Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Palm Creek Wildlife

No....this blog entry isn't about wild happy hour parties....but is about the birds and four legged critters that reside here. Everyone knows about our owls, but there are other visitors to brag about as well.

The grand trophy for bird photos goes to Bill Wrightson for these great shots of a nesting nighthawk. As a lifelong avid bird watcher, I LOVE these photos and eagerly want to see a nest like this for myself. Thank you, Bill, for sharing!!

Here Mom is sunning herself in the nice warm gravel. Nighthawks are great insect hunters and catch most of their food in flight. They're awesome to watch in early morning or at dusk as they swoop through the air in pursuit of a juicy bug. They nest on the ground in gravel areas so Bill was lucky enough to come across a nest. Their camouflage is amazing at how they blend into their surroundings.

Will Updyke (Palm Creek Maintenance Manager) was recently called upon to investigate a furry critter seen lurking among the village homes. He set a live trap and wound up with this adorable little gray fox. After a short photo session, Will lovingly released the little guy back into the desert where he will be safer.

Being the nature buff that I am, I had to look up some internet info on the fox:
The Gray Fox is the only member of the dog family that can climb trees, usually to seek refuge or in search of roosting birds. It can reach a speed of 28 mph for short distances and has lived for up to 10 years in captivity; longevity in the wild is probably much shorter.The Gray Fox is smaller in size than the Coyote -- usually 32 to 45 inches long, and weighs 7 to 11 pounds. Its coloration is grizzled gray on top, with a white throat extending underneath; it is rusty-red along the sides. The tail usually has a black mane along the top, with a dark-gray or black tip. Gray Foxes have elongated muzzles and forward-pointing ears.Although primarily nocturnal, The Gray Fox may sometimes be seen foraging during the day, seeking primarily small mammals, but being an omnivore, it will also eat eggs, insects, birds, fruits, acorns and berries. If not using a hollow tree, the vixen (female) may dig her den into soil or enlarge the burrow of another animal. This den may be as much as 75 feet long and can have 10 or more exits. There are also numerous side chambers used for food storage and for the transfer of young, once a chamber becomes too soiled to inhabit.
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This has been a good season for our burrowing owl population! You can regularly see four of the cute feathered creatures at the entrance to their burrow right outside the front Palm Creek entrance. They're especially visible in the early morning or toward dusk when the temperatures are cooler.

Bill Wrightson captured this fantastic photo near the RV storage area. He said he frequently spots this little guy peering over a mound of dirt in that area. Perhaps there is another nest in the vicinity. Since Bill is out in the early morning chasing his golf ball around the course, he has great opportunity to come home with some trophy photographs.

There are four more owls usually perched on top the park model along the north wall. They must have a burrow right outside the wall or across Cottonwood Lane.

Visit Site 1160 along the north wall in the early morning. The little critters will be waiting and are quite patient while you ready your camera.
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