Sunday, September 28, 2008
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Desert view from atop Silly Mountain
Monday, February 25, 2008
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
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Palm Silhouette at Sunset
While Arizona's Sonoran desert may be better known for its Saguaro, palms are a common landscaping choice in cities and towns.
Palms Outside Castle Hot Springs Resort
Only the California fan palm is actually native to the state. Two native stands of palms exist in Arizona - one in the Kofa Mountains and another recently discovered one near Castle Hot Springs.
These palm stands may be survivors from an earlier epoch.
Palms at Night in Papago Park