Birding in Southeast Arizona – Day 2

Our first full day was to be spent in the hills around Arivaca, AZ.  Tim planned on prospecting for gold while I searched for birds.  The area is very arid with rolling hills.

This day was also Scarlett’s 2nd Birthday!  🙂

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Happy Birthday Scarlett!

On the way to the hills, we passed through the small town of Arivaca.  Among the tall trees around town, vultures were warming themselves up for a day of soaring.  I was happily surprised to see both Black and Turkey Vultures.

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Turkey Vulture on the left.  Black Vulture on the right.

We finally made it to the hills.  The views were expansive.

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Hills around Arivaca, AZ

As soon as I got out of the truck, I heard birdsong everywhere.  I thought to myself, “this is going to be a good day!”  🙂

On my list of birds to find, was the Rufous-Winged Sparrow.  As we were driving along the road to our destination, I figured I better play its song so I knew what to look for.  We had the windows down in the truck.  When I played the recording of the birdsong, we heard one reply outside the window.  Bingo!!!  I was gonna see this new bird for me!  And almost as soon as I started exploring around the truck, I saw one singing in a large bush.

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Rufous-Winged Sparrow

I had a great time hiking the area.  I saw so many birds.  As barren as the place looked, it was really full of life.

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Black-Throated Sparrow

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Phainopepla

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Pyrrhuloxia

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Ash-Throated Flycatcher

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Verdin with soft stuff to line its nest 🙂

One bird I saw and heard everywhere was the Lucy’s Warbler.  But it was a challenge trying to get a photograph of this quick, tiny bird!

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Lucy’s Warbler

Another bird I heard often was the Bewick’s Wren.  But in this part of the country, it’s song is way more simplified than where I live.  So it took me a while to realize it was the same species.

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Bewick’s Wren

I saw a few butterflies that day as well.  Most of them were new butterflies for me.   My friend Joe will hopefully tell me if I’ve incorrectly identified any.

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Empress Leilia

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Dotted Roadside Skipper

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Marine Blue

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Pahaska Skipper

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Mormon Metalmark

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Desert Checkered Skipper

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Common Streaky Skipper

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Tiny Checkerspot

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Pacuvius Duskywing

Near the end of the day, we decided to move to a different area so Tim could explore a different gold claim.  I was surprised at how the area offered different birds even though we only drove a few miles.

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Bell’s Vireo

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Cassin’s Vireo

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

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Juvenile Golden Eagle

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Canyon Towhee

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American Crow

We had a wonderful day together.  The weather was gorgeous, the birds plentiful and fun times exploring.  More fun ahead!

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Taking a break…

From blogging about my 20th Anniversary trip.  🙂   Don’t worry, I will get it finished here this coming week.  I’m sure you’re looking forward to seeing my photos from Zion National Park.

Fall is in full swing here in New Mexico.  I managed to get out for a few short hikes.

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Fall colors along Sandia Crest

One day Scarlett and I went to Corrales and walked the irrigation ditch.  Birding was pretty quiet that day.  But I managed to get a few decent pics.

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American Robin

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Western Tanager

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Blue Grosbeak juvenile

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Lesser Goldfinch

But the highlight of the day was seeing a porcupine that had come out of the brush to get a drink.  He took his sweet time getting a drink and then he started walking towards Scarlett and I.  I kept a tight hold on Scarlett’s leash in case she felt the need to go inspect him closer.  He came within a few feet of us.  He then stopped and shook himself several times.  Scarlett had her nose stretched out getting good sniffs in.  That guy was stinky!

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Porcupine

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Getting in a good shake

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You can see his orange teeth and big claws

Walking in the area around my home I came across a few good birds.  They are enjoying the various wildflowers that have started turning to seed.

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Mountain Chickadee

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Hammond’s Flycatcher

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Lesser Goldfinch

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Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

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You can see pollen on its beak

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Lovely!

