Earth Day II, Saving Pollinators in Sun City, Arizona

These past days I’ve been on a hunt for neighborhood habitats that are welcoming pollinators.  I have found several.  Of course complete and functional natural habitats not only benefit pollinators but human inhabitants as well.

Below you will find recipes for delicious pollinator connection foods and garnishes.

Paloverde Flowers attract bees.  The bright yellow flowers are delicate and mildly sweet.  As soon as possible after opening the flowers can be used fresh, cooked or as a garnish on salads or soups.

Try this Paloverde Flower Pudding Recipe

3 cups clean paloverde flowers

1/2 C water

1/2 C sugar

2 C milk

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

2 Lightly beaten egg yolks or 1 well-beaten egg

2 Tablespoons butter

1/4 Teaspoon salt

Simmer paloverde flowers in water until tender, approximately 10 minutes.  Drain well and measure liquid.  Add milk to make 1 cup.  Puree blossoms in blender.  In saucepan blend sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Add milk and blossoms and cook while stirring over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  Cook 2 minutes more, and remove from heat.  Stir small amount of hot mixture into beaten egg. Return to hot mixture and cook 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat, and add butter.  Chill in dessert cups.  Garnish with fresh paloverde blossoms .

 

Paloverde Pancakes

Add 1 cup of fresh paloverde flowers to yips favorite pancake mix.

(Recipe by Arizona Highways “Desert Wildflowers” )

Saguaro trees are just beginning to bloom.  Check our Cactus Hotel, a children’s book favorite with your grandchildren to thoroughly appreciate the importance of Saguaros, Arizona’s state flower, to the natural life of this state.

Arizona Highway’s “Desert Wildflowers” magazine also offers this recipe for

Saguaro Seed Dressing

1/2 C mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon Saguaro seeds

Mix all ingredients together and toss with your Arizona citrus salad.

 

For more photos, recipes and to plan and build your own successful “Pollinator Garden” check out millionpollinatorgardens.org. and Arizona Highways publication “Desert Wildflowers.”

Earth Day 2022, Sharing Ambient Space

Wednesday, April 20, was the day I selected to become “My Personal Earth Day.”  I gathered binoculars and iPhone, put on comfortable shoes, greased up with sunscreen and drove off to be the first in line to pay my $7 to enter the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.  It was my intention to immerse myself into the ambient life of the desert by walking the Waterfall Trail.  With no schedule limitations I would take time to sit on memorial benches and tune all of my senses into the desert surrounding me.

The hike was an unexpected adventure: buzzing bees, scented shrubs, glistening rock walls, soaring hawks, whistling Wren and Swifts, lizards, a Painted Lady Butterfly and finally a young Diamond backed Rattlesnake.

Click the Menu bar of my website to select the Newsletter option for the hike presented Nature Notes 4-22-22.

Returning home, I discovered Yolanda Kondonassis’s newly released “Five Minutes for Earth” album being played on 99.5 FM radio station.  Yolanda is an Emmy nominated harpist who made it her mission to compose fifty, five minute pieces while isolated 2020 to 2021 by the COVID pandemic.

“Five Minutes” is the metaphor for the urgent and compressed timeframe that remains for our global community to find and implement solutions to the environmental crisis facing our planet Earth.

Yolanda ‘s project expanded as she invited fifteen of the world’s most innovative compositional voices to express their most powerful experience inspired by one of the Earth’s many conditions or atmospheres.

The completed “Five Minutes for Earth”  album became available on April 1.

As the my “Earth Day” came to a close I remained captured by the sights, sounds, scents, inventive creativity and hope of our planet’s natural inhabitants.

Just one more element was needed to complete my “Earth Day Discovery” experience.  I needed a bed time story.

Jean Craighead George’s nature writing has always been a favorite of mine.  The Maricopa Library System’s Overdrive app sent me to her latest and final publication, Ice Whale.  The novel completed by her sons posthumously in 2016  thoroughly edited and research for geographical, lingual, scientific and social accuracy is available in the audiobook format.

 I listened to the entire four hour long recording.  The captivating story tells the of the Eskimo community around Barrow, Alaska’s dependence on the whaling industry.  Beginning with the birth of a male Bowhead Whale with a distinctive marking on his chin and a young Eskimo he and his descendants  engage with the same whale through two hundreds years of social and climate change.

 

Just Walk’n in The Rain

  Tuesday, March 29, 2022 The Valley of the Sun received a bit of welcome rain.  Showers began late night on the 28th and continued on into the next morning.  At sunrise I walked the New River Trail south of Grand Avenue looking and listening for migrating song birds.  There were no bird fly-overs or songs; however I found the river bed awaking with fresh green and blooming desert flowers.

