After The Rains

Around the first part of October, the Albuquerque area got quite a bit of rain storms.  Since the weather had cooled off from those storms, I decided to go check out the Ojito Wilderness northwest of Albuquerque.  This area is just too hot during the summer months.

On the day I went, it was still very overcast.  Thankfully I had my Jeep, because most of the roads were still very muddy and required 4WD.  Because of all the rain we’d had, the rocks had been saturated and their colors were very vibrant.  I enjoyed hiking and exploring all the rock formations.

I thought you might like to see some of the photos I took during that hike.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The colors of the Ojito Wilderness are so beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unicorn Horn Formation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This formation was HUGE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All the wind formed shapes are so wonderful

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett enjoyed exploring that day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The white rock formation in the distance is so unique

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Uplifted formations

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lots of trails through the colors

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beautiful

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So many colors

20170930_183024

Stormy skies overhead

 

 

La Lena WSA: Emperado Ridge / Continental Divide Hike

Yesterday I went on my first group hike with a Meetup Group called WOW WE (Way Out West – Westside Explorers).  There were 12 of us on this hike including our fearless leader Woody.  I took Scarlett along and she had a blast.

We started our hike in the middle of nowhere about a 1.5 hours west of Albuquerque.  We drove to the top of a mesa.  After hiking about a 1/2 mile, we came to the edge of the mesa.  The views were expansive.  Just beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cabezon Peak on the left

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You could see for miles!

20171015_110621

Kelly and Scarlett

We hiked along the mesa for about a mile enjoying the beautiful vistas.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our fearless leader Woody.  We would be climbing down from this point to the valley you see below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soon we started heading down to the valley below.  That’s when the interesting geology started showing up.  I loved all the different colors in the layers of the rock.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved the shape of this dead tree

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We ate lunch in this patch of white rock.  Unique shapes were found all around.

We started seeing our first Hoodoos in the white rock area.  I love Hoodoos!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett found a patch of shade.  Not much to be found on this hike. LOL!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We left the white rock area and headed into the valley below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once in the valley we passed so much interesting geology.  Everywhere I looked, the colors and shapes were so beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can see the white rock patch in the distance where we had lunch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett had a great time exploring all the ups and downs of the trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At one point we had to scramble down a boulder filled crevice.  It was a little scary but thankfully Woody helped me navigate the most scary part.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scariest part of the hike.  Thankfully Woody helped me navigate this part.

Soon the mesa was towering over us.  We wound our way from one interesting rock patch to another.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We came across a patch of small Hoodoos called mushrooms.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hoodoo Mushrooms

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The winds create interesting shapes in the rocks.  I like the little shape in the lower left that looks like a puppy.

After hiking for about another mile, we came to a very large area of Hoodoos and other interesting rock formations.  It was a lot of fun exploring this area.  We stayed here quite a while since there was so much to see.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So many Hoodoos and colors!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Interesting layers of the rock

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Giant pieces of petrified wood

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Delfido Moralez 1938” inscription

Finally we were on the last leg of the hike.  We continued hiking along the bottom of the mesa and connected with the Continental Divide trail.  This trail is 1,300 miles long and runs from Mexico up to Canada.  For those of you that don’t know what the Continental Divide is:

“A continental divide is a drainage divide on a continent such that the drainage basin on one side of the divide feeds into one ocean or sea and the basin on the other side feeds into a different ocean or sea.”

Thankfully this part of the hike was level and easy.  By this point I had hiked over 6 miles.  Whew!  I think Scarlett had hiked twice that.  She loved that there were lots of folks hiking together.  She would run way ahead to those in front of me then come running back to me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Navigating the Continental Divide trail between pastures.  You can see the “CD” sign on the post.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stunning!

The last leg of the hike was the only uphill part of the climb.  It was short but fairly steep.  I was pretty tired by this point, but made it up fairly well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The uphill climb to the top of the mesa

Once back on top of the mesa, it was a short 1/2 mile hike back to the car.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back on top.  You can see the Continental Divide trail below that we had just hiked.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our last grand vista view from the Continental Divide trail before heading back to the cars.

20171015_142923

Looking tired LOL!

What a fun hike! In all I hiked 7.5 miles.  🙂  I will definitely be going on more WOW WE hikes in the future.  Fun hike and fun people!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Summer Birds and Other Goodies

With my several trips this year and busy work, I haven’t had time to blog as often as I would have liked to.  So I thought I would combine several sightings over the summer into one post. Now that fall is officially here, many of these birds are gone or will be gone soon.

During the summer I went on several day hikes within a couple hours of Albuquerque.  Partly to see something new in scenery and partly to see some birds I don’t normally see around home.

One hike that was new for me was the Cave Creek hike in the Pecos Wilderness.  It’s about a 5-mile round trip hike to some caves that were created by water eroding through limestone.  It was a beautiful hike in thick forest along a creek.  Of course, Scarlett enjoyed the water immensely!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So much fun at the water crossings!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lovely stream to hike along.

The caves were very interesting.  There were several that were big enough to walk inside of.  I didn’t go very far in as it got dark quickly and I wasn’t sure how deep the water got.  But lots of fun to explore.  Scarlett was curious about the caves as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unique caves created by water erosion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett exploring a smaller cave.

