From our campsite on the San Juan River, we hiked up Chinle Wash on the morning of our second day on the river. After crossing the muddy creek once to locate and view the cliff dwellings and pictographs along the west side of the wash, we forded the stream again on our way to see if there were more ruins in the alcoves high up in a bluff located several hundred yards to the east of Chinle Creek. That is when I encountered the small lizard pictured below.
This side-blotched lizard, Uta stansburiana, basks in the sun not far from Chinle Creek. This species is strongly heliothermic and avoids shaded areas, even in the desert. However, the lizard did scamper into the brush when I tried to get closer.
Another side-blotched lizard, this one located near the top of the bluff just around the corner from one of the alcoves, was also enjoying the sun. It may be that a future installment of Wednesday Wildlife will feature a different type of sunbather, so stay tuned.