The secrets of the southern deserts
The Secret Life of the Southern Deserts
It is over 100 degrees here in the Sonoran Desert and all that moves is the heat waves and a black speck high in the sky,a vulture I think.For it is keeping cool up there.
At midday the siguaro cactus plants some over forty feet high appear to be dancing,their arms wriggling in the delusion of mirages.
It is much cooler up where the buzzard turns and also cooler in the shade of the conifer forests visible on the distant mountains,but the desert floor is frying pan hot and to the many residents that live here would die in minutes if they ventured out of their shady hiding places.
Among the deserts countless unseen residents are more reptiles than in the rest of the United States combined.This includes around 175 snake species.Hard to believe.
The game here is varied and often plentiful but hard to get.
The desert carries,Mule deer,whitetailed deer,blacktailed deer,Big Horn Sheep,pecary,feral hogs.
There are four types of quail,Gambles,Valley,Mountain,and Bob White.
There are coyotes,Fox,Badger,Bobcat,mountain lion and wild horses.
There are two types of dove,Morning dove and White winged.
Much of the desert are in Mexico and forms a border with the gulf of California.
It takes up much of Arizon,a bit of Nevada and a part of California,the Mojave.
It runs into New Mexico.
The reason for such a span of desert is high mountains which barricades it from the rain bearing ocan.
These lands appear to be harsh,yet they team with a secret life most people never see.
The desert contains 120000 square miles within a ragged outline,invaded on the edges by high mountains and below sea level by alkali.
In between are forests and irrigable land.Gold mines abound here as the bats that live in these caverns left by the miner.
There are oasis and water holes with lush vegetation,sandy mountains that drift like snow.
Don't forget the annual flowers in their brilliant colors,that attract thousands of painters,photo takers and just plain veiwers.The desert has occotillo plants over 200 years old that look like dead sticks but grow leaves when the rain does come.
The cacti have folds,gullies and expand when the rains come,to catch and absorb the much needed water.
And we can't forget the flash floods that have caught a many hiker off guard and claimed their lives.
A flash flood can start miles away by a heavy down pour and then travel for miles through sand stone canyons or just down old gullies.
It is best to get out of harms way when you hear lightning crack,even if it is miles off,as this is your warning of a possible flash flood coming your way.
A cactus wren hunts for bugs on the cholla cactus barbs,as a coyote stalks a Jack rabbit or Cottontail.The owl waits patiently for a mouse or pack rat to make that fatal mistake and become dinner,as does the Rattlesnake.
The Horn toad waits patiently at an ant hill entrance or a wild bee hive for dinner as does the lizard.
The Desert Tortous moves around leisurely looking for a green vegetable to snack on.
The Peccari usually proceeds to the water hole early as does the hunter who stalks them.They leave markings on their trails with strong scent glands that can be smelt for quite a distance.
The little Cous deer slips along the ravines with stealth and when spooked heads for the ridge tops and then stops and looks behind to see what spooked him.The Whitetails live closer to the forest fringes,frequenting the farmers alfalfa fields in the dark of night and leaving at day break.
A Badger is seen digging in a Gophers hole trying to catch dinner as is the Skunk looking for a tidbit of a bug or mouse.
Ah but the Desert Sheep can go weeks without coming to a water hole as it feeds on vegetation for it's survival moisture,and it may only drink once in a week.
They come to the water hole looking meek and as they drink their bodies tend to swell as their tissues absorb the moisture.They will get liquids from Cacti,as their horns will show years of scars from butting over cacti to get the moisture.
Man may explore this brutal system and may even enter as a predator without damage.
But it is to be preserved by not interfering with the forces of this arid land..
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