Pages

Monday, August 26, 2013

Annual bat visitors at the hummingbird feeders

For the second year in a row, as summer just begins to ebb, my hummingbird feeders start to receive visitors around the clock as the nectar-feeding bats begin to migrate south through southeastern Arizona to Mexico and Latin America. My first clue that they've arrived is an empty hummingbird feeder in the early morning hours. Compared to hummingbirds, bats are pigs!

There are two types of nectivorous bats in southern Arizona, the threatened Mexican Long-tongued Bat and the endangered Lesser Long-nosed Bat. These mammals have learned that hummingbird feeders make good sources of nectar, and I'm happy to make gallons and gallons of sugar-water to feed them. I'm participating in a citizen science research project to provide data to better understand their migration patterns. (Learn more.)

Bat at the hummingbird feeders
Nectivorous bat at the hummingbird feeder, August 2013

I don't have the best camera for taking night shots, but I hope to eventually get a clear enough shot to properly ID them. They fly so close to me, I can feel the air from their wings!

Bat at the hummingbird feeders
Bat hovering near the ground on the right August 2013.

This bat is a bit harder to make out from the dark shapes around him, but look carefully among the cactus below the draping mesquite branch under the feeder on the left.

Bat at the hummingbird feeders
Bat in mid-flight.

Unlike hummingbirds, bats can't perch on a feeder because their legs don't bend in the right direction. They swoop in, take a quick sip, and then swoop back out again. That means trying to take a picture of these eat and run critters is even more challenging!

Bat at the hummingbird feeders
Bat sipping from the feeder on the left, August 2013.

Bat at the hummingbird feeders
Bat approaching feeder on the right, August 2013.


Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Landscaping Project Part 2: Removing the Goat Hill Phase 2

Next came the design phase which the LOML and I thoroughly enjoy. Perhaps a bit too much. We can obsess for hours over design details, but we like to think we add value to the design process and the final product is better as a result of thoughtful collaboration.

Design Sketch 1 Original
Design Sketch 1 Original

Design Sketch 1 Original
Design Sketch 1 Revised

We contracted with Katherine Prideaux of Prideaux Design. We had seen some of Katherine's work when we met her on a design tour. Plus, Patty Warren, of Warren Architecture, whose professional opinion we admire, also had good things to say about her.

Because of the goat hill incline, there's no question that this area was a design challenge. Several times we needed to revisit a concept because what worked on paper just didn't work in this space.

The original sketches here are actually revisions over the very first drafts which didn't take into account the fabulous views of the city at night. This rendering includes a seating area around a fire bowl to take in those nighttime views.

Design Sketch 2 Original
Design Sketch 2 Original

Design Sketch 1 Revised
Design Sketch 2 Revised

Additional changes have been made to cut some cost. Since this is our second major landscape project, we have (hopefully) learned to spend money on the things that will be most meaningful to us. Plants? Yes. Fancy landscape lighting? Not so much. The pleasure of living out this far is the amazingly dark night skies!

The challenge now will be to make this a unique space that doesn't just mimic every other contemporary patio!

Design Sketch 3 Original
Design Sketch 3 Original

Design Sketch 3 Revised
Design Sketch 3 Revised

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Landscaping Project Part 2: Removing the Goat Hill Phase 1

I never met the original owners (who were also the designers) of this house I now call home, but it's funny how you can tell so much about a person simply by how they lived. The elderly couple clearly had their quirks, and it was obvious that in their sunset years, they didn't spend much time outside.

I do.

Year one the back patio that faces east was redesigned to create a cozy area for enjoying those chilly "winter" mornings. Year two, THIS year, it was time to tackle the front.

In both cases, the objective was to lure nature. I didn't want a swimming pool. I've got the community pool pretty much all to myself. I'd rather have fountains and flora to attract the native wildlife.

Entry, August 2013
Front door, August 2013

Lower Patio, August 2013
Lower Patio. Catio is seen above. August 2013

Landing, August 2013
Lower landing, August 2013

The steps leading up to the front door couldn't have been built to code. The incline was so steep, it was dubbed, "The goat hill."

Goat hill, August 2013
The goat hill.

Goat hill, August 2013
Another view of the goat hill.

I hadn't bothered to "clean up" the landscaping in this area knowing that it was going to be removed so it looked awful. The Cactus Wrens loved all the Teddy-bear cholla, but they'll have new places to nest. I made sure there were no active nests before the demo began!

Side, August 2013
Notice the large Teddy-bear cholla in the foreground.

Side, August 2013
The side of the patio.

Side Planter
The side planter. The saguaro will remain.

Top of the driveway
The top of the driveway looking down.

Copyright © Deborah A. Ayers - All rights reserved.