Thursday, April 30, 2015

A hummingbird in hand

Photo by Ned Harris 4/11/2015

Get up close and personal with hummingbirds by stopping by at a banding session in Sabino Canyon and/or on Mt Lemmon. Take a look at the project description, sites, and dates.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Palos verdes

Text and photos by Fred Heath:

For several weeks in spring, the Tucson area is aglow with blooming Palo Verdes, our official state tree. Three species are found in Sabino Canyon, Blue (Parkinsonia florida), Foothill or Little-leaf (Parkinsonia microphylla) and the less common Mexican Palo Verde (Parkinsonia aculeate). It is thought the Mexican Palo Verde was introduced into Sabino. The two main species bloom at slightly different times, with the Blue reaching its peak at the end of March this year and the Foothill peaking in mid-April. These trees have probably evolved that way so they aren't competing as much for the pollinators. Through most of the year we differentiate the species by leaflet sizes, color of bark, and stiffness of the branches. However at this time of year we can easily distinguish species by the flowers. 

Photo by Fred Heath 4/4/2015

The Blue Palo Verde has the five petals typical of a member of the pea family and all petals are bright yellow.

Photo by Fred Heath 4/4/2015

The Foothill Palo Verde has a similar shaped flower, but note that banner (the top petal) is white and the other four petals are more of a pale lemon yellow.

Photo by Fred Heath 4/11/2015

The Mexican Palo Verde flower is bright yellow with an orange banner petal. The Mexican Palo Verde has extremely long leaves with tiny leaflets which give the tree a more open look, probably why it is a favorite of the local horticulturists.

Photo by Fred Heath 4/17/2015

Anne says: The Desert Museum hybrid has some orange in the banner petal, but it's not usually as bright as the orange banner of the Mexican Palo Verde. Fred sent me this photo of the hybrid, too.

Muchas gracias, Fred!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Plant and Puddle Parties

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/10/2015

Erichson's White-Skipper
Plant on the far right with the large leaves and the chambered fruit (upper right corner) is Bladder Mallow (Herrisantia crispa), in the Mallow family. The plant with the tiny white flowers is a probably a Pectocarya species, but definitely in the Borage family.

Photo by Ned Harris 4/11/2015

Checkered White (male) on blooming Cat-claw Acacia (Senegalia greggii) (Yes, we're still calling these acacias.) In the Pea family.

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/14/2015

Dainty Sulfur on Trailing Four O'clock (Allionia incarnata). That's right - it's in the Four O'clock family.

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/10/2015

Echo Azures (I think. Fred?) and Marine Blues getting the last drops from the Rattlesnake wash.

Monday, April 27, 2015

She's got it!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/17/2015

A(nother) fantastic first-timer (on this blog) is Venus Looking Glass (Triodanis holzingeri).

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lizard Parade

Photo by Ned Harris 4/11/2015

Photo by Ned Harris 4/11/2015

Photo by Ned Harris 4/11/2015

G for Groin, G for Greater Earless

Photo by Ned Harris 4/11/2015

Photo by Ned Harris 4/11/2014

Photo by Marty Horowitz  4/12/2015

Eastern Collard Lizards, male is blue-greener of the two

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/12/2015

That's all, folks!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Great Grape

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/8/2015

Canyon Grape (Vitis arizonica) buds appear to glow in this photo. Click on the link for views of the flowers and the fruits. Birds love the fruits - so much so that I've never actually seen a grape in the wild!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dragons and Damsels

Most of the time, you can tell adult dragonflies and damselflies apart by the way they hold their wings when landed. Dragonflies hold them perpendicular to their body (head, thorax, abdomen); Damselflies, parallel. As always, there are exceptions to this rule of wing; but the examples below fit the pattern.

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/10/2015

Photo by Ned Harris 3/29/2015

Blue-ringed Dancer (I think. But definitely a damselfly!)

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/8/2015

Gray Sanddragon - click on the photo to see (through) the wings.

