Monday, January 31, 2011

What's a pincushion?

Photo by Daniel Manrique
According to the wildflower site I use most often, 'desert rodents' eat these pincushion fruits. I know a naturalist (or two) who eats them as well. Not spicy, even though they look like little peppers. Be careful when attempting to harvest them. Daniel, who knows his pincushions, is off to Thailand soon. Happy trails.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hope you are lichen this!

Photo by Angie Perryman
This greenish stuff is lichen, a symbiotic relationship between an algal species (which photosynthesizes) and a fungus. (Algae is actually the plural, alga is singular; but let's stick with the more common usage.) Here's the story, courtesy of Ned: Alice Algae took a lichen to Freddie Fungus, but now their relationship is on the rocks. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cat scat and where it's at!

Photo from Walt Tornow, 1/26/11
Walt writes: Last Wednesday, Jim Barnett and I came across this large fresh specimen while hiking the Bear Canyon-Sabino Canyon loop. It was in the higher back-country on the Bear Canyon trail before going down to Sycamore junction. Very exciting to know that they also like to roam and hunt in the higher part of the mountain range, not just where we do our programs. Anne comments: looks very different from the example posted here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

We don't miss this!

photo by Carol Tornow from 2009 (?)
Walking the road, I am happy not to see this anymore. I'm sure you'll agree, no reed is good indeed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A deer was here!

Photo by Carol Tornow. 
That's my reasonably educated guess, anyway. That lovely yellow whistle is a bit more than 2.5 inches long.

Friday, January 21, 2011

All the poop that's fit to post

Mt Lion, looks fresh
Deer, looks fresh, too
Thanks to Bryna for these photos from 1/21/11. Both piles were found on the same side of the creek as the other poop and tracks, but look more recent. If you go out for a poop sighting, be sure to take a friend to keep an eye out for the creature(s) who left it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Today's limerick

view from bridge one, photo by Carol Tornow
Once there were stands of arundo.
Volunteers took them out by the ton-do.
You can now see the trees!
The birds and the bees
In the canyon can have much more fun-do. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ferns of three for you to see

Cheilanthes lindheimeri or Fairy Swords

Pellaea truncata or Spiny Cliff Brake

 Astrolepis sinuata or Wavy Cloak Fern
In my recently corrected fern post, Joan mentioned a third fern that's common in the canyon.  Carol Tornow (all photos, 1/17/11) and I discovered all three just past the big turn around (where new restrooms are being built) heading toward bridge one. The wavy cloak fern is very neat. Well, all three are neat. Go check them out!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tracks and scat! Or: Now for some poo!

Nice looking whistle!
Track photos from Carol Tornow, 1/15/11
Photo from Maggie Rathert. What, no whistle?
Scat is apparently under some brush in the same general area as the tracks (east side of the creek, just south after crossing the dam bridge). Go check it out! Don't forget your whistle.

Friday, January 14, 2011


single print, with quarter for scale
two deep ones, looks like a jump (from the table?)
Thanks to Maribeth for circling these mountain lion prints so that we could easily find them and show them to the kids today. If they haven't already been obliterated, you can find them, too, on the east side of the creek. Cross the dam bridge and cut over to the picnic tables (south). There are more tracks circled, but these were the best for iphone photography. All photos from Glenn Feuerbacher (and his iphone) 1/14/11. Thanks, Glenn!

But I do know a sunrise!

Sunrise 1/12/11
Many thanks to Joan Tedford for correcting the fern i.d. from my post on that topic. And to Robin for correcting me about wolfberry. (Berries aren't poisonous after all.) I've fixed both posts for posterity. The photo above really is a sunrise, though.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Still life

Puffball and shoe
Thanks to Peggy for the photo, thanks to Bryna for the shoe. (Well, for both shoes, actually). We encountered this softball-sized puffball in the riparian area above the dam. I like the fact that they (and all fungi) aren't even in the same kingdom as plants. Plants, I eat. Fungi, not so much.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ferns in the desert

2 species in this photo from Peggy Wenrick
According to Joan Tedford's latest list, eleven species from the fern families can be found in Sabino Canyon. Who knew? (Besides Joan, that is!) The fern-looking one above (roughly triangle-shaped, to my eye) is Cheilanthes lindheimeri or Fairy Swords. he other one is Pellaea truncata or Spiny Cliff Brake. Thanks to Peggy for the photo and Joan for the updated id. We saw these on the nature walk this morning on - you guessed it - the Bluff trail. Joan says there is a third species in this corner on the Bluff trail. She writes: "The other one just to the right of that group is Astrolepis sinuata or Wavy Cloak Fern." Look for it next time you are out. Thank you to all the plant lovers who keep me honest and learning.

Mountain lion sighting!

Mountain lion at the Desert Museum
Post from Carol Tornow: If you have been in the canyon lately, you know that mountain lion activity is once again on the rise. A mountain lion was seen by several visitors on Monday, along the road just beyond mile marker 1. This same lion initially moved toward a small group of visitors picnicking along the creek in that area. One very unusual aspect of this encounter was that it occurred at about 1:00 in the afternoon. Also, the visitors reported that the lion's rib-cage was clearly visible, indicating this is a very hungry, and possibly desperate animal. As we know, this is only one of at least 3 lions in the area. Please be extra cautious in the canyon, and stay alert. Anne says: Don't approach, don't run. Make yourself big, throw things, scream and shout.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Resurrection plants

Photo from Peggy Wenrick
There are two species of this spike moss (genus Selaginella) in Sabino Canyon; the bright green one is more common, the whitish one generally grows taller. This photo was taken on the Bluff trail. Well adapted to the desert, just a bit of moisture makes them lush and vibrant. Take a walk and seek them out.

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's alive!

Note the dark stuff. It's holding the soil below. 
Desert dirt is very cool! Peggy Wenrick instructed the Wednesday Nature Walk on cryptogamic soil. (Crypto = hidden, gamic = usually: reproduces sexually, from the Greek for 'marriage') She even had a handout! You'll have to settle for a link. Basically, these crusts are living soil, composed of cyanobacteria (aka blue-green algae), other algae, cyanolichen, and mosses. Each species helps bind the soil. This takes a LONG time. Potentially more than one hundred years to form soil like in these photos. Take home message: STAY ON THE TRAIL!

Both photos by Peggy Wenrick
Click on the photos for larger views. Note the fruiting bodies (mushroom-like, filled with spores) in the lower photo. Once you know what you are looking for, you can find this soil all over in the canyon. Thanks, Peggy! You are as cool as dirt :-)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pincushion Family Reunion

Photo by Peggy Wenrick, 1/6/11
We saw these clustered under a cholla on the Esperero Trail on the Wednesday Nature Walk. Pincushions don't do as well in full sun, so you'll usually find them under other plants. Fruits look like mini chili peppers and are edible (but not spicy).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In Sabino Canyon with Bob Wenrick

I regret that I only found out about his website today. Here's the Sabino Canyon portion. Spend some time on the slide show(s) of your choice. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In the bird world

Male Broad-billed Hummingbird
This beautiful male is currently dominating my feeder. In the bird world, when there are sex differences, the males are 'always' (I'm sure there's an exception that proves the rule) more colorful.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Looking forward to seeing this!

Anna's Hummingbird on Nest
Click on this beautiful photo from Bob Wenrick to see a larger view. The nest is about the size of a golf ball. Eggs (assuming there were some under her) are about as big as those tic tac mints.