Thursday, May 31, 2012

We are all made of stars

Recent celestial events have turned my thoughts to the late (and great) Carl Sagan. (When my Honey-Matt was in high school, he wrote to Carl to ask for advice on what to study. Carl's letter is a treasured possession.) (He said 'Physics', of course.) This audio is great - but a bit long. So I'm going to give you a few days to work it in. Listen not only to Uncle Carl, but especially Phil Hennes and (after the musical interlude) Neil deGrasse Tyson. Science is grand! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Colors of summer

Photo by Ned Harris 5/27/2012
Northern Cardinal waiting for saguaro fruit to ripen. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just popping 'round!

Photo by Ned Harris 5/20/2012
Round-tailed Ground Squirrels are popping up all around!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Twin Seed, too!

Photo by Ned Harris, 4/29/12
Another beautiful Twin Seed (Dicliptera resupinata = double-folded wing, inverted).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Watch where you put your legs!

Spotted by Angie Perryman, Photo by Ned Harris 5/20/2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sounds like a circus act!

Photo by Ned Harris 5/20/2012
This is a female Flame Skimmer dragonfly. Talk about old critters! Dragonflies were around before the first dinosaurs! How about that?!

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Mexico Thistle

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/29/2012

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/6/2012
These beauties are in the Sunflower family. New Mexico Thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Giant Water Bug

Photo by Ned Harris 4/30/12
Giant Water Bugs can get quite large (for bugs, that is). They (and many other critters) can be found in Sabino Creek. The male carries the eggs on his back. How about that?!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Coral Bean

Photo by Ned Harris 5/20.2012
Yes, this is Coral Bean (Erythrina flabelliformis = red-colored with fan-shaped parts) another member of the Pea Family. But unlike other pea family plants in the desert, Coral Beans are highly toxic. All parts, but especially the beans. They are bright red and look very attractive - but are NOT edible. Watch children and pets, too. Don't even let them pick the pods.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ellen's speech

My daughter, Ellen Green, wasn't selected to give this speech at her high school graduation ceremony (5/23), so I decided to give her an audience here. Because I'm the mom.

Tonight, we go into the wider world. In many ways, we are the most fortunate generation to do so, benefiting from the efforts of past generations. It is thanks to their ingenuity and determination that our phones have more computing power than the room-sized computers of our parents’ generation, with access to more information than anyone imagined just a few years ago.

Many of us here, too, have personal opportunities because of the dedication and the drive of past abolitionists, suffragettes, and other heroes who refused to accept the status quo. Through their efforts, we have dramatically expanded the circle of compassion and rights. Interracial marriage was illegal in our state until 1962. 1962! - within many of our parents’ lifetimes. These incredible changes have only come about because of the efforts of countless dedicated individuals, striving to bend their piece of the arc of history towards justice.

Yet the world is far from perfect. Our nation is still tottering back to its feet from economic collapse, the product of unfettered greed. We have grown up in a polarized nation. My right to control my body continues to be attacked, and fellow women continue to be subject to the wage gap and underrepresented in key areas of influence. Those of us who don’t fit the status quo of sexuality and gender remain unprotected from discrimination on a range of fronts. American citizens continue to die in the longest war in our history. And we continue to drive global warming with no regard for future generations.

In the face of these crises, we cannot afford to move unquestioningly through the world. We must get informed. One of the greatest opportunities given to us by past generations is the incredible availability of information. Let’s not take it for granted. We cannot afford to take political dogma as gospel, or let TV‘s corporate talking heads do our thinking for us. Let’s examine the evidence, question our politicians, fact check our news. It is easier than ever, if we choose to pull off the blinders of apathy and ideology.

We cannot afford to ignore facts. We must get informed.

We must get informed, and we must get active. After graduation, it would be easy to let ourselves be sucked into the endless pursuit of ‘more’ - more money, more cars, more stuff. But no one ever dies happy that they got the latest BMW. No one is ever remembered for that last bonus they received.

We can all seek something better than that, something larger than ourselves. We can be the next links in the chain of heroes who have bent the arc of history towards justice. We can be part of the chain that has included Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk. The arc of history will not continue to bend without our efforts. We must refuse to let it stagnate or retreat. History has not been kind to those who clung to fear and prejudice. Let us never forget that.

As we sit here tonight, we face this challenge, this enormous opportunity to lead a meaningful life and change the world for the better. History demands nothing less. Future generations demand nothing less. And we must demand no less of ourselves. Thank you.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Shadows on the wall 5/20/2012

All photos by Matt Ball 5/20/2012

Hope you had a great view, too!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Snakes on a blog

Photos by Marty Horowitz 5/6/2012
If you had a pattern scanner, you'd see that these photos are of the same snake. A healthy-looking Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake, going in the right direction from the photographer. Watch where you put your pattern scanner, your camera, and your hands and feet when you are out and about.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tail of a Zebra!

Photo by Ned Harris 4/29/12
That's right. This is a Zebra-tailed lizard. See the bars on the body? They are near the armpit. If it's not G for Groin, G for Greater Earless; it's A for Armpit, A for A Zebra-tailed. (Both G and A have striped tails that they wag like scorpions. Look for the bars on the body to make the i.d.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Off to School

"Off to School"  Danielle's Photography
Family friend Danielle took a photography class in high school this year and - wow! We (my family and I) saw some of her work in December, and since then she's developed an even keener eye and a great sense of timing to add to her skills in composition. She recently started this flickr site. I urge you to bookmark it and return frequently. (I'll remind you, too.) As she continues to add to the site, please contact me if you are interested in prints of her photos and I'll put you in touch. She'd be thrilled to be a professional!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Another in the Mallow Family

Photo by Joan Tedford
Coulter Hibiscus (Hibiscus coulteri), also commonly called Desert Rosemallow, is in the Mallow Family (Malvaceae). There's a plant on the north side of the 'island' just beyond stop one. Not blooming now, but check after the monsoon rains.
The bird from yesterday's post: a male Pyrrhuloxia.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Name that bird!

