Desert in Bloom

Exciting news! I have just moved to Tucson, AZ! While I have been volunteering in the aquarium industry for a while now, I just got a real, full-time position at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. I drove from California to Tucson yesterday, so today was my first full day here. To celebrate, I went on a nature walk and decided to start the Homesteading Hippy back up with the pictures I took.

1-Desert Blooming

The nice thing about moving to the Sonora Desert in this time of year is that many of the plants are in bloom. Most prominent are the brittlebrush, Encelia farinosa, which have yellow flowers and silvery leaves. In the background are saguaros and jojoba bushes.

Saguaros are truly immense. I took a picture of myself in front of a saguaro to demonstrate:

9-Saguaro

For reference, I am over six feet tall. Other plants are much less conspicuous.

7-Lupine

This tiny little plant is a wild lupine, specifically Coulter’s Lupine, Lupinus sparsiflorus. It is no more than 8 inches tall, tucked under a rock. Once I knew what to look for, I saw them everywhere, but they stay tiny and seem to grow in sheltered areas.

8-Ocotillo

The largest and brightest flowers belong to Ocotillo, a unique plant that I have not successfully photographed. The plant itself is 15-20 feet tall and consists of unbranched canes covered in spines emerging from a center. At the end of each cane is a flower cluster. The problem is taking a picture where the wispy ocotillo stands out. When I take one, I’ll post it.

4-Ant Lion HolesThese cone-shaped holes should be familiar to most of you: they’re ant lion holes. The animal makes a perfectly shaped trap of loosely stacked sand. When an insect touches the wall of the cone, the sand collapses and the insect falls to the bottom where the ant lion can catch it.

 

5-Ant LionAnd this is what an ant lion looks like, in case you’re wondering.

 

2-Common SideBlotched Lizard

The common side-blotched lizard is very well named. It is the most common lizard I saw during this walk, and it has a distinct black blotch behind its shoulders.

6-SideBlotched 2

They seem to allow a very close approach, as long as you move slowly and smoothly. I got this picture, and then he got scared when I tried to zoom with the camera lens.

3-Greater Earless Lizard

Another species of lizard that I saw was the greater earless lizard. If I misidentified this one, please let me know. They are skittish and fast, and this was the only photo where it wasn’t completely blurry.

After sunset I went out again, and made a few more finds.

12-Gecko 2

This is a Mediterranean house gecko, invasive in Arizona but cute beyond belief. They are very docile and easy to approach.

11-Gecko

Their eyes are really cool looking. If you move calmly, they handle well and will sit still on your hands for quite a while before wandering off.

13-Gecko 3

Like I said, very cute lizards. I think they might just be attracted to the warmth of my hands.Lastly, I found a colony of what I am assuming are leafcutter ants, since they were carrying sprigs of grass in a long column back to the nest.

14-Leafcutter

~The Homesteading Hippy

 

5 thoughts on “Desert in Bloom

  1. Pingback: Bug-hunting in Arizona | The Homesteading Hippy

  2. Pingback: Arizona Springtime | The Homesteading Hippy

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