Saturday, March 31, 2012

Maxi name, mini flower

Photo by Matt Ball 3/22/2012
Miniature Wool Star (Eriastrum diffusum) is in the Phlox Family (Polemoniaceae). Mini pale blue flowers (about 1/3 of a dime or smaller), low growing. Blooming on the Bear Canyon Trail as you approach the creek. Look low.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Butterfly Count

Fred Heath and his team did a spring butterfly count in Sabino Canyon on Sunday, 3/25/2012. They saw 28 different species, including the three below.

Photo by Bob Wenrick 3/25/2012
Golden-headed Scallopwing  (Click on name for more info and photos.)

Photo by Bob Wenrick 3/25/2012
Empress Leilia. Males (also called Empress Leilia) wait on the ground and defend their territory by challenging passers-by (usually by flying at them)!

Photo by Bob Wenrick 3/25/2012
American Lady. Look carefully for this one!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Climbing Milkweed

Photo by Jim 'Woody' Woodburne, 3/27/2012
A great 'crowd' (I counted 28) on the plant and bird walk on Tuesday with Joan, Heather, Edi, and Fred. A number of fellow Michiganders, including Sue and Woody, whose granddaughter is attending the same college I did (back in the day). We ended up in (at least) several groups, and the plant people saw loads of great plants, including a 'new' mustard that Joan is going to identify. We saw this Climbing Milkweed (Funastrum cynanchoides ssp. hartwegii) along the Bear Canyon bridge, north side.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The thing about mustards

Photo by Matt Ball 3/22/2012
Plants in the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae) put a lot of energy into rather elaborate fruits. These seed 'pods' of a Jewel Flower (Streptanthus carinatus) are about 2 inches long. Remember the flowers? They are barely 1/2 inch long. Another mustard you know is the Lace Pod Mustard (Thysanocarpus curvipes).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rare sighting!

Captured by Angie Perryman 3/21/12
The rare Orange-Backed Antlered-Girl panning for breakfast in Sabino Creek. Hope she's a rock-o-vore!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Water Speedwell

Photo by Matt Ball 3/22/2012
Went out hiking with my Honey-Matt and found loads of flowers, including this tiny beauty, Water Speedwell (Veronica anagallis-aquatica). Flowers not even as large as a dime, entire plant about 4 inches tall. And we only saw one. In the riparian area above the dam, along the creek before it bends north. Look carefully and watch where you step! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A plant for Dr Seuss

Photo by Matt Ball 3/22/2012
Doesn't this look like a plant from Horton Hears a Who!? Chia (Salvia columbariae) - the plant whose seeds are part of those Chia pets and were recently 'rediscovered' as being a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids - is blooming on the Bear Canyon trail on the west side of the creek.

Sabino rocks!

Look, mom! I caught a rock!
Photo by Angie Perryman 3/21/2012
And a very Gneiss rock it is! Look closely and you can see at least 3 of the 5 main minerals in Catalina Gneiss. The white is either quartz or feldspar (or both); black is magnetite, and the red is what you're panning for - garnet (aka sand ruby, usually plural). Only the shiny one - mica - is hard to see in this photo. But you can easily see it in the sand in Sabino Canyon - and pretty much everywhere in Tucson.
If you'd like to learn (just the right amount) about the geology of the Santa Catalinas, you have a few more weeks to take advantage of the Gneiss Walk given by Bruce 'Garnett' Garrett and the Sabino Canyon Rockettes Thursdays at 8.30am. Meet in front of the visitor center.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A nest is best!

Photo by Ned Harris 3/21/2012
Ned writes:

Verdin nest in Staghorn Cholla. This is just west of the picnic table where they do the Hummingbird banding. We watched the male bringing in items to line the inside of the nest. 
How cool is that?!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Indeed, she is NOT Giant Reed!

Photo by Mark 'Quick Draw' Hengesbaugh 3/23/2012
Mark writes:

Today (Friday, 8:54 am) for the first time Jean and I saw a mountain lion in Sabino Canyon. She was with a large-ish kitten, probably at least a year old. We were on the Bluff Trail and they were on the other side of the creek and a little upstream from us. The photo [is] of mom (the kitten was about three-quarters of this size and darker).
Anne says:
Remember, these are NOT nice kitties. They are extremely powerful predators. BE AWARE of your surroundings! KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE! REPORT all sightings as soon as possible at the visitor center.

