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July 2005 Midsummer in Arizona

Although our friend Jack stayed at our house during the summer of 2005 (and checked on it regularly until our return in October), we made the drive south from Ontario for 12 days as we had done other summers. During that time Kitty caught some interesting items on her camera.

We had arrived at the house shortly after dawn on Friday July 8 after a strenuous drive caused mainly by the extraordinary noise of a flapping tarp over items we were carrying on the roof; nothing we did eliminated the noise. After sleeping the entire day, awakening for a short time to eat a meal, we slept again until Saturday morning. The next several days were busy with house, yard and online tasks.

Ground squirrel poised on lip of scrap bucket

One morning while finishing breakfast Kitty and Paul noticed a ground squirrel climb into the bucket used to collect vegetable scraps for the compost pile. Kitty had the camera handy and was able to catch this pic through the closed glass and screen doors of the animal exiting the bucket. We had never seen any activity around the bucket before when it was next to the door, but now at the further distance that Jack had placed it, the bucket appeared to be an item of safe interest.

Gambil’s qauil parading across top of wall

A short while later while Kitty was working on the laptop computer (we did not use the resident desktop as that would have required transferring of files, a waste of time for such a short stay) in the office, she snapped a parade of Gambil's quail along the top of the wall that extends out from just north of the office window and under the large branches of a mesquite tree.

A couple of days previously while working on the computer in the office, Kitty caught a glimpse of something large and dark moving quickly up the side of the house. She was not able to find it, despite looking from inside and outside of the house. She was greatly puzzled - describing the brief image to Paul - since it appeared larger than any lizard she had ever seen in the area. Only a couple hours after viewing the quail, when Jack's sister Emily was present (she was staying at the house) as well as Paul, the mystery creature appeared once again.

Very large black lizard on the wall outside office window

Kitty was startled but managed to find the camera and call Emily and Paul to witness this extraordinarily large lizard on the wall just outside the office window. Not being able to get a really good angle and with the screen an obstacle for picture taking, all three of us proceeded quickly and quietly outside to get a better view.

Large black lizard on west side of house

Kitty hesitated to get too close for fear of frightening the lizard away and also because he was just so damn big! (Nothing like a full-sized iguana, but still the biggest she'd ever seen on her own property.)

Large black lizard has a beige tail

Despite the blurred shot (?were Kitty's hands unsteady??), it can be seen that the lizard's tail is light beige while the rest of its body is black. Has it recently grown a new tail? And is that hole behind him to the left his home?

Black bodied lizard full profile

Another blurred pic but a good profile view showing this lizard's full length, estimated at 6 to 8 inches. The tail is actually two-tone pale green and beige, but still vastly lighter than the rest of the body and all legs.

Black bodied 'dino-lizard' in ferocious full profileEven at only 8 inches he sure looks ferocious in this view. Kind of reminded us of a dinosaur in miniature.

Emily wrote Kitty after we had left for Ontario that "dino-lizard" had reappeared when Jack was present, giving him his first opportunity to see it. A few days later the lizard wandered into the garage while the door was open; Jack and Emily managed to lure it outside by placing a pan of water out in the driveway.

Much later Kitty searched on the Internet to determine what type of lizard this is. The website "Reptiles of Arizona" provides good photos of all known lizards and it appears to be a common chuckwalla or Sauromalus ater.

Curious rabbit and pineapple top

This rabbit found the pineapple top that Jack and Emily put outside a real curiosity. But it was the only rabbit to really be interested; the others just ignored it and even this one only nibbled at it a short while. These rabbits grow big and are plentiful on just the leaves and small branches of the many creosote bushes (standing on their hind legs often to reach just the one desired) and leaves from many trees. Unfortunately they also like certain flowering perennials Kitty planted - we lost this summer all seven verbena planted on the front incline. Despite all the aloe vera available to them, they rarely touch any.

The following series of shots of ground squirrels and scrap bucket (taken 2 days after the one above) virtually speaks for itself.

Ground squirrel following scent to scrap bucketFollowing the scent upwardWow, look at that!And down he goesDefending the bucket

This last one caught behavior we'd not seen before - arching of backs at each other in what definitely appears to be an aggressive stance. Looks like each considers the bucket hir territory.

‘Battle’ for controlMultiple ground squirrel interest in the scrap bucketMore aggressive posturingStill more aggressive posturing for bucket ‘control’Current ‘king’ of the scrap bucket

Here the aggressive postures are quite clear until one decides s/he's had enough and a, temporary at least, "king/queen of the bucket" is determined.
Before returning to Ontario a few days later for the remainder of the warm months, Paul and Kitty decided that the providing extra foodstuffs for the ground squirrels beyond that native to the area was encouraging an increase in numbers. Therefore we requested that Jack place all foodstuffs directly into the compost pile and not leave any directly accessible to the ground squirrels.


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Initially posted 1/4/06
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