Friday, December 26, 2008

Lucky Dove

Well we are certainly having a bit of a white day after Christmas! I was out shooting this Sonoran flurry, when a dove flew by and nearly got nailed by Henery. So I guess you can say that this is that Doves lucky day. Happy Holidays Everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Raptor Trio

It's been a while since I've seen Henery the Coopers Hawk. He used to be a daily feature in the yard. As a matter of fact the Dove population seems to have diminished considerably as well. Must have something to do with the new trio that has moved into the area. I saw three of these large Raptors soaring overhead and managed to get off a few shots. I'm not exactly positive what species they are. In fact I'm not really sure if they are Falcons or Hawks. I've spotted them up close and their outer feathers are a light golden brown. I'll see about getting them identified. They may be Ferruginious Hawks. I'll update the post when I find out.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bull Snake

This is one handsome Bull snake. After a long hike in the Saguro Park this morning, we spotted this guy lolly gagging in the middle of the road. We stopped so I could get out and chase him off of the road so he wouldn't get squashed. Probably a good idea given the speed at which the driver in the pickup behind us was barreling through the park.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Woody and Henery

Yesterday I managed to get a shot of Henery from the front.


This morning I made a little Anim from some Woodpecker shots I took a couple of days ago.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Beep Beep! Its been a while since I've posted any new shots on my blog. All of the plants around the pond have really exploded with color this time of year. The Hummingbirds and Butterflies are really out in force. This season has also been great for watching the migratory birds visit for a sip on their journey. This morning I saw a rather large Roadrunner stop by so I snapped a photo of him.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A little Animation Test

A Little Abstract Anim from Valerie Smith on Vimeo.

My poor hard drive took a dump, and it has been a full time job reloading software, and struggling to get everything working right again....wheeeeeuuuh! I needed to test out things like my quicktime, flash, conversion codecs and and all that stuff. So I created this little anim to try everything out again. I'm still wresteling with some audio problems, and can't wait to resolve those issues.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Katydid What!

Hmmm..... twig?

Guess not.

We sure get some of the coolest insects around here. Click the above image to see the bigger view.

Katie did what! Good job Katie, keep asking the important questions. This Katydid thinks you should have the bitch slapped the lunatic from Wasilla.

This young dove is recovering from a nasty window collision. You should see my windows now, they are totally covered in "post its". I'm researching UV reflective window coverings, to keep these guys from flying into the windows.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Giant Agave Bug

A cool looking bug eh? He's pretty big too. I'd say he is about two and a half inches from top to bottom. I found this site over here that helped me identify him. Now with a name like "Giant Agave Bug", it may be safe to assume he is a native species.

Is That You Charlie?

For a minute there I thought this was Charlie, one of the stars of the first video posted on my blog. Then after getting a closer look at him it seems this may not be the case. I don't know how long it takes a Desert Spiny Lizard to regrow a tail after its loss, and this guy appears to be doing just that. It has been a couple of months since I taped Charlie wooing a female (with his original tail in tact). Who knows? Is that you Charlie?

Hello Henery!

Henery Hawk has returned this morning. He seems to be getting a bit braver each day. This morning he came all the way down to the waters edge on the pond.

I'm glad he's enjoying the hospitality, and the "Doves Du Jour".

"Hey Henery! , while your in there why don't you dine on Jeremiah!" That would certainly resolve the problem discussed in my previous post. Unfortunately I've only seen Jeremiah out in the daylight hours once. Hmmm maybe I can pray to the Owl Gods to take care of Jeremiah.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ribbet Ribbet

