Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Portrait of a hummingbird and bonus blog

Photo by Marty Horowitz 8/20/2016

Marty captured this beautiful male Costa's Hummingbird on a(nother) work of art at his home. In the bird world, if there's a difference in appearance between the sexes, the males are the more colorful and prettier.

And thanks to Jean H. for sending Greg Joder's blog. He doesn't always write about Sabino Canyon, but he has a post about a recent rescue there that you'll want to check out.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Photos by Marty Horowitz 8/20/2016
Empress Leilia - yes, both males and females are called "Empress" : -) 

As you know, in the insect world, (All together now!) adults have wings. Adult insects don't generally live very long; some don't even eat. Their sole objective is reproduction. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Tort Report

Phil Bentley sent in these great photos of a Sonoran Desert Tortoise (8/17/2016)! What a beauty!

Photos © Phil Bentley 8/17/2016

Notes copyright Thomas C. Brennan, from the website Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona.

BEHAVIOR: Primarily diurnal and crepuscular but occasionally active into the night. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise is entirely terrestrial. It shelters and hibernates in self constructed burrows that are often excavated under large rocks. It uses its strong, paddle-like forelimbs to dig. Also shelters in naturally occurring cavities under rocks or in the banks of washes. When threatened it pulls the body and head into the shell and covers the opening with its thick, armored forelimbs.

DIET: This herbivore feeds on grasses, herbs, cacti, tree shoots, and other plant material.

REPRODUCTION: This tortoise mates from June through early August and lays a single clutch of up to 12 eggs the following June or July [emphasis Anne's]. The eggs are usually buried inside the burrow.

PROTECTED throughout Arizona
It is against Arizona State law to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect this animal in any part of the state. It is also illegal to attempt to engage in any such conduct.

I've blogged about this before, but it bears repeating: Sonoran Desert Tortoises retain water needed for survival in their bladder. They'll pee if picked up or otherwise harassed. Unless they can tank up immediately (unlikely most of the time), they'll die. Continue to educate others about this!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Moon Shot

Photo by Marty Horowitz 8/20/2016

You'll want to click on this photo for a closer look at cracks and craters.
And check out Google Moon for photos of all the Apollo landing sites!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dare to compare!

One of the many highlights of the 8/17/2016 Mount Lemmon walk with Ned and Friends of Ned was seeing this very young Greater Short-horned Lizard taking a walk on the wild side!

Photo by Ned Harris 8/17/2016, hand by highly trained naturalist

These lizards are found at higher elevations and are born alive. This one was born in the spring.
Previous post on this lizard by Mark Hengesbaugh

The Regal Horned Lizard is in the same family, is found in Sabino Canyon (and elsewhere). The females (of course) lay eggs.

Photo by Ned Harris 4/13/2011, hand by trained naturalist

One needs a special license in order to handle these (or any) lizards, so don't try this at home.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Now for some fruits!

As readers of this blog know, I am wont to write (and say): "The fruit is the thing with the seed(s)." Today's photos (by the always amazing Ned Harris) show fruits of widely varying types.

Photos by Ned Harris 8/17/2016

Buckbrush (Ceanothus fendleri) (155) fruits are (more or less) triangular red berries. Flowers were present on this plant at the same time. They're the tiny white things you see in clusters.

Yellow salsify (Tragopogon dubius) (55) fruits look like dandelion fruits. Indeed, these plants are in the same family (Aster). If you are able, take a closer look at the fruits. The seed is the dark thin part at the base of the "parachute." These seeds are wind dispersed, of course; the parachute allows each seed to drift away from the parent plant and is as dainty and as beautiful as a spider web.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


There are asters (in the Aster aka Sunflower family) galore on Mount Lemmon, too! Many of which are - you guessed it - yellow. Two of these darn-yellow-asters are compared below.

Photos by Ned Harris 8/17/2016

For the DYAs, the leaves, bloom time, and elevation are (often) important in distinguishing species. Using Frank's book, I was able to do so and to determined that this flower is a Western sneezeweed (Hymenoxys hoopesii) (36).

Cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) (44) blooms at the same general time and elevation as Western sneezeweed. In fact, we saw them in some of the same locations (although the Western sneezeweed is more abundant).

Head to Mount Lemmon for more bloomin' asters!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


In case you missed it (ICYMI, as the kids say), my review of the Borage family (that I did as part of my spring tutorial) starts here. Today's flower is another in that family that you'll see in abundance on the Mount Lemmon heights.

