I hold no preference among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous. Edward Abbey, 1927-1989, American author, essayist

Posted By Mike Padgett

June 5, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.- In a land where many plants and animals can sting, stab, poison or bite, we have a large cactus that each summer offers startling beauty among its sharp needles.

This year, beginning in late April and into early June, a Night-Blooming Cereus cactus in our backyard treated us to about 30 ivory-colored flowers the size of baseballs.  The flowers bloomed in waves, from one or two to several at a time. We believe the cactus is more than 20 years old. It is about 8 feet high, and it is as broad as a small tree. Its stout base resembles the dull gray bark of a tree while its several arms with regular rows of short needles are a bluish-green color.

Watching the blooms start opening before midnight is a rare treat. By sunrise, which is the best time to enjoy the jewel-like flowers, they were fully open. Several buds that will become future flowers were scattered around the open blooms.  While the flowers were opening during the night, the first to enjoy their pollen were moths and bats. During daylight, bees take over as pollinators.

Photographing the cereus blooms before and at sunrise was a perfect opportunity for backlit photography. Shooting into the light, such as before the sun breaks the horizon, creates dramatic images. The translucent white flower petals resemble feathers when backlight shines through them, creating a glow.

The blossoms begin closing by midmorning. By noon, they were fully closed and starting to droop. After two or three days, the blooms usually fall from the cactus. A few of the flowers disappeared overnight. The likely suspects are unseen nocturnal desert creatures around our north Scottsdale home.

 

Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

 

Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

 

(Copyright @ Mike Padgett, ArizonaNotebook.com. All applicable U.S. and International copyright laws pertain to any and all photographs and other images and articles on this site. Downloading, hot-linking, copying, reproducing, manipulating in any way and/or distribution by print, electronic media or other means is prohibited by law.)

 

(Please contact Mike Padgett if you are interested in purchasing prints or licensing images on this site, or if you wish to use any of the images on this site for noncommercial purposes. All rights reserved.)

 

(Ideas for interesting news stories about Arizona residents and businesses are welcome. Please send ideas and suggestions to mike@ArizonaNotebook.com.)

 

(If you see a typo or a factual error, please contact us so we can correct it.)

 

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Jun 5th, 2018

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. Jacques Cousteau

Posted By Mike Padgett

April 8, 2018

Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

My Best Friend suggested a rejuvenating walk at sunset during one of our many trips to California. She was right. This photo was snapped at Carlsbad. A few clouds made the sunset even more picturesque.

Apr 8th, 2018
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Male Costa’s Hummingbird, Feb. 18, 2018

Posted By Mike Padgett

March 7, 2018

A male Costa’s Hummingbird paused and fluffed his feathers for grooming recently at Tohono Chul Park in northwest Tucson. Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

 

(Copyright @ Mike Padgett, ArizonaNotebook.com. All applicable U.S. and International copyright laws pertain to any and all photographs and other images and articles on this site. Downloading, hot-linking, copying, reproducing, manipulating in any way and/or distribution by print, electronic media or other means is prohibited by law.)

(Please contact Mike Padgett if you are interested in purchasing prints or licensing images on this site, or if you wish to use any of the images on this site for noncommercial purposes. All rights reserved.)

(Ideas for interesting news stories about Arizona residents and businesses are welcome. Please send ideas and suggestions to mike@ArizonaNotebook.com.)

Mar 7th, 2018
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Paris sunset with distant sunbeams, June 6, 2011

Posted By Mike Padgett

Feb. 25, 2018

Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

 

(Copyright @ Mike Padgett, ArizonaNotebook.com. All applicable U.S. and International copyright laws pertain to any and all photographs and other images and articles on this site. Downloading, hot-linking, copying, reproducing, manipulating in any way and/or distribution by print, electronic media or other means is prohibited by law.)

(Please contact Mike Padgett if you are interested in purchasing prints or licensing images on this site, or if you wish to use any of the images on this site for noncommercial purposes. All rights reserved.)

(Ideas for interesting news stories about Arizona residents and businesses are welcome. Please send ideas and suggestions to mike@ArizonaNotebook.com.)

(If you see a typo or a factual error, please contact us so we can correct it.)

