Sunday, July 30, 2023

Tucson Adventure - Day 5 - Morning

[Composed: July 10, 2023, High in Tucson: 106°F]

Sammy (at least, that's what I've started calling him), the big fuzzy spider that hangs out in our bathroom while I shower, was back for breakfast this morning. He looks healthy. I'm glad he's eating well. D and I took a stroll around our neighborhood at 5:15am this morning to take in some of the local birds before the temps start to rise. There are many, many doves around. According to Google lens, we also caught sight of at least one woodpecker and a variety of wren. As we returned to the house we saw a bevy quail. It was all quite impressive given we were only steps from our front door.

We continued our wildlife exploration by hitting up the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM). We arrived as soon as the place opened and had the place essentially to ourselves. Such is the joy of being here off season. Because we arrived so early, we managed to catch the mountain lion, bears and mexican wolves alert and active. The kids couldn't get enough of cat canyon, where the bobcat, grey fox and especially the oscelot were hits. But the absolute highlight for the kids was getting to pet and feed the stingrays.

Stingrays may seem out of place at a desert musuem. However, the sonoran desert extends to the Gulf of California, so their presence is legit. I joined in on the fun, and I have to say, feeding these creatures was an usual experience. They gobbled up the fish I offered them, nibbling on my hand a bit as well. The kids were in no hurry at all to leave this shady and fun experience.

While the kids showered attention on the stingrays, I caught some pics of a distinct looking insect that was feeding on a nearby plant. Turns out, this was the impressively named Tarantula Hawk. The species earned this wicked sounding name because the females hunt tarantulas for their larvae. That's one badass momma right there. With a 1/4" stinger, these insects are known as the second most painful sting of any insect. Ouch. Fortunately, the insect I was photographing was just interested in sipping nectar.

We closed out the ASDM with a visit to the aviary and hummingbird exhibit. While we saw ineresting birds, including some hummingbirds, overall, the hummingbird exhibit was a bit of a miss. The birds just wern't that active. To watch hummingbirds feed is a unique experience, and they just didn't feel like putting on a show this morning. Given the heat, can you blame them?

Taking a group of pre-teens and teens on vacation, it can be hard to impress them. But get these kids in front of animals, and they can't help but overflow with excitement to see what's around the next corner. What a pleasure it was to witness this transformation first hand.

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