I Spy With My Little Eye

Sightings on the Preserve

A Roadrunner…

Along Bee Mesa… He poses on a rock just long enough for me to snap a pic. I got it!


A Raven nibbling on a drupe of palm fruit…

Did I forget to mention that the palm tree and fruit are directly over our RV?


Desert Holly…

Along the switchbacks to Squaw Hill…


The Rockettes Trail… 

An offshoot of the Smoke Tree Ranch Trail, leading across Thousand Palms Canyon Road to Hidden Palms and Pushawalla Palms…

Newly established last summer, this trail is a work-in-progress for our Preserve Manager, Ginny. Too many hikers’ shoe prints are off-trail so Ginny is posting signs to remind guests that they need to stay on-trail and off delicate habitat.

I helped her one day to line the trail with rocks, sweep off shoe prints, and post signs. This led me to my personal goal of lining the rest of one side of this 1/3 mile trail with rocks.

Since then, Mary, a tenured volunteer and docent, and I are slowly lining the other side. Harlan christened it with the name Rockettes.


An abandoned bike way off trail next to Squaw Hill…

Mary and I schlepped this unrideable vehicle back to the dumpster.


A Costa’s Hummingbird on the Indian Palms Trail…

There’s always something new and different to see in this magical sacred space we call home for 7 months.


And finally…

“Frozen” hot cocoa for the Keurig!


This one’s for you, Reagan💜

New Digs

Happy New Year!

Look what popped up on the Preserve today.

No, not a champagne cork, but a desert pocket gopher!

Now you see him…

Now you don’t…

Soon after burying the entrance to his new home, he decided to add on a front porch.

And then a backyard patio…

Within several days, however, Larry had moved on.


Pocket gophers are small burrowing mammals with short naked tails, tiny eyes and ears, large forelimbs, and elongated claws. Their lips close behind long incisors so they can use their teeth to loosen soil without getting any dirt in their mouths.

Rarely seen, these rodents spend most of their lives underground in their extensive tunnel system. Mounds of dirt on the surface are the only traces of activity they leave behind. These sandy dirt piles have no visible holes because pocket gophers plug the openings from underneath.

Active year round throughout the Sonoran Desert, they provide a valuable service in aerating and turning the soil. They are vegetarians, eating roots, tubers, grasses, green plants, and prickly pears. Being shy and timid and seldom leaving their underground tunnel system, pocket gophers prefer to pull plants from below ground into their tunnel. They also store food in chambers off the main tunnel. Besides storing food, these side chambers are also used as toilets and nesting spaces. Abandoned tunnels provide habitat for rabbits, mice, snakes, and lizards, as well as ground squirrels, skunks, and toads.

Pocket gophers are prey for snakes and weasels who can follow them into their burrows. Canines and badgers dig them out of the ground. Owls and hawks can quickly snatch them up if they are outside their tunnels.

These gophers are solitary animals, only coming together in spring and summer to mate. Born in nesting chambers, babies are taken care of by their mothers for only a few weeks before being sent away to create burrows of their own. Their average life span is a little less than 3 years. (desertmuseum.org and nwf.org)