Friday, March 11, 2016

Marbles in Florida Canyon

One day after my birthday we - Randy, the pack and I - hiked up Florida Canyon Trail towards the saddle. A beautiful, if slightly muggy day.

From the highest point, we had great views all the way over downtown Tucson to the Pinal mines and Green Valley.

On the way up I told some birdwatchers to look for Montezuma Quail and when we met them again higher up, they proudly reported that they actually saw some: 'and suddenly two rocks began to move!'

Heading down I let go of  Mecki because he kept getting in my way on the steep trail with loose rocks. He stayed nicely on the trail until he saw the quail too. He is usually no hunter, but this time he ran. I normally trust our dogs to be smart enough to find us again, but this time we had to wait ominously long. We called and whistled and felt rather bad that he was running free and anxious that he was lost, or worse. There were signs posted along the trail warning of a dead horse that might attract predators. We saw neither carcass nor pumas ...
and Mecki eventually turned up behind us on the path, panting and wet. Very tired, too.

There were only some Blue Dicks and a few Sand Verbenas blooming and we saw few insects with exception of very active Carpenter Bees that constantly droned across our path.We did find some interesting butterflies, though, mating pairs of Desert Marbles, Euchloe lotta.

Looking down from the trail into the Santa Rita Research Station I recognized some familiar figures with beating sheets and nets: Charlie and Lois O'Brien and their Canadian guest Robert Anderson were searching for weevils. So our hike concluded with  a nice visit with them and station manager Mark Heitlinger.

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