Photo by Ned Harris 8/17/2016
Marcormeria (Macromeria viridiflora) page 61 in Rose

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Downward Rose pose

All Photos by Ned Harris 8/17/2016

I don't know much about yoga, but I have read of the "Downward Dog"pose (albeit in a comic book). When Ned showed me this shot, I immediately thought of it as the "Downward Rose" pose. Try it on Mount Lemmon!! With Frank S. Rose's book Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona in both hands, crouch carefully to closely inspect flower(s); without tipping over or touching the ground, correctly identify flower(s) before slowly standing. I'm happy to report that I executed this move perfectly, winning gold in the aspiring-geezer category. The flowers are Scouler's catchfly (Silene scouleri) (page 78) and are among the many I re-learned on this walk.
And without further ado (or yoga), I'll kick off another Mount Lemmon week (or so).

Beebalm (Monarda citriodora var. austromontana) 117

Cranesbill (Geranium caespitosum) 112

More flowers tomorrow!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Night Mom

Ned was out and about at the Desert Museum on 8/13/2016 for their "Cool Summer Nights" program.(The next one on 8/27 is Teacher Appreciation Night. K-12 teachers get in free, with i.d.!)

Photo by Ned Harris 8/13/2016

He used a black light to locate and photograph Bark Scorpions, including this mom with babies on her back. (Don't try this at home.) Looks to me like she's welcoming the one that went astray! (Bottom left of photo.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Electric Sky

Warning: Tomorrow's post is of arachnids!! 

Marty had some fun playing with lightning over the Catalinas. Click for larger view. Enjoy!

All photos by Marty Horowitz, August 2016

Warning: Tomorrow's post is of arachnids!! 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

2015 Spadefoots

This is the last of the 'Best of August' series - for this year, anyway!

Spadefoots have spadefeet, from August 2015

Friday, August 19, 2016

Spiny Tiger

This hike in August 2014 was very memorable for my Honey-Matt and me. I imagine this rattler remembers the day, too.

The Tiger and the Spine, from August 2014

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tiny Tortoise 2013

Desert Tortoises are out and about during monsoon season, so watch where you step!

Little tort report, from August 2013

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Not-so-wild cat 2012

If memory serves, it turned out that this cat had a vision problem, and was eventually caught, treated, and relocated. In any case, this was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime sighting for Ned Harris in August 2012!

Sabino Bobcat - from August 2012

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Best of August 2011!

I chose this one in honor of Ned's (very recent) birthday. Perhaps this snake had cake to celebrate!

From August 2011, That was some good elephant!

Happy Birthday, Ned!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Best of August series

I decided to take you on a trip of August memories. Some things (like today's post) are seen every August, some things (like all the other posts in this series) are extraordinary.

First up, Bloomin' Barrels, Batman! from August 2010!

(I'm pretty sure those are my Honey-Matt's photos.) You'll note that this blog has changed in a number of ways over the years - all for the better, of course!

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Photo © Mark Hengesbaugh 8/12/2016

This Sonoran Desert Toad looks ready for a kiss! But you'd be wiser to let this toad remain a toad. From the link:

The species’ skin toxins are strong enough to kill a dog and reportedly have hallucinogenic qualities.

Just imagine the prince :- )

Saturday, August 13, 2016

35 cfs

Photo by Marty Horowitz 8/3/2016

Everyone loves photos of water, especially water flowing over the dam. Marty took this one at the flow rate of 35 cfs (cubic feet per second). What does that mean?? Picture a box 1 foot on each side. Now fill that box with water. Now picture 35 of those boxes going over the dam each second. That's what you have with 35 cfs. Want more data about the creek flow? Check out the data available here from the USGS's National Water Information System on the web for the Arizona Water Science Center.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Art and Article

Photo by Matt Ball 7/31/2016

Reflections in Sabino Creek

Photo by Matt Ball 8/6/2016

Clouds above Sabino Canyon

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Art in Flight

Photos (c) Marty Horowitz 8/3/2016

Two more dragonfly photos from Marty! This is a male Plateau Dragonlet. The water in the background presents a remarkable texture, too.

Marty writes:

I invested 15 minutes waiting for this guy to finally stop cruising and rest for ~ 30 seconds…

Anne says: It's worth waiting for anything Green!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Photo © Marty Horowitz 8/3/2016

Tiger Whiptail enjoys bee-runch.