On one afternoon I was able to stop in at the Rio Grande Nature Center.  It was pretty quiet there except for an inquisitive Greater Roadrunner.  He cooperated nicely for a few pics.

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Greater Roadrunner

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I love the colors on these birds

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Watching me closely

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I love these birds!

I babysat Valerie’s dog Mya for 10 days.  We went on several short walks.  Scarlett was thrilled to have her best friend along.  Scarlett taught Mya how to pose for photos.  🙂

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Mya and Scarlett

Scarlett started her heat.  I have a small Chihuahua named Henry.  He normally snubs Scarlett whenever she tries to socialize with him.  But during her heat he’s been in love with her!

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Henry flirting with Scarlett

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She was loving the attention!

When Henry wasn’t flirting with Scarlett, he was hunting lizards in the yard.  I caught him watching a lizard on the side of the house.

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Henry watching a lizard who’s watching a grasshopper

While digging in the garden I dug up a juicy grub.  To reward the lizard for putting up with Henry, I tossed the grub where he could get it.  He quickly grabbed it up and ran behind the garden fence under a drain spout.  It took some doing, but I was able to get a photo of him trying to eat that fat grub.

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Happy lizard!

Scarlett and Mya were hanging out in the garden with me too.

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My sweet Miss Scarlett

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Beautiful Mya

I love fall but it never seems to last long enough….

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Summer is over….

20th Anniversary Trip – Day 3 Nevada

We finally made it to Winnemucca, Nevada.  You’re probably scratching your head asking, “Where are they? Why did they go there? How do you pronounce that?!”  All valid questions!  LOL!  We got that a lot when we would tell friends and family where we were going on our trip.

As you know, my passions are birding and photography.  I’m happiest outdoors with camera in hand. Well, my husband is happiest when he has his metal detector in his hand.  He’s a geologist and loves to hunt for gold.  There aren’t too many hobbies out there that actually make money instead of spending it.  🙂

Tim had read about a well known area in northern Nevada that was known for shallow placer gold.  It’s called Rye Patch.  And it’s located about 40 miles west of Winnemucca, Nevada.  It was discovered in the 1970s and has been a popular destination for gold hunters ever since.

So we got up early and drove out to Rye Patch State Recreation Area, a man-made lake which is fed by the Humboldt River.  We crossed the dam and headed to the Majuba Mountain range.  The gold is reported to be at the base of these mountains.

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect the countryside to be like when we were planning this trip.  I had imagined beautiful forested mountains with a peaceful lake.  It definitely wasn’t that.
The terrain was actually high plains.  There wasn’t one cactus that I could see, which was great!  It made for much easier walking through the grasses.  There wasn’t one tree in sight.

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Rye Patch gold area in the foreground with Rye Patch lake in the background

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Golden grasslands for miles

When we finally parked after driving for 15 miles or so on dirt roads, Tim noticed right away we had gotten a punctured tire.  Drat! But fortunately, he had a mini compressor in the truck and we were able to air up the tire which would give us time to drive the 30 miles to a little town near Rye Patch to get it fixed.  So with no worries, we each started exploring the area.

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So glad Tim had this compressor or he would have had to change a tire!

There weren’t any trees, but I did notice a thick stand of bushes about 100 feet away.  So I headed in that direction hoping to find some birds.  I figured any birds in the area would be drawn to those bushes.  It turned out to be a good idea.  I saw most of my birds in this small area.  I was excited to see a warbler as my first bird sighting of the day.

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Orange-Crowned Warbler

The most prolific bird of the day was Sagebrush Sparrows.  They were everywhere and didn’t limit themselves to the little area of bushes.  They migrate to New Mexico for the winter and are not easy to find there.  So I was thrilled to have so many subjects to see.

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Sagebrush Sparrow

 

Here are the other birds I saw in that little area of bushes.  Birds were scarce!

