Sunday, March 12, 2017

Good morning at Sabino Canyon

We opened our day with another spectacular sunrise at our condo.


With breakfast stowed, we set out for Sabino Canyon. It was sort of quiet at first with just some fiddlenecks to look at.









The birds also seemed to be taking the day off,    but finally we saw a nice cardinal in the distance. 





Then our luck changed. We had reached the Bear Canyon Road on the Esperero Trail and turned back on the road trail when a herd of Javelinas started marching across about 70 yards in front of us. It was our first javelina sighting of the year. I wish the pics were a bit better, but they did not stop to pose. 

 



 
  Bye Bye big fellow

 


We started walking again and then saw a female peeking out of the brush.  We stopped, I took a quick photo and she backed off and turned further into the foliage followed by a young one. 






 
   A little further along some unidentified high flyers were holding my attention when Jan pointed out  a tree full of Cedar Waxwings who were more cooperative in sitting still.
 
 
 
 
 
 
They are indeed pretty birds.


 

To top things off we stopped to admire one of the  few early blooming Saguaros. 


My sharp eyed spouse then said that there were hummingbirds hovering.  And sure enough it was nectar time.


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It was a perfect end to the walk.





 
 
 
 

Monday, March 06, 2017

Sabino Canyon's Spring Flowers

My wife and I are not naturalists or even long time Tucson residents, but she loves flowers and I like to take pictures of them.  We are a bit too elderly to climb the heights yet there is plenty to see within a mile or two of the visitor center.  We carry our little book and try to identify at least some of the plants we see.  You are encouraged to let me know if we have made any egregious mistakes.  Along the way we have discovered that a lot of plants have more than one general name in additional to their scientific classifications, which can add to the amateur's confusion.

So here goes some pictures of some of the more common blooms we have seen in the last couple of weeks.

The Mexican Gold Poppy is starting to pop up everywhere and can literally cover whole hillsides in magnificent yellow when it reaches its peak.

 
The brittlebush also has bright yellow daisy like flowers.
 
 
 Smaller but still yellow is the common London Rocket.
Unfortunately it is an invasive non- native species and is not loved by the naturalists we have talked to in the Canyon.
 


 
More of a native and also small is the Fiddleneck with its hairy stems, leaves, and tiny yellow flowers that will bend over in maturity to look like miniature fiddles.
 
 

 
 
White is standout color in the desert. So far we have tagged the Desert Chicory. 
 


The desert zinnia is also big enough to see from a distance.



Fleabane is more delicate, but is still fairly easy to spot.



The tiny Crypthantha takes a bit of looking for underneath nurse trees or shrubs. It's a "borage" like the Fiddleneck.




 
We've also seen a few nice stands of Rattlesnake-Weed. The redish stems here hold multiple tiny cup like flowers with deep red centers. Not sure why the rattlesnake name.  Perhaps the snakes like to crawl under this low down bush.

 
A final more delicate white flower is on the Big Root or Wild Cucumber.  At least we think that is what it is.
 
 
 
Blue is a nice color as well and in the past two weeks we have seen more and more of the elegant Blue Dicks poking up on their long slender stems




This one has even attracted an early pollinator.





Don't get them confused with the lovely Desert Lupin which does not have a long slender stem. .

 
The Lupin also has a signature star shaped leaf that is a perfect identifier.
 
 



 
The Caliche Globe Mallow takes us into the red or orange color palette.
 

 

 
 
 
And let's finish the abundant and beautiful Fairy Duster
 
 
 
 
The first stage of their bloom is a five pointed star.
 
 
As they mature they simply explode into a wispy cottony ball.
 



 Thanks for looking in and we hope we have not made too many errors in our classifications.


 
 
 
 

 
 
 




 
 



 

 

 
 
 

 

 
 

 
 
 
 


 
 
 


 

 
 
 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Some First Sightings at Sabino Canyon Today

Last evening's pink clouds dissipated by morning and we started off golden





It must have been a good omen because, after almost two months, we saw a nice white tailed deer today on our Sabino Canyon walk. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

It is also evident that the flowers will be popping out in the next week or two.

The Creosote bushes will soon be full of yellow blooms.


The Ocotillo have sprouted their green leaves and many now have buds at the tips



Fairy Dusters are trail side in a lot of places.



We have also seen some of the smaller flowering plants showing green leaves and flowers. They are starting to show up underneath Mesquite trees and Creosote bushes. This is a Caliche Globe Mallow



Fiddlenecks are really little.  They have hairy leaves and stems and tiny golden flowers that are smaller than the head of a pencil eraser.


The Cryptantha are similar with white flowers that are almost like little dots. I will need to bring a better lens to get them in focus.



This is a larger one called a Blue Dicks and is the first one we've seen this year.




Then there are some that we can't quite identify at the moment.  We are going on a nature walk on Wednesday and will have some questions for the naturalists.  Or maybe you can help.


 




 

One thing we are sure of is that with the flowers blooming we will also start to see more butterflies.  This fellow is the first one that has stayed still enough to photograph this year.  It is about an inch across and we think it is a Tiny Checkerspot.