02 September 2015

First Month as an Arizonan

Last weekend marked the end of my first month living in Arizona, and it's been a great month!  Stephanie and I have spent a lot of our free time exploring our surroundings and getting to know the local flora and fauna.  We've also been fortunate to have several different visitors in my first month here, so we've had some great partners in our wanderings.

First, Stephanie's parents came to visit.  We took them camping one weekend to the Whetstone Mountains, an under-explored part of southern Arizona's Sky Islands.  We found my first Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, along with a healthy population of chiggers!

We also took a half a day to explore South Mountain, the largest municipal park in the US.  It is also home to an endemic form of the Chuckwalla, but we didn't see any on this trip.  We did see some cool old mines, several more rattlesnakes, and some great views of the city.

Before Stephanie's parents even left, we had another visitor in the area.  Andrew came down to Arizona to help teach a herp course, so I took a few days off with him at the end of it to do some birding and herping of our own.  We explored the Santa Rita Mountains, the Tumacacori Highlands, and other remote locations near the border with Mexico.  We each found several lifers, including this Black-capped Gnatcatcher (new for both of us) and this Long-nosed Snake (new for me).

I've also been trying to get to know the local naturalists and biologists of the area, including going birding at popular hotspots with new local friends.  It has been a blast getting to know the local species well, and searching for rare vagrants.  I chased this Sabine's Gull, a locally rare species, with my friend Jason.  Even when there are no rare birds to be found, you never know when you'll get to experience a really cool moment, like this Coyote desperately hunting some ducks at the Gilbert Water Ranch.

In total so far I've already found several lifer birds and lifer herps, and I've learned a lot about local insects, plants, and other natural history.  Watch this space for more as I continue to explore Arizona!


Andrew Durso said...

Glad to have been able to share some birds and herps with you!

Craig Fosdick said...

Fun reading, and a great action shot of Mr. Durso! Glad Arizona is treating you well!