Friday, May 31, 2013

Variously colored

Photos by Marty Horowitz 5/11/2013

Flower blooming on old fruit

Flower blooming on old fruit

Staghorn Chollas (Cylindropuntia versicolor) are interesting plants. Not only do they have flowers of various hues, their fruits can produce flowers as well. From the link above:

The rounded, mostly spineless, yellow-green to reddish purple fruits stay attached to the stems all winter and often proliferate (new fruits grow out of the old fruits). The immature fruits are green and tuberculate, but the mature fruits swell to become smooth and plump, and they remain on the plant while it is flowering.
Pretty neat!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Can never see too many!

Photos by Matt Ball 5/23/2013

Click photos for larger views of me!

Can't get enough of these wonderful Eastern Collared Lizards! This male was about a foot long, tip to tail. He posed for us for a long time, showing off his beautiful colors and flicking his tail.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mom, I forgot my towel!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/15/2013

Cooper's Hawks generally catch birds on the wing; this one went swimming instead. Maybe fishing for some tasty garter snakes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

'Loch' Sabino Monster Sighting!

Photo by Marty Horowitz  5/17/2013

Who is this beast, rising from the murky depths and breathing fire? Wait, that's a tongue. Whew.
This Black-necked Garter Snake is enjoying the great 'fishing' as the remaining water in the creek shrinks to tiny pools, trapping tadpoles, Gila Chub, insect larvae, and other tasty morsels; and attracting insects to the dwindling water supply.
Gayle and I saw three of these snakes enjoying the spread at Bridge 6 on 5/24/2013.

Same snake, photographer, tongue, and day

Photo by Ned Harris 5/11/2013
If we had our pattern scanner, we could tell if this is the same snake a bit earlier in the season.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Agave on Blackett's

Photos by Matt Ball 5/23/2013

View from end of Blackett's Ridge Trail

It's clear why these are called Golden-flowered Agave (Agave chrysantha)! They are also commonly known as century plants; but they don't live that long. After they bloom in all their glory, they die. (What a way to go.) You'll see more of these plants as you gain elevation; these photos were taken on the Blackett's Ridge trail.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Photo by Matt Ball 5/12/2013
Fifty on this saguaro. Thanks for the bouquet, Honey-Matt!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Brave and Mighty (that's you, Honey-Matt)

Photos by Matt Ball 5/23/2013

Long-time blog readers know that my husband is not a fan of 8-legged creatures. Nevertheless, he pointed out this Tarantula Hawk, complete with 8-legged Tarantula on our Blackett's Ridge hike. And, after I excitedly explained that Ned and I had recently made it a goal to encounter such a 'shot,' he obliged in Ned's absence. Thanks, Honey-Matt.
The TH had already stung the T. (I'm going to make an educated guess that this is a male T, who was out looking for love in the wrong place at the wrong time.) He's flipped over and paralyzed, but still alive. The female TH was rather frantically looking for the T's hole so she could drag him back there. It was so cool!!
More info, photos, and videos - not from me - available at this link and the one above.

Friday, May 24, 2013

It's a dry heat.

Photos by Matt Ball 5/12/2013

But that's not why the Eastern Collared Lizard above is shedding. Just growing. No need for lotion.
Another interesting fact about these lizards: Unlike many others (but like Gila Monsters), Eastern Collared Lizards can't 'lose' and regrow their tails. But don't pick them up anyway. That goes double for Gila Monsters.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A hummingbird in hand...

Photo by Alan Kearney 5/4/2013

If you'd like to get up-close-and-personal with hummingbirds, check out the banding schedule at various sites, including Sabino Canyon and Mt Lemmon. (Volunteers are still needed at many of the locations, too. If you can write legibly, you can do data recording. Even I've done that!)
And this event for hummingbird fans at Harlow Gardens on Saturday, 5/25!! Learn more about the Hummingbird Monitoring Network and choose some nectar plants for your garden. Raffle prizes, too.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

And back again

Large Walnut - Photos by Mark Hengesbaugh 5/19/2013

Small Walnut

Mark writes:
You can't keep a good native plant down. I took these two photos this morning of the Arizona Black Walnuts that the USFS hacked down. The one titled "Small Walnut" is the one near the h/bird feeders. Note that you can see the cut stump on both. It's tough to see the stump on the "Small Walnut", but look for the coin size light spot near the lowest green leaves.
Anne says: Of course I'm glad they both re-sprouted; but I still wish they wouldn't have had to.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Before and After

Photo by Peggy Wenrick 8/14/2012

Jean and the first Arizona Black Walnut tree on 8/14/2012 (2+ years old).

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 5/4/2013

Jean and the stump of the first tree on 5/4/2013.

Photo by Jean Hengesbaugh 5/21/2012

Mark and the 2nd Arizona Black Walnut tree on 5/21/2012. This one was also about 2 years old at this time. Not in as optimal a location as number 1, it grew more slowly.

Photo by Jean Hengesbaugh 5/4/2013

Mark points to where the 2nd one was.
Not trying to beat a dead walnut, just trying to educate.

