Every couple weeks I get an opportunity to spend an entire day working at Montezuma Well. These are days I can forget about all of the deadlines (well...maybe not forget about them. How about ignore?) and just enjoy being a park ranger. Most of my time on these days is spent roving the trails, talking to visitors, and reminding myself why I have the best job in the world.
Yesterday was no different. There was nothing extraordinary about it. I didn't see any new birds. I didn't have an exciting wildlife encounter. It was, in every way, just a normal day. But that was what was so good about it. Spending six hours outside in the warm, clear desert air, sharing what I love about this place with the hundreds of visitors who stopped by to see what it was...it was all refreshingly uneventful.
The Common Blackhawk that we suspect is nesting nearby showed up again after a couple weeks of no sightings. I didn't realize it was staring straight at me as I took these pictures until I downloaded them this morning. I also spotted a White-winged Dove fly overhead, surprised to see one this far north. Most of the summer residents have now arrived (like the Western and Summer Tanagers), including some that I wasn't expecting to see here, like the Phaenopepla, or silky flycatcher. There was also a cool lizard that I saw along one of the trails. I hadn't noticed this species before, and unfortunately have yet to find a really good reptile field guide. So, I'm not quite sure what it was. It had a really unique behavior. Instead of simply running away like most of the small lizards around here, it would run a bit, then stop and wiggle its black-and-white striped tail at me. Then run a bit more, stop, and wag its tail. I'm assuming it's either trying to mimic a rattlesnake or encourage me, the predator, to strike at its tail, rather than its head.
The cacti are still in full bloom, too, adding some surprising colors to the predominant browns and greens of the arid landscape around the Well.
I was particularly happy to have been able to spend yesterday outside after I heard the forecast for this coming weekend. By Saturday we're supposed to get very close to breaking 100 degrees. I hope I'm ready for this...