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This is the second and final installment of the Ruby blog. Again, there is only text here. I have posted 285 photos on two Facebook photo albums. For those of you who do not have a Facebook account, see this Picasa web album, which is available to all:
The Facebook photos have captions, but the Picasa ones do not.
In the morning we collected more provisioners. I fished Mineral Lake
again with senko worms. In spite of all
the frogs around, these fish seldom took topwater lures. I caught 9, including 1 of 2.5 lb. Even small ones pulled the kayak around, but
it rotated horribly. Justin Schmidt, an
old friend from Tucson,
came to visit. He put out black lights
that night. Lots of big rhinoceros
beetles came, as well as big sphinx moths, a mantispid, and an embiopteran. We ran into a medium sized western
diamondback rattlesnake in the dark.
Jon and I neatened up the trailer for Chuck’s return. Sundog had shot a couple of huge antelope
jackrabbits. We learned about the iron
balls that had been used for grinding ore in the mine’s heyday. I went on a hike w/ Jon, Sundog & Peter
to some fig trees. The figs were not
ripe yet. We picked up trash down the
wetback trail on our return. Then we
droved further south and hiked to “The Spike.”
On the way, Jon nearly stepped on a tiger rattlesnake! There were some nice saguaro cacti there. We passed through the eye of the spike, which
is supposed to be an interdimensional portal.
I was hoping to attain enlightenment, but not much significant happened. There were many flowers & lots of vegetation. It was not an immigrant trail, and there was
no trash. Our destination was really a
patch of chiltepin bushes, which were not ripe either. Chiltepines are the progenitor to all chile
peppers. Jon ate one right there, and
indicated that it was really hot. I
passed, as I was a bit low on water. We
drove down to the Mexican border, which has a car barrier to keep people from
driving across this broad, flat area. We
drove down Warsaw
Gulch & up California Gulch. It was
beautiful, with lots of old mines sprinkled in.
Chuck returned. We had venison
dinner at Sundog’s—lightly barbequed backstraps. Dang, they were good. Jon got sick and had to lay down for awhile.
Jon left for a one-week break. I felt tired all day. Chuck and I collected provisioners. We found females to match in size a sample of
the Eastern species Chuck had brought back from Easton.
We ate burgers for dinner, as well as Sundog’s deer stew w/ tongue &
spinal cord. I attempted photographing
bats at the hummingbird feeder for the first time. These are nectar-feeding bats, not the
insect-eating type. The current common
name is Mexican Long-tongued Bat, AKA Choeronycteris
I pinned out the matched pairs of females. Chuck and I did some heating measurements to
show that the wasps can cool themselves by evaporating water. That afternoon we went to Arivaca for
shopping, laundry, and internet. We hit
the folk jam session again. There were some
better players & singers this time.
We finished the heating measurements, and I set up the MIRFF
(Maximum Individual Relative Flight Force) apparatus. We did 10 males, with variable results. We heated them up with my soldering
iron. It was hot & unpleasant work,
with many technical difficulties. We
went swimming to cool off when we were done.
Chuck was bitten on the nipple by a bluegill & bled. It was pretty funny. I took a short bike ride. We had hot dogs for dinner. I took more bat photos.
We did more MIRFF measurements, this time with females. Surprisingly, these were easier. They behave better, even from chill
coma. Being bigger, they were hard to
heat them up. We used iron balls from the
1860 ball mill heated on propane stove and set the hot ball underneath them. Later we added a 2” iron pipe as a chimney. Their flights took too long, and we switched
from my digital video camera to Chuck’s Canon video camera. We discovered that the camera remote also turns
on the trailer stereo. Some visitors
came today. While we were in the trailer
I saw a guy meditating naked on the dune.
Turns out it was a photo shoot.
Chuck and I went up to watch the bat emergence, but the population was down
from 150,000 to maybe 1/10 that. Most of
them had migrated south already. That
night I was photographing the bird feeder bats again when a big beetle landed
on my bare knee. My thumb reflexively
hit the remote shutter button and I took 9 shots of nothing. That night I had to go to the outhouse and
saw a woodrat in the first stall, so I took the second. Normally, there was a lizard on the outside,
and often a canyon wren prowling about, both probably feeding on the flies.
Chuck and I, along with Sundog, Peter and Emil (a wildlife
biologist) hiked up to Hell’s Gate and up Peck Canyon. This place is a geological wonder. Hell’s gate is named for the red/orange
cliffs on both sides. Some boulders had
many tiny geodes embedded in the rock. There
were water erosion effects, obsidian deposits, and tinajas (oases). We were in the streambed or alongside it most
of the time. There were many wildflowers
and grasses; it was lush. We saw mountain
lion tracks, scrapes and scats. At one
point we were stopped by a Border Patrol agent, who initially thought we were
wetbacks, I guess. We retrieved Emil’s
trail camera at the top of the canyon and returned. We had a swim, and dinner was venison at at
Sundog’s. We looked at the thousands of pics
on the trail cam from as far back as January.
