Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wholly empty feeders, Batman!

My hummingbird feeder has been completely drained (of at least two cups of sugar water) at night for the past week. [I have plenty of hummingbird visitors (although fewer than last year), but I knew they wouldn't be feeding through the night.] I had a short list of possible suspects and last night I did a stake out. Alas, I don't have the necessary camera equipment to i.d. individuals, but I'm sure it looked something like this!
Still shots here; Movie here. Both links from Beth at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Before and After

All of the ocotillo ramadas have been repaired. Thanks, Bruce (and Bryna)!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Orange flowers for Susan

Mentzelia isolata
Copper  Purslane
In honor of Susan B, woman of unparalleled strength and a true blazing star.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Update on AZ Walnut

Anne (left), Arizona Walnut 9/22/10
Anne next to Giant Reed 9/22/10 (No, she didn't shrink.)
Photos by Carol Tornow

See the tree? It's tall.  See the reed? It's taller.
You'll note that the Arizona Walnut has grown a lot since the first post. The giant reed has grown, too. (The reed in this area previously completely blocked the sun from our little AZ Walnut.) The battle to reclaim Sabino Canyon's riparian area is not over. In order to meet the goal of complete eradication of giant reed by 2012, we must be persistent. Because you care about the canyon, please take a moment today to: 1) thank the Forest Service for their role in the fight against Arundo donax (aka giant reed), and 2) to stress the importance of continuing the regular herbicide applications, by sending Angela Elam (point person for the Coronado District on the Sabino Arundo eradication project) an email: aelam at fs dot fed dot us

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bruce's well-trained cutter ants

Cutter Ant Trail, 9/23/10
Bruce had his cutter ant team out on the Bear Canyon trail today, each one carrying a cut leaf twice his weight (the ant's, not Bruce's). Rumor has it that Bruce is having the ants build a ramada entirely of leaves. Photo by Bruce Garrett.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Today in snakes

Coachwhip, photo by Carol Tornow

Cloudy skies this morning didn't stop Carol T from snake spotting, but they did stop this normally-too-fast-to-photograph coachwhip, who remained motionless throughout the photo session. Carol and I ran into Marge K and Angie P on the way out of the canyon and told them about our sighting. They later saw this gopher snake waiting for breakfast by a ground-squirrel-sized hole. Thanks to Carol and Angie for sharing the photographs. 

Gopher Snake, photo by Angie Perryman

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'd like the checkered version, please!

Checkered Gartersnake
Jean and Mark Hengesbaugh saw this one along Sabino Creek this morning. Click on it for a larger view. Photo by Mark.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another morning glory - easily identified

Trans-Pecos Morning glory
The Trans-Pecos Morning glory is pretty easy to identify. It's red, for one, and the flowers are no bigger than a dime. Winds around all kinds of other plants (here: catclaw acacia). The leaves are similar to the Ivy Leaf morning glory. This photo was taken in front of the dam, but you can find in other areas, especially around the water.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's a bean (eventually)

Slimjim Bean aka Slender Stem Bean Phaseolus filiformis
CORRECTION 9/28/11 This is Tepary Bean (Phaseolus acutifolius var. tenuifolius) 
Here's another neat flower. Tiny - no bigger than a dime - delicate pink, two lobes on the bottom. Look by the dam and in the riparian area. Native peoples used the later beans for food.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Maybe we should call it Coyote Canyon

Photos by Ellen Green, 9/15/10

We were on the Bear Canyon side of the world, coming home from a running event at dusk. There were two coyotes in this 'pack', but this one stood still long enough to show her beauty.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bruce spots a monster!

Gila Monster
Bruce Garrett photographed this beauty today between the dam and bear bridges, on the east side of the creek. Fortunately, he remembered not to take a bite. Thanks, Bruce.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Wild cotton aka Desert cotton
This beautiful plant is blooming everywhere; pinkish-white buds, white flowers open to little cups, 3- or 5- pointed leaves are green (with the exception of a few near the dam bridge), but will turn a red to rival the reds 'back east'. Find a cotton plant wherever you roam in the canyon, and watch it at least through October for dramatic changes. Yes, this plant is related to commercially-cultivated cotton. Photo from 9/13/10 from Ned Harris.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Anne recants.

Pringle's Clustervine - Jacquemontia pringlei
The white flower (looks like a white morning glory) in my post from Sunday, August 15 is, fortunately, it turns out, NOT bindweed, but rather Pringle's Clustervine. It grows as a small bush or a vine. It's all over along the road. Oops. My apologies for the error. I"m learning as I go along. (But I pride myself on not making stuff up as I go along :-)

Pennsylvania Smartweed
To redeem myself, I present a riparian plant called Pennsylvania Smartweed. Loads of it along the creek, this photo from a field by the area known as Frog Cave (named by Gary 'Lizard Man' Payne). And a happy-faced barrel cactus.

