Second spring

One of the most common misconceptions about the Sonoran Desert held by those who’ve never lived here is that there are no seasons. Isn’t it just hot and dry all year long? Maybe a little less hot in “winter?”

Of course, we don’t get the spectacular fall foliage that blankets states such as Vermont in swaths of yellow, red, and orange (unless you head to our nearby mountains . . . ). But nature compensates us for that: We get two springs. 

The geography of the Sonoran Desert region, while it restricts the overall amount of rain that falls each year, breaks what does fall into two major periods—one in July and August, another in December and January. The summer rainy season is characterized by brief, powerful thunderstorms that originate in the tropical Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico; winter rains are usually more gentle and of longer duration (and, of course, colder), and sweep down from the northern Pacific. In good years each season will result in about four or five inches of rain—perhaps 10 inches annually. Not much by the standards of Vermont residents, who’d cry “Drought!” if they failed to get three times that amount—but desert plants and animals have evolved to exploit every drop.

On the road for butterflies

We recently became acquainted with the Butterflies of the World Foundation, a small but hard-working non-profit dedicated to improving public awareness of butterflies, and conservation of their habitats—vital to these lovely insects, many of which also (like the birds above) migrate vast distances. Founder and chief butterfly fanatic Bryan Reynolds has used a Jeep Liberty to travel through 15 states and provinces thus far in North America, recording the lives of butterflies through beautiful photography, sharing his images in public venues, and publishing in national and international magazines.

Download their impressive accomplishments and mission statement here.

A perfect match for ConserVentures with our theme of exploration and conservation, the organization is seeking help properly outfitting its Jeep Liberty for extended overland travel. Here's their wish list (download a PDF copy here), contact us or Bryan if you can help out:

o JBA 4 inch lift kit for Jeep Liberty, KJ, 2002-2007
o JBA Dana 30 Steel Front Axle IFS
o ARB Air locker front and rear
o ARB Compact On-board Air Kit
o ARB Bull Bar for Jeep Liberty
o Warn XD9000 Winch
o BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO LT245/70R16/D
o ARB E-Z Delator Kit
o Hi-Lift Jack HL-484 48”
o Front Runner Wind Cheetah Slimline Roof Rack 1.8M with Tent Mount hardware
o Eezi Awn T Top – Xklusiv – 1.6 roof top tent
o Eezi Awn Series 2000 1.5M “spoyla”
o Front Runner Stainless Steel Camp Table
o Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Portable Toilet
o Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Toilet Kit, pack of 100
o National Luna Weekender 50 Liter Split Fridge Freezer, Aluminum 

Update to our tarantula spider post

In our July ConserVentures News, we included a short story about enjoying watching a female tarantula spider whose hole is next to the door to our cottage. Recently, just across the compound near the office porch, we found this little guy—a tarantula spiderling, about the size of a silver dollar at most. He spends most of his time in the hole, and even catches the moths we drop to him. According to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, tarantulas in the Sonoran Desert lay their eggs in burrows and sometimes but not always stay with them. There could be more spiderlings in the hole, or he is the only one, we are not sure.

WTH is a WMC?

Image from SummitCountyVoice.comJust as humans need roads and highways to move between home and work, animals, especially large mammals, need protected corridors for migration, breeding, and finding food and water. These Wildlife Movement Corridors have become a vital tool for ensuring the survival of many species.

For decades, the standard approach to wildlife conservation around the world was to set aside large blocks of land that were then safeguarded from development and over-hunting. While these areas—from Yellowstone in the U.S. to the Serengeti in Africa—are vital as core habitat for thousands of species, biologists slowly realized they could not exist in isolation. In the U.S., for example, we learned that such animals as mountain lions, bighorn sheep, black and grizzly bears, elk, and many other large herbivores and carnivores regularly move between mountain ranges and other designated protected landscapes. This movement prevents inbreeding, allows escape from drought or fire-stressed environments, and lets animals follow seasonal changes in grazing or hunting. However, these corridors often cross unprotected land that is developed or in danger of being developed. By identifying where animals move, potential conflict can be mitigated or eliminated altogether.

Trips & classes to El Aribabi, Summer 2011

A unique opportunity to explore the birds, wildlife and landscape of El Aribabi Conservation Ranch, the newly designated Natural Protected Area of Sonora, Mexico. Two conservation expeditions are being offered by Cynthia Wolf of Wild by Nature Tours (October 14-16 and 21-23) for only $275 per person (10% discount for couples), which includes all lodging and meals. Guided activities such as hiking, birding and wildlife watching and tracking will be led by Cynthia Wolf, Wild By Nature. The expedition’s caravan departs Nogales, AZ mid-morning on Friday and returns by Sunday late afternoon.

Experience the beauty of the Sonoran Sky Islands while learning about  birds, their identification, behavior, ecology, and other characteristics.  Three weekend workshops are being offered this summer for only $275 per person (10% discount for couples), which includes all lodging, meals, and birdwatching classes instructed by Homer Hansen.  The workshops depart Tucson Friday mid day and return by late afternoon on Sunday.  Minimum 6 participants required for each workshop. June 10-12, June 24-26, and July 15-17.