we saw several coyotes and then seven pups.

I first saw the Botta’s Pocket Gopher three weeks ago.  It was out again this Wednesday.  In this picture, I like the dirt in its ear and on its head.  In these three weeks, its teeth have grown a half inch, and then been worn down again by chewing on dirt.  Can you imagine if your own teeth had grown a half inch in the past three weeks!

Lots of Round-tailed Ground Squirrels were out all over the Wetlands.  We see them all over the Foothills as well.

In my backyard, a Verdin has built a typical sort-of-spherical nest among dried out mistletoe branches.  Here you see it emerging from the hole on the left side.  Verdins build multiple nests annually.  You can find them all over the Foothills.

My owlets have fledged but as I was going through all of my photos, I discovered this one which I hadn’t yet shared.  It shows a parent owl diving into the nest box with a desert spiny lizard in tow for dinner.

A neighbor in the Foothills Clusters let me know she had baby western screech owlets in her porch pillar.  My owlets couldn’t get in and out of the nest box daily but in the porch pillars, that is not a problem.  Her three owlets have not fledged yet but spend some time daily outside of their “nest”.  Here is a nice shot of two of the owlets, who do look like they are big enough to fledge very soon!