Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Canyon Clean-up Day

Melissa and her newly-found magic wand
Cookie, Carol T, Anne with the remains of the day
Sixteen members of the Santa Catalina Volunteer Patrol  braved the cold and wind on Monday to do a thorough trash pick up in Sabino Canyon. Unusual finds included the magic wand above, an old CD walkman, a pair of men's underwear, and an empty bag of Equine 'Senior' Horse feed (which was then filled by Marc, who won the prize for the most trash). Thanks to Carol T for organizing this event. It was both fun and productive! If you think you have what it takes to wear the uniform of the SCVP, pick up an application in the visitor center or contact us via the website. The new class trains in February.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Arachnophobes, remember my last!

Abdomen colors and patters vary
view from the back
Orbweavers come in over 3000 species. One article claimed that you can easily tell them apart by looking at their eyes. I'm going to skip that part. Photos by Lenor Lavelle. You can look at her eyes.
Update from Carl Olson, aka Bug Man. Lenor asked him for a positive i.d., and he pronounced this a Western Spotted Orbweaver, or Neoscona oaxacensis. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Click on photos for larger view
Look closely at the tail
Lenor was on the nature walk on Wednesday, and, as is my custom, I hit her up for photos for the blog. As you've seen the past few days, she obliged with some real beauties, including this desert spiny with a bifurcated tail. Let's call him a devil spiny.
WARNING to arachnophobes: don't look at tomorrow's post!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mule vs. White-tailed deer

Note the black-tipped tail
Note the big ears
Relying on the identification and photographic skills of Lenor (both photos), I am confident that the deer above is a mule deer.

Photo by Matt Ball
Not so sure about this one, other than the fact that he's a he. My guess, though, not being able to see the tail, but looking at the antler shape, is that this is a white-tailed. I turn to you, dear deer reader, to confirm or deny.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Who let the cat out?

Not a mountain lion
Lenor spotted this bobcat near her house. Thanks, Lenor.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Good reasons to clean out your garage now and then

This came up in my side bar display: "Rattlesnake video ruins Arizona garages for everyone." Watch it and see for yourself. Thanks to Dan Gibson of the Tucson Weekly for this find.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Now for something completely goofy!

The rare (and beautiful) annegreen tortoise
And I'll take this opportunity to remind you never to pick up a desert tortoise. (You won't see one in the winter, but still.)
I'd have to pay you to pick up the annegreen tortoise.
Photo by Ellen Green, 11/20/10

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Moths and Butterflies

Fall Webworm (caterpillar)
You've seen the fall webworm 'nests' in many of the trees in the riparian area above the dam (and elsewhere). On 11/17/10 we saw several of  these little guys out on a limb. Not more than an inch long, heading out to pupate, they will turn into - you guessed it - fall webworms (moths). Take a look here for a photo.

Funeral Duskywing
Saw several of these on 11/17/10 as well. This is (already) a butterfly, though, not a moth. What's the difference, you ask? I say: "To the internet!" More info than you need to become an expert. Thanks again to Ned Harris for the expert photos.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another AZ Walnut

Arizona Walnut II
There's a second AZ walnut in the riparian area above the dam. This one is about 2 feet tall (11/17/10), right next to the tree in the hummingbird area where the Hummingbird Network sets up the traps on banding days, on the creek side. Hooray for the return of the natives! Photo by Ned Harris.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Possible Badgering

Jensine holding SCVN Guide for scale
After doing some digging myself here and other places, I also think this hole is for a badger den. If you start at the Esperero Trail entrance closest to the visitor center, you don't have to walk far to see this on the right. There is a mound of dirt in front of it (that doesn't show up in this photo) and the size seems right for a badger. Photo by Ned from 11/17/10. Badger tip by Jensine, Fred, and Ned.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Turpentine is very fine

Turpentine Bush 
This little bush is green all year and blooms in the fall. This fine example is on the Bluff trail. If you crush a few of the soft, needle-like leaves, you'll smell where this plant gets its common name.
Many thanks to Ned, Carol T, Jensine, and Fred for the nature walk this morning. And many, many thanks to Ned for providing the photos for this week's blog entries (and probably next week's as well). Join Carol T next week Wednesday at 8.30am in front of the visitor center for another adventure.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This is just too awesome!

