|On the east side of the Tucson Mountains, Saguaro fruit are ripe and the buffet is open! Photo by Doris Evans|
|On our side of the Tucsons, the Cactus Wren is determined to be the first in line when the green fruit finally pop open|
We are enjoying June as a slow time with neither art shows nor entomological engagements. During the heat of the day we eat lunch and breakfast on the shady patio, but otherwise we hide indoors were cool air is blowing in from the swamp coolers on the roof.
We take the dogs for walks in the state land close to sunset or sunrise. Twilight brings a pleasant, magical time with long shadows and warm colors. I would love to capture the running dark 'pups' against the light when they are outlined by gold. No such luck yet.
Day-active animals like squirrels, songbirds, kestrels, quail, zebra-tail lizards, tarantula hawks and dragonflies are still out, and of course the crepuscular dawn and dusk critters. Night active Great Horned Owls and tiny bats begin their activity when the sun has just set. Snake encounters are likely, but lately we've seen only their tracks.
This morning I carefully approached on some Lesser Night Hawks that had just landed. If I do not see them in flight first, I can rarely find them as they tuck themselves tightly along a branch that their feathers exactly match to spend the day.
I also love the warm summer nights. I walk around armed with a flashlight hoping to see Kangaroo Rats and night-crawling snakes. Much more regularly I find the miniature version of the K-rat, cute little pocket mice.
They love to chew on succulent agave leafs. When I taught renal physiology at the U of A I always tried to impress the students with the fact that the renal concentration capacity of these guys is so great that they can live basically without access to free water even if their diet consists of seeds and dry grasses. I guess being able to live that way doesn't mean they would not rather eat juicy stuff.
|Eleodes armatus and Moneilema gigas|
While peering into the cholla I nearly bumped into a couple of birds asleep in the relative safety of their prickly retreat. A Curve-billed Thrasher moved away from the glare of my light, but a male Gambel's Quail sat there like he was transfixed. Most birds cannot see well at night, so they are very reluctant to give up their perches. I had never been this close to a wild quail before!