Photo by Hed Harris 4/29/2012
It's quiz time again! Name this bird munching on ocotillo flowers. Hint: He's a he. Answer in tomorrow's post.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gneiss spot for an egg casing

Photo by Marty Horowitz, Spotting by Deb Langeloh 5/6/12
Praying Mantis egg casings are usually found on plants, most often on trees. The nymphs are disbursed by the wind. Not sure how well that will work for these nymphs, but it is a gneiss spot.

Monday, May 14, 2012

18 and you're out the door!

Photos by Don Eagle 4/20/2012

Mama Black-chinned Hummingbird and two 'babies' who've outgrown their nest! Don is a docent at Tohono Chul and he took the photos there. (These and other hummingbird species nest in Sabino Canyon, so I'll allow it!) Thanks to Don for letting me post his photos and for Peggy Wenrick for getting them to me.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fruit of the Creosote Bush

Photo by Matt Ball 4/27/2012
The Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) produces furry white fruits. Not spiny, so feel free to touch.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Get your pollen on!

Photos by Ned Harris  4/28/2012

Always click for larger views

White-winged Doves are the primary day-time pollinator of Saguaro flowers - and you can see why! Ned thinks their call sounds like: "Who cooks for you?" I think there are more w-sounds, like a rather plaintive: "When will we woo?" Whatever works for you!

Friday, May 11, 2012

In the Mallow Family

Photo by Matt Ball 4/27/2012
One Anoda plant (that I've seen) was blooming a few weeks ago in the riparian area above the dam, specifically Anoda abutiloides (i.e., Anoda that looks like Abutilon).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Got Guides?

Photo by Ned Harris
Members of the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists, members of the Santa Catalina Volunteer Patrol, and, of course, readers of this blog are welcome to pick up the new Guide to Sabino Canyon on Wednesday, May 16th from 8-10am at the SCVN office. $10 each, no limit, no need to pre-order. The authors will be on hand, in person, in full color!
To find the SCVN office, face the visitor center and go to the left of the entrance overhang.
If you can't make this pick-up date and don't know anyone who can get a copy for you, don't despair; there will be other opportunities to get your guide. I'll let you know about other opportunities as they become finalized.
Please note: The Guide is NOT available in any store. Proceeds benefit SCVN's educational programs.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Another Mint

Photos by Joan Tedford

Joan made a positive i.d. of these stunning red flowers growing along the creek. (They're rather difficult to get to - trust me.) One common name for Stachys coccinea is Texas Betonyone I like better is Scarlet Sage. Either way, they're in the Mint Family (Lamiaceae) and hummingbirds like them.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Snapdragon Vine aka Roving Sailor

Photo by Matt Ball 4/27/2012
This delicate vine is blooming in a shady area above the dam. Snapdragon Vine (Maurandya antirrhiniflora) has interesting-looking fruits. I'll keep watch and post a photo.

Monday, May 7, 2012

These Marines aren't Blue!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/25/2012
Yes, these Marine Blue butterflies are, as they say, "doing it." And they picked a gneiss spot, too.

Photo by Ned Harris 4/25/2012
Ditto for these two on their Palo Verde. 'tis the season!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Super Sun(set) and Super Moon!

Photos by Matt Ball or Ellen Green 5/5/2012

It really was that orange!

The moon was so bright, we were casting shadows! Hope you had an excellent view. Some photos from around the world. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar

Photo by Fred Fisher 
These caterpillars are just too cool! The Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly lays her eggs on the underside of the Pipevine (Aristolochia watsonii) plant, the eggs hatch, the caterpillars eat and grow, pupate, and become the butterfly. Amazing.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tree Lizard's Rock

Photo by Ned Harris 4/25/2012
Ornate Tree Lizard rockin' out.
Don't forget to check out the Super Moon Saturday evening. (And get some photos : -)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cream Cups

Photo by Joan Tedford
Cream Cups (Platystemon californicus) are in the Poppy Family as are Mexican Gold Poppy and Golden Smoke.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Leadwort by any other name...

Photo by Joan Tedford
Alas, this beauty really does bear the common name Leadwort (Plumbago zeylanica). It's in the Plumbago Family.
At first glance, it looks a bit like the Desert Phlox (Phlox tenuifolia) below. But take a closer look and you'll see many differences.

Photo by Matt Ball

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Eastern Collared Lizards

All photos byNed Harris 4/25/2012
One goal of the last nature walk this season with Ned and Friends of Ned (FoN) was to find Eastern Collared Lizards. We were thrilled to see three. First up was the female above.

This male was a bit more skittish and the photographers had to make their way quickly and quietly. If you had a lizard pattern scanner, you could easily tell that both photos above are of the same lizard. Contrast with the male in the photos below, who was our third and final Eastern Collared Lizard for the walk.

Have a smart phone and know how to use it? Have a heart for herps of all stripes? See and learn how you can contribute to research on herps right here in Tucson. We've got some of the world's best herpetologists here and, of course, the world's best herps!