Monday, July 31, 2017


Tucson Botanical Gardens, through the lens of Jessica Farrell-Churchill.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Round-tailed ground squirrels

Introducing Xerospermophilus tereticaudus, the round-tailed ground squirrel. Think "pocket-sized prairie dog".

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Cool in the Catalinas

On Celtic Heritage Day (some people call it St. Patrick's Day), while Tucson broiled and dust devils danced across the shaved-bare cotton fields of Pinal County, we and the Arizona Farrells gathered in the relative cool of the Catalina Mountains.

[Ellie in the Catalinas, wearing a Celtic knot in Irish blue.]

Like so many on this day, I was busy tying one on—the "one" in this case being a fox-squirrel nymph from my own vise. (Thanks, Jessa!)

The first fish brought to hand was a tiny, wild brown trout: perfection itself, and precisely the sort of trophy fish I like to catch.

I wasn't the only one fishing; daughter Ellie and nephew Matthew had a go, and sister-in-law Heather hauled in a good supper's worth of rainbows.

[Heather's fly box.]

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bear Canyon

On our most recent visit to Arizona, we spent less time than usual out in the Sonoran desert, but did have one good afternoon at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. (Most of these photos are actually from Bear Canyon, not Sabino proper, so we'll have to get back there next time.)

March offers plenty of wildflowers, including sneezeweed, poppy, and desert mallow...

Quite a few herps about as well: ribbon snake, Great Plains toad (we've met before), and western fence lizard.

Most of the birds we saw were desert specialties: phainopepla (yes, that's a baby silky in the nest), Gambel's quail, and roadrunner...

...others decidedly not.

The only mammals about were a cottontail seeking shade and an Ellie seeking sun.

As usual, the landscape is dominated by saguaro and the eternally blue sky...

But the big draw on this warm afternoon, for us as well as the mallards, was Bear Creek itself, the irresistible lure of steady cool water in the desert.

If you haven't heard from me in a while, you might want to give me a call, since my contact list got wiped out—I went much deeper than this—but a wade in Bear Creek was worth a cell phone...