Monday, August 31, 2015

A clear day

I took my Honey-Matt out to investigate a mystery plant seen on the Phoneline trail (more later on the mystery). It was so clear (i.e., non-dusty), we could see the telescopes on Kitt Peak. How cool is that?

Photos by Matt Ball 8/30/2015

Saguaros always look great reflected in the creek!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bee the Balm!

Photo by Ned Harris 8/20/2015

Sonoran Bumblebee on Beebalm. Note the orange pollen sac! Beebalm is blooming at the higher elevations. See page 117 in Rose. In the Mint family.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dragonfly Art

Photo by Marty Horowitz 8/16/2015

Photo by Marty Horowitz 8/7/2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Spadefoots have spadefeet!

After the storm on Saturday (8/22/2015), Rene and company answered the call of the toads!

All photos by the Serpent Princess of
Dancing Snake Nature Photography 

Male Couch's Spadefoot calling out. Click on the link for more info on these toads - and to hear the actual sound.

And that's what they're calling for! Thanks, Rene, for another great series.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Old and new

Marty's been taking photos from his perch at home this month. (You won't see Lantana like this in the canyon.)

Photos by Marty 'sits with a cast' Horowitz 8/1/2015

Marty says: An old Queen. The color in butterfly wings fades with age.
Anne says: Better an old queen, than no queen at all. (You'll be prying that scepter out of my cold hands, that's for sure : -)

This is a Mexican Fritillary, a new butterfly for us. Their range is usually south of the border. Fred says they are starting to appear in southern AZ more frequently, though. Global warming, baby!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Black beak

Mark writes: 

Everyone knows the red male Northern Cardinal. And if you’re quiet when you find one, you’ll probably see a female nearby sporting mostly olive plumage. But this is an immature cardinal at Sabino Dam bridge. Immatures have a black beak rather than the red or red-orange of the adults. As this young one turned towards us, we saw pin feathers on his forehead where a bushy crest will fill in.

Photos by Mark Hengesbaugh 8/23/2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rattlesnake Trifecta

Photo by Ned Harris 8/19/2015

Rattle - check, coiled - check, tongue - check. 
Way to go, Ned!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Welcome to Sabino Lake

All photos by The Serpent Princess of
Dancing Snake Nature Photography

After Saturday's storm, the parking lot was transformed into Sabino Lake junior!

The desert looks great after a good soaking.

Her reward for waiting out the storm. What a great rain! Thanks, Rene!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Barrel Beauty

Photo by Phil Bentley 8/10/2015

Arizona Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii) from above. If you like critters and creepy crawlies of all sorts (and who doesn't?), make sure to look into the flowers for pollination action.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

All grown up

Photo by Ned Harris 8/9/2015

Adult Giant Mesquite Bug on - you guessed it - mesquite fruits (specifically, those of Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina). The Giant Mesquite Bug has different coloring as a nymph. It's possible that the red serves as a warning to predators (like birds, who can see colors), giving the nymphs a greater chance of survival to adulthood. The adults (as above) have wings, of course. And wings give one the opportunity for escape, as well as the opportunity to better find a mate.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Splash Dance

Click for larger view! Photos and captions from the Serpent Princess of Dancing Snake Nature Photography. Cooper's Hawk bird bath. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sotol under the rainbow...

Another beauty from Marty Horowitz, August 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Tortoise and the Fruit

All Photos by Wayne 'King of Blackett's Ridge' Klement  8/14/2015

A Sonoran Desert Tortoise slid down the hill to join Wayne.

Kept up the pace

Although it looks like she just feasted on the blood of her enemies, it's only the remains of the slow-moving fruit of the prickly pear.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Foot full of Spadefoots

Photos and Text by Mark Hengesbaugh 8/14/2015

Wait. What? We [Jean and Mark] found this hiking boot print full of hundreds of Couch’s Spadefoot tadpoles on the trail to Bear Creek this morning. Every monsoon we’ve been here, the spadefoots have filled these small puddles with eggs. One female can lay 3,000, according to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, and eggs hatch in 15 hours. Then these tadpoles will have to metamorphose into froglets in two weeks. It’s a hurry-up schedule cued not by rainfall, but by thunder.

Jean leans in.

Sasquatch was here!