Click “Newsletter” on the Menu to view the mostly yellow (first blooms) of the Spring 2022 Valley of the Sun blooming shrubs on a “soft morning” in the desert.

 

Bald Eagle Parents with Eaglets, March 4, 2022

The Bald Eagles that I have been following; named Sam and Loretta, have successfully brought their three Eaglets to “flight preparation” age with tireless feedings.

Photos by Buddy Walker

Each parent carefully cleans his/her beak before and after each feeding.  It seems to take a half hour of hunting to bring in prey.  While Sam and Loretta tag team the hunt, the resting parent is always perched on or near the nest.  The parent returning with prey calls the waiting Eagle with soft bell-tone signals before landing in the nest.

Uno, the Eaglet in this photo was the first to hatch and will be first to be instructed in flight and launched in about four weeks.  His siblings, Dos and Tre are visible in the nest.  Younger, their feathers are less mature.

Eagles of Southwest Phoenix Getting Flight Instruction

The Eagle family featured by Buddy Walker’s beautiful photos are gradually growing feathering in preparation for flight training.  The large Eaglet on the right that I call Uno will be first to stretch his wings.  His siblings, Dos and Tres are clearly visible to Uno’s left.  Without both adults, Sam and Loretta, sitting side-by-side it’s difficult to determine which bird is instructing in this picture.  The female Eagle is larger.  Surprisingly Eagle conversation is soft, melodic and bell-like.  Clearly the Eaglets are attentive students.

For more family photos click on the “Photo” title on the gillespiecreek.com Menu line.

Flycatchers Migrating

These two “Silky-Flycatchers” are finding their prey in the Phoenix/Wickenburg, Arizona area.  The first black colored bird is called Phainopepia, look for his species flying alone around Desert Mistletoe plants hanging from trees.  In addition to berries they prey on flying insects, especially mosquitoes.  The brilliant colored Flycatcher is the Vermillion Flycatcher.  It also preys on mosquitoes but prefers larger insects.  Bees and grasshoppers are  preferred .  For more information click  “Newsletter” in the Menu of this Gillespiecreek.com website.

Bald Eagles with a February Clutch of Eagles in the Phoenix, Arizona Area

I have been watching this couple along with  photographer Buddy Walker for the several weeks.  This week for the first time the Eagle couple have left their nest containing three to four week old Eaglets for extended periods of time.  The couple seem to be enjoying their freedom.  However either the male or the female remains on a protective perch while the other flies off to hunt.  Generally it takes a half hour for that parent to successfully return with prey.  The hunting parent then remains in the nest shredding prey for each hungry Eaglet.  Each separate feeding takes at least 45 minutes. While the feeding takes place the sentinel parent is free to begin its hunt.  These Bald Eagles perform a perfectly orchestrated tag-team hunt for hours at a time.

January Birding in Sun City, Arizona

December temperatures moderated on New Year’s Day.  I had to bundle up for a walk on the first day of 2022 as the wind was blowing at 20 mph and temperatures lingered around the mid 40’s. My photographer friend Buddy Walker drove us to the Estrella Park Reserve to look for a Vermillion Flycatcher early morning.  Believe it or not a beautiful male flew right in front of us and landed on a branch.

SRP has drained ponds in their recharge area.  Two Great Blue Herons and a Snowy Egret took advantage of the situation to hunt for stranded fish on Wednesday morning.

While OMICRON has surged here in Arizona, most of us are fully vaccinated and boosted.  We do wear masks and avoid indoor gatherings.  Neighborhood hikes and good reading fill days.

Below left is the Vermillion Flycatcher, next the Herons in the pond and finally on the right a view of a Curve-billed Thrasher singing its full repertoire of beautiful melodies.

Joy abounds in ambient sounds of Nature.

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For more birding resources click the Menu “Newsletter” button.

Raptors Often Visiting the Sun City, Arizona Area in December

Raptors that are common in the Maricopa County area year around.

The list includes Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper’s hawk, American Kestrel Falcon, Prairie Falcon, Peregrine Falcon year around.  Migratory Birds of Prey in this area are Bald Eagle and Turkey Vultures.

During the winter Osprey,, Northern Harrier and Harris Hawk visit as well.

The primary migration season (breeding) is November through May.

The breeding season is a little later, beginning in December .

These Birds of prey can be found ion several sites:  The SRP Recharge Area, farm fields, Estrella Park, Base Median Reserve, and the Hassayampa River Reserve in Wickenburg.