More Reptiles to Identify: Arizona Style

I am still struggling with my disgust of reptiles. Lizards are becoming a bit more palatable but as far as snakes go, I’m still struggling.

Good thing for me that we saw mostly lizards on our trip to Arizona.

On pages 210 to 213 of the Handbook of Nature Study there are many lizards and their descriptions listed. I think on page 213 that number 7 looks surprisingly like the lizards we saw in the photo below.

I did recognize this reptile but only was able to capture his hind end as he scurried under a rock. He was definitely some kind of iguana.

These two photos were taken while we were at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. They had an enclosure where they used to have a bear but the bear has since been retired to a more comfortable place on the grounds. The enclosure did have these interesting, if not rather large, reptiles inhabiting it.

Climbing up the rocks

This guy was also at the museum and was making his way across the riparian habitat.

Now for something pretty to look at. I can only take reptiles for so long and then I need something colorful and beautiful to enjoy.

Close up of the spines

Are you proud of me? We are still working on identifying the reptiles for their nature journals but we are learning a lot along the way.

Our Small Square: Outdoor Hour Challenge #9

We had a chance today to enjoy the spring weather and complete our small square project. My son picked the spot and marked it out for us. Right away he picked the big objects out but I challenged him to list all the small items he found in his square. He used his magnifying glass and we used a small stick to dig around in the dirt a bit and we found a few things to be interested in.

We found quite a few of these clusters from the tree near the square. I suspect they are full of pollen since I noticed when they are on the tree that they send off little “puffs” of something every so often in the breeze.tree bud seed thing

Then we found some of these little plants that are not grass or dandelions.
little plant

A few misc. seeds were underneath the leaves in our square and we have no idea what kind they are.

doing our square
We both enjoyed digging around in the soil and we did see one small ant.

Here is his journal entry for the day.
small square journal
We are both interested to identify the tree that the clusters came from so that is our assignment for the next week. It is hard to identify since it currently has very small leaves and doesn’t look anything like the tree we see in the summer.

That was our Outdoor Hour assignment this week, nothing fancy right in our own yard but still very interesting.

Desert Study: Outdoor Hour Challenge #8

Here is our family’s Outdoor Hour Challenge #8. 

We just returned from our week long adventure in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. It was so surprising to find so much life and color and activity in this part of our world. If anyone says there is nothing to do for nature study in the desert, I can now whole-heartedly disagree. We spent every waking minute in the great outdoors exploring the fascinating world of the desert, even in a sudden desert rainstorm and at sunrise. We were hiking in Saguaro National Park just about everyday and found that we grew to love this place.

If you have been reading my blog this week, you will have seen some of the more interesting plants and birds that we have encountered. I will be posting more over there in the weeks to come.

Before we left for our adventure, the boys and I read several books to prepare us for what we would be seeing up close and personal. The most interesting and recognizable plant in the Sonoran Desert is the saguaro cactus. (pronounced sa wah ro) This cactus is a whole ecosystem in itself and we were able to observe the many phases of its growth while on our trip.

 

Here is a landscape with the saguaro sticking up prominently.
The saguaro grows very tall and provides shade for itself with its spines and grooves.

tall saguaro
It also provides homes for birds like the cactus wren and the gila woodpecker. They make their nests inside the saguaro. Here is a photo where you can see the nest holes.


saguaro with bird nest holes
Here is a gila woodpecker sitting on the saguaro and if you look closely, you will see a sparrow in a nest hole near the top of the saguaro.


saguaro and woodpecker
Here is a close up of the cactus itself.


close up saguaro
We enjoyed a sunrise walk in the desert and the colors and sounds are not soon to be forgotten.


saguaro at sunrise
There are so many things to tell you about from this trip but I will narrow this entry down to the saguaro cactus. Maybe later this week I will share all the many other birds that we encountered. I have some awesome hummingbird photos to share and some others that will surprise you that we found in our desert wanderings.

We did some close up work last week at home for this challenge with our hand lens. The most interesting thing we found was looking at the bark of our cedar tree…..there is so many interesting things in there like spider webs and egg sacs. If you didn’t get a chance to use your hand lens last week, I encourage you to take a few minutes this week to give it a try.