I just went outside and my darling amphibian decided to ham it up for a nice photo.
I've looked all around to figure out what this guy is, and the closest I can come up with to identify him is an American Bullfrog. So I guess I'll just call him "Jeremiah" for now.
*Update* Upon discovering that this critter is a North American Bullfrog, I decided to do some more poking around and discovered that this guy is no friend indeed. I spoke with a Research Ecologist for the USGS Sonoran Desert Research Station named Cecil Schwalbe of the Southwest Biological Science Center, who helped me properly identify the frog. I learned that this species is extremely invasive, and poses an enormous threat to many of the indigenous species. One of the species endangered by this marauder is the Lowland Leopard Frog. I have a very difficult time killing animals, so I've put a call out to the Arizona Game and Fish Dept., and someone should be contacting me soon. I'm wondering though, as much as I hate to kill anything, is there really much difference between being a coward and having someone else do it, to doing the deed my self? Perhaps I should "Cowgirl Up", keep a stiff upper lip, and put my shovel to good use. Then hop online and look up some tasty frogs legs recipies. Who knows perhaps just a little of salt, pepper, butter and garlic, may wash away the guilt.

The Raptors Return

The day before yesterday my heart stopped when this guy dropped out of the sky like a bolt of lightning and picked off a dove. My adrenaline started pumping like crazy. Sure would have been nice to have the camcorder running at the time of the kill. It happened so fast that I was only able to notice that he had a striped tail. I could not identify other features to describe him (or her).

He swooped down this afternoon, but was not as lucky as the other day. I was extremely grateful that he stuck around long enough today for me to snap a couple of pics. I wish I knew what species he is. I've done a little poking around on the net, but I've yet to find one with a tail as long as this one is sporting. As soon as I find out what he is, I'll update this post.
*Update* Well I believe I may have identified the Hawk. My friend Sierra mentioned that its possibly a "Coopers Hawk". Some refer to this species as a "Chicken Hawk", yet in my yard, I may as well refer to him as a "Dove Hawk". After poking around on the internet, I've found that this seems to be the case. One of the Photo's I found that resembles this critter the most, is over here at the Stanislaus Audubon Societie's web page. then I was fortunate enough to find a nice audio description of the predatory habits of this bird from this "birdnote" website. Here is a sample, so click on the play button below, and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Waterfall Party

Seems there was a bit of a party going on at the Waterfall today. Check out the Quail behind the rock peering over at the finches.

Loco Cuckoo!

I wasn't sure what the heck this was, so I peeked around on the net. I think it's called a "Cuckoo Wasp". I'm going to call it a "Loco Cuckoo". I was replacing some of the pavers on my patio, and no matter how much my tamper handle was bouncing up and down, this little guy tenaciously kept trying to land on the handle. I don't know why this guy was so in love with my tamper handle, but I'm just glad he chose to fall in love with my tool rather than my body. I love his emerald metallic body.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Crouching Catepillar Hidden Spider

Check out this Catepillar's cool markings. They look like eyes staring at you.

Here is the full Monty. This guy is actually pretty darn large. I'd say nearly three and a half inches.

This Spider was hanging out right next to the Catepillar. I didn't even notice the spider until I moved in for a closer shot of the Catepillar.

Juvenile Quail

Well I guess I cannot call them quail chicks anymore. Oh they grow up so fast! Sometimes I wonder which one of those darling little chicks I filmed has blossomed into this Juvenile .

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Pond Video

Once Upon a Pond from Valerie Smith on Vimeo.

The video above is a great way to meet most the critters that stop in to visit my pond for a sip. I managed to pack more species into this video than any of the others. Yet some of the other videos have a few species that are not in this clip.There are some shots of a very amorous Blue Belly lizard chasing a date. Sit back relax and turn up the speakers. I chose to edit the clips to the song "Spanish Eyes" by Al Di Meola off of his Splendido Hotel Album, because its always been one of my favorite tunes. The music seems to fit the beat of the birds rhythm. I've also always been in awe of Al Di Meola's guitar playing.

This shot is a close up of a weed I let grow in the yard. The blossoms on this pest are beautiful.

I snapped this shot the morning after a heavy rain. Looks like the lizard held his own against the deluge.

Barrel Cactus blossoms are so pretty.

This is a cool looking grasshopper. Oh no! watch out for Locusts!

