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Blue Paloverde

Cercidium floridum. Note the thorns at the side.

Loud joyful Pyrrhuloxia on a telephone wire, furtive Abert’s Towhees hopping in the bushes, not yet in song. Best of all, a Great Blue Heron gliding across the wash, yellow beak piercing the air and crooked neck forming a pouch-like keel. Still cool and crisp, but spring is creeping in.

Returning for an evening walk, I saw a Loggerhead Shrike, a first sighting in the wash. He was clear in the evening sun, with black eye mask and black edge to the wings. Also a hawk or owl chasing a pigeon.

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Yellow Paloverde

Cercidium microphyllum for the small leaflets crowded along the branch. It has thorns at the end of the branch, not at the side like the Blue Paloverde.

Saw my first flycatcher of the season, probably an Ash-throated Flycatcher, but I can never tell without hearing the call, and it was silent. Also a hawk flying far above the wash.

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Christmas cactus

Opuntia leptocaulis was on the east side in a patch of sun. It is also known as a pencil-joint cholla.

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First Pyrrhuloxia

The ground is still damp in the shady parts of the wash. Lots of Anna’s Hummingbirds, staking out their territory. I heard the first Pyrrhuloxia call of the season as I entered the wash, then later saw this one perched and singing. Also a Cactus Wren in full throat (literally—his throat swells and his tail wags as he makes his engine-starting call).

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Cactus scar

On Monday I at last saw the Bewick’s Wren I’ve been hearing, also another sighting of the hawk. Got a better look at the breast and underside of the wings; mostly white, with speckling near top breast and leading edge of wings. I think it was an immature Redtail. Today I saw a female Ladder-backed Woodpecker and a Abert’s Towhee. The house finches were in full spring song.

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Water in the wash

Spring birds are returning to the wash: I heard flycatchers, Bewicks’ Wrens, and saw a Black Throated sparrow. Also saw a hawk, grey and white banded breast, brown and white back, dark stripe around eye in paler face. White under wings in flight. Possibly a Ferruginous Hawk.

It rained throughout the night, and the wash was streaked with flow patterns.

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Gourd

Two Anna’s hummingbirds playing with or fighting with each other. One a male, sitting on a treetop, displaying his red helmet and calling a high buzz terminated by an upward blip. The other I couldn’t tell male from female.

The gourd is on a plant I remember seeing crawling all over the barrel after last spring’s rains.

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Rainbow!

Our long dry spell (over 140 days) is over, with a smattering of rain this afternoon and this evening. The was had that earthy smell that comes after the rain, and the evening light on the mountains was beautiful. A colony of ants was busy pulling palo verde twigs into their nest, a torus of sand around a central hole.

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