Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Some Old Friends

The title of this post has a double meaning.  These photos were taken by some old, and I do mean OLD friends, (they got old, I did not) and the subject matter are old friends from the past as well.
The bird above is a sub-adult Cooper's Hawk in a Palo Verde tree in Sabino Canyon near Tucson, Arizona. The photo was taken by Maggie who has contributed many photos to this blog in the past. Before moving to Alaska I lived in Lakeside, AZ for 19 years. It was there that I met Maggie, who was the High School Art teacher on the Apache Reservation in Whiteriver. Now she lives in Tucson and is a volunteer naturalist in Sabino Canyon.
There are no Cooper's Hawks in Alaska, and they are one of many species that I miss seeing.
Are rattlesnakes old friends? You bet they are. I really miss them and I have gotten out of the habit of watching where I step since there are no snakes in Alaska. Maggie photographed this Western Diamondback in Sabino Canyon. she did not get too close to it. Diamondbacks play for keeps. they are far more pugnacious than any of the other species of rattlesnake that I have encountered, (and I have interacted with many species of rattlesnake).
The rattle and the diamondback's famous, 'coon tail'. Some other species of rattlesnake also have ringed tails that are similar.
Once I encountered a Western Diamondback at a place called Seven Mile Wash. I saw it at the same time that it saw me. We were about 15', (that's 5 meters) apart. The 3' long snake threw itself into a defensive coil and started striking at me from that distance. It struck at me with such vigor that it threw its whole body forward with each strike. In three lightning fast strikes it had covered half the distance between us. then it stopped and held its ground. I realized that I better be on my toes or it could be in striking distance in another heartbeat if I was not careful. Too bad I did not have a camera with me at the time, but I have plenty of other diamondback photos anyway. I grabbed a stick and picked it up to show my friends who were nearby. It soon calmed down and we admired it for awhile, then let it go in peace.
Yesterday Maggie sent me this photo of a large Gila Monster in Sabino Canyon. Gila Monsters are also venomous but not nearly as dangerous as a diamondback. This was also in Sabino Canyon. She said that she also saw a large Gopher Snake and a Coachwhip, (Red Racer), but they moved too fast for a photo. To me, this lizard is like seeing a diamond necklace or a gold  nugget on the ground. Something of great value and beauty.
Maggie nicknamed this one, 'Godzilla'.
This is an old friend that I do not miss. My friend Don from California sent this photo to me yesterday, along with some old stories from our childhood in Carpinteria involving Potato Bugs. I think that their proper name is Jerusalem Cricket. We called them Potato Bugs and they are big, fat, ugly, and they creep me out a little. Native Americans call them, 'Earth Children'. They bite, as both Don and I can attest, but they are not poisonous. 
I look forward to more of these kinds of photos from both Maggie and Don.

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