In the Wash

An environmental portrait of a desert cottontail sitting in Apache Wash in Phoenix Sonoran Preserve in Phoenix, Arizona

Most of the desert washes I cross when I hike are fairly small but not so Apache Wash, there are signs as you approach warning you not to enter when flooded and the large debris scattered around tells you why. It was damp on the morning I crossed on my first visit to Phoenix Sonoran Preserve but the rains and thus the danger had long since passed the day before, so I and a pair of desert cottontails enjoyed the quiet before the sun came up.

An close-up portrait of a desert cottontail sitting in Apache Wash in Phoenix Sonoran Preserve in Phoenix, Arizona

Safe in the Arms of the Cholla

A desert cottontail nibbles grasses at sunrise near a buckhorn cholla along the Chuckwagon Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

The rising sun, so easily blocked by hills and saguaros and even myself, does what I cannot, slip through the outstretched arms of a buckhorn cholla to embrace a cottontail as it feeds beside the Chuckwagon Trail. It is mine but to observe, to record, to be grateful.

Soft Browns

A desert cottontail eats dried grasses in the soft light before the sun was up on a warm spring morning in the Brown's Ranch section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

A desert cottontail eats dried grasses in the soft light before the sun was up on a warm spring morning. I was back on the trails this morning after taking a couple of weeks off to let a sore left knee heal and didn’t see a single cottontail (or jackrabbit), most of the time I see at least one if not a handful so either today I was unlucky or perhaps they are not as visible in the summer. I meant to go hiking yesterday but forgot to set my alarm so I walked the pup instead, Ellie and I saw four cottontails on a short walk in the neighborhood.

Sniffing the Saguaro

A desert cottontail sniffs the base of an old saguaro in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

This cottontail kept sniffing the base of the old saguaro and hopping up where there were no spines, hopping down, and sniffing some more. Cottontails are the mammal I see most frequently both in the desert and in our neighborhood. Fortunately our dog Ellie pays them no mind, she’s never cared about wildlife even in her younger years. Although we still see them on our walks it’s been a week or two since one has been in our backyard, is there a number I can call to complain about this?

The Desert Cottontail

A desert cottontail sits on the base of a large saguaro cactus

All part of my goal to photograph everything sitting on a saguaro, although in truth I never expected to see anything but birds on them given the sharp spines. Early one morning I came across two desert cottontails feeding near a large saguaro shortly before the sun rose high enough to illuminate the desert floor. I noticed this one kept sniffing the base of the cactus and jumping onto it where there were no spines. I got lucky when the rabbit jumped up one last time right as the sun fell upon us, as it only stayed for a moment before the pair hopped off into the shadows and out of sight.