Sunday, May 31, 2015

Rare Dragons

Fred photographed a rare dragonfly in Sabino Canyon on 5/14/2015, the White-tailed Sylph.

He writes:

It was the 3rd record for this dragonfly this year in AZ (or the US for that matter because AZ is the only state in which it has been recorded) ) and the 5th record overall. It was first seen in this country in 2007 down in the San Bernardino Refuge in extreme SE AZ and the second record was just last fall.

Photo by Fred Heath 5/14/2015

Fred then issued a challenge to Marty to photograph a clubskimmer - and Marty delivered on 5/16/2015! A rare (for Arizona) Slender Clubskimmer!

Fred writes: 

Rare is an understatement! These [Marty's photos] Slender Clubskimmers were the first recorded in Arizona and only the second record for the U.S. The first was in 2008 in Mission, Texas.

Photos by Marty Horowitz 5/16/2015

Marty says: Thanks to Fred, Rich Bailowitz, and Doug Danforth for the challenge and confirmation.

Anne says: If you are (as I am) happy enough to identify a dragonfly as a dragonfly, carry on!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hawk update

Photos by Marty Horowitz 5/16/2015

A few weeks ago, Marty saw this Cooper's Hawk around the nest (in the area above the dam). You can't see any nestlings, but Marty thinks the 'brunch' in the top photo was turned into a snack for the chicks.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Mite Pockets

The Serpent Princess of Dancing Snake Nature Photography shares these photos and info about this possible protection from predators.

All photos courtesy of Dancing Snake Nature Photography

Eastern Collared Lizard, female
(NB: my go-to site for reptiles is currently off-line)

Common Side-blotched Lizard, male

Click on each photo for a larger view.

TSP writes:

See the [tiny] orange spot at the base of the hind leg on each lizard? Scientists think these are mite pockets. Mites congregate into the pockets to create the orange color. One theory is that the pockets protect the lizard when basking. No predator wants to eat a lizard infested with mites. I have seen these pockets on several different species of lizards; males and females.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Black-tailed is the new black

All Photos by Wayne Klement 5/12/2015

Wayne saw this first-of-the-season Black-tailed Rattlesnake near the top/end of the Blackett's Ridge Trail.

And a bonus Gila Monster on the way down!

All Photos by Wayne Klement 5/12/2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

GMB Nymphs

Giant Mesquite Bug nymphs are out on a limb (or two). The nymphs (immature bugs) shed multiple times before becoming adults (i.e., getting their wings). Ned caught these on the big velvet mesquite below the dam. Click on the photos for larger views.

Photo by Ned Harris 5/7/2015

Photo by Ned Harris 5/15/2015

Photo by Ned Harris 5/15/2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ground Squirrely, too

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 5/10/2015

Mark writes:

We spotted these young Round-tailed Ground Squirrels on May 10, likely heading out on one of their very first excursions into the sunny world above ground. Ground squirrels are social, burrowing rodents who breed in late winter. Gestation is about 30 days, and litters of 6-7 are born in March or April. They are weaned in 5 weeks and mature at 10-11 months. Adult males disperse while the females remain where they were born. Listen for their high-pitched warning whistle when walking in the Sabino's dry, sandy stretches.

Photo by Ned Harris 5/8/2015

As Firefly Forest Beth writes in the link above:

Round-tailed Ground Squirrels are omnivorous and feed on seeds, plants, insects, and any other edible thing that they may happen across.
This one is trying out one of those goldfish crackers that was probably dropped by a human toddler. Even though these mammals will eat just about anything, I urge you NOT to feed them (or any other animals in the wild).

And I remind you NOT to drop banana, orange, tangerine, or any other peels on the ground in Sabino Canyon (or elsewhere). Everything is bio-degradable, given enough time; but peels (and tissues, napkins, diapers) DO NOT break down in a timely fashion in the desert. These items are not only an eyesore, they are potentially a hazard to the health and well-being of all life in the canyon.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Monster Stories

Photo by Fred Heath 4/21/2015

Fred writes:

You provided material for a great Anne Green story today! After you found the Western Diamondback [on the plant walk of 4/21/2015], you said, as you were heading out: "I'll go and cue a Gila Monster now."
We got everybody in the group to see the rattlesnake, and then Jerry (using a long pole) managed to chase the snake far enough off the path so no passers-by would get an unpleasant surprise on their ankles. For what it's worth, the snake wasn't happy, but never once rattled.
After we got the group together, we proceeded down the trail that the snake had been blocking. In less than a minute, a Gila Monster was seen! [The photo above is] proof of your magical powers.

Photos by Daniel Manrique 5/3/2015

A few weeks later, some members of the SCVN class of 2007 joined Alexa (who was in town again from Germany) on a nature walk. As I was pontificating on a plant, I turned my head and saw - you guessed it - a Gila Monster! If we had our Gila Monster pattern scanner, we could tell if this is the same individual from the sighting above. (S/he was in the same area.) I like to think that I called up another one : - )

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Giving you the birds

Photo by Ned Harris 4/26/2015

Photo by Ned Harris 5/7/2015

Zone-tailed Hawk, juvenile 

Photo by Ned Harris 5/8/2015

Brown-crested Flycatcher, front

Photo by Ned Harris 5/8/2015

Brown-crested Flycatcher, back

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/8/2015

Cactus Wren, AZ state bird

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh 5/14/2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

More damsels, I confess

Photo by Ned Harris 5/7/2015

Photo by Ned Harris 5/9/2015

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/6/2015

Vivid Dancer (most likely)

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/6/2015

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/6/2015

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/16/2015

For more info and photos of these amazing predators on the wing, click your way around on (yes, also the place for AZ damselflies).
Special thanks to Fred Heath for i.d. confirmations.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tort Report

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/13/2015

First documented report this season of a Desert Tortoise comes from Marty, with an assist by Glenn Feuerbacher. Remember: Never pick up a tortoise! Feel free to pick up Marty and/or Glenn. If you dare...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No picky eaters allowed!

All photos by Ned Harris 5/8/2015

Both male (red spot on head) and female (no red spot) Gila Woodpeckers feed their nestlings. Ned captured both parents bringing food to the nest that they made (and always make) in the middle third of the Saguaro cactus. (Any holes you see at the top of a Saguaro are made by Gilded Flickers.)

Female with big insect

Male with small insect

Mom again with saguaro flower stamens (lots of nutritious pollen)

Dad again with another bug

Dad heading out for happy hour

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bloom news!

As usual, this Night-blooming Cereus aka Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii) [located in front of the women's bathroom in the building in front of the visitor center] is the first to bloom! Thanks to Julie Senecal of the Forest Service for the breaking news and photos.

All photos by Julie Senecal 5/19/2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Name that butterfly!

The common names of butterflies are often unusual. Let's take a look at a few.

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/22/2015

Photo by Marty Horowitz 4/22/2015

Photo by Marty Horowitz 5/9/2015

Photo by Marty Horowitz 

If you want to become more expert in identifying butterflies, I recommend the slim, laminated
Butterflies of Southeast Arizona, by Jim Brock. Usually available in the bookstore in the visitor center.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The proper way to pollinate a saguaro flower

White-winged Doves, follow these simple steps to success!
(Everyone else, don't try this at home!)

All photos by Ned Harris 5/8/2015

Step 1: Land on a blooming saguaro. 

Step 2: Look for the best blossom. 

Step 3: Position self over best blossom. 

Step 4: Plunge entire head into flower.