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Morning Below

This little guy just left the nest for the first time. He's kicking off his independence by lounging on my patio chair.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Red Dragon

This Dragonfly was hanging out up on the Ocotillo this morning, and doing touch and go's. I had my camcorder out and was filming him doing his little dance. Then I decided to grab my still camere and see just how close he would allow me to approach for a shot. He hung out long enough for me to snap this shot. Click on the shot for its enlarged version.

Stoned Lizard Makes a Friend

I'm in the process of creating a stone lizard to create a transition between the new gold gravel and the old redish gravel. I still need to find some long thin black rocks for his fingers and toes, and some larger black river rocks to replace the lighter ones in his tail. He's looking pretty good so far. As a matter of fact if you look a little closer you'll notice he's already made a friend. I uploaded the above shot at a larger scale, so if you click on the shot you can get a better peek.

Here is a closer view of his new buddy.

*Update*... He's finally done! I finished his tail, and gave him better fingers and toes this morning. I uploaded this shot real large as well, so just click for the full size image.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Snakes Alive!

Its been an awful long time since I've posted anything here. I've been pretty busy with some other projects. I was working on a rough draft for a logo design just a little while ago, when this guy slithered by my slider. I decided to follow him around the side yard and try to get off a nice shot. I'm pretty happy to have this Gopher Snake patrolling the yard to keep the rodents from getting too cozy around here.

I decided to post the image a little larger than most of the rest. If you click on the picture you can view its larger image. I'll be posting some other new images soon.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


This weeks Illustration Friday topic is " Enough". I was inspired to do the Tadpole illustration, because this morning the Toads living in the pond, simply could not get "enough" of each other. As you can see in the next image below.

All right you guys "enough" already! They spent "enough" time together to lay "enough" eggs to spread throughout the pond.

Here is a picture of the eggs the female layed. Is the shot taken up close "enough"? It wont be long before we hear the splisher and splasher of little fins frolicking in the pond.

I zoomed in "enough" on this mini cactus blossom to make it look huge. Hope you like it.

The quail chicks are getting brave "enough" to come right up to my bedroom window. This picture was taken only a few feet away from these guys. I'm glad they wander on to the porch where they eat "enough" bugs and ants to keep me happy "enough". Had enough? Snuffs snuff!

*Update*... It only took one day for the eggs to hatch and out popped the little Tadpoles!

I thought I'd throw in this shot with dew on a Lily.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Finch Kaleidoscope

Here is a little looping anim I created to experiment with uploading Hi Def anims to Vimeo. They have received many requests from users who would like to embed the Hi Def movies to their sires and blogs. Until they ad this feature, my video's posted here will be viewable in regular resolutions.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Gomez and the Chick Overboard

I don't usually give any of my plants names, but for some reason I decided to name my Chilopsis "Gomez". Gomez almost didn't make it because he's still in a big pot, and the first spot I parked him in had way too much direct sunlight throughout the day. His leaves yellowed and developed brown spots. I moved him under the patio where he enjoys the shade much more. I'm glad he's happy and blooming again.

On a sad note however, another Dove chick got tossed from the nest. That last time this happened, I tried putting it back in the nest, but it still kept getting kicked out. This time I'll just blow him a kiss and let nature take its course.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Froggie Goes a Courting

This is a colored version of a page in a coloring book I designed a few years back. It ties in pretty well with the rest of this amphibious post.

A little while back I began to wonder who was coming to visit my pond after dark. I stepped out on the patio tonight and heard this very bizaare noise coming from over by the pond. It almost sounded like a distressed house cat.

Turns out it was these frogs raising a ruckus. It was too dark for the cam corder to capture video, yet I decided to have a go at it anyway so I could capture the audio. As soon as I can get that processed I'll get it posted. I decided to try the shot with my still camera to see if they would be visible with the flash. I thought there was only one frog in the pond, but when I uploaded the shots I was delighted to see there was two. As nifty as these little guys are, they are creating quite the din. My house is very well insulated with double pane windows, and the sound is still crashing its way in.

I wanted to post this selection from the photo above because he looks pretty cool closer up.
Hear the Frogs here.....