We can see the sky from Sabino Canyon, so it really does relate :-) Check out this video from the Hubble telescope of the "Ultra Deep Field". It's ultra cool, not to mention humbling.
Keep taking care of your corner of the universe.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Calling a lizard a lizard

Regal Horned Lizard, Photo by Ned Harris

It is supposed to be warmer later this week, so we may yet see lizards in the canyon. The little ones are more likely to appear - but maybe we'll get lucky. Regal Horned lizards are commonly known as 'horny toads', but they aren't toads at all. And, let's face it, who wants to called a horny toad? Some interesting facts can be found here; most notably: "Members of the North American group of Regal Horned lizards have evolved an exceptionally bizarre defense against predators: when under threat they can restrict blood flow from the head until mounting pressure ruptures small blood vessels in and around the eyes, resulting in a spurt of blood that may leap a meter (3 1/2 feet) or more (Cogger and Zweifel 1998)." Don't try this at home. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Let's go with praying mantises!

Praying Mantis Egg Casing
Hatching 1
Hatching 2
Hatching 3
Praying Mantis adult
Another adult, Photo by Ellen Green
In the spring of 2009, I had the privilege of witnessing praying mantises hatching from their egg casing. It was truly amazing. You might wonder, though, why the hatching photos aren't as crisp and detailed as those you've come to expect from Ned Harris. (All photos from Ned except the last one.) That's my fault. I asked him to take photos of wildflowers that day for the naturalist guide that he, Carol T and I put together for SCVN, and he therefore brought only the 'wildflower' lens. Despite not having the perfect lens, Ned did manage to capture what was happening. You can tell that the hatching praying mantises are mini-adults. Because I am a highly-trained (okay, just a regular) naturalist, I'll let you know that the stages egg, nymph, adult represent an example of incomplete metamorphosis. The correct plural of 'mantis' is open to debate. I'm going with the most common. Updated: 2/2/2014

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bug Whisperers

Not a mountain lion either.

Turns out this is a Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta). Fred writes: "They use many plants in the Solanaceae family and are known to be a pest on tomato plants. Ours had been munching the Datura plant we found him on."
Fatal Metalmark

Fatal Metalmark seems a very scary name fpr a common butterfly. Likes seep willow, but is here on desert broom. Photos from Ned Harris from nature walk on 11/10/10. Thanks Ned (and Fred). 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What we missed

Not a mountain lion.
Sphinx moth caterpillar
Neon Skimmer on Fred's nice, white shirt. How did you do that, Fred?
These are just a few of the sights walkers enjoyed on Ned's nature walk 11/10/10. (All photos from Ned Harris.) You can join Ned and Friends of Ned (Jensine, Fred, Carol T) every Wednesday at 8.30am for a stroll through Sabino Canyon. More photos in tomorrow's post. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Know your vines!

Canyon Grape
You'll find these grape vines in the riparian areas in the canyon. They do produce grapes (in the summer, generally), but the birds like them a lot, so there are hardly any left for making wine.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hooker's (Primrose) still blooming!

Hooker's Evening Primrose
Yes, this beauty is still blooming. Look for them by the creek, especially by the bridges along the road. They are  tall (c. 2 feet) and many are in bush-like 'clumps'. Go early as they close up in the late morning. Feel free to make jokes about their name.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Remember this one?

Photo by Matt from 9/2007
Cross the Bear Canyon bridge, go left. Remains are on the left side.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Underwings and where to find them

Underwing Moth, Photo by Ned Harris 11/2/10
Ned says: Look for them on the underside of the big tree trunk you walk under in the riparian area when you are walking towards the Cooper's Hawk nest from the dam area.
Anne says: If you don't know where this is, head out on a Nature Walk with Ned (and Friends of Ned), every WEDNESDAY (November through end of April) 8.30 - 11.30am in Sabino Canyon. Meet in front of the visitor center. Bring water and a snack.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Harris Hawk, photo by Ned Harris
Raptor free flight is back at the Desert Museum. Just in time for holiday guests. No, you can't have your guests be prey.