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The "Other" things you see when Birding


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My wife and I were walking down a riverside trail on Cave Creek near Portal, Az one evening at dusk, bird watching when she stopped and said “I think there is an owl looking at us from across the creek.”  This area is one of the few areas in the US where you can see the Whiskered Screech Owl.  Looking through the binoculars, we could just see two ears and the top of a forehead above a pine branch.  The head looked to be about 3 ½ inches across with ears.  We sat down and waited for more movement.  Eventually we found that we were wrong.  It wasn’t a Whiskered Screech Owl, but a Chiricahua Fox Squirrel that was huge.  They have a huge bushy tail and are around two feet long.  This one was being very cagey and kept itself screened in the branches well.  Researchers are worried about the survival of this squirrel in the Chiricahua Mountains after a big fire threatened its habitat and teams of watchers have been combing the forest for sightings.  In the picture, looking into the foliage you can see the size of the tail.1843394628_ChiracahauaFoxSquirrel.thumb.jpg.0b7ee6e020b1f08201e849473fb6ef19.jpg

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In the small city of Patagonia in Southern Arizona there is an Audubon center named Paton Center for Hummingbirds.  It is a residence that was donated to the Audubon Society to promote interest in wildlife.  There are lots of feeders and benches and a covered viewing area and docents there to help with identifications.  These two squirrels were there helping eat the bird seed.  One is a Rock Squirrel and the other is a Gray Squirrel.  Gray Squirrels tend to sit and eat with their tails in the air.  It's up to you to figure out which is which.  There are lots of Rock Squirrels but experts think the Gray Squirrel should be listed as endangered.276564484_GraySquirel.thumb.jpg.167e037a76a450d219cf35aa1a9cf04b.jpg2143534889_RockSquirrelPatagoniaT.thumb.jpg.e726490ad0d24558864b2befe9da5493.jpg

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3 hours ago, Avery said:

Those are some healthy looking coyotes!

This was a golf course that closed about five  years ago and now has six miles of cart paths that tour a nature area.  Lots of Arizona Cottontail rabbits.   Prime hunting area for coyotes.  Good birding too!

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I was trying to get another sighting of a young male Harlequin I'd seen the previous day - miserable weather, snowing, dark and very windy.

I heard a chattering sound coming from the harbour dock area and found three otters fishing and making lots of noise.

This is a rare find locally and easily made up for not spotting the Harlequin.

River Otter basking HVT-7534528.jpg

River Otter fish HVT-7534524.jpg

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Thought seriously about putting this in the LOL topic. This guy-thinks big! No he thinks really big. Back in Colorado when I had dogs I would take them to an off leash dog park often. I called it my happy place. So many wonderful dogs having a great time and I would bird the park as well. It always cracked me up when I would see dogs like this one carry around a "stick"! More like branches but what the heck think big!

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In late spring, a guest showed up on the deck.  How it got up the five steps is anyone's guess, although the real question is why it bothered.  Once there, it apparently liked the surroundings and stayed there all summer through mid-fall.  I picked up a 'toad house' and plunked it down under the deck table where I'd noticed it hunkering down during the day.  We saw it hop in and out a couple of times in early evening or early morning.  It also took to digging in beside a couple of potted Coleus.  It really enjoyed the fountain, perched as shown and regularly using it as a personal whirlpool.

We named it 'Toad' :classic_biggrin: and we got more entertainment value out of watching it than is legal.  It measured about 2.5 to 3 inches across, so I'm guessing it was a female.  Hopefully she's hibernating somewhere in the vicinity and will be back in the spring. 

Funny thing, we didn't see that first palmetto bug on the deck this year...

DSC01997.thumb.JPG.166a5a511588423871cc35d7a5a04902.JPG

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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On 12/12/2021 at 6:37 AM, Charlie Spencer said:

In late spring, a guest showed up on the deck.  How it got up the five steps is anyone's guess, although the real question is why it bothered.  Once there, it apparently liked the surroundings and stayed there all summer through mid-fall.  I picked up a 'toad house' and plunked it down under the deck table where I'd noticed it hunkering down during the day.  We saw it hop in and out a couple of times in early evening or early morning.  It also took to digging in beside a couple of potted Coleus.  It really enjoyed the fountain, perched as shown and regularly using it as a personal whirlpool.

We named it 'Toad' :classic_biggrin: and we got more entertainment value out of watching it than is legal.  It measured about 2.5 to 3 inches across, so I'm guessing it was a female.  Hopefully she's hibernating somewhere in the vicinity and will be back in the spring. 

Funny thing, we didn't see that first palmetto bug on the deck this year...

DSC01997.thumb.JPG.166a5a511588423871cc35d7a5a04902.JPG

We had at least 4 toads living our the 1st step from our patio into the house this last spring and summer. We have not seen any but once since the weather cooled mid-October or so. Like you said early morning and around 8:30ish at night is when we would see them. Evening was their wake up time. Morning time for them to go to bed. We think they are hibernating under there now. I just hope it is warm enough for them as it is just concrete and wood. It does get chilly here in north Florida. We also hope to see them again come spring. 

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