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This year Speedy and I stayed longer than usual in Arizona, which means we got to see late spring as we’ve never been able to before. Long-time readers may remember a couple of years ago when a mama quail laid a clutch of eggs in our flower pot and then neglected to come sit on them. That was an adventure which, happily, has not been repeated. We’ve always left before the quaillettes hatch – this is what we’ve missed:

freshly tatched quail

Apologies for the poor quality of the picture; the birds were quite a distance away, and they run faster than you can imagine (they look like a mass of commas chasing a close parenthesis) – which is a good thing because look who was out searching for them:

coyote-001

If he couldn’t snatch the baby quail I bet he would be satisfied with a meal of ducklings:

ducklings

This clutch started out numbering 13 fluffy yellow chicks, and is now down to 8.

If mammals are more to his liking, there are plenty of these adorable babies around. They have grown quickly in the last couple of weeks:

baby bunny

Why is it baby bunnies are so cute? We KNOW they would love to come in the garden and eat everything that’s there, but still they are irresistable.

Warm Spring weather brings out the snakes and lizards. I have yet to see a rattle snake, though a good month ago this gopher snake was in our neighborhood:

gopher snake
They are quite large but harmless, unless you happen to be a small rodent. We’re happy to see them as it means the population of chipmunks and pack rats will decline.

Gila monsters are not uncommon, but they are shy, so my hiking buddy and I were delighted to see this fine fellow last weekend.  In all the many hikes we’ve taken together this is only the second time we’ve seen a Gila.

gila monster

Chuckwallas live in the rock pile next to our house, so we see them on almost a daily basis. They can be quite fearless and let us get rather close; but somehow I don’t want to get too close! Their tails look like they were taken from some other lizards and glued on to the end of tailless chuckwallas, they just don’t look like they belong to that animal.

chuckwallas-002

A couple of days ago Speedy noticed a pair of smaller lizards on the rock wall out in front. I was not able to get very close to them, but I think one of them, at least, is a Mountain Spiney Lizard – and it’s the first time we’ve seen one.

mountain spiney lizard-002

The cactus have been blooming for some time, but this year we’ve had another first-time treat: we’ve been able to see the saguaro bloom. One thing that amuses us – frequently a very small cactus will put out a disproportionately large flower.

little cactus in bloom orange bedroom cactus flower

The saguaros, which are huge, put out disproportionately small flowers – from a distance they look like your grandmother 10 minutes after her departure from the beauty parlor, before the perm has relaxed. If their flowers were in proportion to those of the wee cactuses they would be about 3 feet across (I would like to see that). At any rate, I’m thrilled to have finally seen these flowers in person.

IMG_2849

cactus wren on saguaro flower

Spring is lovely no matter where you find yourself. But with the temperatures creeping up towards 100 F Speedy and I find it is time to head east… waaayyy east. Next stop: Rapallo, and a different kind of Spring. See you there!

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