Search This Blog


Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Smell of Rain

The sky was spitting rain when Becca and I began our hike on the west side of Tortugas Mountain. Here's a shot of the distant Franklin Mountains near El Paso, a threatening sky above.

It's been nearly four months since we've had measurable rain here, and just the smell of precipitation makes plants grow.

Time to do a rain dance to get the sky to open up.

The higher elevations of the Organ Mountains were getting some moisture here.

The desert without sun.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Captain Kangaroo Rat

Becca nearly ripped my arm out of its socket straining to get at this dead Kangaroo Rat on the west side of Tortugas Mountain. Kangaroo Rats survive eating seeds; they can do without water, getting all the moisture they need from their seed diet.

The flower balls of the Acacia.

These Acacia flowers are among the most fragrant in the Chihuahuan Desert.

The southern reaches of the Organ Mountains.

Packrat and Becca in the westside foothills of Tortugas.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Windy Hike

The wind kept the temperature moderate this morning as Becca and I plied the west side of the mountain. First thing we did was run into the Rolling Stones.

Small mesquites growing on the western flank of Tortugas Mountain.

Larger mesquite trees in a sandy arroyo bottom.

A triple barrel cactus--Three Dog Night?

Beautiful Soaptree Yuccas in blossom.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Evening at COC

I got my camera out to take this photo of a Collared Lizard here on the grounds of the Chihuahuan Observation Center. While watching him I noticed all of the Cottontail Rabbits and Jackrabbits making a rapid exit.

This is why: Ole Brer Coyote doing a little hunting near the watering hole.

Here's the blossom of a Mexican Bird of Paradise plant in the backyard at COC.

A view to the south on COC grounds.

A view to the southwest.

Humid and Hot

This morning felt a little uncomfortable for Becca and me. Lingering humidity and sunshine beating down on us raised our body temperatures. We thought of taking shelter in our wilderness cabin, but, as you can see, it needs some work.

Some desert partiers built this fire ring.

Mesquites growing in an arroyo bottom.

The band of green in the center of the photo is where the Rio Grande River flows through the Mesilla Valley in southern New Mexico.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tour de Tortugas

A beautiful morning greeted Research Associate Becca, Dr. K and I as we hiked around Tortugas Mountain. Slightly high humidity levels let clouds form around the Organ Mountains.

We spotted this Collared Lizard (notice the black collar) clinging to the spines of a Prickly Pear Cactus (ouch!).

Dr. K and Packrat.

Yuccas, Tortugas Mountain and the Organs (with clouds).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Weekend Hike II

Here's a yucca that at first sight resembles an elk.

A mass of Soaptree Yuccas blooming simultaneously.

Have I ever mentioned that the yucca is the state flower of New Mexico?

It's a member of the lily family, and its flowers are edible (slightly reminiscent of artichoke leaves).

The Apache people consumed the flowers and used other parts of the plant as well.

Weekend Hike

Yes, Research Associate Becca and I are out in the desert even on the weekends. Research is an ongoing endeavor, you know. Check out this upside-down yucca spur.

After the prison break (NMSU experimental station near Tortugas's west side).

The old seismic lab.

A particularly sandy section of the foothills.

The rare "J" plant growing in the desert.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tortugas Roundabout

Research Associate Becca and I started off on the Monte Vista side of Tortugas Mountain this morning and were immediately overwhelmed by the beauty of the day.

Mountain cleavage.

Dozens of Lesser Nighthawks were competing for airspace, and we saw several track down and consume cicadas in flight; a nifty trick.

Not Indiana Jones.

Shady spot for rest and water.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's Blooming at COC?

I had to post some photos of plants blooming at the Chihuahuan Observation Center because they're so damned beautiful. Here's a shot of a distinctive cholla flower.

Here's a look down inside another.

Two delicate blossoms on the Blind Prickly Pear Cactus.

This flower would look good on the ear of some Leilani.

Sunset Side

Here the bedrock shows through on the west side of the mountain, revealed by the water that runs over it during storms.

A yucca bows in obeisance to Becca and me.

You can see why.

A Soaptree Yucca in bloom.

Closeup of the flowers.

Bushwhack or Not to Bushwhack

1st 2:  this morning's moon Another morning doing our regular hike, this time with added distance; we bushwhacked out of the left branch...