The 400 Bird Quest - 148

Count update: 148/400

I got out for an all day hike at Lake Pleasant Regional Park, north of Phoenix and enjoyed spotting a few of the regular local birds.   I hiked 7 miles, tallied 20 species in the dry desert surrounding the lake. No year birds.  Still, what an interesting day!  I encountered 3 bands of wild burros….

They were somewhat wary, but not as much as most mammals.  I encountered them unexpectedly on a bend in a small canyon. They ran a short ways, stopped, and froze like rabbits do.   It seems like a ridiculous concealment strategy for a 350 pound critter in sparse vegetation.  Although I suppose they have few predators, so they may not care.

Walking amongst the numerous saguaro cacti, I saw just one jack rabbit.  Now and then a tiny lizard would sprint for cover with incredible speed.

Common side-blotched lizard

Common side-blotched lizard

One huge Saguaro cactus caught my eye and I approached it with admiration.   Saguaros this big are about 200 years old.

cactus surprise 1.JPG

Impressive yes, but look closer…

cactus surprise 2.JPG

It was only when I got right up to is that I was shocked to discover this little guy…

Grey Fox

Grey Fox

A grey fox 11 feet high resting in shade!  I knew they climb trees, but a vertical spine covered cactus?  That’s just crazy talk?  While I concede I observed it during a long remote hike in the desert sun, I assure you I did have plenty of water.  It happened.   I took the close photo first and then backed away for the others.   Eventually he jumped down awkwardly through a palo verde bush and ran off in a flash.

Later I googled “grey fox and climbing cactus”. The behavior is mentioned in the text but I could not find any photo of a fox on a cactus anywhere.

What a memorable day.

Jim is attempting to find and identify 400 different species of birds in the USA in 2018.