Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Problem with Summer Rains

Normally rains are very welcome here in the summer. Even the quick, heavy downpours provide a much needed relief from a long dry spell. But when the summer rains keep coming, and dumping more rain than most years, the ground can't absorb it and puddles last longer than normal. Add landscape watering to the mix and a bit of wind and sometimes even very large, well-established trees can come tumbling down.

Must have been some good wind in this storm to break a power pole like this. Along one road in Central Phoenix there were a whole line of power poles down and laying in the road. It's going to take some effort to clean up after this one. We now have had more than our normal share of rainfall for the year, and it is only the end of August!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another Fish Story

I thought we would get skunked today, but we got three bullheads! Jake wasn't too sure about bringing it over the fence to hold it for a picture. As usual, we let them go back into the water a little wiser. Our standby bait has been bread, but today I brought a slice of pizza along and we caught these with little chunks of chicken. Tried to get a couple bluegill with some crust, but they wouldn't take it long enough to set the hook. Jake says next time we should try worms. I bet the bluegill will love that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Jake's Eye View

Our neighborhood

Both hands on the wheel, Dad!
(really, a picture of Pikachu - the stuffed Pokemon)

I was taking Jake to school this morning and realized his perspective is quite a bit different than mine when I told him we were in the same lane as a bus. He couldn't see the bus unless he practically stood in his seat (we were at a stop light). The pictures are Jake's - he loves to snap away while I drive if I let him.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How Big is Big?

This is a big ocotillo we were able to salvage from the City golf course where I work. Acutally, I had already removed five others I considered big. This one is huge! Unfortunately, a photo of it doesn't do justice to its magnitude...

This is Cody, one of my friends at work. The lower branches which are nearly twice his height are about how big the big ocotillos are. Clearly, this is nearly double the size of the others!

Here are three recently planted ocotillo on a road scar. We planted the saguaro (8' - 9' behind the middle/huge ocotillo), too. The cages are - or rather were - mesquite tree seedlings planted by ASU students just before summer. Out of 150+ seedlings only 6 survived the summer. To be fair, the summer did have a stretch of three weeks with temps over 110F.

Anyhow, our year is going into routine with work and school, so nothing exciting to post family-wise. Will try to correct that soon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

More on the (Common) Black Hawk

Just barely caught this common black hawk under a large mesquite tree. I got as close as I felt I could without disturbing it and took a few pictures. It was tearing something apart, and I thought a good zoom shot would help identify its meal, but I am only able to guess it was a fish of some sort. I almost felt sorry for it having to slowly tear apart bits and pieces to eat.

After a bit it got tired of me watching or it got a little nervous and decided to hop off a little. Here's a short video of that. Right after that it hopped behind a bush for more privacy. That was when I finally got the hint and left it alone.

Spadefoot Toads

After the two good rains last week, only the puddles not yet dried up hold what will become spadefoot toads...Some of those that have already dried up have a lot of dead tadpoles in them.

Amazing camouflage on the tiny toadlings help them survive the trip from the water to a place where they can eat and grow (the tails are still visible on these two - toward the center)

These were using a rock for shelter. Hundreds of them!

These adults come out with a good monsoon storm. We helped about 33 of them from being caught in the roadway at a park. There were many already dead from cars driving in or out. Anyhow, they come out to mate and lay eggs in puddles that will hopefully manage to bring the little ones from tadpole to toad in less than a couple weeks.

Albert Toadstein

The name says it all

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Science Fun!

Erik had an experiment in class that sounded too fun not to try at home. The boys decided to see how many pennies it took to break a lasagna noodle bridge. At over 450, they still hadn't broken it! Jake managed to sabotage the experiment before they discovered the answer.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Black Hawk

Again, maybe not the best picture, but the best I could do with max zoom. I saw this black hawk fly across the road and into a palm tree. I could tell from the distinctive tail striping that it was a common black hawk (and not a zone-tailed) - though not a common sight out here, I've seen one a few times over the years.

Friday, August 8, 2008

More Fishing - More Good Luck

Jake's first carp - well first one we actually landed! This was a small one. There were half a dozen or so little guys going to town on the bread we tossed in. This wasn't too difficult.

The next day (today) and another little guy.

Dad hooked a big one that was cooperative enough to pose for the camera!

Calm Before the Storm

Had a good thunderstorm roll in last night. Lots of wind and heavy rain and plenty of lightning. This was the calm at sunset, about an hour or less before the storm.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lego Ship

Erik's friend Drew was over and the three boys redesigned the Lego Coast Guard. Since it floats it is one of the few Lego items allowed outside.

Jakob's Party @ Amazing Jake's

Here are some of Jake's friends at his party. The boys on either side of him have been his friends since kindergarten and four of the kids are neighbors down the street (the other girl is the sister of one of the boys. And Erik, of course. So starting in the way back: Zoe; middle: Zarin, Erik, Sofia, Emily; Front: Alexis, Andrew, Jakob, Sayer. Everyone kind of went on their own, so no good shots of the fun. It is a pretty good place to do a birthday party.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Unusual Dinner

I saw a great blue heron fly across the road with something very large in its mouth. Since it was flying toward the water and not away from the water, I had to believe it was not a fish. This was the best I could do to get close enough - even with max zoom - to see what it had...A round-tailed ground squirrel! It kept dunking the poor thing into the water, probably to kill it. I thought these guys pretty much ate fish only, but if the fishing isn't good, I guess they do what they can.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Snowy Egret

Not the best pictures, but the zoom was maxed out, so it was the best I could do. If I see more I will try to get better pictures.