Mule Deer and Fawn at Coldwater Farm

Mule Deer at Coldwater Farm

During the long drought this spring, several mule deer visited Coldwater Farm near the Agua Fria River in central Arizona.  A lone doe became a resident, and browses in the yard in the evenings and mornings.  In early August I saw a fawn bouncing about beside the doe.  Yesterday, the fawn was racing about in the cow pasture while the doe watched.

There are no cows at the farm.  The cow pasture is fallow and covered by weeds taller than the fawn.  Getting good photographs is almost impossible.  In the picture below you can probably see the fawn’s spots, but not much else.

Mule Deer Fawn

Mule Deer Fawn at Coldwater Farm

Mule Deer Doe

Mule Deer Doe

The Mule Deer doe has been much easier to photograph.

Over the past 15 years, deer have visited the farm only twice, and the visits lasted just one day.  There were always dogs in the past, and now that the last dog died, deer are free to roam about the farm, and so they do.

Mule Deer Eat Almost Everything

Deer are fond of domestic roses.  When we moved to the farm in 1997, I planted 175 hedge and climbing roses in hopes of attracting deer.  The previous visitors took a few rose leaves and hips, but now, at last, the roses are being seriously browsed.  The deer like other plants too, and seem to browse all the woody plants on the place.  They especially like grape leaves, but they also eat willow, plumb, desert hackberry, and mulberry.  They also to eat a variety of weeds.

None of the woody plants have been harmed.  Perhaps the local winter and spring droughts will get worse and the deer will begin damaging the plants.  The trees and grapes are too tall for the deer to reach a significant portion of the leaves, but they might strip the bark.  Before that was necessary, the human farm manager would do his job to save the plants, and bring in hay.

Click here for more about the mammals at Coldwater Farm.

Tell me about the mammals you see.–An Important Wolverine Supporter

Earthjustice Works to Protect Wolverine, other Wildlife, and Places

Wolverine by AYImages.

A member of the Earthjustice team, Tim Preso, the managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Northern Rockies office, has been advocating for Wolverine since the Bush administration.

“The presence of the wolverine tells us that the landscape is productive not only for the wolverine but for lots of other creatures that also require that kind of landscape: the fish, smaller mammals and, ultimately, us.”  Earthjustice Managing Attorney Tim Preso
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Agua Fria River: Hope Fades for Small Arizona Stream

Agua Fria River

The Agua Fria River passes through the small central Arizona town of Dewey-Humboldt about a half mile east of the Historical Society museum on Main Street.  It begins as a tiny wash on the north slope of Glassford Hill, widens as it sweeps around the east side of Prescott Valley, and finally becomes a perennial stream as it enters Dewey-Humboldt.  There, in small shady pools separated by sparkling riffles, the river becomes a peaceful refuge, totally out of character with its desert surroundings.  Filled in summer by the calls of Red-winged Blackbirds and in winter by the quacking laughter of migratory ducks, the river continues through the town on south through Agua Fria National Monument and Black Canyon to Lake Pleasant.

A Beautiful Desert Stream Runs Through the Heart of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona.

A Beautiful Desert Stream Runs Through the Heart of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona.

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Bat Future Uncertain as Numbers Decline

Benefits of Bats

Bats in Austin TX

Bat Watching at Congress St Bridge–Austin TX

Bats are encouraged to reside in many places because they eat insects and pollinate plants.  Austin, Texas, for instance, is proud of its large bat population, and refers to itself as Bat City.  I am anxious to see more bats near my home because they eat mosquitoes, my personal nemesis.  Little Brown Bats can eat 1,000 mosquitoes per hour.

GBH proividing scale for my bat house.A bat house built in my back yard in 2004 remained vacant until 2011.  The house has room for 600 bats, but only 11 moved in.  The number did not increase in 2012—still waiting to see what happens in 2013.  The house is near three large stock ponds.  Dragonflies, hummingbirds, flycatchers, and swallows find plenty of insects to eat during the day, so it seems reasonable to expect the house will eventually be home to more than 11 bats.

Human Impacts

The only entities that gain from bat extinction are insecticide producers.

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Arizona Amphibians Disappearing

Arizona Amphibian Conservation

Fresh water, the essential habitat of Arizona’s amphibians, is declining in both quality and quantity.  Frogs, toads, and salamanders are dependent on open water habitats.  Like many other places in the world, Arizona’s human population has exceeded the state’s carrying capacity.  Water resources in most areas of the state can no longer support the state’s human population.  In their unconscious drive to become the only species left, Arizona’s humans have depleted and polluted their water resources.  As the human population continues to grow, water and amphibians will continue to disappear.