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Feb 25th, 2018
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Lake Louise, Alberta, July 2012

Posted By Mike Padgett

Feb. 13, 2018

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882

Photo copyright © Mike Padgett

Feb 13th, 2018
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Hummingbird searching for lunch

Posted By Mike Padgett

Feb. 9, 2018

 

Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

 

 

Feb 9th, 2018
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Mission San Xavier del Bac, Jan. 23, 2010

Posted By Mike Padgett

Mission San Xavier del Bac, located 10 miles southeast of downtown Tucson, was founded in 1692 by Padre Eusebio Kino. Copyright photo © by Mike Padgett

Jan 29th, 2018
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New Orleans Sunrise, March 15, 2011

Posted By Mike Padgett

Jan. 17, 2018

 

Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

Jan 17th, 2018
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Surprise visit from one of nature’s desert felines

Posted By Mike Padgett


July 3, 2017

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A bobcat wandered into our lives 24 hours ago. We were standing in our dining room preparing to tackle a new jigsaw puzzle when the four-legged visitor surprised us.

The desert feline was just a few feet from us, on the other side of the glass patio door. That side of our home has a view of the Arizona desert.

The bobcat didn’t see us standing close to the windows and glass door as it passed. We hurried into the next room where there are more windows and another patio door. We found the bobcat laying on its left side with its back to us. A few minutes later, it changed position and faced the glass. It apparently decided our patio was a safe place for a cat nap.

 

The bobcat appears to be looking at its reflection in our patio windows. Photo copyright © Mike Padgett

 

Because they are timid and usually nocturnal, bobcats typically avoid human contact. However, they are attracted to water supplies and small animals in urban areas.

I retrieved my camera from another room and reached for the cord to raise the window shade. Very slowly. The bobcat’s eyes were closed. Its breathing was rapid. The outside temperature was about 100 degrees.

I raised the shade a few feet. I crouched within two feet of the bobcat, separated from it by floor-to-ceiling patio windows and a glass door. The bobcat looked to be about 15 inches tall at the shoulder.

For several minutes, we enjoyed the resting animal’s beauty. But it remained vigilant. Its eyes were mostly closed but it cocked its ears back and forth, listening for danger. Or potential food.

Unseen were large and dangerous claws withdrawn into the fur of its broad paws. The bobcat’s mouth was partly open because it was panting. Its sharp teeth were visible. Its diet consists of rats, rabbits, and other small animals.

 

The desert cat eventually made eye contact with me after I lowered my camera from my face. Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

 

Despite its beauty, the bobcat is wild. We did not want it to make our patio its new home so after an impromptu photo session over 15 minutes, I tapped on the window with my left hand. With my right hand, I kept my camera to my face.

The bobcat opened its eyes. It raised its head slowly. It ignored my camera and remained focused on my moving fingers tapping the glass.

After several seconds, the bobcat raised itself into a sphinx-like pose. I lowered the camera from my face. It moved its eyes from my fingers to my face. We made eye contact. That is when the wild cat slowly stood up and began walking away. It kept its ears cocked backwards, listening for danger.

 

Realizing it won’t get any rest with an audience, the bobcat decided to leave. Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

It disappeared around the barbecue at a corner of our home. After a few minutes, I went out to see if it was gone. It was. The 6-foot-high block wall and the metal view fence around our backyard are not obstacles for wildcats and their powerful legs.

Years ago, I stepped out the front door of our previous home and surprised an adult bobcat in the front courtyard. It was standing next to the 4-foot-high courtyard wall. In the bobcat’s mouth was a rabbit. After a few seconds of watching me, the bobcat – with the rabbit still in its mouth – jumped up onto the wall. Then it was gone.

For more information about bobcats, visit the Arizona Game & Fish Department.

 

(Copyright @ Mike Padgett, ArizonaNotebook.com. All applicable U.S. and International copyright laws pertain to any and all photographs and other images and articles on this site. Downloading, hot-linking, copying, reproducing, manipulating in any way and/or distribution by print, electronic media or other means is prohibited by law.)

 

(Please contact Mike Padgett if you are interested in purchasing prints or licensing images on this site, or if you wish to use any of the images on this site for noncommercial purposes. All rights reserved.)

