Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Photo by Matt Ball 6/13/2013

This male Greater Earless lizard has the least possible surface area on the hot rock. Look how he's on tip toes (and tip 'heals')! Sly smile, too!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Smell you later

Photo by Steve Kessel 6/12/2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

It must be agave

Photos by Matt Ball 6/13/2013

looking up!

Indeed, all are Golden-flowered Agaves (Agave chrysantha) aka Century plants. Many along the Blackett's Ridge trail. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It must be love

Photos by Matt Ball 6/13/2014

Matt and I saw at least 5 individual Eastern Collared lizards on our Blackett's Ridge hike; including this colorful male and this camouflaged female.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mother of Dragons

Photos by Ned Harris 6/12/2013

This lady not only posed for a long time, she also kept returning to the same spot. A female Flame Skimmer dragonfly. How do I know that? Ned told me : -) With a few exceptions, though, you can tell a dragonfly from a damselfly by looking at their wings when 'perched.' Dragonflies hold their wings out (photo above); damselflies hold their wings parallel to their body.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Photo by Ned Harris 6/12/2013
Saguaro fruits, bursting with seedy goodness!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The better to see you

Photos by Ned Harris 6/12/2013
You'll want to click on this cicada for a larger view. What bug eyes you have!

This shows an Ornate Tree lizard nibbling a flipped-over cicada. Look closely around the orange-ish color and you'll see the legs of the cicada.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

David vs. Goliath

Story and photos from Mark Hengesbaugh:

By the Sabino visitor center (on 6/7/2013), Jean and I witnessed this mini-drama: Four round-tailed ground squirrels were eeking at a Gila monster too near their tunnel opening. The bravest of the bunch urged the monster to keep moving.

The Hero

The Villain

Move along, you!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chick update

Text and photos from Steve Kessel on 6/14/2013. 
I was over at Sabino Dam this morning at about 6 and spent some time watching the Cooper's Hawks. The young ones are extremely active at this point and one of them is much more mature than the others. The biggest is probably only a week or so away from fledging.
Here are three pictures of three of the four youngsters. In these pictures the third bird is mostly hidden at the rear. The fourth, much smaller than the other birds, is completely hidden from view. Note the disparity between the biggest and the one sitting directly beneath it.

As I was taking these pictures I heard a commotion and some shouting. Both parents were nearby and, apparently, one of them had just buzzed a couple of hikers. They landed on nearby trees and began screaming back and forth. I got these two photos of one of them -- the male, I think. The male is a lot smaller and a bit darker colored than the female. He was not a happy camper!

Go away! You'll wake the kids!

Thanks, Steve, for the great photos and story.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rare sighting

All photos by Hazlitt 6/11/2013

Matt and Ellen 'ran' into two couples standing around this (Sonoran) Coral Snake on 6/11/2013. Matt asked the photographer to send me photos for the blog, and he obliged. Thank you, mysterious visitor! Coral snakes are very rarely seen, usually active at night. In the same family as cobras.
This is a full-grown Coral Snake. They're only about 1.5 ft long and about as big around as my little finger. Yes, they are venomous and their bite is very dangerous, but they can't really get their mouth around much of you. You are wise to keep your distance anyway. You don't want to be the first recorded death in Arizona.
The rhyme is all about what color the red is touching. Red on yellow, kill a fellow. Red on black, venom lack. (Yellow is the same as white in these cases. Just doesn't rhyme as nicely with fellow.)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

T-hawk vs. Tarantula

Stunning footage in two parts of a tarantula hawk dragging a stunned tarantula. The t-hawk will lay a single egg on the paralyzed tarantula's abdomen. After hatching, the larva will suck out the still juicy tarantula innards. Enjoy.

Part I and Part II. Both by David McCray on 6/5/2013.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Not bugs, I promise

This concludes recycled bug fest 2013.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Part 7

Death and Taxonomy

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

This one's about cicadas

Bugs, part 4

Friday, June 14, 2013

Recycled Bugs, Part 3

Desert Lions

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Recycled bugs, 2

Bug series, part 2

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Recycled bugs

I need to take some time off from the blog in order to work on another bug project. Rather than leave you with nothing, I'll reprise some of the bug posts from two years ago (when I was working on the first bug project). Consider it recycling.
Bug Series: Part I (from 6/10/2011). The only update is that the Giant Water bug is NOT the bug commonly known as a toe biter. I'll fix that in the post at some point. They still bite, though.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Chicks on 6/6

Photos by Marty Horowitz 6/6/2013

Jean Hengesbaugh reports having seen 4 Cooper's Hawk chicks in the nest above the dam. Marty saw and photographed (at least) two individuals. Stay tuned for progress reports.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Visitor Center Visitors

Photo by David McCray

Photo by David McCray

The next time you go into the visitor center, be sure to take a look out the window at the 'back' of the bookstore. Many critters are seen at various times of day. And say hi to David.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Word of the day

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 5/27/2013

Osteoderm. For everything you wanted to know about Gila Monster anatomy and morphology, take a look at this site.
Warning: Section on 'inner organs' shows actual inner organs. If you aren't up to a look inside, don't scroll past 'limbs.' The section on scales will give you the word-of-the-day definition. Don't try any of this at home.
Thanks to Mark for the photo and link.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Return of the Natives: The Movie

Okay, it's really a video. Written and directed by Mark Hengesbaugh! Starring top volunteers!