Cooper's Hawk Pair

Photo by Angie Perryman  3/21/2012
To find the second hawk, start at the bottom of the prominent hawk's wing and keep moving your eye to the right. This may be the breeding pair, but Angie didn't want to pose an indelicate question. They've been sighted frequently in the riparian area above the dam.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another first of the season!

Photo by Ned Harris 3/21/2012

Canyon Tree Frogs are out! This guy is probably showing his darker colors in order to warm up. If you like reptiles and amphibians (and who doesn't), check out Reptiles and Amphibians of AZ.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Owl Clover

Photo by Fred Fisher
Owl Clover (Castilleja exserta) is now in the Broomrape Family (Orobanchaceae). According to this 'botanary', the plant was named for Professor Domingo Castillejo, an instructor of botany at Cadiz, Spain in the 18th century. (exserta = protruding) Read more about scientists honored in plant names.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Smart Cookies!

Photos and Text from Mark Hengesbaugh:

Left to proliferate in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area for years, invasive Giant Reed (Arundo donax) spread with the creek flow. On “Make a Difference Day,” Oct. 24, 2009, nearly 80 local Girl Scouts dug out Arundo infestations in the Hidden Valley homeowners association downstream from the recreation area. Hundreds of volunteers of all ages have helped and today most of the Arundo has been cleared from Sabino Creek down to its confluence with Bear Creek.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dolphin on a leafless stalk

Photo by Fred Fisher
That's what the Latin means, roughly. This beauty is probably frozen now, but it was nice while it lasted! Barestem Larkspur (Delphinium scaposum).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Two puffs

Photos by Fred Fischer

This seed puff is from a Desert Chicory Rafinesquia neomexicana (the white flower under and next to it).Yes, it really is Desert Chicory.

This is from a Silverpuff Uropappus lindleyi (dandelion-like pale yellow flower). They do look similar, but the Silverpuff seed puff really does look silvery when you see it in the light.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

An earlier first Gila Monster!

Photo by Pam Negri 3/11/2012
We have a new winner in first-of-the-season Gila Monster sightings! Pam photographed this one on Sunday, 3/11/2012. If you have photographic evidence (sorry, Honey-Matt) of an earlier sighting this season, please send it in.

Friday, March 16, 2012

First Gila Monster of the Season

Photo by Angie Perryman 3/14/2012
And the winner is...Angie Perryman. She was the Wednesday Day Captain for the SCVN Elementary Program. Saw and photographed this little guy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another pincushion

Photo by Ned Harris 3/14/2012
Desert Pincushion Flower (Chaenactis stevioides) is in the Sunflower Family and is blooming now.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hawk on!

Photo by Ned Harris 3/13/12

Adult Cooper's Hawk. What a beauty!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Neither a dog, nor a weed

Photo by Ned Harris, 3/7/2012

The yellow flower is called Dogweed (Thymophylla pentachaeta) and is in - you guessed it - the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). If you look closely in the lower right, you'll see other some tiny white flowers with a dark center. These are one of the many Euphorbia species in the Spurge Family (Euphorbiaceae). That's as far as I'll go, though, until I get more training. You'll also see some Cryptanta (those furry looking white flowers in the lower left and right). There are a number of those species as well. In the Borage Family (Boraginaceae).
You may have noticed that the links to the flowers often have different common and/or scientific names. One of the pluses of common names is that they are easier to remember (and pronounce); but one downside is that there are often several common names for the same plant; and another that two different plants can share the same common name. Sigh. I'm doing my best to make sure that the link goes to the plant I'm posting about, though, by looking at the scientific names. Many scientific names were corrected at a recent botany conference, and Joan Tedford's list (which I use) has the latest. Bottom line: the scientific names I post are the most current.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bloomin' Willow!

Photo by Ned Harris, 3/7/2012

Goodding Willow (Salix gooddingi).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fringed fruit on a curved stalk

Photo by Fred Fisher 3/2/2012

It's not too late to check out the seed capsules on these Lace Pod Mustards (Thysanocarpus curvipes)!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

For Davy Jones

Photo by Fred Fisher 3/2/2012
Yellow Monkey Flower (Mimulus guttatus).

