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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When to Stay Home

Heading into the wind

This would have been a good day to stay out of the elements, but I'm not bright enough to forgo a much-desired hike--by me and by Becca.  This morning the wind out there was awful; it raged the whole time we were trekking west of Tortugas Mountain.  We had blowing dust and sand, and even white gypsum in the air from the White Sands area near Alamogordo.  We're under an advisory until 4:00 p.m.  Just horrible conditions in the desert today.
Laying down prints after the wind has swept the sandy floor

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Grooming Roadrunner

I was in my office late this afternoon when I looked out through the patio enclosure and saw this Roadrunner grooming itself in a tree in our backyard, about eight feet off the ground.  It stayed for a few minutes before gracefully flying to the ground to do some serious hunting within the bounds of our fenced property.  Many people are under the assumption that Roadrunners don't fly, but they are, in fact, skillful aviators.

Really Little to Say Day

Becca spins six times . . .
The flowering plant pictured in the last image here is commonly referred to as "Mexican Bird-of-Paradise" in the Chihuahuan Desert, but it is not related to true birds of paradise (genus Strelitzia).  "Our" Bird-of-Paradise is a plant native to tropical areas of Argentina and Uruguay, and has adapted quite readily to Texas, New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest.  The seed pods of the plant explode when ripe during hot weather and propel the seeds into the environment.  All parts of the plant are poisonous, so I remove them from our area before the period of projectile reproduction.
. . . before plopping down

Caesalpinia gilliesii (called Mexican Bird-of-Paradise) in our backyard

Monday, April 28, 2014

Late April on the Grand View Trail

Flower stalk of the Banana Yucca
It was 43 F when Becca and I headed out for the Grand View Trail this morning.  Dr. K didn't accompany us because she was feeling slightly under the weather.  As you can see from the images here we found quite a few plants of interest.  I'm so perplexed because I'm having trouble identifying the 10-20-foot trees which are flowering in white (images 8, 9 and 10).  I'm guessing it could be Fragrant Ash (Fraxinus), though I've never noticed them in bloom around here.
Closeup of the flowers

Becca on the lookout for critters

8-foot flower stalk of the Soaptree Yucca

Creeping Barberry is blooming all over the mountains

Creeping Barberry

Wild Rose

Blooming tree I haven't been able to ID

Flowers of said tree (could it be Fragrant Ash?)

White flower clusters of un-ID'd tree

Looking down over a steep dropoff

Sand verbena

Flower stalk of a yucca

Soon-to-be flowers

Claret Cup Cactus growing on a cliff wall

Closeup of the aforementioned Claret Cup

More yucca buds

Cliff Fendler Bush

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Long Hike to the Falls

Bullock's Oriole
It was 33 F when Dr. K, Becca and I headed out for the Bridal Veil Falls Trail this morning, and the wind made it feel much colder here in the high country.  The sun was in and out on a beautiful, long hike, and we saw a lot of interesting things, including the most Feather Dalea we have ever seen blooming in the area; it was literally everywhere--and it's such gorgeous ground cover.  Wish I could ID the tree we saw flowering all over the mountains, but no luck yet.
Juvenile Western Scrub-Jay

Becca and Dr. K on the Bridal Veil Falls Trail

Running ahead of the pack

Trail workers have a project in process

It looks as if they are rebuilding another railroad trestle

A section of the old railroad bed

How far is too far ahead?

Stealth (Common Raven)

These trees (yet to be ID'd) were blooming all over the mountain

Feather Dalea

The above-mentioned tree

The mountains in the High Rolls/Mountain Park area

On the brink of the descent into the canyon

Perky Sue?

Creeping Barberry

Indian Paintbrush

Along the creekbed

Soaptree Yucca putting up its flower stalk

White Sands in the middle distance

Champ and Becca

Champ heading out

Front yard of the High Rolls property

Becca, Cowboy and Hailey

The second stage of dog tag

Who's it?

Grand View--Not

Early morning moon A man and woman were just starting down the Bridal Veil Falls Trail when we rolled into the Grand View Trail parking lot....