Archive for the ‘Sabino Canyon Recreational Area’ Tag

Ready For Takeoff   1 comment

Ready for Takeoff (Cooper’s Hawk)– Image by kenne

ready for takeoff

flying comes naturally

not a leap of faith

— kenne

Greater Roadrunner In The Brush   2 comments

Roadrunner (1 of 1) blogGreater Roadrunner in the Brush — Image by kenne

Been seeing a lot of these guys lately. With much cooler days  some of the greater roadrunner’s food,
like  tarantulas, scorpions, and reptiles are underground. This one was all about business, hunting through the brush.

Creosote Bush, November Blooms   Leave a comment

Creosote Bush (1 of 1) blog

Creosote Bush (1 of 1)-2 blogCreosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) Blossoms in Sabino Canyon, November 10, 2014 — Images by kenne

One of the most common plants in Sabino Canyon is the creosote bush. Our neighbors south of the border cal the plant “gobernadora,” Spanish for “governess,” because of its ability to secure more water by inhibiting the growth of nearby plants. The plant exhibits a characteristic odor of creosote, and is the small inhabitants of the desert small after rain — the “smell of rain”. The bush normally blooms in the spring and summer, so the these new blossoms are a pleasant addition to the fall flowers in the Sonoran desert. Unlike most desert plants, the creosote bush has no thorns for defense, instead it is provided by a suite of toxic/ anti-feeding chemicals including the phenolic compound nordihydroguaiaretic acid. For more information, go to the Desert Botanical Garden website.


Creosote Bush (1 of 1)-3 blog

Tanque Verde 2nd Grade Field Trip   4 comments

As a Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalist,  I enjoy teaching children about nature — thanks for sharing, Cathy. It was a pleasure to be with polite, inquisitive  children interested in learning about nature.

Life is good and I love it!


The Naturalist — The Man In The White Shirt   6 comments

Ralph Mersiowsky Sabino Canyon March 27, 2014-1492 II blog

Ralph Mersiowsky Sabino Canyon March 27, 2014-1492 blog I

Ralph Mersiowsky Sabino Canyon March 27, 2014-1491 blogSabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalist, Ralph Mersiowsky Recently Passed Away In Tucson
—  March 27, 2014 by Images by kenne

The Man In The White Shirt

Everyone who walked with
Ralph Mersiowsky
can share many stories about
the man in the white shirt.

During my naturalists training
I observed naturalists
teaching children,
each with his/her
naturalists vest
covered with badges
and many pockets
full of rocks,
minerals, seeds and pictures.

Of the naturalists
with whom I have walked,
from which I learned and
shared knowledge of nature,
Ralph will always be
the man in the white shirt.

For three years
I have spent
Thursday mornings with
elementary school children and
the man in the white shirt.

He has a star
above the canyon
that will always shine
on the hundreds of children
who are closer to nature
because of Ralph Mersiowsky,
the man in the white shirt —
a big-hearted, gentle man.

— kenne 

Harris Hawks Plus Power Poles Equal Danger   2 comments

Ned's Nature Walk- blog

Ned's Nature Walk-9991 blogHarris Hawk on a power pole along the Sabino Canyon south border. — Image by kenne

Ned's Nature Walk-9717 blogGray caps placed over wires to protect rafters from electrocution. — Image by kenne

Raptors are often injured or killed on electric power poles in urban areas like Tucson. The poles make attractive perches for the big birds

Last December a Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalist found a dead Peregrine Falcon below a utility pole on the border of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. The Tucson Electric Power (TEP) was contacted, responding quickly with representatives from the University of Arizona to evaluate the area. To reduce the possible electrocution of rafters, TEP designed caps to be placed on the power poles (gray caps in the third image above). 

Harris’s hawks occur in the United States only in the southern portions of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, with the largest concentration is between Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. Electrical power poles are like a magnet to raptors looking for the highest point they can find to perch, creating the largest single cause of mortality facing raptors.

Tucson Electric Power (TEP) has stated that due to the hawks’ nesting and hunting habits, they are at greater risk of electrocution than other raptors. “Harris’ hawks are unique in that they breed, nest, and hunt communally, they are vulnerable to multiple deaths at once.”


Wow! Is there anything you can’t do?   Leave a comment

Beyond Tucson Event-9492 blogA Crested Saguaro Next To a Regular Saguaro In Sabino Canyon — Image by kenne

Sometimes the growing tip of a saguaro produces a fan-like form. Such a saguaro is called a crested saguaro. Crested saguaros are rare and generally do not produce arms, making this one for the record books — at least in my book.