Photo by Ned Harris 4/11/2015

American Rubyspot, both females

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Not-on-the-ground squirrels

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/8/2015

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/10/2015

On a rock or in a barrel, Round-tailed Ground Squirrels are always as cute as can be! Wish I could have watched the barrel climber. Spines make sturdy steps, I suppose, but I'm glad I don't have to be agile to pluck Arizona Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii) fruits!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Colors of Cholla 2015

All Photos by Marty Horowitz 4/8/2015

Marty took the challenge of capturing the colors of Staghorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia versicolor) flowers. Well done!
Staghorn Chollas can bloom in at least 6 different colors; only one color per plant, though. I suppose if you really wanted to, you could graft stems from different individuals to make a multi-colored blooming Staghorn. But you're on your own for that project!
The Tohono O'odham harvest cholla flower buds (before they open) from various cholla species, including this one. The fruits of this species are inedible; don't wait for them!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Diamond in the rough

All Photos by Marty Horowitz 4/14/2015

Beautiful Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake in among the Blue Palo Verde blossoms (Parkinsonia florida).
Thanks, Marty!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Now for some white flowers

All Photos by Matt Ball 4/8/2015

This is another new plant for me this year. Hooray! Low growing with tiny white flowers, this plant is easily overlooked. You'll find quite a few examples along the Rattlesnake and Esperero Trails. (The tiny butterfly is an Orange Skipperling, one of the smallest of the skippers. Thanks to Fred for the i.d.) Woolly Plantain (Plantago patagonica) is in the Plantain family with the penstemons.

Another photo by Matt Ball 4/8/2015

Desert Phlox (Phlox tenuifolia) is also known as Santa Catalina Mountain Phlox. Look for it in shady areas along the Phoneline trail.

It's time again to remind you to get the best wildflower book there is, namely: Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona by Frank S. Rose.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Open and Shut

Photos by Bob Wenrick 3/25/2015

"I'm really a Red-spotted Purple."

This butterfly looks very much like a Pipevine Swallowtail. (That's what I claimed when I first laid eyes on him/her.) In fact, this is a Red-spotted Purple, a mimic of the Pipevine Swallowtail. How does that work?
Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars eat - you guessed it - the poisonous Pipevine plants (Aristolochia watsonii). That food makes them taste nasty and be poisonous, to boot. Any predator who eats the butterfly once, learns to avoid all of them in the future. If another animal (in this case, the Red-spotted Purple) looks similar enough, that animal will also be avoided by predators. (Even though the Red-spotted Purple is perfectly non-toxic.) More of the mimics will survive to reproduce, and their genetic info will spread through the population. Evolution through natural selection. And that's a fact.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

In the pink

Photo by Matt Ball 4/5/2015

Thurber Perezia (Acourtia thurberi) looks a lot like Brownfoot (Acourtia wrightii). We saw a number of these plants on the Esperero Trail. Thanks to Joan Tedford, I now know that this is, in fact, Brownfoot (Acourtia wrightii). Hooray!

Photo by Matt Ball 4/8/2015

New Mexico Thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum) is also in bloom near the creek. Both of these plants are in the Aster/Sunflower family. How about that?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Food fight!

Bill sent this photo from the area above the dam on 4/6/2015. He writes:

I think the male is the bottom one. He landed first and began to eat. She came later to try and get at some of the food. There is an active nest nearby. Last year there were 3 or 4 babies at a nearby nest.

Photo by Bill Kaufman 4/6/2015

Anne says: Click on the photo for a larger view. And don't try this at home!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mariposa Lilies!

After Roger reported that many Mariposa Lilies (Calochortus kennedyi) were in bloom along the Phoneline Link trail, I took my Honey-Matt out to get more photos. These beauties are only seen after good winter rains. 

Photo by Roger Rittmaster 4/6/2015

Photos by Matt Ball 4/8/2015

Matt took a lot more photos, but you get the idea! Beautiful.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Snake sightings

Photo by Ned Harris 3/25/2015

Photos by Matt Ball 4/5/2015

Photos by Marty Horowitz 4/10/2015

Photo by Ned Harris 3/29/2015

Black-necked Gartersnake says: Smell you later!