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Brewer’s Sparrow

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Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

My friend Valerie texted me to see what I was up to that day.  So I took this picture just for her.  LOL!  She tells me I take photos of every rusted thing I see.  😉

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Rusty soda can circa 1970s  😉

I had thought I would see lots of lizards.  Back home in New Mexico I usually see lizards often when I’m out hiking.  But not so in this part of the country.  I had gone most of the day without seeing one lizard.  Then finally I spotted a tiny lizard sunning himself on a rock.  I slowly crept closer to get a photo.

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Western Fence Lizard

I soon realized he was very tame and didn’t seem to mind me coming closer.  Before I knew it, I was 3 feet away taking photos of all angles.  🙂  At one point I reached out a finger to see if he would move.  And he licked it!   LOL!!

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Western Fence Lizard

I noticed some movement on the ground while photographing this lizard.  When I turned, I saw there was a sparrow foraging on the ground.  So I quickly got a pic.

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Savannah Sparrow

While I was entertaining myself with birds and lizards, Tim was busy looking for gold.  I could tell he had covered a lot of ground.

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Tim working hard looking for gold

 

At one point, Tim got my attention and pointed to the sky.  There we saw a Red-Tailed Hawk looking for brunch.

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Red-Tailed Hawk

I decided to head back to the truck for a cold drink.  The day had gotten warm at 90 degrees.  As I neared the truck, I saw a giant lizard run under a bush.  I quickly forgot about that drink.  I wanted to see this lizard! I stayed still and watched the opening at the base of the bush where I saw it run in.  Soon I was rewarded with my patience!  He started creeping out of his lair.  This big guy was easily 12 inches long if not longer.

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Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard coming out of his lair

I guess he decided I wasn’t a threat and quickly started hunting.  I was able to take quite a few photos of this beautiful lizard.  A real treat!

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Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard

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Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard

Then I heard Tim calling me.  He wanted me to video him digging up a target.  Now I always tell him every time he asks me to video him, the target usually is trash.  It’s like I jinx it.

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Narrowing down the location of the target. 

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Using tweezers to scrape in the cracks of bedrock.

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He then uses a straw (or in this case a dismantled ball-point pen) to blow out the dirt and hopefully reveal the gold in a crack

Sure enough, this target was trash…a .22 bullet.  Sigh….  But in the end he did find a nugget.  And what he thought might be a silver nugget.  But when he was able to clean it up, he decided it was a piece of lead.

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While exploring the area, I came across a lone blooming bush.  Most of the area’s bushes were done blooming.  So this was a very popular bush with the bees and wasps.

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I like the green eyes

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A busy bee 🙂

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Wasp

While photographing the bees, I noticed this spider lair.  The opening to the hole was about an inch in diameter.  That’s a big spider!  I caught a few bugs and threw them in the web in hopes of getting a photo of this spider.  But he was just too fast! I didn’t think to video him at the time.  Ah well….

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Funnel Web Spider lair

After a full day of fun, we aired up the tire and headed to Lovelock, NV, to get the tire repaired and get a bite to eat.  We stopped briefly at the campground along the Humboldt River to see what birds might be about.  We couldn’t stay long as the tire was losing air!

But I did get a few more bird photos.  🙂

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A hot Horned Lark

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Great Egret

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Snowy Egrets

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Snowy Egret

As we entered Lovelock Tim spotted a nice group of Wild Turkeys in a farm field but I didn’t have my camera ready and missed the shot.  Dang!

We still had some daylight left after visiting Lovelock.  So we decided to explore the area some before heading back to Winnemucca.  I had seen on the map there were Tufa Formations nearby.  We didn’t know what these were, so we went looking for them.  We drove, and drove, and drove and climbed up a mountain…but no Tufa Formations.  We were on a very curvy dirt road.  At one point we had a horrifying experience!  A Sheriff’s SUV came flying around a curve  going about 60 mph and saw us at the last minute.  He slammed on the breaks and turned sideways sliding towards us, dirt flying, and me screaming! Thankfully he narrowly missed us and just kept on going.   He didn’t have any lights or sirens going, so we had not idea he was heading towards us at such a breakneck speed.  I’m so glad we escaped what could have been a horrible accident.

