Maricopa County Parks Eco-Blitz's Journal

August 31, 2021

August Challenge results

I must sadly say that there were NO observations of the Desert Blond tarantula for this months challenge in the parks. So does no data have meaning? Yes, yes it does, this indicates that either the Desert Blond Tarantulas are not active when most people are in the parks OR that there numbers are very low and there are few encounters of them.

So i checked to see if there have been past observations in I-nat for the Desert Blond tarantula in Maricopa County. The ones that were observed as part of this challenge are mostly in Tonto NF or in other areas. Let that be one of each of your life challenges. Find and document in the parks:-)

I did not know how fortunate i was to come across 2 of these magnificent Desert Blond tarantulas during a Ranger led hike at White Tank Regional Park about 2 years ago (and i will add my old photo to I-nat) . It was during their Ford Canyon hike they host every winter (December). If you are interested in participating in that hike this year check in the next two months on the Maricopa County Parks events calendar Maybe you can get as lucky and the ranger may find a Desert Blond tarantula.

Keep up the great work team! There are plenty of butterflies and caterpillars out there make observations of! Stay Tuned for September's Challenge

Thanks again for all your observations.
You are all contributing to science and helping make a real difference.
Natural Resource Specialist at Maricopa County Parks

Posted on August 31, 2021 19:20 by juanitajn5 juanitajn5 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 27, 2021

So Exciting!! Butterflies and White Sphinx Moth (caterpillars)

Although this was is not part of the challenge... it would be great if you all where able to get outside an document (take pics of and upload to i-nat) pictures of all the butterflies, moths and caterpillars you see.

Since we had the monsoon season the populations are exploding (figuratively speaking) and it is magnificent. This would be a great way to document this phenomenon!

Even if you are just taking pics in your own backyard or neighborhood!!. The data is stored on here for scientists to use.

Lets see how many observations you can make!

Happy Fall!

News about the 2021 butterfly

Posted on August 27, 2021 21:27 by juanitajn5 juanitajn5 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 02, 2021

August Eco-Blitz Challenge

Good day! The monsoon season has been good this year! Keeping it just a little bit cooler for us to get out and enjoy the great outdoors!

The August Challenge is Blond Tarantula Spider- These fascinating spiders are nocturnal but can be found in the early morning hours. The times i have seen these guys is in the early morning high a top the mountain. The pics in the flyer are from the Ford Canyon Trail at White Tank Regional Park.

The desert blond tarantula (DBT) is 3 to 5 inch-large bodied (8-13 cm) spider, the female is usually tan in color. The male has black legs, a copper-colored cephalothorax, and a reddish abdomen. The common name "blond tarantula" refers to the carapace, which is densely covered in pale hairs and contrasts strongly with the all-dark legs and abdomen. Tarantulas are ectothermic, meaning they absorb heat from their environment. DBT’s can live up to 20 years, they become sexually mature at 8-10 years. They are reclusive and nocturnal spiders, that feed on lizards, crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, cicadas, and caterpillars. They also feed on parasites.

They are common throughout the Southwestern United States, especially in Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern California. These spiders are usually solitary, they reside in desert soil and create burrows by digging themselves under stones, or using other rodent burrows. They may live in the same burrow for decades.
The flyer can be found here
POWO produces POWO

Posted on August 02, 2021 15:12 by juanitajn5 juanitajn5 | 3 comments | Leave a comment

July Challenge results

Hey Eco Blitz Team the July Challenge has ended and we had a total of 5 Harris Antelope Squirrels documented at a 2 parks and MC trail. These little guys are fast so difficult to capture on photo! To see results click link below!

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Maybe we will document more next year.
Thank you all!
Maricopa County Parks
Natural Resource Specialist

Posted on August 02, 2021 15:06 by juanitajn5 juanitajn5 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 02, 2021

July Challenge -Harris Antelope Squirrel

Hey Team.

I may be biased but this months species are adorable, they are you will need to be quick with your camera!
The Harris’s antelope squirrel is easily distinguished by the
conspicuous white stripe that runs along each side from shoulder to
flank. They are roughly nine inches long, with a three-inch tail, and
run with their tails curled over their backs. Ground squirrels belong
to the rodent order and are a favorite prey for many predators.
Harris's antelope squirrels are often mistaken for chipmunks.
They are found in the Southwestern United States, specifically in
Arizona, New Mexico, and in Sonora, Mexico. These squirrels prefer
to build their habitats in deserts with cacti, desert shrubs, and areas
with dense vegetation. They also can be found in open plains with
gravel and sand.
Here is a link to the flyer

Posted on July 02, 2021 15:16 by juanitajn5 juanitajn5 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 30, 2021

June Challenge wraps-up

Hey Team!

