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Friday, October 31, 2014

Staying Close to Home

Male Gambel's Quail keeping sentry on our backyard fence
Since it's not nesting season the Cactus Wren and the nest pictured here got me to wondering how far from their birthplace animals wander.  Cactus wrens seem to love nesting in Torrey Yuccas, and they spend a lot of time in them.  Often you can walk right past a Cactus Wren in a Yucca and it won't fly away because there are so many good hiding places inside.  I'm just guessing here, but I'll bet that many small animals don't roam far from home.
Cactus Wren and nest

Cactus Wren

Accusatory look?

Something to crow about

Black-tailed Jackrabbit

On the foothills trail

Nude Ocotillos

The rugged Organ Mountains

Southwest side of the Tortoise

Becca hears people on the mountaintop

Here they are:  two workers and the ATV they drove to the top

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Steep slope of the mountain
I was about two-thirds of the way through our long hike this morning before I realized I was sleepwalking.  Well, not literally--but you know what I mean.  I'm not sure if it's because of the allergies I've been suffering from lately, but when I woke up this morning I felt as if I hadn't really awoken.  Just going through the motions.  Did I have something good for breakfast?  How was the drive over to the mountain?  Did any critters cross paths with us during the trek?  Just kidding about these latter things, but that's the way I felt.  Becca, on the other paw, was her ever-curious self.
On the alert

Dun-colored desert

Off road to take care of business

Water for the desert

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Call of the Coyote

Behind Tortugas Mountain
Becca and I heard coyotes wailing behind the mountain this morning, and we went in search of them.  Those of you who've heard coyotes communicating in the wild know just how eerie their vocalizations can be.  You may know, too, how elusive the critters can be when they want to stay invisible.  We never saw one.  What we did see, however, were three Mule Deer crossing the foothills high above us.  We haven't seen desert deer in quite a while so it was nice to get a look at them.
Grass in the mountain foothills

Prickly Pear Cactus and the distant Franklin Mountains

The dark shadow in the center is a deep arroyo

The rugged southside

An especially rugged section of the trail

The way out

Scouting the territory

Six or seven miles to the Organ Mountains

Three Mule Deer in the foothills

Mama leads the way

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In the Mood (or not)

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It's obvious that I take my camera along every morning when Becca and I (or Dr. K, Becca and I) go for a hike.  Sometimes there are things worth photographing, and at other times not.  Today was one of those latter occasions, although I always believe Becca is worth a photo (or two, or three).  But nothing really caught my attention out there this a.m.  Driving back from an afternoon errand, though, I saw a large raven up in a tree feasting on a morsel of prey; but, of course, I didn't have my camera with me.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Oddly-Humid Morn

Long-distance shot of a Cooper's Hawk
The meteorologist on the morning show talked about high winds for this afternoon, but she never said anything about humidity.  Nevertheless, there was that "significant-moisture-in-the-air" feel when Becca and I did our long trek near Tortugas Mountain.   I had to take off my jacket after hiking less than a quarter mile.  Wish I could have captured a better image of that Cooper's Hawk, but it flew away the first time Becca and I tried to sneak up on it. 
NMSU experimental towers

Fruit of the Pencil Cholla (choy-ya)

Curve-billed Thrasher

Just getting started into the foothills

Fire in the desert

Down from the foothills

Way ahead of the Packrat

Mr. Pinacate

Unpleasant side effect of equestrians using the trail

Loggerhead Shrike

Stingleaf plant ready to reproduce

Desert dog

Tortugas (left) and the Organ Mountains

10"-high Barrel Cactus

This Yucca is about 6' tall
Three Roadrunners were hunting near the trail

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....