A rock squirrel lives up to its name as it crawls along a crevice in the massive rock formation known as Tom’s Thumb in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. It had been at the base of the formation but crawled way up into the crevice when hikers with a dog approached. This is not a new species for me, we saw one during our visit to New Mexico a decade ago, but it is nice to be reunited. I owe a lot to that trip, not only because we had a great time but because it got me thinking about moving to the Southwest when looking for a job. I’ll eventually make it over to New Mexico but for now I’m focusing on trails near our home in Scottsdale.
One of the birds I was hoping to see once we moved to Arizona was the gila woodpecker. It only took a couple of weeks, and my second time hiking, to find one, courtesy of the Gateway Loop Trail at McDowell Sonoran Preserve. My first gila was a ways off but after finishing the loop I found this female atop a saguaro on the Bajada Nature Trail. I’ve since seen one in our backyard but wasn’t able to get a picture. The gila is one of 14 new species for me since we moved here a few weeks ago (11 birds, 1 mammal, and 2 lizards).
It’s been cooler than normal this past week in Scottsdale, but cooler in the sense that I wore a long sleeve shirt last night rather than I was scraping ice from my car windows. This was Christmas morning in Portland, a rare (barely) white Christmas. It was the overnight ice that was naughty not nice, coating the streets and causing problems for those going to visit family Christmas morning, or for a man wanting to walk his elderly dog.