Blog reader Steve Welborn sent these comments to Jean:

I was really shocked reading the [blog post] about the walnut trees. After you and Mark showed them to me and told me the truly amazing story of nature's force for life I have made a point of going by to see the growth of twigs and leaves. Not often a tree gets to be so exciting.
It is done. Human error in so many ways. But as teachers, you and Mark and all the other volunteers have an opportunity to point out the irresponsibility of the Forest Service culture. People in authority have extra responsibility to research broadly and to critically think about possibilities. People in public service have a responsibility to consult with the public - in this case volunteer naturalists. The FS error should not be used to ridicule, but one should not be silent about it either. It offers a time for teaching benefits of community based critical analysis to young people to learn about harmful consequences of actions of doing things in a closed system.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Slow and steady

Photo by Wayne Klement 4/30/2013

It's great that so many blog readers are out and about with cameras! Wayne saw this healthy-looking Sonoran Desert Tortoise along the road into Bear Canyon, right before the Bear Canyon bridge. These gentle herbivores are a protected species. Don't harass them and never pick them up. They store water in their bladders - a lot of water. If you harass them by picking them up, they'll void their bladder and likely die. I'm not making this up!! If a tram is coming when a tortoise is in the road, you can stand in the way, waving your arms. I promise the tram drivers won't hit you.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Unusual sighting

Photo by Ned Harris 5/8/2013

This is this first time I've seen a Yellow (or Golden) Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) in Sabino Canyon! Ned and I spotted this one (yes, only one plant) tucked under some trees in the area above the dam. It's on Joan Tedford's Plant list for Sabino Canyon, so it's been there previously, just not recently (or not that I've noticed). And it's in Frank Rose's book at the approximate level of the dam, so we're covered there, too. (Don't forget to get a copy of Frank's book for wildflower watching on Mt Lemmon, where these columbines are ubiquitous.)
One more thing: if you see people picking flowers in Sabino Canyon or on Mt Lemmon, please wrestle them to the ground, remove the flowers from their grubby hands, and tell them that every single plant is now highly toxic to them. Thank you.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I want that kitty!

All photos by Matt Ball 5/12/2013

After a wonderful morning hike in Sabino Canyon, Matt and I were delighted to see this bobcat in our neighbor's front yard. Wasn't at all interested in us. Just looking for a shady spot. This one is bigger than others I've seen, so I'm guessing healthy male. Take a look at 'Living with Bobcats' for confirmation.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Can you see me now?

Photo by Bob Wenrick 5/1/2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My keys are in here somewhere

Photo by Ned Harris 5/1/2013

Love these little guys! Round-tailed Ground Squirrels are feasting on flowers and (later) fruits. Enjoy their antics today!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Yin Yang

Photo by Ned Harris 4/27/2013

Ornate Tree Lizards, like all living things, have a certain amount of variation in form. These two are going for opposite ends of the color spectrum.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ocotillo lures hummingbirds

Photos by Ned Harris 4/28/2013
Click for larger view

Hummingbirds are hovering, getting nectar from the many Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) blossoms! The bird in the middle looks like a male Anna's Hummingbird. Whatever the species, though, hummingbirds sure are beautiful!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Up Snake-i-scope

Photo by Ned Harris 5/1/2013

Coachwhip takes a look above grass.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Snake Artist

Photo by Phil Bentley 4/24/2013

Gopher Snake on wood

Saturday, May 11, 2013

They are just so cool!

Photo by Bob Wenrick 4/24/2013

Eastern Collared Lizard, female (or possibly young male).

Photo by Bill Kaufman 4/25/2013

Definitely a male Eastern Collared Lizard. Coming for you!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Black-necked Garter Snake

Photos by Marty Horowitz 4/25/2013

Inspired by Fred Heath's tongue-wielding Gila Monster, Marty caught this Black-necked Garter Snake and tongue. (Click on lower photo for larger view.) Don't try this with Mountain Lions.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Clearly different

Photo by Fred Heath 4/12/2013

Photo by Alan Kearney 4/23/2013

We don't even need our (not-yet-existing) Gila Monster pattern scanner to tell these two apart.

Photo by Fred Heath 4/12/2013

Thanks to Fred for clicking patiently to get the tongue! Let's hear it for digital photography.

Check out this great article on Gila Monsters!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Desert Dreams

photos by Thomas Wiewandt

Tucson premiere of Desert Dreams: Celebrating Five Seasons in the Sonoran Desert at the Fox Theatre on Sunday, May 19. If you go, please send a review!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

White on white

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/22/2013

Checkered White on Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens)

Monday, May 6, 2013

ICB Beetles

Photo by Bob Wenrick 4/24/2013

Photo by Ned Harris 4/24/2013

We'd been looking for these beetles and found a number of them on a recent nature walk. Iron Cross Blister Beetles are clearly marked "Don't mess with me!" Margarethe photographed a number of other 'bugs' in Sabino Canyon that same day.

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/27/2013

Photo by Ned Harris 4/27/2013

Marty and Ned found more a few days later!