Saguaro Cactus in the desert outside Tucson:
Just before our planned return to Florida from our second home in Illinois we learned that MaryLou's brother Jack, who lived in Tucson, Arizona was terminally ill and had entered hospice care. We arrived in Florida on Sunday and on Tuesday morning, hoping to visit him before the end, flew to Arizona. It was dark when we arrived and drove directly to see him. He was in a nearly comatose state and we worried he would not make it through the night.
We stayed in the Air Force Inn at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The next morning (Wednesday) we visited him again at 9:00 AM. We were gratified to find him to be quite aware of his surroundings. On the way to the hospice facility we stopped by the Sweetwater Wetlands, quite nearby.
We got there before 7:30 AM and briefly joined a scheduled walk conducted by the Tucson Audubon Society:
We only ventured a few hundred yards into the preserve but were rewarded with excellent sightings of a Cooper's Hawk...
...and a flock of Yellow-headed Blackbirds:
A Red-tailed Hawk alighted atop a power pole along the perimeter road:
This Desert Cottontail ventured across the path. Its long ears help dissipate body heat:
A highlight was this Red-naped Sapsucker, which I had seen when we lived in New Mexico, but it was my "first photographed" of this species:
We had to hurry off but planned to make another visit to Sweetwater early the next day. We were surprised how much better my Brother-in Law appeared to be, and we stayed with him all morning and into mid-afternoon.
Jack's breathing was labored and his speech indistinct, but we conversed about current events in politics and particularly, sports. Jack is an attorney and had served as counsel for the Chicago White Sox baseball team. While he considered the Chicago Cubs to be his "number two team," he was avidly interested in seeing the Cubs in the final tie-breaking World Series championship game that very night (which they won).
Back at our quarters the next morning we were up very early because of jet lag due to the three-hours difference in time. We received a call from Jack's caregivers advising us that he had passed away quietly some time between 4 and 5:15 AM. Sad as this was, we were so grateful that we had one last chance to be with him-- much better than just coming out for a funeral.
We drove back to Sweetwater Wetlands and had time to be alone with nature. Although it was not nearly as "birdy" as it had been the previous morning, I captured photos of another "life bird photographed," the diminutive and reclusive Verdin:
I am fondest of my first Verdin photo. While not a "bird guide" picture, it captures its arid environment and the bird's relative size:
That afternoon, hot and tired, we briefly visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum southwest of town. There were many visitors but few birds. Cactus Wrens were inviting subjects:
Butterflies were plentiful, among them a Clouded Sulphur...
...and a Common Checkered-Skipper:
Storms threatened as we departed the Museum:
There was heavy rain Thursday night, but skies were clear for our early morning departure on Friday. We had to lead a South Florida Audubon bird walk the next morning. On Sunday the weather was cool and clear, perfect for grocery shopping to replenish the larders after being away from home for six weeks. Monday provided a cloudy dawn over the local wetlands:
Great Egret reflection:
A fence along "The Road to Nowhere" at the north end of our birding patch:
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Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa).
Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James
Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart
Linking to Today's Flowers Friday by Denise
Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display