Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lightning Bugs

Things I miss about southwestern Pennsylvania (in no particular order).

#1 Lightning bugs

Lightning bugs were a fixture of warm summer nights. I remember evenings when the glitter of lightning bugs winking in the trees turned even the most bland backyard into Mother Nature's Christmas tree display. Lightning bugs thrive in warm, humid weather which means you do not see them in southern Arizona.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Tucson has had some rain the past two and a half days. This is the first time it's rained since at least early March. We needed it. Yesterday we supposedly broke a record for the most rain that fell on that day (0.5 inches) since they've been keeping track of such things. Fortunately, it didn't dump on us all at once, but instead rained steady all day. I actually saw a few puddles of water in the "river."

Of course, all this rain meant that roofs all over Tucson were leaking since Roofing 101 seems to be lacking from the education of local construction crews. Why worry about rain drainage when it only rains 6 or 7 times a year?

Weather forecasters are calling for an early and wetter than normal monsoon this year. That should make for a great spring flowering season NEXT year.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Five itty-bitty baby quail

That's all. I counted only five of the little fluff balls scurrying around. There probably were more, but we're already down to five--at least with this brood.

Coyote in the fountain

I guess if you needed proof that it's been a long time since it rained, seeing a coyote drinking out of your water fountain might be just the evidence you were looking for.

Cactus fountain

Today, a coyote jumped onto my low wall that separates the yard from the common area. (See photo.) He cautiously looked around while he (or she) tried to figure out the best way to drink from it. He didn't stay long--just long enough to get a few decent sized slurps of water. I didn't capture him on film, but this is the fountain. (Stone Cactus Fountains )

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Black-headed Grosbeak

Black-headed Grosbeaks usually live in habitats above 3,500 feet in elevation. However, they occasionally venture into the lower elevations. Right now, they are being seen all over Tucson! I've had at least one visiting my seed feeder for about two weeks. He's a bit bossy. When he's hanging on the feeder he likes to peck the other birds away. Supposedly, these guys like water so I have no idea what they're doing in the desert!

Monday, May 11, 2009

And you thought you were in pretty good shape...

Greg Hansen Sunday Notebook (Arizona Daily Star) wrote the following:

Ultramarathon runner Reed never ceases to be amazing

Pam Reed is 48 now. She has run through Death Valley in 120 degrees, without stopping, for almost two days. She has run 300 miles, without sleep, over 80 hours on a remote road near Eloy. She has run the Boston Marathon backward and then in regular fashion on the same day.

Reed has been Tucson's toughest, most unshakable athlete for years. I suspected she would never be able make me raise an eyebrow again. All of the toughies have been conquered.

But two weeks ago in Flushing, N.Y., in the Self-Transcendence Six-Day Race, the director of the Tucson Marathon ran 490 miles. Here's Reed's daily mileages, in order: 103, 77, 76, 78, 76, 80. Only one woman ran farther over the six-day period.

Reed remains in a class by herself, 105 pounds of toughness, approaching 50 as if she just turned 19. Amazing.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Western Tanager

I saw a Western Tanager flitting around in the back yards today. That's a first for me!

Note: If you're reading this on Facebook, click here for the original post with pictures!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Saguaros in bloom

Buds start to appear on the arms and top of the stately Saguaro in mid-April.

When the buds finally explode into blossom, bees, bats and birds have a feast.

Note: If you're reading this on Facebook, click here for the original post with pictures!