Vicious killer stalking our picnic

This morning, I took a hike on the Tanque Verde trail with four other alumnae of Scripps College out at Saguaro National Park East, in the Rincon Mountains. As usual with Scrippsies, we had a beautiful location, great conversation, and of course plenty of fantastic food.

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Quite the picnic!
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Some ocotillos have lost their leaves (these are red), but all of them are blooming.
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Nice view up on the ridge.

But while we ate, I noticed the vicious killer I posted video of just this week stalking around the outskirts of our ramada: Harris’s antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus harrisii). Today she (or he) was far more interested in perching several feet above the ground (so much for being a ground squirrel) to nibble on the seed pods of the shrubby leguminous fairyduster (Calliandra eriophylla).

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I have no doubt that as soon as we left, our crumbs supplemented the fairyduster appetizers. It occurs to me that paloverde and mesquite seeds and seed pods are also edible to humans – does anyone know if fairyduster seeds are? A quick Google search turned up reports of other members of the Calliandra genus having toxic seeds, but I don’t know about this one.

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