|Fishhook Mammilaria with Bee|
|Also called Pincushion Cactus|
|Little Leaf Cordia (Cordia parvifolia)|
|Little Leaf Cordia Blossom|
|Yellow Trumpet Bush (Tecoma stans)|
|Ocotillo in Leaf (Fouquieria splendens)|
More yellow! This is the Senna polyantha, whose large shrubs produce a mass of small, yellow, five-petaled flowers followed by bean pods containing the fruit. As so many of our desert plants, this is a member of the Fabaceae family (lugumes).
I wasn't disappointed. Big, bright flowers greeted me as I came around the corner.
From the splashy to the more subtle, but no less beautiful.
Another docent had reported seeing Western tanagers in the Desert Garden earlier in the morning, so I thought I would try my luck at finding them. I caught just a blur of red as one of the males flew by, but I hung around to watch a Northern Cardinal family. I believe this is the juvenile getting a drink from the fountain.
|Gila Woodpecker Family (Melanerpes uropygialis)|
The butterflies love the bird of paradise. A pipevine swallowtail sat still just long enough for me to grab a quick photo.
|Pipevine Swallowtail on Mexican Bird of Paradise|
|Zebra-tailed Lizard (Callisaurus draconoides)|
Although I felt bad about it, I had to call the herpetology folks to come and remove him. The cave is quite dark and we didn't need the visitors stumbling into him if he went out roaming. This is the only venomous lizard in the U.S., and while they are neither fast or aggressive, they can be dangerous if people get too curious. (People do some really DUMB things!) So, a few minutes later he was loaded in a crate, to be pit-tagged and then released off grounds.
Leaving the cave and making our way back to the docent office for lunch, a crowd had gathered to watch one of the botanists try to capture a coachwhip snake who had moved into the lizard enclosure. To avoid the big human, the snake had climbed high into the large ironwood tree that is the centerpiece of the enclosure.
|Coachwhip in Desert Ironwood|
Generally, the policy is to let non-venomous snakes alone unless they are in a place where they would threaten our exhibit animals (the lizards in this case).
In the afternoon, we got some more cheap entertainment watching the black-tailed prairie dogs and their ever amusing antics.
And, if that weren't enough fun for one day, there was one more snake on the schedule. Some visitors spotted a snake sticking its head up out of a tree bowl in front of the hummingbird aviary. Some fellow docents and I were just a few feet away so we got a lot of laughs watching the snake, another coachwhip, play hide and seek among the rocks and holes. It reminded us of a game of whack-a-mole. He would pop up one place, disappear, pop up a few feet away, then we'd just see a portion of the body slither by. After ten minutes or so of this, out jumped a very tiny mouse and raced across the patio and up onto the roof of the aviary. The snake looked out as in bewilderment.
|Coachwhip looking for the Mouse|
Eventually he emerged and crossed the patio looking for the darned mouse.
And with that, the day came to a close. Back at home, a glass of wine in hand, I got another gift. A magnificent sunset.
|Sunset on Agave Drive|