Monday, February 28, 2011


Ned Harris took this at Sabino Canyon, Sunday morning 2/27/11
Photos of snow at Saguaro East are on Ned's flicker site.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Double Take

Pyrrhuloxia, male - photo by Ned Harris
Same guy, photo by Bob Wenrick
Red-tailed Hawk, photo by Ned Harris
Same, photo by Bob Wenrick
We saw these beauties on the Nature Walk with Ned and friends. (Wednesday, 8.30am, meet at visitor center)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Insect magnet

Honey Bee
Honey Bee and Mourning Cloak 
The Mourning Cloak is the state insect of Montana. Now you know about Montana, but do you know the state insect of Arizona?

Mourning Cloak with wings closed...
And opened.
All photos from Friday, 2/25/11 and by Ned Harris. The insects above are all around the 'bloomin' ash' from a previous post. I'm guessing that these photos were taken on the Bluff trail, but there are, of course, velvet ash trees in other riparian places in the canyon.

Common Buckeye
I find the Common Buckeye uncommonly beautifully!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

So how are the Saguaros?

Photo by Bob Wenrick
On the Wednesday Nature Walk, Peggy noticed this saguaro (on the first 1/4 mile of the Esperero trail, starting from the VC) that's split in a number of places, most likely from the multiple days of freezing temperatures. According to a recent article in the Star, we may not know for some time how many saguaros have been fatally affected by the freeze. Please send me photos of any canyon saguaros that look to be frost damaged and I'll do my best to keep you posted.

Photo by Bob Wenrick, Bluff trail
Although the skeletons are beautiful, too, I don't think we need any more!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's bloomin' ash

Photo by Angie Perryman
Photo  by Ned Harris, 2/23/11
Looking like a bunch of galls, the buds on the velvet ash are really another sign of spring.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Prickly pear skeleton, photo by Carol Tornow
Smiling prickly pear, photo by Angie Perryman
Patterns in nature are studied by U of A Mathematics Professor Alan Newell, who is quoted here: "All the lovely patterns on plants have their origins in mechanical forces and biochemical processes." (Thanks to Patricia for the link.) Wish I could write that the pattern on the prickly pear is simply optimally-placed cochineal! Alas, this smile is the work of some human animal. (Maybe they got a spine or two for their trouble. Those do grow in a pattern.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fairies dust in the spring!

photo by Carol Tornow
Carol and I are convinced that this Fairyduster (which we saw Monday, 2/21/11, along the road, across from the entrance to the Bluff trail) is the first bloom of spring in Sabino Canyon. If you know otherwise, please don't tell us.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Eye of the Roadrunner

Photo by Ned Harris
This is the one bird I can always identify correctly. (Sorry, Ned.) Signature bird of the southwest, the Greater Roadrunner is extremely well-adapted to our fair desert. Although the eyes are 'on the side', they can focus in well in front, giving the roadrunner the needed field of vision* [*scroll down to the predator/prey charts] to catch prey - like snakes, lizards, small birds, rodents. Great camouflage, too! 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Food chain

Phainopeplas like to eat ....
desert mistletoe berries and then....
deposit the seeds on other plants. 
All photos from Ned Harris. Click on them for a larger view.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's a gall!

Photo by Ned Harris
Okay, it's a stretch as a pun, but the photo shows a fine example of a creosote gall nevertheless. A fun description and photo (from an inquiring mind in Tucson AZ), as well as info about the bug that causes these galls to form, are here. Look at creosote anywhere in the canyon and you are likely to find one or more of these in various stages. And now you know they aren't fruits.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's a boy!

Photo by Ned Harris, 2/14/11
Ned writes: Adult male Cooper's Hawk about to escort a Red-tailed Hawk away from the nest above the dam. Note the adult plumage: Blue-gray upper parts and rufous-white horizontally barred underparts. It is a male because of the gray cheeks.Anne says: click on the photo for a larger image.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's our fault

Sabino Canyon fault, photo by Carol Tornow
Text by Peggy 'cool as dirt' Wenrick: This photo shows an exposure of the Sabino Canyon Fault.  The canyon itself has eroded along this fault since it has been exposed at earth’s surface.  The reddish material in the lower portion is fault breccia (bre cha), formed as rock is broken and/or crushed by forces along the fault.  The reddish color is caused by groundwater circulating in the fault zone, rusting (or oxidizing) iron minerals and cementing the broken rock particles.  The rocks [brownish-black] above the fault were plastically deformed rather than broken and show sinuous bending with little oxidation.

Both samples from the site above
Both sample photos from Peggy Wenrick
Peggy: The samples illustrate the crushing and cementing that occurs. Anne says: Do take a look at the Wiki site on breccia. It's very readable. Thanks, Peggy, for sharing your expertise.

Monday, February 14, 2011

All about galls

Photo by Angie Perryman
Looks like a gall on a catclaw acacia. Look here for everything on galls, including some very galling photos.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What's brewing?

Brewer's Sparrow, Photo by Bob Wenrick
I had the audacity to ask Bob if this really is a Brewer's Sparrow, since I couldn't find it on the Cornell site. Googled and found this site, though, to show Bob does know what he's talking about!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Four gems!

Photo by Angie Perryman
If you haven't been to the gem show, Sunday is the last day for the original event. You may catch a glimpse of some gems from Sabino Canyon, including Bob Porter and Marge Kesler. The orange-shirted gem is Mike Hunerlach, USDA Mining Geologist and Region 5 Liaison, who also helped with the Forest Service booth.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Butterflies flutter by

Photo by Ned Harris
This is a male Sara Orange Tip, seen on the Wednesday Bird and Nature walk.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The buck stops here!

Photo by Bob Wenrick, 2/9/11
During Ned's Bird and Nature walk yesterday, this fine buck made an appearance around the Lake Trail. Join the fun next week 2/16/11. Meet at 8.30am in front of the visitor center.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Clear water

Photo by Angie Perryman
Still plenty of water in the creek for great photos, garnet panning, and polar bear swimming! This was taken by the picnic area near stop one.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Home in the desert

Photo by Ned Harris
Click on Prairie falcon. I've written this before and I'll write it again: this 'all about birds' site is great! I'm content looking at the icons for a quick summary of the basics, but they've got all the information you need to become knowledgeable about our feathered friends.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

yin yang

Reflections, Photo by Carol Tornow
Sun coming over the range caused this pool to be half light, half dark. This is located before stop 8, looking downstream.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Perpetually Stone-Faced

Cochise, photo by Carol Tornow
Canyon-regular Dan (aka Brad Pitt) showed Gayle and me this stone profile of Cochise at least a year ago. (Maybe the tram drivers mention it, but, as I've never taken the tram down, I don't know for sure.) You can see this if you look left as you are coming down from top of the road, well before you get to stop 8. (Isn't nearly as obvious on the way up.) Thanks to Carol for capturing this great 'still life'.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Canyon reds

Red rocks, near the top of the road
Red reeds, probably Smartweed
Red bird aka Northern Cardinal
Now if we could only get some of that red heat back. All photos by Carol Tornow, who has no heat at all at her house.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Double decker

Click on photos for larger view
Photos and id by Bob Wenrick
Look closely at the building materials. The nest on the bottom (see the hole?) is likely from a verdin, the next on the top (made of gray-colored sticks) is likely made by a phainopepla. This is a little past the Lake trail entrance where we take the kids (past the big photo-op rock, too), on the same side as both. Or just ask Bob.