It’s a Dry Heat

Javelina Sighting

I haven’t seen my javelina herd for months; figured they’d be back when the mesquite trees seeded again.  But at my computer I espied them crossing my driveway from the wash.

Of course, I ran downstairs for my camera, but the battery was almost dead so I got only one photo from the window.  (Notice the circle reflection in the upper right corner).  Missed counting how many there were.

Kenya Get Wet

I’ve missed a week of blogging in part due to a weekend of grandchildren, an even more difficult babysitting duty when summer has slammed into Tucson with a body block of heat.  (Heat = anything above 100°.)

Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo has enough shade so that you can dart between shadows, keeping the children’s cloth hats soaked with ice water, but after two and a half morning hours (only members may enter at 8 am, civilians are held at bay until 9 am), the Kenya Get Wet feature (get the joke?) is fun for the very young set – buttons to push for sprays of water, and old-fashioned hand pump to fill a small pool which youngsters love to sit in.  (Note: diapers become very heavy when submerged.  But if you only change the diaper, the other clothes can remain soaked for a pleasant ride home in a hot car.)  Here is a video about the new addition.  (Kids playing in the water play area is halfway through the video.)

Where can you go to see incredible animals, get wet and pump your own well water?   Reid Park Zoo’s new water play area, Kenya Get Wet, is the place to cool off this summer.   Watch Zoo News to hear what all of the splash is about!

These are a few of my favorite things…

What makes a house smell better than freshly-baked bread?  Yummy – I’m spoiling myself.  And two things that I favor rather than raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens are professionally washed windows and sun-dried clean linens.

The Birds

Albert’s towhees (with their black masks and heavy bills) are either very territorial or there’s a male in my yard after a not-interested female.

There aren’t any baby quail around.  At a friend’s house, three weeks ago, large families of Gambel’s Quail pecked through the yard.  Did the Starr Pass quail hatch when I was gone for a month?  Have the bobcats eaten all of the flightless little ones?  Or have ours yet to hatch?  (Even if they weren’t in my yard, I should have seen them crossing the road.)

I had been warned about woodpeckers (or flickers, one shown here) pecking at stucco EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems) walls.  Sure enough, there is a hole under my second-floor window to patch.

The white-winged dove (identified by the edge of white on the wing).

The Bendire’s thrasher (which has a lemon-yellow eye, not a curve-billed thrasher which has a red-orange eye), seeing the cat sprawled on the patio, sat on a branch and admonished her – nuck nuck, nuck.  A few rosy finches sat by to watch.  Luckily there are no mockingbirds around; they have been known to attack cats.  (Although I love their songs.)

The Scorpion

Last night I noticed the cat pawing at what looked like a tiny roach on the carpet.  On closer inspection (I do need stronger glasses) I noticed a miniscule curved tail.  It was a very small scorpion, either extremely poisonous, as the smallest are, or a very young one.  I scooted it onto a paper and put it outside.

When my son was in high school he collected scorpions in a jar in the freezer.  After he left for college, I would include one in each letter to him, so they’d fall into his lap when he opened them.  A rush for him.   (That was BC – Before Computer – and before emails).

Catch and Release

The cat brought another lizard into the house, unhurt.  I put it back outside.  A few nights ago she appeared on the deck upstairs, as I was cooking dinner, with a mouse in her mouth.  She released it for me and, before I caught it to put it downstairs, it ran to the edge and jumped.  Because I found no body, I guess it survived.   Think it was an Arizona Pocket Mouse.

Heteromyidae: Kangaroo Rats & Pocket Mice

The heteromyids are a group of rodents consisting of kangaroo rats and pocket mice. Despite their names, they are neither rats nor mice; and in spite of their mouse-like appearance, they are not closely related to any other species of North American rodent.

Kangaroo rats and pocket mice are all nocturnal, burrowing animals with external fur-lined cheek pouches for storing and transporting the seeds that are their primary food. They are all well adapted to living in arid environments since most of them never need to drink water. They also have efficient kidneys that can conserve precious fluids by concentrating the urine.

Because there are many of these little rodents and they are closely related to each other, each species has evolved with different foraging times and places, which minimizes competition. Bailey’s pocket mouse, for example, climbs up into desert wash vegetation to find seeds and berries still on the plants, while the desert pocket mouse hunts along the ground in washes and open areas for seeds. Merriam’s kangaroo rat, a creature of open, creosote flats, tends to dash from one clump of bushes to the next, overlooking seeds out in the open spaces, leaving those for other mice to find. In this way many species of heteromyid mice and rats can share the same environment.

And yesterday afternoon the cat slunk onto the patio with a lizard in her mouth.  She was unhappy to see me there, as she knew that when I picked her up she had to let it go.  (It was also unharmed.)   She’s getting good at catch and release. 

Ah, but it’s a dry heat

The temperature are back down to the 90’s, after a week in the 100’s, but those hot (hot = anything above 100°) days will be back shortly.  Time to start thinking of how to escape.  June is the worst, as there are no monsoons for evening drama.  Just hot hot hot.  (Ah, but it’s a dry heat.)

Speaking English with an Accent

At a friend’s party the other night I met a retired math teacher, originally from Columbia, with a heavy Columbian accent.  Upon retirement he and his wife had decided to join the Peace Corps, but he specified Central or South America, or the Caribbean.  No country with winter. 

After a year (!) the Peace Corps called with their assignment – teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in Armenia!  Armenia has winter!  (Photo from the internet.)  He declined.  But I loved the idea of Armenians speaking English with a Columbian accent.

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One Response to “It’s a Dry Heat”

  1. Jim Says:

    Amazing variety of wildlife, so close and so relaxed; and such beautiful photos…

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