Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Name That Rock Formation

Photo by Ned Harris
Some say the rocks on the far right are two eagles. Others say those same rocks are Snoopy's feet. Imagine Snoopy lying on his doghouse, snout sticking up on the left, rounded belly in the middle, and two feet. To see Eagle-Snoopy, take the tram (the drivers will point out this formation) or walk/jog/run the road past stop 8 and look into the canyon on the left.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Name That Desert Plant: NaCl Edition

Photos by Ned Harris
This short article on the Fourwing Saltbush (Atriplex canescens) is worth reading. This plant is now in the Amaranth family, though, so ignore the part about the goosefoot family. Definitely an interesting and useful plant. Not to mention edible.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Name That Desert Plant: Non-smoking edition

Photo by Ned Harris
These plants were likely damaged quite a bit by the frost in February. There were several large 'trees' along the road by stop 8 that are no longer large. Yes, it's Tree Tobacco (Nicotiana glauca). Don't smoke it, though. Like other plants in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, all parts contain toxic compounds.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Name That Desert Plant: Blooming Edition

If you said: "Wild Cotton" (Gossypium thurberi), you're a winner.* Also acceptable are the names 'desert cotton' and 'Thurber's cotton'. All photos by Ned Harris from 5/25/11.
*I've had a few requests to make this a real contest, i.e., wait a day before revealing the answer and give out prizes. Because I don't like waiting for answers, you, dear readers, will have to settle for immediate gratification and desert knowledge as its own reward.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Name Those Desert Ramadas!

We interrupt 'Name That Desert Plant' for an announcement of public service. You'll recall that Bruce and Bryna repaired the ocotillo roofs on the ramadas by the dam last fall. At that time, Bryna made paper signs to name each. At the May picnic at Molino basin, Barbara Rosensimon presented SCVN with three handcrafted pottery signs to replace the paper signs. Recently, the two Bs installed these in their proper places. I think you'll agree that they look great! Thanks to all three Bs for their work on this project.

All Photos by Bruce Garrett

Thursday, May 26, 2011

NTDP: Round 4

Photo by Ned Harris
Look in the upper right quadrant for your clue. This is another 'armed' acacia, namely, Catclaw Acacia (Senegalia greggii fka Acacia greggii). Watch out for these cats!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NTDP: Round 3

Photo by Ned Harris
Click on this photo for a closer look. Yes, it's a White Thorn Acacia (Vachellia constricta).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Name That Desert Plant: Round 2

Photo by Ned Harris, 5/21/11
Witnesses gathered? If you said: "(Velvet) Mesquite", you are today's winner. Stay tuned for tomorrow's round.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Let's play 'Name That Desert Plant'!

Photo by Ned Harris,  5/21/11
If you immediately said 'creosote' in front of reliable witnesses, you win today's episode of Name That Desert Plant. Available only on this blog. Tune in tomorrow for another episode.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reakirt's Blue

Photo by Ned Harris, 5/21/11
This beauty is a Reakirt's Blue Butterfly. And s/he is on a Pennsylvania Smartweed.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Know your rattlers!

Western Diamondback
The Western Diamondback is a perennial favorite. (Well, they are my favorite, anyway.) (Several people have even seen them mating in the canyon.) The Black-tailed is also common. The Tiger is not seen nearly as often. Note the differences between in the tail sections before the rattle - all very prominent in these great photos by Ned Harris. Western d-back: black and white rings; Black-tailed: entirely black; Tiger: neither. Regardless of type, though, rattlesnakes don't always rattle before striking. Although they don't 'want' to waste venom on you (you are way too big to eat), if you step on or startle one, s/he will likely strike first and beg your pardon later (or not bother with the latter). Look before you put your hands and feet (and those of your companions) into holes, shady spots, or other good rattlesnake hideouts. If you get bitten, call 911 immediately. Don't wait. Venom digests tissue and doesn't discriminate between rabbits and humans.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Duckling and Mesquite Bug Update

Update on the ducklings: Eight plus mom were seen at bridge 5 on 5/19/11, where they walked through the culvert (no water to speak of) and headed upstream to bridge 6. It seemed to Carol T and me that the mom expected to be fed; she came right up to the group gathered at bridge 5. If you see people feeding the ducks (or ANY non-human animal) in Sabino Canyon, please tell them to stop. Not only is it bad for the animals' health, it also encourages the mountain lions to come down lower in the canyon. The 'no-feeding' rule applies to everyone. Locals, tourists, naturalists, kids, me, and you.
The giant mesquite bugs are thick on the mesquites on the road past about bridge 4. Look for reddish clumps in the higher branches; some are at eye level, too. Thanks to Agnes for the tip of where to look. LOADS were seen on 5/20/11 by Gayle and me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sand Runner

Photo by Ned Harris, 5/11/11
Roadrunner tracks all over in the sand by the dam. This one was doing the catwalk.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fall Webworm

All photos by Ned Harris, 5/11/11
Ned picked out this lone critter on a Goodding's willow in the riparian area above the dam. In the shade, no less. We (Carol T, Ned, and I) were really hoping it was a bag worm moth, but Bug Eric identified it as a Fall Webworm moth. The larvae of the Fall Webworm make the big webbed nests in the willows in the summer and fall.

Monday, May 16, 2011

So many choices!

