Our trip to San Francisco and Phoenix was great, partly because the weather was wonderful in both areas. I'll post a full report on the weekend, when I've had time to go through the (many) photos I took, but here are some interim comments and pictures.
The Pacific from Cliff House
We also fitted in a morning trip to Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland.
The landscape in Phoenix could hardly be more different, as you can see from these shots of Thunderbird Park and Papago Park.
The birds are very different, too; you certainly don't get Curve-billed Thrashers around San Francisco.
Our relatives' house in Glendale is in a fabulous location. From the back deck you can watch Common Mergansers paddling up and down an artificial river, with Thunderbird Park in the background.
In Thunderbird, a ranger showed me what he said was a Great Horned Owl.
When I looked more closely, I realized the ear tufts were too close together and the body too thin for a Great Horned. It was actually a Long-eared Owl, a much less common bird and a lifer for me.
The Desert Botanical Garden was hosting an exhibition of glass by Chihuly. Some of the sculptures were worth looking at ...
but they really couldn't compete with the beauty and variety of the plants.
One worrying feature of the Garden was the number of House Sparrows and European Starlings. It's rather fun to see such typically British birds sitting on cactuses and other desert plants but you have to wonder whether these invaders will drive out the native birds.
On the way to the airport, we stopped to look for ducks on the lake in front of the Phoenix Zoo. There weren't many ducks around but the ones that were there were friendly enough to pose for photos.