Along this dirt road, Tim spotted a cool rock formation.  It’s handy having a geologist in the car.  🙂

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Columnar Jointing

Soon we were at the top of the mountain.  Tim asked me, “Where are these Tofu formations supposed to be?”   I laughed and said it’s “Tufa” and I think we passed them.

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View from the top of the mountain outside of Lovelock, NV

So we headed back down the mountain, with one eye looking out for that crazy sheriff.  When we got back to the highway, we realized the Tufa Formations were right there.  Pretty nondescript and not worth hiking to them to get a photo.  But during our day we had seen a squirrel that moved as fast as lightening.  Now I had tried to get a photo of this speedy guy, but he was just too quick! We saw another one of these squirrels as were we heading back to the highway.  This one ran lickety split to a far hill and stopped briefly.  Long enough to get a quick pic.  Then off in a flash he was gone!

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Harris’s Antelope Squirrel – it holds it’s tail over its back to shade itself.

We then drove to the Humboldt Mountain range looking for an old ghost town called Willow Creek.  We didn’t find Willow Creek but we did find Star City.

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Road to Star City

It was a beautiful drive up the mountain on a skinny dirt road following a stream.  Most of the time you couldn’t see the stream as it was hidden by thick vegetation.  But at the base of the mountain, the stream was dammed and rerouted.  We passed a few folks camping by the stream.

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Small dam on the way to Star City

 

We didn’t see but a few crumbling foundations at the site of Star City.  We were running out of daylight to explore for more ruins.  But the drive was beautiful and the views were grand.

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View from Star City

By now it was almost dark, so time to head home.  We were treated to a beautiful sunset.

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Beginning of a beautiful sunset

Stay tuned for Day 4!

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Late Summer Birds and Critters

I was able to get out a couple times this week for walks with Scarlett.  And one morning I got up really early to bird in Moriarty.

On one morning I stopped in at the duck ponds at Tingley Beach.  I hadn’t been there in a while.  I only had about 30 minutes to walk around.  There were quite a few birds, but most we too camera shy.  I did manage to get a Blue Grosbeak photo though he was deep in the shadows.

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Blue Grosbeak

 

I was surprised to see a snail on the trail.  Now those of you that live in humid areas probably don’t get too excited about snails.  But here in the desert, they are a real treat to see.  All the monsoon rains must have brought it out of hiding.

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One of my favorite things to see every summer is the Japanese Beetle.  I think they are so beautiful.  I can always count on seeing them on these blossoms.

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Japanese Beetles

But the biggest surprise of the short walk, was getting very  close to a Green Heron.  They are usually so shy at the duck ponds.  As soon as you see them they will fly to the far side of the pond or out to the island in the middle. This particular heron let me get within 5 feet of him.  I had to lean over and peer through cattails, but I did get a pretty nice photo before he decided he had enough of me.

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Green Heron

A few days ago I drove out to my favorite spot in Moriarty – Valley Irrigation Road.  I hadn’t been out there in months.  I only stayed out about an hour.  Work has still been so busy.  But even in that short time, I saw quite a few nice birds.

First I saw a Western Kingbird and House Sparrow enjoying the morning sun.

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Western Kingbird

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House Sparrow

Soon after I saw a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher.  I love these tiny little birds.

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Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

In this same area I also saw a House Wren and a very elusive and fast Wilson’s Warbler.

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House Wren

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Wilson’s Warbler

Further down the road, I saw several Swainson’s Hawks.  Most flew before I got anywhere near them.  But I did get closer to one for a photo before it flew away.

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Swainson’s Hawk

At Otto Pond I saw lots of sparrows and finches enjoying all the sunflowers and corn plants.

