Thursday, June 14, 2012

De Colores

These photos have languished on my computer for awhile, and are not quite in season now, but I guess I guess a blog post is well overdue here. These should serve as proof that there are four seasons here in Arizona, though you might have to go on a bit of expedition to find autumn or winter. Colors exist in the desert, but you tend to find them in pockets, enclaves, or outposts. These photos were taken at Horseshoe Dam, a bit north of the metropolitan Phoenix area.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Becoming Wild

A peach-faced lovebird snacks on mesquite at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve.

If you're out for a walk and you spot a glimmer of green in the trees, look a bit more closely.

You might have just spotted a peach-faced lovebird - a pint-sized parrot native to southwestern Africa.

So what is a parrot doing in Arizona?

Lovebirds have managed to do what few other escaped exotic pets have done. They've managed to survive and reproduce in the harsh desert climate of southern Arizona.

While some species of parrots have managed to thrive in urban areas of Florida, California, and Texas, the dry Phoenix climate precludes the survival of most escaped birds. Lovebirds have managed to survive because their native climate is also dry.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gilbert Riparian Preserve

The sun sets over a pond at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve
It takes a lot of imagination and just as much ingenuity to use gallons of wastewater to create a desert oasis.

But that's just what the town of Gilbert has done with it's Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch.

The 110-acre water ranch, which consists of seven recharge ponds, a fishing lake, and several miles of walking trails, attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year. It draws visitors of the avian variety as well. More than 200 different species of birds have been spotted at the preserve. It is also home to swarms of cottontail rabbits and feral cats (which no doubt view the preserve as an all-you-can-eat buffet).

An egret wades in the water at the Gilbert
Riparian Preserve
Much of the water in the recharge ponds is treated wastewater. The water, which is cleaned as it filters down through the soil, will eventually recharge the area groundwater.

Saguaros and prickly pear cacti
at the preserve

Gilbert also maintains two other riparian preserves.

An egret takes flight

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Apache Trail

A view of Apache Lake from the Apache Trail

Forget the Grand Canyon.

Some of Arizona's most amazing scenery can be found along an approximately 45-mile long stretch of roadway called the Apache Trail.

The Apache Trail (or AZ-88) begins in Apache Junction, at the extreme eastern edge of the Phoenix Metropolitan area. The trail is characterized by hairpin turns, steep inclines and declines, and breath-taking vistas of the sapphire man-made lakes that are part of the Salt River system.

Canyon Lake

You'll find the Roosevelt Dam and Roosevelt Lake just before AZ-88 hits AZ-188. The dam was constructed between 1905 and 1911, and was expanded in 1996.

The Roosevelt Dam

Monday, April 7, 2008

Arizona in Bloom

View of Silly Mountain covered in brittlebush blooms

Plentiful winter rains paved the way for a spectacular wildflower season this March.

Mexican poppies cling to a hillside at Usery Mountain Regional Park

Hillsides that are typically brown were blanketed in green grass and all manner of blooms, from gold and orange Mexican poppies, to bright yellow brittlebush blossoms, to the subtle purple owl's clover.

Mexican poppies

Desert view from atop Silly Mountain

Monday, February 25, 2008

Downtown Phoenix: Arizona Ghost Town or a Work in Progress?

Skyscrapers are scarce in downtown Phoenix because air-conditioning
can be cost-prohibitive.

A few weeks ago I had some time on my hands, so I went on a jaunt into the heart of Phoenix to take some photos of city architecture.

Buildings under construction in Phoenix

I remember being almost deafened by the silence of the city center, which appeared to be completely abandoned that Sunday afternoon. Except for a few tourists and pigeons, there wasn't a soul to be seen. I'm sure the situation is entirely different on a weekday, but still, the lack of activity seemed unnatural and a little bit eerie.

St. Mary's Basilica