Friday, March 9, 2012

Don't fiddle with the flowers

Photo by Marty Horowitz
If you learn only one flower this season, this should be the one! Just like other living things, plants of the same species can be somewhat different sizes and colors. Fiddlenecks (Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia) are not going to be 10 ft tall and purple; but they may be a few inches to 1 ft, yellow to orange. And they may be in various stages of curliness at the top. Go out and take a look.
But PLEASE don't pick flowers (or any thing - living or not) in Sabino Canyon. I stopped someone (well into adulthood) today from taking a veritable bouquet. (The first excuse: "I just want to plant these in my garden.") If you see someone with a plant, an animal, or a saguaro rib, please stop them from taking it out of the canyon; even if it's "too late" (as in the case today. True, the damage to those flowers was done, but dozens of people would have seen her taking them out of the canyon and would have thought: "How lovely! I'll pick some, too). You don't have to be in uniform to protect your public lands.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bee on Chicory

Photo by Ned Harris 2/27/2012
The carnation-like white flowers you are seeing in Sabino Canyon are (most likely) Desert Chicory Rafinesquia neomexicana. You're on your own for the bee ID.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More natives return

Arundo text and photos from Mark Hengesbaugh. 

The north side of Sabino’s Bear Bridge was infested with dense thickets of 25-foot tall Arundo donax (Giant Reed). On November 2, 2008, volunteers began to cut it down, dig it out and haul it away. 

The total Sabino Arundo removal effort included 6,000 volunteer hours. More than 40 species of plants have been observed returning to places that once grew only Arundo.

Photo by Matt Ball, 2/10/2012
On the once-Arundo donax-infested mound on the north side of Bear Bridge, you'll now see (among other natives) Mexican Vervain Glandularia bipinnatifida. (Yes, that's a dead stalk of giant reed in the center of the photo.) Go take a look. And marvel at the courage and vision of Jean and Mark Hengesbaugh for taking on the coordination of this eradication project.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Another Blazing Star

Photo by Ned Harris 2/27/2012
These are blooming mid-to-late morning between bridges 3 and 8. Look on both sides of the road if you are out and about. Jones' Blazing Star Mentzelia jonesii.

Monday, March 5, 2012

In the pink 2

Photo by Ned Harris, 2/26/2012

As it happens, I already have a post entitled 'In the pink'; hence the 2.
This stunning plant is Parry('s) Penstemon (rather conveniently Penstemon parryi).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Barrel of Sparrow

Photo by Ned Harris 2/26/2012
Black-throated Sparrow on Arizona Barrel Cactus (aka Fishhook Barrel) Ferocactus wislizenii. This sparrow prefers a diet of insects; the fruits here were probably eaten by a ground squirrel or a deer. Maybe by Paul.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ornate is Great!

Photo by Ned Harris, 2/26/2012
This is an Ornate Tree Lizard.
Lizards don't look at the calendar. They come out when it's warm enough; the smaller ones first, as they have less mass to warm up. Many can change color such that they are darker when they are colder. As you know from wearing a black shirt on a sunny day, darker colors absorb more light as heat.

Friday, March 2, 2012

News in Nature

Saw several little lizards out and about recently, but not as small as these recently discovered in (or 'on' if you prefer) Madagascar.

News and video about one of my favorite desert animals, the Grasshopper Mouse.

And finally, some bloomin' ash. Velvet Ash, that is. (Fraxinus velutina) May be the source of your sneezing.

Photo by Ned Harris, 2/26/2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bloomin' Bells!

Sand Bells, All photos by Matt Ball
This specific plant is blooming in the wash - that has pieces of a rusted drainage cylinder - on the main path. Sand Bells Nama hispidum are in the Borage Family, as are the next two 'bells.'

Whispering Bells
Saw these blooming on the Phone Line Link Trail. Whispering Bells Emmenanthe penduliflora.

Desert Bells
These are blooming in my yard, but they are found in Sabino Canyon, too. They are non-native, but seem to have naturalized themselves (like many of us). Desert Bells Phacelia campanularia.