It’s June 1, and a panther stares down at me from my National Wildlife Federation 2013 calendar on my desk. One of my field sites is on the south slope of Panther Peak, but I have yet to see my own mountain lion out there – although a friend accompanying me last week did point out that the fur-filled scat along the trail was far too large for a wildcat, and it tapers on the end in a distinctly feline way.
I think about the panthers at my field site like a Chuck Norris joke:
“How do you see a mountain lion?” Answer: You don’t. The lion sees you.
Indeed, the site is ringed by rocky outcroppings perfect for dens and ambushes by the cats. I’m sure they see me bent over my plots, nose to the ground. Which is why I try not to spend too much time out there alone, although I am far more concerned about heat and people as dangers than I am wildlife like panthers and snakes.
Speaking of which, field work has started in earnest for me for the summer. Highs are creeping up over 100 degrees Fahrenheit as of today! During this hot and dry month preceding the start of the monsoon season, many animals are either just becoming active (like desert tortoises and ants and monsoon field biologists) or are hunkered down, awaiting cooler weather (like my housemate’s husky mix and the rest of Tucson).
Some folks from Tucson Audubon, however, had a really great field day recently. You can read about that here. It’s definitely worth checking out, if only for the video of a badger waddling away!