Beyond Tucson Event, 2014, At Sabino Canyon   3 comments


Beyond Tucson Event at Sabino Canyon, January 11, 2014 — Images by kenne

Beyond Tucson is an annual community-wide event that occurs each year in early January to commemorate the January 8, 2011 shooting. Its purpose is to help the community move beyond by coming together, much in the same way they spontaneously gathered after the tragedy, and by doing so commit to be better and be better together:

“To spend more time with those we love,

and to reach out to those we don’t yet know.

To get outdoors and enjoy nature’s beauty, 
and to fully embrace all that life has to offer.

To push ourselves beyond our normal boundaries,
and to strive for that next peak on the horizon.”
(. . . from Beyond Tucson website.)

One of the community-wide events took place at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area where activities were organized by the Forest Service and the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists. Visitors had opportunities to learn about nature, take guided nature walks and hikes — must I not forget, get their picture taken with Smoky Bear.


Plant Adaptation Makes For A Very Diverse Sonoran Desert   6 comments

Being able to adapt is fundamental to all organisms to survive in their ecological niche or habitat. This ability is often more evident in harsh environments such as the desert. Plants need water and sunlight, some more or less than others.

Here in the Sonoran desert, plants that can adopt to a lot of sun and little water adopt well to the hot, dry conditions. While plants needing more water have adapted to conditions near water, i.e., riparian areas where annual foliage plants color the desert at this winter solstice time of year.

Sabino Canyon Colors Dec 2013-9177 blogPlant Adaptation In The Desert — Image by kenne

Another example of plant adaptation can be found on rocky canyon wall facing the north in Sabino Canyon, just a few hundred feet from where the above photo was taken — there is no direct sunlight this time of year. Even in dry conditions, the wall can provide a perfect hitch for fern, moss and “resurrection” plants.

However, what really caught my attention was a small saguaro cactus that was growing out of the north canyon wall, which had fallen over and has continued to grow. Given the size of the plant and the fact that saguaros are very slow-growing plants, taking 6-7 years to grow an inch in the beginning of what can be a 200 year life, this still small cactus is probably about 20 years old — talk about plant adaption.

This guy is a real survivor!


P.S. Today we are getting much-needed rain in the desert with snow above 4,000 feet. The ferns, moss and resurrection plants will really green-up over the next days.

Sabino Canyon Colors Dec 2013-9198 blogSaguaro Cactus — Image by kenne

Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear (Cholla)   2 comments

Sabino Canyon Colors Dec 2013-9128_Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear blogLet Me Be Your Teddy Bear (Cholla) — Image by kenne

In Hiking, The More The Struggle, The More The Reward   7 comments

Hiking Blackett’s Ridge — Images by kenne (Click on any of the images to view in a slide show format.)

One of the most popular and difficult trails in Sabino Canyon is the Blackett’s Ridge Trail. The is 6.2 miles with an elevation change of 1810 feet. Starting at the Sabino Canyon Visitor’s Center, the trail attracts runners and hikers alike, some making the trek several times a week. As part of a published hiking schedule, the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists (SCVN) lead, hikers up to the trail’s end, providing a close-up wow-view of Thimble Peak, the canyon riparian area and the Tucson valley. Once up on the ridge, first time Blackett’s hikers begin to feel as if the trail will never end with several up and down climbs before finally getting the trail’s end in site.

Often at the end of the trail, chipmunks will greet the hikers. This behavior occurs because some good intending hikers wrongly feed our little friends. On this particular hike, a Cooper’s Hawk soured above the canyon.


“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life,

and beyond which life cannot rise.

And such is the paradox of living,

this ecstasy comes when one is most alive,

and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.”

― Jack London, The Call of the Wild

A Non-Official Friday Hike In The Coronado National Forest   7 comments

Closed Entrance To Sabino Canyon.

Closed Entrance To Sabino Canyon.

Today is day four in the Government Shutdown. Sabino Canyon Recreational Area, which is in the Coronado National Forest north of Tucson, Arizona is closed. The Coronado National Forest covers about 1.78 million acres in the mountain ranges of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.The US Forest Service provides a lot of services in the National Forest, which are now suspended until funding is again available.

Today's Non-Official Friday Hiking Group.

Today’s Non-Official Friday Hiking Group.

Sabino Canyon Recreational Area is a very busy place, year-round. Many of the services, events and programs, i.e., school programs, nature walks, hikes and demonstrations are provided by volunteers — Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists (Click here to learn more.) All these activities are not happening until the Government Shutdown is over.

One of the regular programs is Friday hikes. For a few of us, today’s hike went on as scheduled, unofficially, from the old Prison Camp on the Sycamore Canyon/Reservoir trail (3.5 miles one-way with a 821 feet gain). By doing so, we made sure those following the published hiking schedule would still have an opportunity to hike after showing up.

It was an enjoyable day hiking in the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains — check out the beautiful blue sky.


Sycamore Reservoir Area With Thimble Pike In The Background.

Sycamore Reservoir Area With Thimble Pike In The Background.

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