February 4, 2014

Twenty-four degrees this clear blue morning, a cold to assure that Winter, though much threatened, is not yet an extinct species. The new snow dust gives The Rincon a pale shimmer in the first sunrays.

Not much going on at the edge of the cold Stockpond, just a Rock Squirrel stretched out almost flat trying to reach the water, and a few nondescript sparrows I decide are not Brewer’s on the strength of their having gray rumps, but think instead they must be “Pale 1st winter” (as Sibley puts it) Chipping Sparrows. The book says they don’t weigh much … imagine, at less than half an ounce they are yet creatures complete.

Haven’t seen the beautiful Polka Dot Beetles for more than a couple weeks, the cold of the nights must have set them groggy, but in the late light during as much warmth as is going to be mustered by the day (50s) one of them appears–it carries not six black spots, but eleven! (One entomologist has sent word that what has been seen over most of the winter with those six spots were just a form of the common and universally-resented garden Cucumber Beetle, and this new one today certainly looks a lot more like any illustration one might find of that pest. Yet another entomologist, whose specialty is beetles of southern Arizona, tells that he doesn’t believe Cucumber Beetles would have one race with a very different number of spots active the first half of their season, and change over to one with almost double the number during the second. He thinks it’s a different, maybe even undescribed, species. I wonder which I’ll be seeing from here on, and for how long into spring …)