Survival of the fastest

Monday, August 17, 2015

In flight

Photos by Ned Harris 8/9/2015

Giant Darner dragonfly. Click the photos for a larger view. Incredible!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

At the end of the day

Photo by Marty Horowitz
Sunset over the Catalinas

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Giant in the sun

Photo by Ned Harris 8/2/2015

Giant Spotted Whiptail and a bonus post on lizards from Margarethe Brummermann, our favorite bug lady.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Snake sightings

Photo by Ned Harris 8/2/2015

Sonoran Whipsnake (info below from Reptiles of AZ):

This very fast moving, alert, diurnal predator forges in the mid-morning sun, often hinting with its head elevated high off the ground.It is primarily a ground-dweller but it spends some time in trees and often flees into the high branches of trees when threatened. It occasionally sleeps in trees on warm, humid nights. It hibernates during the cold months of late fall and winter. When captured it does not hesitate to bite.

Photo by Ned Harris 8/9/2015

Coachwhip - see the link for info on the various subspecies in Arizona.

Another great photo by Ned Harris 8/9/2015

Another Sonoran Whipsnake (or maybe the same one??) Click photo for a larger view. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Water over the dam!

Photo by Ned Harris 8/9/2015

Always a wonderful sight! (And sound!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Strange Desert Spoon

Wayne hikes the Blackett's Ridge trail regularly; he recently came across a strange-looking Desert Spoon (aka Sotol) (Dasylirion wheeleri) in bloom.

All photos by Wayne Klement 8/5/2015

This a a normal stalk with flowers. Desert Spoon is dioecious (i.e., separate male and female plants). I can't tell if these are male or female flowers (I'd say male, if pressed), but it's a nice stalk, in either case. Take a look at page 178 in Rose for more info and photos. Unlike the Golden-flowered (Agave chrysantha aka Century Plant) and Parry (A. parryi) agaves, the Desert Spoon doesn't die after flowering.

Wayne saw the stalk above and took a closer look.

Looks a bit gnarly, to me. Many plants can form crests, as we've seen; this may be another example. It may be that the stalk is still growing, or it may have been chopped or broken off somehow. If you have another theory, let me know. (I'd say female flowers, on this one. Corrections welcome!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Columbine is very fine!

Photos by Gene Spesard 7/29/2015.
Thanks, Gene, for providing such beautiful Mt. Lemmon flower photos!

Golden columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha), Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), page 153 in Rose.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Shades of pink

This beauty is even in the Pink family (Caryophyllaceae)! Scouler's Catchfly (Silene scouleri), Page 78 in Rose.

Lots of plants in the Pea family (Fabaceae) blooming on Mt Lemmon, including Pine Clover (Trifolium pinetorum), page 108 in Rose.

This striking, Dr. Seuss-like plant is Beebalm (Monarda citriodorna var. austromontana), page 117 in Rose. In the Mint family (Laminaceae)

And pinkest of the group, Longtube ipomopsis (Ipomopsis tennituba ssp. macrosiphon), in the Phlox family (Polemoniaceae), page 144 in Rose. I'm sure we're all in agreement that this plant needs a more-easily-remembered common name. Let's go with Lyn's suggestion of long-nosed hippopotamus. At least until next year!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Buckbrush flowers and fruit

Every summer, some Friends of Ned take a few leisurely walks on Mt Lemmon. Every summer, we re-learn the flowers : - ) The best book for doing so, of course. is Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona by Frank S. Rose. If you've forgotten to pick up a copy of this book, I'll remind you again next year. Or maybe tomorrow.

Photos by Gene Spesard 7/29/2015

Buckbrush (Ceanothus fendleri) is a common shrub on Mt Lemmon. The small white flowers attract insects of all kinds. (See page 155 in Rose : -)

The fruits are red, triangle-shaped berries. And yes, they are edible. But leave them for the other animals.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Red flower, Blue flower

Trail near the fire tower. Photos from Gene Spesard 7/29/2015

Rincon Mountain Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja austromontana) is the most common paintbrush at elevations of 7500' and above in the Catalinas, too. In the Broomrape family (Orobanchaceae), all paintbrushes are partial parasites. They can photosynthesize (note the green leaves), but they tap in via their roots to the roots of other plants (usually those of the sunflower/aster family).

Dayflowers (Commelina dianthifolia) are not abundant, but they are a striking blue color.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Pile o' Ladybugs

Photos by Dancing Snake Nature Photography

Kicking off Mt Lemmon Days on this blog are photos from The Serpent Princess of Dancing Snake Nature Photography. Ladybugs are out in great numbers!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

There be (sand)dragons!

Photos by Bill Kaufman 8/3/2015

Bill got up close and personal with a gorgeous Gray Sanddragon! Click on the photos for a larger view.