Spectacular Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake

A morning in June, hiking in a rocky canyon, my wandering thoughts were broken by an insistent buzz. It sounded like seeds shaken in a gourd. The circular edges of the coiled snake caught my eye. So hidden, yet in plain sight. If she hadn’t warned me, I would have stepped within a foot of whereContinue reading “Spectacular Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake”

Quirky Quails

What’s more charming than a Gambel’s Quail? The male’s ringing call and the constant back and forth clucking of the family group is fabric of the desert.  A somewhat comic and vulnerable image is belied by the bird’s regal attitude.   A quail family with twelve fledglings has been visiting our back yard to drinkContinue reading “Quirky Quails”

Colorful Kingbird of May

This elegant bird began hanging around the backyard in the middle of May.  She surveyed the area from our agave stalk, drank at the fountain, and perched in the Palo Verde tree out back.  Never having noticed this bird before I had to check my field guides. We had a Western Kingbird! An acrobatic flier,Continue reading “Colorful Kingbird of May”

Charmed by Chuckwallas

Big and baggy, Chuckwallas are lizards from the iguana family.  All that extra skin comes in handy when a predator such as a red-tailed hawk or a coyote threatens.  Chuckwalla dives into a nearby rock crevice and gulps in air, blowing itself up like a balloon.  The predator finds its almost prey wedged into aContinue reading “Charmed by Chuckwallas”

Tale of Two Turkey Vultures

It’s a bit weird when turkey vultures show up in your backyard, especially while a pandemic rages.   Yet, in late March, a couple of turkey vultures started hanging around on the rocky boulders behind our house.  As we sheltered at home, the massive birds loitered, preened and flew.  With their bald red heads and hookedContinue reading “Tale of Two Turkey Vultures”

Desert Tortoise

By May spring wildflowers have crisped into mere scaffoldings for seeds.  Underfoot the soil is loose and the air itself feels bone dry.  Out hiking, I descend into a dip in the Desert Classic Trail, a place where cyclists speed down and pedal madly up again. I’m startled to see a Desert Tortoise come lurchingContinue reading “Desert Tortoise”