Photo by Ned Harris
A carpenter bee comes in for a landing on ocotillo flowers. Or maybe s/he's looking to dot an i of yiyi.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Giant Mesquite Bugs

Don't try this at home!
Going out on a limb.
Nothing rhymes with orange.
Come closer, my pretty. 
My best side.
I've posted about Giant Mesquite Bugs before (here and here), but they are almost too bizarre to be believed! Just look at how many instars they go through! (instars = larval stages, instar is the singular. What a cool word! Now you can talk like the big bugs.) There seems to be one party tree for these bugs now. Go soon to the area directly below the dam and look on the left (north) side for the big mesquite tree. Once you find it, look up.
All photos above taken by Ned Harris; top two 5/4/11; next three 5/11/11. Thanks to Carol Tornow for bringing the bugs a bit closer to the lens. No bugs were folded, spindled, or mutilated during these photo sessions. One was very carefully moved, though, branch and all.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hey there, Sailor!

You may have noticed some interruption in this blog, as well as some posts that came to you twice. The blogger dot com server (which I have no control over whatsoever) was down for maintenance on 5/11/11 and there were apparently a few glitches after that. This falls under the rubric: "You get what you pay for." Blogger dot com is - you guessed it - free to users. There may be issues like this from time to time. But the price is right. Now to the topic at hand.

This pretty little flower is called a Roving Sailor. (Maurandya antirrhiniflora)** Also known as Snapdragon Vine, but Roving Sailor is so much more colorful. As you are crossing the Bear Canyon bridge, look around the button bushes growing (but not yet blooming) on the north side. The Roving Sailor vines are intertwined with the bushes (and other plants) in that area. Check out the leaves of the Roving Sailor. Triangles!
All photos by Ned Harris (who is not himself a roving sailor. Just ask Linda.)
**Joan Tedford has the latest in plant classification on her Sabino Canyon list from Feb 2011. This plant is now in the Orobanchaceae (Broomrape) family, not the family listed on the site linked above. Genus and species names remain the same, though.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pollinators Plus

Photo by Ned Harris
The next hummingbird banding in Sabino Canyon is Saturday, May 14, sunrise plus 5 hours. Be there by 7am for the best viewing. [My recommendation: After school is out, take the kids and/or grandkids. Especially if they say they are bored at any point. Nothing like getting up before dawn to be able to have a hummingbird placed in your hand. And I can pretty much guarantee they'll never say they are bored again ;-) ]

Banding at the Mt Lemmon site will begin on Sunday, May 15. Volunteers are needed for these sites and for the site at Madera Canyon. Check out the schedule and volunteer wish list on pages two and three of this site. I'm certainly not the most dexterous person around, and I've done recording and feeding/releasing. It's a wonderful group of people and you'll learn a lot - and not just about hummingbirds - while enjoying the great outdoors.

On the topic of learning, Mary Pat sent me this TED video about pollinators. Some truly amazing footage (starting at about 3:20) of hummingbirds, butterflies, bats, and bees.

And finally, the 'Plus' portion of this post, namely, videos of the nano hummingbird camera. Thanks, Marty!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Snakes for moms!

Gopher snake, photo by Anne Green (yes, really)
Kingsnake, photo by Gayle Rowland
As I was heading outside to re-pot some succulents, I noticed this lovely gift on my back porch: A young gopher snake who stayed still long enough for me to figure out how to turn on my husband's camera, point, click, and hope for the best. Gayle found a similar non-venomous present under her fountain on mother's day. A common kingsnake fit for a queen. Both snakes are found in Sabino Canyon, too.

Monday, May 9, 2011

If only we had a gila monster bar code reader...

I know the gila monster in the photos above is the same one, because I was standing there while Carol Tornow worked her photographic magic. (5/3/11 was a banner day for wildlife sightings.) But is this one of the gila monsters from this post as well? Our yet-to-be-invented gila monster pattern scanner would quickly reveal the truth. I'll put this invention on my 'to do' list for 2032 (if you get to it before then, let me know).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bridge Nine

Bridge 9
Photos by Carol Tornow, 4/15/11
On Bridge nine, you have the best view of Thimble Peak. And, because "a stitch in time, saves nine", you'll easily remember this bridge.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bridge 8 for Bob

Bridge 8
Bridge 8, both photos by Carol Tornow
Bob Porter, undoubtedly the kindest and most knowledgeable Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalist, died on Wednesday, May 4 after a series of strokes. With his gentle good humor and remarkable red pen, Bob taught countless aspiring naturalists to appreciate the wonders of Sabino Canyon. Let's remember Bob Porter when we're on bridge 8. Here's how: Bridge 8 turns well to the left,  which is the Port(er) side. Thank you, Bob, for your inspiration.

Friday, May 6, 2011

New clue for Bridge 5

Bridge 5, photo by Carol Tornow
Some didn't find looking for the WPA plaque a helpful clue for bridge 5 (since there are WPA plaques on other bridges, too); Carol Tornow suggested using the rocky wall on the left as a clue. Think: Rocky 5!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Dozen Darling Ducklings!

(I was going to post these on mother's day, but patience is clearly not my strong suit.) These little bundles of fluff dutifully followed mom wherever she went. Carol Tornow (all photos)  and I saw them on the very windy Tuesday 5/3/11, on Bridge 6. They waddled (and blew) about halfway to bridge 5, then scurried into the water and floated downstream. A duck pair emerged from under the green at bridge 5 (where they may have a nest) and the male chased the mom away, flapping madly. The dozen peeped frantically, mom quacked relentlessly; the brood regrouped and paddled upstream.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Black-tailed Rattlesnake

Turns out it is pretty easy to distinguish a black-tailed rattler from a diamondback. The former has - you guessed it - a completely black tail (no white rings) in front of the rattle. Photos by Carol Tornow taken on 5/3/11 from a safe distance. Seen between bridges 5 and 6. Thanks to the cyclists who alerted us to this beauty.