Friday, December 9, 2016

Lone Mule Deer

Just west of Tortugas
In the far outback this morning Becca and I spotted a lone Mule Deer who was very jumpy--figuratively and literally.  When she saw us she went bounding over the nearest hill.  We quickly hiked down a lengthy arroyo hoping to cut her off--for photographic purposes only--but she came zipping along to the south of us forcing me to draw my camera out to snap a fleeting photo of her fleeing.  It was the best I could do under the circumstances.  I have never seen deer in the region we were exploring this morning, and it struck me rather odd to find one out there all by its lonesome.
Rolling mountain foothills

Seed pods

Loving the morning chill

Yucca hitchhiker

Becca all aglow

How big is this Torrey Yucca?  I'm 5' 11"

C why we shouldn't have guns in the desert?

Long way across the desert to the mountains

Ocotillo and Organ Mountains

Best critter spotter

Hazy Chihuahuan Desert morn

Hedgehog Cactus and Soaptree Yucca

At the center of this photo a lone Mule Deer

In a dry wash (aka "arroyo") west of the mountain

This arroyo drains out of Tortugas Mountain

Yet another fruiting Barrel Cactus

Plenty of fruit to be had

Has-beens

And more has-beens

Leaning Soaptree Yucca

Dead yucca with leaves splayed out in a sunburst pattern

West of Tortugas and the Organs

For perspective:  distant Torrey Yuccas (far right) are the same size as this one

Symbiosis?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Colder Morning on the Mountain

Sliver of earth and a whole lot of sky
Bad lighting for good photography this morning.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  The Arctic front that blew in overnight made conditions chillier, but not significantly so.  Now, in the early afternoon, it's quite sunny, but the wind is blowing fairly strongly and the lack of cloud cover has made it feel considerably colder.  We're heading for a low of 25F tonight.  Tomorrow morning might be a bit nippy for early-rising outdoor enthusiasts like Becca and me.
Getting started on the upslope

Mid-December flower

On our way to the high foothills

What the Arctic air mass has done to our weather

Bishop Cap under a dark sky

Sandy desert west of Tortugas Mountain

Will it stay like this all day?

Not your typical Chihuahuan Desert day

Sunbeams breaking through

Cloud cover quite dense in spots

Organ Mountains

Clouds ramming around in the Organ Mountain Peaks

Had to zoom in for a closer look

Hazy shade of winter

Sans leaves, this Ocotillo looks a twisted mess

Marigold has-beens

Arroyo west of the mountain

Stretch of rolling desert under cloud cover

Stylized sun face in a dead yucca

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

High Overcast

Yesterday's late-afternoon cloud stack
It was overcast and quite cool when Becca and I hit the trail this morning, and a slight breeze kept it from warming up.  We did a brief bit of bushwhacking in the outback far west of Tortugas Mountain hoping to see Coyotes or other wildlife.  No such luck. We did spot a couple of different Loggerhead Shrikes, and I'm always happy to encounter them; I say "we" spotted them, though I doubt Becca saw either one.  She's got her nose glued to bushes most of the time.
Reverent yucca

Spotting someone on the mountain road

12-foot Torrey Yucca

Clouds over Bishop Cap

Piece of dead yucca reminiscent of a primitive mask

Long view across the Chihuahuan Desert

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike's best side

The gap

Same view, greater distance

Cloud over the Organs

Rock with a coat

Way up ahead in the arroyo

Soaptree Yucca seed pod with one seed remaining

Different seed pod

Much-photographed yucca

Down the wide arroyo

Barrel Cactus with fruit

Quite a healthy barrel of fruit

Barrel Cactus fruit is edible for humans

Cloud bending over the Organ peaks

I kept hoping Becca had sighted Coyotes, but no such luck

A different Loggerhead Shrike

They like to perch on Ocotillo branches while searching for insects to eat