Monday, February 18, 2019

The Fauna of Sabino Canyon

Fantastic Fauna of Sabino Canyon

We have been enjoying Tucson and Sabino Canyon in particular since the first of the year. The greenery and the flowering plants are working up to full bloom and they can be seen regularly every day as they don't move around.  

The fauna is a different story.  Sightings of animals are more time of day sensitive and often just plain accidental. You have to carry your camera daily to photograph them. This year's animal sighting are mentioned here.  We'll go by size and start with a bit of a cheat.  Some of the Sabino trails do allow horses and we see parties of riders on occasion. We will count them as the largest animals out there.

The White-Tailed deer are lovely to see. This one was munching away on the fruits of a barrel cactus.

This one just looked at us for a while.

The white nosed Coati or Coatimundi is in the racoon family and this is the first one we have seen in Sabino Canyon. They are diurnal and more common in South and Central America. This one was strolling about at noon near the first bridge on the Bear Canyon Road. Rangers are concerned that visitors are feeding them, which encourages their hanging out near roads and trails.
The Desert Cottontail is fairly common in the canyon. They are identified by their fairly large ears.  The ones that were outside our condo the last two years seem to have found other quarters as we have had only a few brief sightings looking out of our living room window.  
 Our first view of a round tailed ground squirrel this year was just a few days ago. He was nibbling away at a little bush and then literally climbed into it to feast on the tender new leaves.
Yet to see and photograph this year are Javelina, Gila Monsters, snakes, or lizards.  Mountain Lions are also in the canyon, but we have never seen one.  They normally stick to the higher  elevations.
Now we move on to  the birds. Let's start with a nice hawk. This is probably a Red-Tailed one, but he is pretty far up there to see clearly.
We usually see the common Roadrunner every two or three days. They are always fun to watch.

Also seen most days are the Phainopeplas. The male is fairly large. Coloration is  glossy purple or black with white wing bars that you can see when they fly.  They love to sit on the top of desert trees like the mesquite.

The Cactus Wren also loves the tops of things--especially saguaros.

They also like the prickly tops of desert chollas--perhaps because they like to nest inside of them.

I haven't been able to catch a male Cardinal yet this year, but here is a nice female.

The Northern Mockingbird is another denizen of the desert.

Finally a brief look at insects. The butterflies are coming out now. Only two I have been able to catch so far are the Desert Marble or Spotted White


And an almost hidden Blue Azure 

This is a Texas Crescent. It is very small.
No idea what this guy is. He was the size of a fingernail.
And finally even smaller than that little butterfly.  You'll just have to trust me that there are ants crawling in and out of this hole. 

So endeth the animals we have been able to photograph so far.  We will share any new ones that we see as the month goes on. Corrections and comments are always welcome.







Saturday, February 16, 2019

Here Comes The Flood

The rain in Spain and the Bear Canyon trail stays mainly on the hard surfaces, but the creek beds get the full force of deluges in the two to three inch level on Mount Lemon.

So these  placid scene from last week

looked like this the other morning.

The old bridge we strolled across  below
suddenly looked like this


The mountains still looked beautiful and the reflections in the puddles on the Bear Canyon trail were awesome.

 Time to head off for a morning walk and check out the changes.







Friday, February 15, 2019

What's Bloomin Now in Sabino Canyon?

In January about all we saw was the Brittlebush flowering up a storm.
Now some of the other little guys are starting to emerge. Early in the day you can now see the Desert Evening Primrose.
Another in the same color range, not so freshly yellow is the Arizona Desert Poppy or maybe the Mexican Gold Poppy
This is another tiny one with a tiny little flower less than a quarter in size. 
Another yellow entry would be the Barrel Cactus blooms, which are edibles for a number of the desert creatures. 
The Lupin produces one of the most common flowers in the purple or violet range. 
Silver Bells are a tad taller and have slightly larger flowers.
The Harebells are just getting started and we should have more pics in the next few weeks. 

Scorpion weed is a ground hugger with furry leaves and a delicate pinkish flower.   

 Nothing red seen yet unless you want to count a few Christmas Chollas that have fruits that change to red as they mature.  

 The whites or almost whites start with the ubiquitous Cryptantha. It will shortly be everywhere in mostly shaded places and has a hairy stem with a barely visible teeny flower that is smaller than your little fingernail. The picture makes it look deceptively larger than it really is.


We are not really naturalists so we are not apologetic about seeing plants we can't identify for sure. We would love help if you see a bloom you recognize.
For instance this could be another kind of cryptantha or something entirely different. The flowers again are really tiny.

Jan is pretty sure the next two pictures are of  Fleabane.  Correct us if you differ.

This one is different with even taller stem, fewer petals, and spikey protuberances..
Similar but yellow but with spikes all round the central flower.  Aster family?
We're still working on the next ones as well.


This a larger one we think may be  Ragleaf  Bahia?

We shall keep working and try to update descriptions and names as we learn more and query some of the real rangers and naturalists that we run into.  Have a great day and wish you were here to join us in our walks in Sabino Canyon.