[Tiger Whiptails forage] by rooting around in organic matter under bushes and by digging in the soil around the bases of rocks, logs, and other surface debris. [They feed] on termites, insect larvae, beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, and other insects. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sunset on my shoulder...

... makes me happy!

Photo copyright Ned Harris 8/4/2016

Sunset in Sabino Canyon. Click on photo for larger view.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Adults have wings, part 47

One fact about insects that you should know is this: adults have wings. (I'll repeat this many more times, never fear!) Today's examples are dragonflies. Dragonflies undergo "incomplete" (or 3-stage) metamorphosis: egg > nymph> adult. (In other words, dragonflies don't pupate like butterflies.)

Dragonflies hatch from eggs looking (mostly) like dragonflies, except that they're smaller and, of course, they don't have wings. The nymphs eat, grow, shed, repeat, until they climb out of their exoskeleton one last time and spread their wings. Here's a good kid-friendly overview.

Among dragonflies, males are more colorful than females.

All photos by Marty Horowitz 8/3/2016

Variegated Meadowhawk dragonfly, male. Click on the link for more great photos.

Variegated Meadowhawk dragonfly, female

Living things (yes, even plants) are considered mature/adults when they can reproduce. These dragonflies are doing what adults do.

Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflies, mating pair

Thanks, Marty, for these great photos.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Plants just wanna have sun

Photo by Deb Langeloh 7/30/2016

Can you find the tiny Arizona Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii) in this boulder? Click on the photo for a (slightly) larger view!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Elegant Engineering Over Sabino Creek

Photos and Text by Mark Hengesbaugh

A Bell’s Vireo incubates eggs in a nest suspended over Sabino Creek.

Though they are listed as a “species of concern” in the Sabino/Tanque Verde watershed by Tucson Audubon—along with Elf Owl, Abert’s Towhee and Gilded Flicker—Bell’s Vireos are abundant in the recreation area. Vireo habitat wasn’t always so healthy along this riparian corridor. Ten years ago the ash tree that supports this nest was surrounded by a dense thicket of fast-growing 25-foot tall alien canes—Arundo donax, or Giant Reed—that had shaded out and killed nearly every other tree in it’s path. We never saw a vireo—or any perching bird—attempt to make a nest in those alien canes. It’s an example of the way invasive plants reduce opportunities for reproductive success of the native wildlife.

Friday, August 5, 2016

You can't tune a tuna

Photo by Matt Ball 7/31/2016

Prickly Pear fruits (also known as tunas) are red, ripe, and, alas, covered with nearly microscopic spines called glochids. Resist the urge to pick them! And, of course, never harvest anything from Sabino Canyon.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Water Dances

My Honey-Matt and I went out on Sunday morning (7/31/2016) to get some Sabino Creek shots. We weren't disappointed!

All Photos by Matt Ball, 7/31/2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Flower Power

We saw these and many more flowers on our Mt. Lemmon walk. All were ultimately identified using Frank Rose's book Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona.
All photos by Marty Horowitz, 7/27/2016

Red Monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis) (136 in Rose) 

Golden Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) (153) 

New Mexico Raspberry (Rubus neomexicanus) (162) 

Bearded Penstemon (Penstemon barbatus) (140)

Peavine (Lathyrus graminifolius) (100)
The flower pictured in Rose is much pinker, 
leaves wider than the examples we saw. 
Like all living things, there are variations within species. 

(This wasn't really a week of Mt. Lemmon, so I reserve the right to bring you more from the heights later this year.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Photo by Marty Horowitz 7/27/2016

Redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea) fruits (pg 82 in Rose).
Branches are red, leaves bright green. This plant blooms May through July (small white flowers). Birds like the fruits (and help spread the seeds).

Photo by Marty Horowitz 7/27/2016

Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) fruits (pg 5 in Rose)
These plants were enormous, some at least 6 feet tall. They bloom in the summer (May through August), but we didn't see any in flower. Many were bending over, they were so heavy with fruits. Yes, each one of the ovals above is a fruit. As I've said before, the fruit is the thing with the seed(s).

Monday, August 1, 2016

Three for three

On the nature walk with Ned and friends, Jean Hengesbaugh identified and  recorded 27 bird species seen, including the three below.
All photos by Marty Horowitz 7/27/2016