Pop! goes the round-tailed ground squirrel.

Round-tailed ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus tereticaudus), at Papago Park, Phoenix, Arizona. These little imps have an oversized but distinguished name in Spanish: Ardillón cola redonda. For a second time I watched a mother squirrel chase away a much larger roadrunner that got too close to her burrow. I guess the behavior is not as remarkable as I first supposed. 

In 1925 Coca Cola made a lucky watch fob in the shape of a swastika with the slogan, “Drink Coca Cola In Bottles 5¢.”.

At that time, the Swastika was still a symbol of ‘Good Luck’ taken from the ’Whirling Log’ used in the US by Native American Navajo, Papago, Apache, and Hopi tribes. 

(Also the symbol used throughout history by the Celts, Indians and Greeks amongst other nationalities and religions).

The word swastika came from the Sanskrit word svastika, meaning any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote auspiciousness, or any piece of luck or well-being.

It is composed of su- meaning “good, well” and asti “being”. Suasti thus means “well-being.” The suffix -ka either forms a diminutive or intensifies the verbal meaning, and suastika might thus be translated literally as “that which is associated with well-being,”.




Common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), at Papago Park, Phoenix, Arizona.

This mother and chick perversely refused to swim into the same frame. 

UPDATE 20 October 2015: This bird is now officially recognized as the common gallinule (Gallinula galeata) due to a taxonomic split.  Many thanks to dendroica for the correction. My old Sibley Field Guide is out of date. 


Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), seen on my morning walk in in Phoenix, Arizona. 

These sheep are actually denizens of the Phoenix Zoo, in Papago Park. Geologically, the park comprises a grouping of sandstone monadnocks - isolated hills of red rock that rise abruptly from the surrounding terrain. The zoo has built its bighorn enclosure on the side of the southernmost hill - visible from the park’s trails, and a pleasant surprise for the urban hiker.