Rocky Mountain Toad

Rocky Mountain Toad

The photograph shows a palm-sized Rocky Mountain Toad.  In spring, it cries its nasal “waaah” mating call from the banks of Arizona’s streams, lakes, and temporary rain pools.  On warm moist nights, one or more of these small predators will often sit beneath outdoor lights and windows where insects congregate. Continue reading

Book Review–Clark. Writing Tools.

Book Review–Clark.

Clark, Roy Peter.  2006.  Writing tools: 50 essential strategies for every writer.  Little Brown and Company, New York.  260p.

Clark argues that writing is more a craft than an art.  He introduces 50 tools that are useful for writing fiction, nonfiction, and both.  The 50 chapters are clear, succinct, and well-illustrated with examples from work by Clark and other authors.

The book is divided into four parts:  Nuts and Bolts, Special Effects, Blueprints, and Useful Habits.  Each chapter is followed by workshop exercises.

Clark’s tools can be used for fiction, nonfiction, and combinations of the two.  Tool 25 describes and illustrates the difference between reports and stories. “Use one to render information, the other to render experience.”  Clark shows how the reporter’s five Ws and H shift their meaning for the storyteller. And he illustrates how writers combine the meanings to produce powerful effects.

Tool 50 presents a simple blueprint to guide the use of the tools.  The blueprint divides writing into five sequential steps that lead to finished products.

Other writing texts cover Clark’s tools from different angles and with different examples.  I think many beginning writers will find Clark’s argument and his clear style will give them confidence and techniques they can use to construct their own projects.

Recommended.  Find this book and others on writing at the Writer’s Bookstore.

Saving Wildlife: Species Checklists

Introduction:  The Human Impact

The growing human population is wiping out Earth’s resources and many plant and animal species.  Scientists are calling this the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event.  They say that we are extinguishing species between 100 and 1,000 times faster than the average rate throughout Earth history.

We can’t seem to do anything about the human population boom, so we can’t stop species extinctions.  We can sometimes intervene to save a species.  We can return species to places they formerly occupied, and we can protect or restore damaged habitats.  Of course, we have to know that species are declining before we can decide to intervene.  The only way to know how most species are doing is to conduct repeated field surveys.  On foot, clipboard in hand. Continue reading

Arizona Wildlife In Peril

Arizona Wildlife Status

There is general agreement that wildlife is declining worldwide.  Across the U. S., government agencies and private organizations have set aside millions of acres in parks, monuments, preserves, refuges, wilderness areas, and other protected areas.  The efforts have undoubtedly slowed the decline, but they have not stopped it.  The status of most small invertebrate species is unknown, but the AZ Game & Fish Department reports that 551 of the state’s 992 vertebrate species are imperiled.

Imperiled Arizona Wildlife

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Life on Mars?!

Learning about Mars


Mars Rover Curiosity

As Mars rover Curiosity gets closer to determining that life existed on Mars, people are getting excited.  Some hope that we will find a few of the last surviving pockets of the planet’s microorganisms.  Fascinating!  Should we invest more in the space program?  Oh, sorry; that was stupid.  Everyone knows we have to save life on Earth first.

Reports from around the world are describing the progress of a great environmental catastrophe.  Earth’s wild animals and plants are dying.  Efforts by the world’s governments and conservation organizations have failed to stop the accelerating catastrophe.  According to a January 2013 report by the AZ Game & Fish Department, more than half of the state’s native vertebrate species are imperiled.  Sadly, the status of the great majority of smaller species is unknown. Continue reading

Review: The Human Impact

Goudie, Andrew S.  2009.  (Fifth edition)  The human impact on the natural environment:  Past, present, and future.  John Wiley & Sons, New York.  376 p.

Human impacts are often subtle and complex.  They easily escape our notice as they make small cumulative changes in the environment.  Only by intensive analysis of the chemistry and spatiotemporal dynamics of particles, forces, and flows can some be detected.  But as human population and land use have grown, so has the visibility of the impacts.

In this book, British geographer Andrew Goudie gives well-illustrated discussions of many types of human impacts.  With examples drawn from hundreds of studies, Professor Goudie summarizes a broad selection of previous research.  Though the environmental changes he describes often seem to be a result of human activity, determining causes is difficult or impossible with the present information.

Following an introduction to the development of human attitudes toward nature, Goudie presents chapters on vegetation, animals, soil, water, geomorphology, and climate.  The book ends with a discussion of the current opinions on human influence on environmental change.

When The Human Impact was first published in 1981, one reviewer, Paul Ward English, said, “this is an unusually fine book.”  I agree.

Buy the book at the Naturalist’s Bookstore.  Search the ‘Human Impacts’ category.