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Calling Harris’s Hawk

Shortly after this the hawk tried to catch one of the finches, without success. The bit of rain we had last night has brought flocks of finches to the wash.

The lizards were out in plenty. I saw a Desert Spiny Lizard, a Sonoran Spotted Whiptail (Aspidoscelis flagellicanda), and a Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides). The whiptail is the same one I thought was a Tiger Whiptail the other day, I think.

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Turkey vulture

Something has brought the predators in, maybe the tiny bit of rain we had the other day, because there was a Harris’s Hawk back again, after a long absence. It was a hot, muggy, overcast morning, as it has been for a few days. The usual doves, woodpeckers, Verdins, the occasional Lucy’s warbler. I never mention the rabbits and groundsquirrels, although they are always there too. Maybe the moisture brings them out of hiding more, attracting the hawks and vultures.

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Desert Spiny Lizard

Sceloporus magister, I think, from the description and photos on Arizona PARC. It says that some males can have a blue-green side marking on the belly, so this may also be the lizard I’ve been seeing scuttling under a tree as the walk back rejoins the wash.

I also saw a small, long, lizard with spots on the side and stripes down the back and a faint gloss to the skin; from the website, I think it’s a Tiger Whiptail, Aspidoscelis tigris.

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Zebra-tailed Lizard

These are the guys that are skittering across the desert all the time, pausing to wave their tails in the air. Sally tells me this is a message to road-runners not to bother to try to catch them, because they are too fast.

Also saw a family of Cactus Wrens arguing on top of a Saguaro. The swallows weren’t there today. Maybe they were migrating Tree Swallows.

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Nesting swallows

You can see the baby poking its head out of the hole. The colony was being attacked by starlings (one poked his head into the nest). I can’t decide whether these are Tree Swallows or Violet-green Swallows. One had a clear stripe above the eye, which indicates the latter; the blue black and the liquid notes included in the call indicate the former; on the other hand, Tree Swallows are meant to be further north at this time of year, and supposedly nest near water(!). I’ll look again later today.

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Asilomar

Took a walk along the boardwalk and beach at Asilomar, where I am attending a conference. Lots of White-crown sparrows with a sweet call, two ascending notes followed by a warble. Also jays, crows, seagulls. Beautiful flowers, including a pink flower and the endangered Menzies’ Wallflower, a yellow flower in the mustard family with four petals. It was surrounded by cages to protect it from deer and rabbits (I saw one each of those as well). The dunes were dominated by a woolly grey plant on tall stems, and a dark green low plant with a serrated leaf. Down by the tide pools there was an interesting yellow flower, like the disk of a composite without the ray flowers.

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Mesquite beans

Saw two lizards. One about 6-7” long, brown with a long tail. The tail had a different texture from the rest of the skin, divided quilt-like by low ridges. He had a funny habit of crouching low on his heels, so his back feet poked up. The other had a white belly, ornate patterned strips cross-wise on the tail and continuing onto the body. He stood alert on a rock and waved his tail warily.

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Saguaro fruit

The only true Tucsonans among the birds are the doves, woodpeckers, Pyrrhuloxias, Verdins, and the occasional Lucy’s Warbler. The doves in particular like these gorgeous red cactus fruits. The acacia pods are drying up. I saw my lizard again in the same spot, greenish underbelly and wide black stripe along the side.

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