Thanks to Bob Beatson, last Tuesday I had the opportunity to tag along with Jeff Simms (BLM), Ross Timmons (AZ Game and Fish), Adam Barkalow and Bob for a part of the annual BLM fish survey of Cienegas Creek. This creek flows through the rich grassland of the Empire State Ranch (now BLM). The creek is clear and fresh and seems to find an ever-changing bed under the shading canopy of mostly Cotton Wood trees. The creek varies from a few feed in width, easily stepped over, and flat areas with lively ripples to wide quiet pools that are over five feet deep.
Under BLM management that reduced the grazing impact, the ecological health of this little creek has actually been improving over the last years. This maybe a unique situation among Arizona riparian habitats. But the planned site of the Rosemont Coppermine is not far away, just across Highway 83. If those deep pits go in, water flow of this watershed may reverse its direction and that would be the end of this paradise.
To everyone's relieve, no exotics like for example Mosquito Fish were found. The competitive pressure of introduced species is a great problem for native fish in most other Arizona streams and creeks.
|Orange Sulphur, Colias eurytheme|
Libellula saturata, the Flame Skimmer stayed rather close to the water and several males kept coming back to their individual perches.
|Sympetrum signiferum, Spot-winged Meadowhawk|
Spreadwings, Archilestes grandis,. were still mating. Above a female and a pair in tandem.
The females of the striking Painted Damsel Hesperagrion heterodoxum still showed immature orange color while the males were in full blue ad red regalia.
I was told that there are Clubtails at the creek, and we may have seen some larvae. We also found larvae of Stoneflies (we thought) and some unidentifiable Diptera larvae clinging to the underside of rocks. I really need to figure out how to take images of wet, reflective subjects in dark places that require a flash.
As seigning by-catch we found Toebiters (Lethocerus medius) and Giant Water Bugs (Abedus herberti), Backswimmers (Notonecta shooteri), and Waterscorpions (Ranatra quadridentata).
Big Fishing Spiders (Dolomedes triton) scuttled out of the way all along the creek.
|A Differential Grasshopper on my sweep net|
I found only a few terrestrial beetles, some small Epicauta, The Long-horn Sphenotecus bivittata, and very few Carabids under dead wood. The area had been upset by recent violent floods and many ground beetles may have been flushed out.
On high ground a number of Pinacate Stink Beetles Eleodes longicollis appeared just before sunset. From herbs in the grassland I swept big numbers of Striped Ladybugs, Corn Root Worm and, closer to the river the Melyrid Collops grandis. Please visit my Flickr gallery for more pictures.
On the way home deer and coatimundi watched our trucks rumbling by, more curious than afraid, but not obliging for a photo....