A little known fact about me is that my favorite season is summer. Yes, obvious choice for most individuals, but there is a twist. I am referring to my home base in Southern Arizona where 100+ degree days are common. Throw in a 110 when mother nature is a bit cranky.
Summer ushers in the fierce Monsoon season and a window opens to see a variety of interesting animals that inhabit the desert scape. On my trail runs I come across many animals and summer is GO time for photos and videos. On my second run of the day I am out on the trail/road near sunset. Did I mention that the sunsets are also epic this time of year. My friend Jim Rudnicki shared on Facebook a couple days ago that “Monsoon season is also sunset season”
I see a lot of wildlife. Much of which is on the unique edge of life. I have become comfortable with my time with Gila Monsters, Tarantula’s, Rattlesnakes, Horny Toads (lizards), Desert Tortoise’s, Javelina, Giant Desert Centipede’s, Bobcat’s, Coyote’s, and a few other slithery types.
This summer has been unusual. While I have only been here for 1 1/2 months, my list of animal encounters is not normal. It has been a really short list with 0 sightings for most of the ‘stars’ of the desert. Typically, I see 2-3 rattlesnakes a week once the summer season begins (about mid May). A usual summer and I would have encountered at least 12 of the rattlers after 6 weeks. I have seen zero so far. I do not mind coming across rattlesnakes and the other ‘dangerous’ animals as they are part of the desert terrain and it is their home. I am cautious and look forward to the photo and video opportunities. I am not going to run roads to avoid them. Actually, many that I see are along the road that completes my loop.
At this stage in the depths of the summer boil, besides the noted rattlesnake, I would have seen a few other snakes, a few javelina, along with some bobcats, and where are the tarantulas? I spotted 50-60 in my shortened summer last year. And yes, I enjoy catching them. Oohs and Awwhhs from many of the readers.
I would say that at point I would have a desert tortoise sighting in the books, usually, although they are an August/September highlight.
It has been a rare summer that has been cooler than normal for the oven zone of Southern Arizona. I do see a lot less wildlife when it is cooler. My guess is that a cooler day allows for the opportunity to get out for food all through the day. When it is smashing hot the animals/insects have a window of cooler temperatures in the morning and evening. 90%+ of my animal sightings have been on my evening run. I see very little on my morning run.
This is one of those rare times when it is more surprising what I am not seeing that what I am seeing.
I know in time I will see some of the ‘lost’ animals on my list. It has been a banner year for horny toads. I have seen five, which is in line for the number I see all summer. Quite a few owl sightings helps with my Arizona Desert highlights.
An update from ‘Dave’s Trail’ on Wednesday, July 10th:
After posting this blog, I went on my evening run and was blessed with having 7 or 8 Javelina cross my path (2 young ones) and another encounter with the owl below.
I am on a roll (or at least the wildlife is on a roll) so will post for at least one more day. It is Thursday, July 11th and yes, saw the same group of Javelina on my evening run.
previous photo from a couple weeks ago.
Photo from a couple days ago.
First photo of the owl on the hill. I have seen this owl in this area on 4 or 5 runs.