Sonoran Desert plants have returned in great profusion to Sabino Creek Recreation Area in places that were once overrun by 30-ft. high thickets of the invasive Giant Reed (Arundo donax) thanks to volunteers and donors who participated in or supported the difficult work of removing the non-native cane. We’ve identified and counted the plant species returning where Giant Reed was removed. This seven-minute video gives you the update on Sabino's remarkable recovery.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Photo by Fred Heath 5/11/2013

This swarm of bees was seen on the Bluff Trail. Dangerous? No. I quote Carl Olson's letter to the editor of the AZ Star in its entirety:

Re: the April 26 article "Wildflower season is also bee season; swarms are a danger."
Well, thanks for writing an article to spread fear and paranoia around the city where none belongs.
The term "swarm" refers to an old queen recruiting worker bees to leave the hive and find a new home, not honeybees attacking an intruder in their territory. Worker bees in a swarm have filled their crop with honey, so do not become aggressive. They get tired and alight on a branch or other object, protect the queen inside and await information from scouts.
If you had written an educational article, people would understand that the hive with offspring is protected by the surrogate mothers and may present danger to people and pets, so that hive should be removed.
A swarm that rests on a branch probably will leave within a day and presents little danger unless someone gets bonkers and starts spraying them or swatting at them.
Please learn some terminology. Hive = colony = offspring = mother's protection = potential danger.
Swarm = workers full of food = lethargic = tired = ephemeral = not a problem.
Paranoia and fear = not what nature is all about.
Carl A. Olson
Retired entomologist, Tucson

Thursday, June 6, 2013

On the rocks

Photo by Ned Harris 5/19/2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/17/2013

Ornate Tree lizard dining on a fresh dragonfly nymph. If you like lizards, (and who doesn't?) join the next lizard walk in Sabino Canyon on Saturday, June 8th. Meet by the flagpole in front of the visitor center at 8am. Bring water and wear a hat! Lizard walks are led by naturalists every 2nd Saturday through (and including) October 12th.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Night moves

Photos (and labels) by Bill Kaufman 5/27/2013

Thanks to Bill for capturing the god(esse)s of sky and thunder, love and beauty, travelers and thieves. And the largest raccoon I've ever seen.

Photo by Bill's trail camera
Compare to the javelina in the same spot. That's a big raccoon!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Trespassers beware!

Photos by Wayne Klement 5/27/2013

You'll want to click on these photos for larger views.
Wayne sent in these shots (taken on the Blackett's Ridge trail) of a male Eastern Collared Lizard sinking his teeth into a Clark's Spiny Lizard. Not only are Eastern Collard Lizards territorial, they won't hesitate to eat lizard 'cousins.' The Clark's Spiny is fighting back, though, as you can see best in the 2nd shot.
According to the link above and other sources, Eastern Collared Lizards will, like their extinct 'cousin' the T-Rex, run on their hind legs only. Let's try to get photographic evidence of this from Sabino Canyon, shall we?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

No more eggs for you!

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 5/8/2013

Mark writes:

Jean got her wish of seeing her first Gila Monster of the season yesterday (May 8, 2013) on our walk in the canyon. It was the best-fed monster we've ever seen.
Anne says: 'Best-fed' seems like an understatement! Step away from the buffet!
Seriously, don't mess with this or any Gila Monster, because:

It is against Arizona State law to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect the Gila Monster or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.
Not that you could lift this one, but still.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Look good in green!

Photo by Angie Perryman 5/8/2013
Anne Green and Ned Harris, on patrol in the wild

Get to know your local Forest Service volunteers!
SCVP members patrol in Sabino Canyon, on Mt. Lemmon, and elsewhere in the Santa Catalina Mountains.
While on patrol, we provide information and assistance to visitors regarding trails and trailhead locations, hiking conditions, wildlife and desert safety issues, and Forest Service rules and regulations.
SCVP members are the eyes, ears, and helping hands of the Forest Service, evaluating trail and safety conditions in the canyon and surrounding areas.
Interested in becoming a member of Santa Catalina Volunteer Patrol? Visit our website at: