Tag Archives: Gnatcatchers

July 5, 2016

The scolding and hissing of Black-tailed Gnatcatchers comes from the scrubby mesquites and the Graythorns, the bird rather uncommon from my observations on this side of las Rincones Altas.. There are lots of little notes and clicks from other small birds, a pack of Bushtits are fluffing around (they look like dustballs with bills) and many immature Black-throated Sparrows are opening green mesquite pods for the still-tender seeds. They leave the chaff on the ground like peanut hulls on a honky-tonk dance floor.

I look down into the opening at the top of that iron gate post in which the Ash-throated Flycatchers have set up home, to see if that big baby had fledged yet from its solar oven nursery. I’d certainly want to get out of there! What?? … the bird is indeed gone, but I realize what I had been looking at a week ago wasn’t a baby, but the mother–I’d forgotten about Myiarchus moustaches! This time I had a better entry of light into the shaft to see, and thought it was sweet that she hadn’t shot upwards then with bill aimed into the eye of the cyclopean monster. Curiosity could have at least blinded this cat prying into their affairs but the pair of flycatchers have got completely accustomed to our coming and going and working right there, and seem undisturbed by our being near, even this near. What I did see this time charmed to no end: three beautiful small speckled eggs, perhaps just the beginning of a clutch.

Immature Hooded Orioles enliven the mesquites and the tall grass and forbs in the north of #2 Pasture, and among them is a large “baby” cowbird (cue the villain music?) begging and seeming to be communicating with an answering adult oriole but, I don’t witness enough to be sure it was that bird who raised it.

February 10, 2014

Red dawn, the kind I think will be coming through my old window in Alamos right now at the other reach of this far-flung Sonoran Desert in Mexico. Before sunrise over Mason Pastures it is 38 degrees, by noon, 75.

The whiffling of bluebirds: so high are they that they are invisible, only their notes pass overhead, and fall all around me. Gnatcatchers wheeze in the dense mesquite twigs.

Large saffron ants, in mounds and islands three or four bodies deep, are going in and out of their cavern but not carrying anything. Do they wait along the procession route of Persephone hoping for a glimpse–surely she is returned? They’re late, the goddess is already abroad: Bob tells that he’s heard a Poorwill calling in the evening already … Cardinals are singing of Spring joyously at El Potrero, dragonflies fly there as well, the Malta Starthistle is becoming too obviously still present and their mumbled threat can be heard, “I’m gonna get you, and your little pasture too!”, and the first bat comes out in the evening over the Cowboy Caravan.

April 3, 2013

While I was setting up the day’s first irrigation some odd noises drew my attention to the deepest grasses over at the north edge, to where a young javelina’s thoughts were turning to, um, love, in the Rio San Pedro spring. There were a bunch of the critters come to sip from a riser’s overflow pool, one of them an obviously attractive female, not very large, but every time he professed his love she spun 180 degrees, growled, and snapped onto his lip. He of course chuckled and crooned, made another pass, and then got whacked in the face by a handbag as she hissed at him, “Masher!” I called them Tyrone and Gladys, after the “old” couple on Laugh In. This went on for a while, even after I called out, “Madre de Dios! Go get a room!” and eventually they bowled off into the tall dried grass and tumbleweed, he still grumbling lowly, she still with an offended, “Well I never!” Their children will be lovely.

Delicately-hued, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher along The Lane, in those still small mesquite leaves.

Four weeks after I first heard the Sonoran lullaby beloved of every desert rat–the cooing of the White-winged Dove, at El Potrero eight miles to the north–a single one now is calling from the bosque at Mason’s. They winter (sparingly) as close as Pomerene, 25 miles or so to the south, but the birds are behaving like so many others this oddly-patterned year: going north and passing Mason’s, then turning south and coming to the pastures, or, maybe the ones now appearing are newly arrived directly from points far beyond Pomerene.