On this hike I saw a flock of Dusky Grouse.  This is pretty much the only grouse specie New Mexico has.  I’ve only seen this bird a few times of the past 20 years and never very close.  But I was lucky on this hike.  When I startled them, they flew into a nearby pine and sat very still – which was perfect for a great photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dusky Grouse

Another day I ventured to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains next to Santa Fe.  It was a very cloudy day and the birds were few, but I managed to get a few nice sightings.  A favorite – Green Tailed Towhee – came close to check me out so I was able to see his colors nicely.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Green Tailed Towhee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Williamson’s Sapsucker – Juvenile

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dark-Eyed Junco

One of the highlights of this hike was seeing lots of mushrooms.  I’ve seen photos of the red and white polka dot mushrooms, but never have seen one in person.  It was a real treat seeing and photographing them.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Poisonous mushroom – but so pretty!

Aspen Vista is a beautiful hike at about 8,000 feet above sea level.  As you know Scarlett loves water.   But she also loves culverts.  She’s always looking inside them to see what might be hiding.  On this hike, she found a culvert that was big enough to run through and it had water flowing through it.  Bonus!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett having a blast!

I walked along the Rio Grande several times.  Most of the colorful summer birds love the Bosque.  It’s so much fun looking for and photographing these beauties!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blue Grosbeak

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Summer Tanager

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Neotropic Cormorant

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Downy Woodpecker

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Blue Heron

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Say’s Phoebe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird enjoying the summer mimosa blooms!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

House Sparrow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

House Finch – partial orange morph

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Orange-Crowned Warbler

One day while hiking along the river, I came across a Cooper’s Hawk enjoying breakfast.  You could tell it had caught a songbird by the foot hanging out of it’s beak.  Poor thing….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Songbird for breakfast anyone???

While reviewing my photos, I realized I had captured a lifer bird on one of my outings along the river.  I love it when that happens!  In this case, I had mistaken it for a Summer Tanager.  But when I reviewed the photo more closely, I realized it was a Hepatic Tanager.  Yay!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hepatic Tanager

Of course, Scarlett always enjoys a visit to the river!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Look at that big grin on Scarlett’s face!

One day I took a drive out to Stanley.  I hadn’t been there for quite some time.  I saw a lot of the usual residents there.  I never tire seeing a Western Meadowlark or the many hawks that live there.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cliff Swallow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Tailed Hawk (juvenile) – I love the coloring of this particular bird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Meadowlark

Around home I’ve had several new birds visit my yard this summer.  It’s so exciting to see something new show up.  I hope they find me again next year!  Some were easy to photograph, while others were very elusive.  The birds I was unable to photograph but saw were Yellow-Headed Blackbird, Brown-Headed Blackbird, Northern Saw-Whet Owl, and Green-Tailed Towhee.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pygmy Nuthatch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Curve-Billed Thrasher

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love their orange eyes.

Along with the new birds I’ve seen this year, I’ve had plenty of the resident birds stopping by the feeders and bird baths.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Bluebird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A very shy Ladderback Woodpecker (hence the blurry photo)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wilson’s Warbler – coming to enjoy my bird bath

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hairy Woodpecker

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Chickadee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Holding down a sunflower seed to extract its goodness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bushtit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lesser Goldfinch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Headed Grosbeak

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Juniper Titmouse

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Virginia’s Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rufous Hummingbird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bewick’s Wren

This summer New Mexico saw several forest fires in the Jemez Mountains.  Because of this, a lot of the bird life has migrated south to new habitats.  This summer we saw a large number of Lewis’s Woodpeckers in the greater Albuquerque area.  We normally don’t see them here, so it was a real treat to see one only a couple miles from my house.  It seemed to prefer this telephone pole as it was sighted there often.  And it didn’t like the squirrel using its pole.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lewis’s Woodpecker

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Get off my pole!!!

I drove down to the Monzano Mountains a couple weeks ago hoping to see the fall colors starting in 4th of July Canyon.  Though the colors still haven’t begun, I did get to see several birds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Steller’s Jay – so beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Tailed Hawks

I saw a Brown Creeper – always a delight.  They are very difficult to see against the bark and they move quickly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brown Creeper

Plus I got a lifer!  A Golden-Crowned Kinglet.  I’ve been looking for this bird for several years and just happened upon it on this trail.  Yay!  This guy was way up in the canopy shadows and moving so fast!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Golden-Crowned Kinglet

Among the many bird sightings I had over the summer, I came across some other interesting things.  I thought you might enjoy seeing them.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cool bee on a beautiful summer sunflower

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ahhhhhhhh……

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Southwestern Fence Lizard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hoary Comma

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Aphrodite Fritillary

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Police Car Moth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Tailed-Blue

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love the colors on this dragonfly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This beetle “hisses” when you touch it.  A unique defense!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great Plains Skink (juvenile).  This guy was so cool!!!  I love the markings on the face.  This skink will turn plain brown all over as an adult. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Painted Lady

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Can you see the walking stick expertly hiding

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Marine Blue

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Common Side-Blotched Lizard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jackrabbit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA