I recently explored a trail in the Catalina State Park near Tucson.  It is near the location of a recent reintroduction effort for Bighorn Sheep (http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/bighornSheep.shtml) and is classically beautiful Sonoran Desert.  With all the rains this summer the plant and insect life was plentiful.

grasshopper ~ copyright g. joder

flower ~ copyright g. joder

the trail ~ copyright g. joder

butterfly ~ copyright g. joder

cactus rock ~ copyright g. joder

tarantula hawk and wolf spider ~ copyright g. joder

horned lizard ~ copyright g. joder

Looking north west ~ copyright g. joder




It’s always nice to see an animal in person, but sometimes it’s even more fun to find evidence of their presence in the tracks they leave behind.  The following tracks were left in the mud on the bank of a receding mud puddle in the desert near Tucson.

The first set of tracks are from a a bobcat.  Notice the middle, or interdigital pad, has two lobes and there are no claw impressions:

bobcat track ~ copyright g. joder

bobcat tracks ~ copyright g. joder

In the next photo there are two different animal tracks.  The most obvious track is from a raccoon.  In front of the raccoon tracks you can just make out the zygodactyl tracks of a road runner:

raccoon and roadrunner tracks ~ copyright g. joder

The desert and its critters have continued to respond to all the monsoon rains that have fallen so far.  On a  recent walk up Ventana Canyon I met another black-tailed rattlesnake on the trail and a colorful butterfly.  Anyone know what genus or species is the butterfly?

copyright g. joder

copyright g. joder

black-tailed rattlesnake ~ copyright g. joder

black-tailed rattlesnake ~ copyright g. joder

I went to check on activity near the waterhole and saw a tarantula approaching the burrow of a resident male tarantula that has had a burrow by the waterhole for a couple months now.  I ended up watching them fight, or that is, I watched the resident tarantula defend his territory.   The whole interaction took about 7 minutes before the intruder took off.  In the last photo I thought the intruder had bitten the resident male, but when I checked on him the next morning he (the resident male) was sitting at the mouth of his burrow in ambush position just as always. (Update:  I’m getting youtube feedback that this might have actually been a courtship and mating scene…  I’ll keep you posted).

The intruder is in the foreground and the resident is facing the camera ~ copyright g. joder

notice the intruder is missing two right legs… copyright g. joder

Because of the heavy rains in Tucson today I really wanted to get into the desert to see how the critters were reacting.  I chose an area where I’ve seen desert tortoises and Gila monster before and was lucky enough to find and to watch three different tortoises doing their thing, foraging or simply sitting in the pale sunlight warming up.  It’s likely that I’ve photographed one or all of these tortoises before in the last 3 years since they are territorial and I am a creature of habit.

a desert tortoise roaming near Sabino Canyon ~ copyright g. joder

a desert tortoise ~ copyright g. joder

a desert tortoise ~ copyright g. joder

sugar thieves


The nectivorous bats have been at the hummingbird feeders every night if I leave the feeders out.  I’m not sure what species these are, either the Lesser long-nosed bat or the Mexican long-tongued bat.  Last night seemed particularly active:

Notice its head and neck are yellow from pollen. Copyright g. joder

Bat! Copyright g. joder

Here’s a video with two clips (with audio) a little over a month apart showing a white-tailed deer with her fawn…  So cute!  In the first clip the monsoon rains had not really started, but in the second clip you can see how much greener the desert is:


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