Southeastern Arizona, May 2000
page 4 of 6
San Pedro River
(Click any photo throughout to see a larger version)
This lush green riparian scene is not what you expect from the heart of the Sonoran desert. Indeed, if you walk away from the water on either side for a few dozen yards you'll be back to burning sun and scrubby desert plants. The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area extends from the Mexican border north for about forty miles. It is wet and green and full of birds and birders.
Still, we haven't left southern Arizona, so there are also a lot of lizards. This youngish Clark's spiny lizard didn't wipe its mouth off after its last meal.
By far the most common lizards at this spot were desert-grassland whiptails like this one. They were scuttling around in the leaves and racing across the trails every few yards. Not overly fond of having their pictures taken though.
The frog quantity in this river was truly amazing. Every few steps you'd take would result in several high-pitched squeals immediately followed by splashes. Unfortunately, all of the many frogs we saw were non-native bullfrogs, a "weed" species that spreads rapidly and devours the food supplies of or just plain devours many more sensitive native herps and other small critters. Ever since they were brought to California from the eastern U.S. to provide frog legs for the gold rushers, bullfrogs have been invading every imaginable waterway in the western states.

Next: Monster-hunting after dark