Archivos de diario de marzo 2023

23 de marzo de 2023

March 15-16, 2023 Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

The desert southwest is an alluring place from a nature standpoint. Despite the challenges of heat, wind and drought, life persists and is often unique and untouched due to less human impact. I have only scratched the surface of the southwest, but I have been curious for some time about Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southwestern Arizona. This monument, named for its iconic organ pipe cactus is an International Biosphere Reserve and a pristine example of the Sonoran desert habitat.

I recently spent two days exploring the park and it was not nearly enough time. Having been to many areas of Arizona before I would describe the monument as Sabino Canyon on steroids with a splash of the Chiricahua's thrown in. The landscape is dramatic and beautiful, and thanks to an excellent monsoon season and continuing rain since then, the park was very green and full of flowers. Sagauros dot the landscape and the further south you go, the more you see the tall organ pipe cactus. Lupine and brittlebush were blooming everywhere as were more than one species of beautiful globemallow.

While the weather was great for hiking as it was overcast and cool both days I was there, it was not the best weather to find reptiles or insects, which was somewhat of a disappointment. However the plant life definitely helped make up for the lack of fauna. And I was able to see and photograph two of my target species, the Sonoran/Sonoyta mud turtle and the Sonoyta pupfish. Both of these species are in the Quitobaquito Springs area. This area has a rich history both as home to native Americans as well as mining operations. What is truly amazing is that there is a natural water source in the middle of the desert. As such it draws all kinds of life.

The spring area is truly a place begging to be explored more. I didn't spend nearly enough time in the area. Getting there is somewhat interesting as well. A fifteen mile dirt road takes you to the spring but parallels the border wall with Mexico and you are within feet of that wall as well as numerous warning signs about the specter of migrants in the area as well as a warning not to travel alone (which I was). Ironically on my way to the spring, I did see a group of three possible migrants walking on the road. They definitely were not park visitors based on their torn clothing so I'm not sure how they got there.

In addition to the organ pipe cactus, the park is also home to more than 30 cactus species including the endangered Senita cactus. While some of these can be found outside the park, the park is the main location for these plants which look quite similar to the Organ Pipe cactus. I found a brand new one growing in so it looks a bit different than the mature plants but it was cool to actually see it as they are only in one small area of the park.

Other notable finds on my travels were a colorful predacious diving beetle, Laccophilus fasciatus, a black and red miner bee (I think) digging its burrow, a desert red jumping spider (poor photos) and a beautiful butterfly I was not familiar with, an Arizona powdered skipper.

Also interesting to see was the very round Emory's barrel cactus. Though not blooming, I was not familiar with this cactus, having only seen California barrel cacti. In fact many of the plants in this area were new to me and all the more reason to spend additional time exploring. And though the reptile count was super low, I did manage to see one juvenile zebra tailed lizard who was actually somewhat cooperative.

I'm hoping to make a return visit to this park as I was only able to take three short hiking trails and there are many more to explore, most with amazing vistas.

Publicado el marzo 23, 2023 05:12 MAÑANA por naturephotosuze naturephotosuze | 9 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario