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Those of you who do not live in our desert, or who have not been here in the months of July-September may not realize that we experience a true rainy season during those months. On average, about 6 inches of rainfall occurs during our summer Monsoon, at least 1/2 of the total that we receive in an entire year. The rains come in the form of thunderstorms. These storms can be cataclysmic in their intensity. They are also quite local. It’s common for a neighborhood in the Tucson area to be drenched while other neighborhoods just a mile or two away remain bone dry. Rainfall totals for the Monsoon can vary considerably from one area to the next. Some communities may get inundated in the course of a summer whereas others get relatively little rain.
Our neighborhood and nearby Sabino Canyon had an excellent Monsoon this year. I don’t know what the rainfall total has been but there are large patches of desert near our home that are positively lush with greenery. Plants have put out new leaves in abundance, grasses and wildflowers are everywhere, and Sabino Creek has been running heavily for more than a month. The local fauna, particularly species that depend on rainfall, like toads, responded with gusto. If you want to know what pleased by the rainfall looks like, then just check out this little guy, a male Couch’s Spadefoot Toad that I photographed right after an intense Monsoon rain.
It’s all come to an end, now. Skies have turned pure blue, humidity has plummeted, and winds have shifted from a southerly direction to strong breezes blowing from the east. Our Monsoon is over and we will dry out over the next month or two. It remains to be seen whether our fall and winter rains (our second rainy season) will be productive. Meanwhile, our desert is as green as I’ve ever seen it.
With the shift in weather patterns will come big shifts in the visible fauna. These changes will be reflected in the pictures that I take over the weeks to come. As fall progresses there will be an end to amphibian and insect photography and many more photographs of birds. The changes in subject matter reflect the natural cycle, my photos simply follow the flow.
Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M setting, ISO 125, f13 @ 1/160.