July 3, 2013

The pink-silver-blue water of The Stockpond at dawn is dotted with Sonoran Desert Toads, across the whole expanse from shore to shore to shore to shore. The air rings with their talking and their Moog Synthesizer whortles and chuckles and notes, their loud splashes and loud ripples of breast strokes through clear water without a speck of algae. They change partners, lock together in threes swimming across in one direction, gather in with their chain of partiers a fourth toad and then do an abrupt about-swim the other way again. I hear the accordion of the Lambada, the entire pond sways and swirls to it, and surely it is playing down the whole valley, every place there is a pond or puddle or a garden fountain in southern Arizona, in the city, in the deepest wilds. It was even part of my job, once, to make toad rounds at the swimming pool of the ranch nearby I’d worked with then, to pull them out of the jacuzzi filter, which we ended up calling, “the toad spa”. Last year, though, there was hardly a square inch of open water during the first toady courtship of “las aguas”, and that scene was even more crazed. Once I found an exceptionally large toad (they were called Colorado River Toads then), who’d died without trauma and had dried into a perfect mummy, then I found a smaller one to match, also mummified, put them as finials atop the entry posts at a gate on that ranch, and called them, “Toadankhamun” and “Nefirtoady”. It doesn’t take long living here before these grand creatures work their way into one’s life.


It is rare to see a Turkey Vulture standing next to the pond, but one is there this morning–it is more usual for them to come to that cienega out in #1 Pasture to get their drink, where a pool and marsh has formed by a main-leak of a number of years and where the land is wide open all around them. Later on the pasture, a pair of Yellow-headed Blackbirds in natty plumage hang out on the wheel line, their favored perch. For a bird considered so rare in the summer here, I seem to see a lot of them! Overhead of them comes a small flock of Eurasian Collared Doves, which for a few years had a population explosion down this part of the valley from Pomerene but to my observations was now declining, or at least I hardly see any these days.

Many Ash-throated Flycatchers calling, “Ka-brick! ka-brick!” from the bosques.