Put your smile on!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Skimmer and Hopper

Filigree Skimmer (dragonfly)
Grasshopper looking over a prickly pear fruit. Yum.
You guessed it! Ned was in the canyon yesterday and caught these beautiful bugs. Thanks, Ned, for allowing me to share these photos on the blog. For more of Ned's photography, spend some time here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Mornings are glorious!

It's time for a blue-purple morning glory lesson. Why? Because I now know how to tell them apart - most of the time anyway - and soon you will, too! We begin by looking at the leaves.

Ivyleaf Morning Glory Ipomoea Hederacea
Canyon Morning Glory Ipomoea Barbatisepal

Both flowers are very similar in color. Both open in the morning and close by afternoon. Leaves are similar, too. The Ivyleaf usually has 3 'points' on the leaves, but it can have 5. The Canyon Morning Glory leaf always has at least 5 'points'. (This is not the technical term. This is the Anne-Green-quick-and-easy method of flower ID. Suitable for the average 6-year-old.) The leaves of the Canyon MG are often thinner. The Ivyleaf flowers are generally rounder, the Canyon flowers are generally more angular, like a 5-pointed star.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say these above are Ivyleaf. 
Last, but not least, the Tripleleaf Morning Glory Ipomoea ternifolia
These leaves are VERY slender, flowers are much more purple (to me), and, more importantly, they stay open all day. There are fields of them along the Esperero trail. 

This concludes today's lesson. If you would like any of these photos in a larger size (to check my work, perhaps, or beg to differ), please let me know. amgreenvo at comcast or gmail  Make it a good weekend! (Had some trouble with the font size today. Just ignore it.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Canyon beautification

It was a beautiful morning in the canyon.....

Carol and Anne set out to make it even moreso.
Anne captures another pop bottle!
We picked up a lot of trash, including at least 7 diapers. Yes, diapers. 

And we ran into Bruce, who had clearly eaten his wolfberries, err... Wheaties. 
Bruce received permission from the Forest Service to repair the ocotillo ramadas in the area by the dam where SCVN does the elementary programs. Thanks, Bruce!
Please join us in canyon beautification by picking up trash wherever you see it. (All photos by Carol Tornow)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dam, Devil's Claw, Tracks

Dam, 9/8/10, c. 7am
Devil's claw, near the 'entrance' to the riparian area, same side as the bathroom.
Raccoon tracks, on the dirt 'road' leading to the dam
All photos taken this morning (9/8/10) by Carol Tornow.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Look low and look early!

Dwarf White Honeysuckle

This photo was taken this morning at about 6.30am (as Matt walked the road with me, taking photos of everything I pointed out). We were by the entrance to the bluff trail,on the left hand side as you come down the hill. This tiny plant is delicately beautiful. Long-tubed white flowers open in the evening and fall off (yes, entirely) in the morning. Also known as Longflower Tube Tongue, I just like (and will remember) the honeysuckle name better.

A bit closer

Monday, September 6, 2010

Look, but don't touch!

Rouge Plant aka Bloodberry
(photo by Matt Ball, 9/5/10)
Tiny white or pinkish flowers on stalks, fruit is a dark red berry. As you see, buds, flowers, and fruits are present at the same time. Look for this in the riparian area. As you enter from the steps by the bathroom, this will be on the left in the area where sacred datura (and many other plants) are recolonizing a patch formerly occupied by giant reed. (This area is a real bonanza for wildflowers and other neat plants now.) Leaves of the Rouge Plant are REALLY poisonous; berries are also poisonous. But it's very nice looking.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How to distinguish a wolf from a hack (berry, that is)

Note the leaves. Which ones are larger?

Correct, this is Hackberry. Above it, Wolfberry.
Don't let the fruit fool you. Let's review.
Update 1/14/11: Wolfberry: redder, edible
Hackberry: EDIBLE
As Bruce likes to say: "Everything is edible at least once." But just say: "NO!" when Bruce offers you a wolfberry. UPDATE: 1/15/10: I'm embarrassed to discover I didn't cite a source for my claim that Bruce would try to poison you with a wolfberry. Turns out they are edible. The native peoples used both hackberry and wolfberry as food sources. Thanks to Robin for setting me straight on this.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Potty-trained frogs

Canyon tree frog - male
Canyon tree frog - female
And how do I know who's who? Well, these frogs are not only potty-trained, they also know how to read. Thanks to Carolyn (of the hummingbirds) for going where few women have gone before in order to get these photos in the bathrooms by the dam this morning. And thanks to Elissa for sending the photos to me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One you should know!

Arizona Foldwing (dicliptera resupinata)
This little flower (smaller than a dime) blooms in spring and after the monsoons. The two 'lips' of the tube stay on after drying out. You can see some dried ones on the right. Look for them in shady spots. The leaves are bright green. A wonderfully happy-looking native, too.