Thursday, May 27, 2004

May 25. I saw two lizards mating in the “riparian paradise”—the former dog run where I’ve built my bird pond. They were big guys, especially the male. I believe they were chuckwallas, but I’ll have to learn more. The male was very colorful, with a yellow back and bright blue throat area. He seemed pretty spiky, too. The female was smaller, and rather drab. They went at it for a minute or two, then the female began struggling and finally broke away. She scurried across the ground and into the vegetation with the male in hot pursuit, but by the time he reached the vegetated area she had disappeared. He looked around for a while in seeming confusion and disappointment.

The same morning, I finally saw a black-chinned male hummer at one of the feeders.

May 26. Why does a lizard cross the road?

On our morning walk along the River Walk, we saw dozens—maybe hundreds—of lizards, all scurrying from one side of the path to the other. Some were the big lumbering guys, some ordinary-looking slim brown lizards, and a bunch were smallish guys with black and white striped tails that they hold up and curved, like a scorpion. There were also numerous ground squirrels on either side of the path, digging holes and seemingly enjoying the relative coolth (low nineties) of this late May in the Sonoran desert.

This end of the River Walk—five or so miles farther west than our old route, and I believe a bit north and higher in elevation—is much more heavily vegetated (because older, and the trees and bushes planted when it was young have had time to grow). There are many more types (and numbers) of lizards and birds, though I have yet to see a road runner.

May 27. This morning, shortly after we had our sick old cat, Ribby, euthanized, I saw a bobcat walking across the back yard. I was amazed how big it was—at least the size of a boxer dog. I called to my husband, who reported that he saw it disappear into the neighbor’s yard. He said he was surprised how small it was, so we’re assuming that we saw a mother and kitten. As this was the first bobcat I have ever seen in the wild, I’m preferring to think of it as Ribby’s spirit, appearing to let me know that he is finally wild and free.

Monday, May 24, 2004

May 24, 2004
My pond is two days old, and we’re starting to see some action! All day long a female cardinal and a male pyrrhuloxia have visited. This morning I saw a small bird—but not a Virden—with a yellow head. And lots of sparrows, finches, and doves have enjoyed bathing. The female cardinal, early this morning, was very picturesque as she daintily sipped from the waterfall.

I need more gravel and rocks to keep the water cool, and some plants to surround it, and more feeding stuff in my fenced-in riparian paradise. But we’re on the way!

Saturday, May 22, 2004

May 22, 2004
Well, we have almost finished moving and have been living in the new house for about a week. What a very different nature experience! We are in the foothills, surrounded by desert vegetation. Lots and lots of doves. I’ve seen only one cardinal, briefly, in the olive tree outside my new office window. I’ve seen two female hummers—one Anna’s, one black-chinned. I think they will come around more once I hang more feeders. And a bunch of very young, curious house sparrows have been prancing around on the windowsill outside the office. They gaze inside, curiously—maybe this is the first time in years that the blinds have been open.

There are lots of quail around—as I type this, a male is strutting along the wrought-iron fence railing that surrounds the spa pump. And a gazillion lizards, including some very big ones—the size of rats, that like to sit in the shade on the patio and do pushups. I am determined to learn their names. (The guy we bought the house from said they are all called “Larry.”) I haven’t seen any geckos at night—maybe I missed them, or maybe they don’t live up here.

This morning I saw an adorable little ground squirrel out on the border between the desert and the yard. I may not consider him so adorable after awhile, because there are lots of holes in the garden areas, probably squirrel holes.

I’ve put out the seed feeder, and so far no takers, ditto with the suet feeder. HOWEVER, today the most exciting thing. We dug a hole for the pond and hauled up a bunch of rocks. I have the gravel and the sand. Later today or tomorrow I start to build my pond, and then watch out! I expect a major bird explosion.