 

(Ideas for interesting news stories about Arizona residents and businesses are welcome. Please send ideas and suggestions to mike@ArizonaNotebook.com.)

 

(If you see a typo or a factual error, please contact us so we can correct it.)

 

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Jul 3rd, 2017

It’s a good day when a coiled rattlesnake doesn’t strike

Posted By Mike Padgett

May 2, 2017

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Today became a little brighter when I realized the rattlesnake had remained motionless while I worked just outside its striking range.

The young rattler retreated to safety behind a potted agave and a golden barrel cactus. Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

For about 15 minutes before I spotted the rattler, I had worked in front of the trash barrel. I was cutting small mesquite tree limbs into short sections that would fit in the barrel.

Little did I know danger was nearby. I did not see the snake until I finished cutting up the limbs. When I reached to close the trash barrel’s lid, I looked down and saw the nearly invisible snake coiled and motionless. I was standing in front of the barrel. The snake was on the right side about five feet from me. I was wearing shorts and hiking shoes, ready for my morning walk.

It was my first rattlesnake encounter of the season. It was a young snake, judging from its small size. The snake’s head was visible, pointed at me. The tip of its tail was tucked under its coiled body. The snake’s coloration was excellent camouflage that resembled the gray-and-tan granite gravel.

 

Motionless, the young snake didn’t catch my attention until I looked in its direction next to the trash barrel. Photo copyright © by Mike Padgett

It didn’t move, so I went to get my camera. I grabbed a leaf rake on my way through the garage so I could gently scoop up the rattler and carry it to the desert wash behind our home. Before I disturbed the snake, I shot a few photos while it was coiled. Such deadly beauty in a small package.

I tried to use the rake to try to pick up the snake, but it became cranky. It raised its head, backed slightly away and struck at the rake.

When it stretched out to slither away, I guessed the adolescent snake was about 15 inches long. It had three or four rattles on its tail. Depending on the species, adult rattlesnakes can exceed six feet in length and weigh 10 or more pounds.

I thought about recent news stories quoting medical experts as saying the costs for treatment of rattlesnake bites today can reach into the high five figures, sometimes more.

I followed the snake and shot several more photos. After a few feet, it retreated behind a potted agave and a golden barrel cactus. Perfect, I thought. The plants offer better perspective for photos.

Still aggravated, the snake coiled into a sort of figure eight and raised its head slightly, keeping its head and flicking tongue aimed my way. I kept 10 feet or more between us.

My neighbor, who has a snake tong, volunteered to remove the rattler. She used the tong to gently pick up the snake. She placed it in a white bucket and covered it. She said she would release it in the desert a safe distance from homes.

Later, she told me the snake was not happy. She said it had rattled nonstop during the short drive to its new home.

I must get myself a snake tong. In recent years, I have walked close to two other resting rattlesnakes. One was outside our back door at our previous home. I used a leaf rake to lift it and place it in the open desert behind our home.

The other snake encounter was after sunset outside our front door. I remember seeing what I thought was a broom handle on the walkway between me and the front door. I stepped over it to unlock and open the door.

I turned on the outside light and looked back, wondering who left a broom outside our door. A second or two after the light came on, the “broom handle” came alive. It was a large rattlesnake that had been stretched out to soak up warmth from the concrete.

Armed with a flashlight, I used water sprayed from a garden hose to guide the large rattler out the front gate.

 

(Copyright @ Mike Padgett, ArizonaNotebook.com. All applicable U.S. and International copyright laws pertain to any and all photographs and other images and articles on this site. Downloading, hot-linking, copying, reproducing, manipulating in any way and/or distribution by print, electronic media or other means is prohibited by law.)

 

(Please contact Mike Padgett if you are interested in purchasing prints or licensing images on this site, or if you wish to use any of the images on this site for noncommercial purposes. All rights reserved.)

 

(Ideas for interesting news stories about Arizona residents and businesses are welcome. Please send ideas and suggestions to mike@ArizonaNotebook.com.)

 

(If you see a typo or a factual error, please contact us so we can correct it.)

 

(To avoid missing news, essays, features and photos on www.ArizonaNotebook.com, sign up for convenient email alerts in the FeedBurner box in the right rail.

May 2nd, 2017
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