Detours, including gila monsters

My academic adviser reminded me of something today that I have frequently noticed. A side project or half-baked pilot project can really take over and become a successful program.

In that spirit, although I have rarely had the energy to post on this blog with my field season in full swing, 4:30am mornings and all, I have taken some neat detours this summer. I’ll share a few side sightings here.

Although my daily hike is usually in search of seedlings, I manage to see owls and foxes, deer and tortoises. Sometimes these encounters are painful, like the bite from a Pogonomyrmex (harvester) ant that made my whole body flush red and hot for an hour (and scared the heck out of me, miles from the car or nearest medical treatment) or the bees that have twice climbed into my shirt to sting my stomach as I try to extricate them. Others were more gratifying, such as watching a beautifully tri-colored four foot snake cruising around near my feet, posting a photo to Facebook on the spot, and having an ID within minutes. (Thanks, Shea!)

Just this morning, my fellow field adventurers and I saw a gila monster and a rattlesnake within about ten minutes of each other in the Rincon Mountains. Just a few days ago I started analyzing our video study from the Tucson Mountains, and came across some fox footage. Enjoy!

Update Aug. 21: Here’s that fox video that was missing yesterday due to technical difficulties:

I set off this rattlesnake when I walked too close to the shrub.
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This Sonoran whip snake (Masticophis bislineatus) was just snaking around near us.
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Gila monster!

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