There were Bobcats, Mountain lions, skunks (striped, hognose &
hooded), fox, ringtail, coati, mouse, squirrel, Montezuma quail, acorn
woodpeckers, jays, lizards, wetbacks, mules, hounds, and a man on horse. By mules, I mean guys carrying two bales of
marijuana each on their backs. There
were a couple of photos of a jaguar, Macho B, before he was accidentally snared. He was released with a tracking collar, but
got an infection, was recaptured & had to be put down.
Chuck did focal observations. I did flight muscle ratios, data entry, read
and napped. Cut a sotol and an ocotillo
for walking sticks. I stripped the bark
from the ocotillo. I used three
different knives, but it was still hard.
We did more heating experiments for evaporative cooling on
males. We had dinner at Sundog’s. It was a stew of duck named Peep-peep who had
been killed by a bobcat. I had the idea
to photograph the bats under more natural conditions, and Sundog directed me to
an agave bloom near his house. I was
nearly eaten alive by mosquitoes. What
really freaked me out was the bats flying up to the camera to check it
We had been noticing the kingbirds stealing cicadas from
provisioning females, and I began the prey theft study. I sat and watched the kingbirds, taking note
of when they attempted to steal. There
was a big rainstorm that afternoon, and Chuck got the idea to take a shower in
it. Jon returned in middle of this, with
Chuck outside naked, and our ocotillo sticks hanging in the tree. He said, “You guys have gone feral.” Later I went to catch provisioning female
wasps. Near an old water tank I saw a
coati mundi and ran after it. It was
straight uphill and it disappeared between the tank and an old building. I saw a garter snake and a pair of
quail. I angled around and then saw the coati
again going up hill. I shot some pics,
but it’s too bad I didn’t have the long lens on. I hiked up to the top of the hill to an air
shaft that was a real man swallower. If
you fell in, it would be 40-50 feet before you hit anything. I continued down the other side and found an
old gated mine shaft. I ate a BBQ cicada
to prove it could be done.
I observed kingbirds again, and heated a few males to boost
my sample size. I caught a few provisioners
for Jon. I saw a California Sister
(butterfly) while heating wasps, and couldn’t give chase. The same day I saw a filigree skimmer
(dragonfly) too. We ran out of water for
the first time. We bathed in the
lake. Sundog fed us venison burritos–spicy
good. He’s quite a cook. We went to Arivaca to get groceries, water,
internet, etc. A big rain began. We went to La Gitana Cantina for the
Grasshopper Festival, but the races were already over. We had a drink, listened to the band, and
went to the coffee house just as the folk jam was wrapping up. We drove back to Ruby on slightly flooded
It was kingbirds again.
I observed 10 thefts on this day.
This phenomenon has not been documented systematically before. Sundog shot a bunch of bullfrogs to eat. We had bullfrog spaghetti for dinner. Justin came with his whole family to
camp. His wife is learning the Chinese
violin, which we heard beyond bed time.
Kingbirds again. Also,
we observed five documented thefts by roadrunners. I grabbed and stabbed diggers, shoppers &
provisioners. We went to Green Valley
for supplies. I picked up a tarantula
and some horse lubber grasshopper on the way.
We ate at the Cow
Palace on the way
back. Awesome. There was a major Border Patrol operation on Ruby Road, then
some wetbacks tried to wave us down further on.
We went on by.
I did more grab and stab on females. I pinned out various bugs I had accumulated. I helped plant trap nests. Wasps took one in 10 minutes. We had a dinner of hamburgers, fried
cottontail rabbit, and cicada kabobs. I
did more bat photography at an agave bloom next to the road, with Jon on a NightMax
night viewer to tell me when they were coming.
Results were improving.
I did kingbirds for the last time. There were many attacks. I looked for males, but there were none. I visited the old cemetery, and saw a new
dragonfliy. We had a brief, midday
storm. I did the nearest neighbor method
on a low burrow density site.
Surprisingly, the dispersion pattern was random. I caught a Bicyrtes wasp with a stink bug.
I’d only read about this species before.
I tried grab & stab on provisioners again. I got 2 early, which was good. We took a hike with Sundog and Peter Ragan to
Prop Rock Canyon & Bartolo
Canyon. It was very beautiful. There were many water-filled pools,
wildflowers, and, unfortunately, wetback trash.
I found a backpack, but it was not good.
