I’m contemplating a trip out to Saguaro National Park this spring, but I’ve not been to that part of the world before, and I’m not really familiar with the biology. I’d really like to find a gila monster and a ringtail, but I don’t know how realistic that is in 2-3 days. Otherwise, I’ll just be trying to find as many new critters and wildflowers as I can.
Does anyone have any suggestions on where to look for biodiversity, maybe including above two species? I suppose I’m interested in them because they are fairly charismatic and somewhat uncommon; if you were taking such a trip, what species would you be most interested in finding?
I made a trip there a couple years ago and spent the day there with a friend. I believe it was February when I went. We saw deer and javelinas, but that was about it for macrofauna (but I only had one day to explore). The top of my list was to find a Gila woodpecker, but I was not successful, unfortunately. Good luck finding a gila monster. They’re quite rare. My suggestion would be to do as the animals do and explore at dawn and dusk. There’s not much out in the middle of the day. If you’ve got the equipment for it, a night hike could be interesting, too, especially with a UV light to help you spot scorpions. Also note there are two different halves to the park with different terrain. Worth exploring both to get some variety in habitat. There are also differences in who’s out and about during the dry season vs. the wet season. Rain will bring more variety. Lastly, check out the Sonoran Desert Museum while you’re there. Even if you don’t find a wild gila monster, you can see one there and probably get some good information about the fauna in the area (potentially more than you’d get from the park rangers, since they aren’t all zoologists).