I know it has been hot out there in the desert these last few weeks, but i have to say i was surprised by the number of White-winged doves i saw devouring the Saguaro Cacti fruit this year. Maybe it is because i have been made more aware of this relationship or maybe it is because the saguaro cacti are producing above average number of fruits. If I would have had my camera with me I would have had a plethora of WW dove and saguaro pics.

We had a total of nine WW dove observations at four parks (Estrella Mountain, White Tank, Usery and San Tan Regional Parks) and six saguaro cacti for this month. Our challenge winner is Ecoexplorer with 4 observations. Great work Kathy!

Some good news!! Maricopa County Parks Eco-blitz was recently in the news paper.. link is below.

It would be great if we could get over 100 participants join the program by this years end...please tell your friends about it . It really is a super fun and and interactive way to learn about our native plants and animals while contributing to science!

Thanks all.

Next months challenge is the Harris Antelope Squirrel , new post coming soon.

Posted on June 30, 2021 22:34 by juanitajn5 juanitajn5 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 01, 2021

June Eco Blitz Challenge- White-winged Dove and Sagauro Cacti

Have you seen any blooming Saguaros yet? Or white-winged doves? This month’s Eco-Blitz challenges are white-winged dove and blooming Saguaro. Join us to learn more about the Maricopa County Parks Eco-BLITZ. We will be learning all about the relationship between these species.

Did you know that the white-winged doves are Saguaro specialists? Their breeding season is synchronized with the reproductive cycle of the Saguaro. These birds rely on Saguaros almost solely for nutrients and water during the breeding season. The White-winged Dove is a migratory species and also a game species, making it rather unique.

Saguaro Cacti are a keystone species in the Sonoran Desert and provide nesting, shelter, and/or food from many birds, insects, and bat species. They are the largest and tallest cactus in the U.S. with their arms stretching skyward as if they are saying “light shine upon me”. Although their opulent white flowers bloom at night, many will remain open in the morning. In 1931 they were designated as Arizona’s state flower.

Lets try to get these species documented together at each park! Challenge On!

Posted on June 01, 2021 15:20 by juanitajn5 juanitajn5 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Results from MAY Challenge

Great Work Team!
We documented 14 Zebra-tailed lizards from three parks (Cave Creek RP, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area and Hassayampa River Preserve. The top data collectors are MJRyan, Micaheal Smith, direwoldplayz and Eric Hough.
We documented 12 Desert Spiny-tailed at two parks Hassayampa River Preserve and Cave Creek RP.
Top data collectors Michael Smith and Eric Hough!

Although these two lizards were documented at the north parks we are getting plenty of other species at other parks!
Great work everyone!
Stay Tuned for the June Challenge!
Maricopa County Parks Natural Resources.

Posted on June 01, 2021 15:14 by juanitajn5 juanitajn5 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 05, 2021

April Eco Blitz Challenge

Did you see on Maricopa County Parks social media pages the May Challenge? If not click link below
“On your last hike did you see that super-fast running lizard? Did you wonder which species it was? This month the two more common lizards are featured. Join us to learn more for the Maricopa County Parks Eco-BLITZ. We will be learning all about these two lizards… feel free ask the park rangers all about them!

Two of our most common desert lizards:

Side-blotched- this small lizard (body length ½ to 2.5”) is distinguished by a bluish-black blotch on each side of the chest, directly behind the front legs. This is one of the most common lizards in arid regions of the western U.S. and can be found in various habitat types. Diet: Insects, spiders, and scorpions

Desert Spiny - are large stocky lizards (Body length 3.25”-6”) with large pointed, keeled, overlapping scales (prehistoric looking), commonly found on the ground and will take shelter under rocks. Males have 2 large, bright, blue-green patch on throat. Their heads are often tinted with yellow/orange. Diet: Insects, spiders, centipedes, lizards, and occasional plant material.

We have been seeing many of both of these species recently, in fact we spotted two Desert Spiny Lizards yesterday during our seed harvesting event!

Lets see how many you can photograph...ready set go!

Posted on May 05, 2021 14:20 by juanitajn5 juanitajn5 | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March Challenge Results

Great Work Eco-Blitzers! We had six observations of the Master Blister Beetle! And the pics are fantastic!
A big THANK YOU to Eric H., Adrian S., BJ Steiner, Huensen, Trekkxx, and Allison!

Keep at it!

Maricopa County Parks

Posted on May 05, 2021 14:14 by juanitajn5 juanitajn5 | 0 comments | Leave a comment