Sundog found a good one, more of a rucksack. Peter carried out a huge bag of trash, and
Jon a smaller one. Incidentally, Peter
appears to be a really green guy, and does cob and straw bale
construction. I almost fell on my face
and nearly smashed the camera lens when the top of a rock broke off after I
stepped on it. We went off trail in the
hoo doos, and had a brief, but challenging downclimb through the rocks. Chuck sat on an agave, putting a hole in his
pants and underwear. No blood. We were joking that he tore himself a new
one. The climax of the hike was Black
Hawk Tank, a large swimming pool (tinaja)
in the stream bed. I swam and jumped off
the rock. I felt refreshed, but the 25
min hike out made me sweat again. We jumped
in the lake when we got back to camp. We
had corned beef and cabbage at Sundog’s.
I attempted some more early grab & stabs. I missed 5 provisioners and gave up. Chuck yelled, “Joe, I have a provisioner
here.” I said, “You wanna cookie?” I did some later grabs & stabs. I photographed bats at the agave again. Some bats had flown into Sundog’s house. He caught them with an insect net and held
one so I could photograph it. There was
also a mantis outside doing exotic defensive postures that I tried to shoot.
With Chuck’s help, I did the nearest neighbor method at two
sites, and it was much work. They were
both random too. I set up for the comparison
of convallis & speciosus, but clouds interrupted. We went to Arivaca for water, food, propane and
internet. Apparently, I’m on the
committee to find a new VPAA, and I didn’t even know we needed one. Sadly, we found that the laundromat had closed! We got food at Mama’s cart & went to the
folk jam session. We gave a ride to David
& Jeannette, regular visitors to Ruby, a ride in. We caught some giant cicadas on the way. They are about 3x the size of Tibicen parallela, the one our wasp uses. We will send the giants to an expert for
Many people were camping, including Justin; David &
Jeannette. I measured digging rate,
collecting cups of wet sand. I employed
my 2000 Dodge Dakota 4WD extended cab drying oven. I put the cups on dash and a solar fan on one
window. I left the other window open a
bit. The sand dried out quickly. I made jackpot for dinner.
We had many visitors again, including fishermen. They caught lots of bluegill. I measured 5 more diggers, and caught another
wasp species that hunts beetles. I
couldn’t even find this one in the book.
Sundog found an ornate box tortoise.
Arie called to tell him there was a roadkilled javelina. He picked it up and dressed it out. We ate it for dinner, barbequed on
Manzanita. It was delicious. I made guacamole. We stayed up late talking by the fire.
It took most of the morning to get two more diggers. The numbers of females seem to be falling. I observed no provisioners. It was a sunny, but WINDY day. We went to Arivaca to pick up Jon’s key, get
water, food, and internet. We caught
some more giant cicadas on the way back, and were accosted by the
landowner. We had pasta fazoul and more
javelina. Still good. Two lady friends visited Sundog.
Got some early grab and stabs. The interspecies comparison failed because of
wind, I think. I investigated burrows
with a fiber optic viewer: the 1st one had a female coming out, and
she was not amused. The third one had a
toad. I could not get more than about 10
inches down because of tunnel curvature.
Jon & Chuck dug a huge hole excavating about 12 burrows, removing
about 2 cubic meters of sand. They
recorded every cell and cocoon in it. I
helped fill it back up when they were done.
It was rather cold overnight. I got up early and collected data w/o
breakfast. I got body temperatures of
females in cold, even a provisioner at 6:30, which was a miracle. Also we did some digger evictions—they can’t
fly when cold.
We did majority of packing then. We hiked from Papago Tanks down the canyon
then up to the top of a ridge where the Trenchera ruins are. The Trenchera culture dates from 500-600
years ago. Not much is known about them,
and not many people have been to this site.
There were rock walls, potsherds, pressure flakes, and mortar &
pestle. There was one spot with a lot of
potsherds, and somebody asked why they were so concentrated there. I said, “That’s where they got married,
stomped on their dishes and yelled, ‘Mazeltov!’” Kristen, one of the visiting ladies, was
stung pretty badly by harvester ants. We
saw two horned lizards and passed an opal claim on the way out. We took our last swim in Mineral lake, then
went to Green Valley for Mexican food at
Manuel’s. We saw an owl fly across the
road and catch a rodent right in front of the truck.
I fished one last time in the morning, catching two bass,
one on the senko, one on a topwater frog.
We finished packing, said goodbye to Sundog and hit the road, all going
our separate ways. Chuck had no problems
getting trailer out, even on the washed out part of the road. I went out on the Ajo road past Baboquivari,
a really neat peak that has historical religious significance. There was a big accident in Indio that delayed me somewhat. I still made it to Redlands in time to meet Dave, Chris and
their son Zack for sushi.