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Otto Pond area on Valley Irrigation Road

I had a very cooperative House Finch.

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House Finch

And saw lots of sparrows.

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Brewer’s Sparrow

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Clay-Colored Sparrow

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Chipping Sparrow

I even saw a hummingbird enjoying all those beautiful sunflowers.

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Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Around home I’ve encountered a few interesting things.  I have a lot of lizards around my home.  This particular guy was enjoying the warm sun in my backyard.  It’s not often you get to see that gorgeous blue throat.

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Striped Plateau Lizard

A new batch of Two-Tailed Swallowtail butterflies must have hatched.  Because I’ve seen quite a few of them in my yard these last few days.  A few lingered long enough for photos.

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Two-Tailed Swallowtail

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Pretty on  my petunias!

While walking Scarlett in the neighborhood, we came across a 5-foot long bull snake snoozing behind the back tires of my car.  It had recently eaten, as you can tell by the thick middle.

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Bull Snake

It was determined to stay by my  car.  So I picked it up to move it safely off the road.  It needed to get hidden so no one would kill it.  Bull snakes are great for rodent control.  But some people think they need to kill all snakes.  When I picked it up, I soon realized it was a long as I was tall which made it over 5 feet long!

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This snake was very tame.  I’ve found most bull snakes are.

Once safely off the road, I tried to take some more photos, but it wasn’t interested in that.  I managed to get a couple before it quickly disappeared.

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Bull Snake

I took a photo of Scarlett while walking this morning.  She’s modeling her new blue sparkly collar with a pretty flower.  🙂

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Scarlett modeling her new collar.

My Canyon Towhee’s had a late batch of babies.  I noticed this one was hanging out in the seed dish.  He sat very still, I’m sure hoping I didn’t see him.

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Baby Canyon Towhee

And there are still lots of Lesser Goldfinches hanging out in my yard.

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Lesser Goldfinch

In my garden, I’ve been seeing a lot of praying mantis.  I think they are my most favorite insect.  This one was enjoying my squash plant.

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Praying Mantis

That’s about it for the past week or so.  I hope you’re enjoying your summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birding Around Home

I haven’t gotten out much these past few weeks.  All I’ve been doing is work, work, work….booorrriiinnngggg!!!   But that’s the price you pay sometimes to be self employed.

So I’ve had to satisfy myself with short outings in my yard and in the neighborhoods around me.  Poor Scarlett has been missing our long hikes.  These short walks just aren’t keeping her satisfied.  It’s tough burning off the energy of a not quite 1.5 year old german shepherd.  But thankfully she’s a sweet dog and makes the most of her time out.

The sunflowers are in full bloom now.  And I’ve noticed a lot of birds love them.  Most especially the Lesser Goldfinches.  They actually wait to breed until later in the summer so they can feed their young on the sunflower seeds.  I let several sunflowers germinate from the cast off seed from the feeders.  It’s fun to watch several of these tiny yellow birds feeding on the seed pods.  I’ve noticed they eat the leaves as well.

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Lesser Goldfinch

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Hard to get pics as they were flying from flower to flower

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They are adept at hanging upside down to get to the seeds

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Looks like this one had recently taken a bath

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Lesser Goldfinch – female

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Many other birds have been enjoying the sunflowers around my home.  I even noticed a hummingbird feeding at one.

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They avoid the bees!!

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Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

There is a meadow near my house that has a lot of wildflowers and sunflowers blooming right now.  One morning I drove over and parked my car so I could use it as a blind.  I was thrilled to see warblers working their way among the wildflowers.  Warblers are the most difficult bird for me to see and photograph.  Here’s an example of why…

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A camouflaged Wilson’s Warbler – you can just see the eye

I did manage to get a couple decent photos of the warblers about that morning.

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Wilson’s Warbler

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Wilson’s Warbler

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Orange-Crowned Warbler

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Virginia’s Warbler

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

One morning I noticed a young Black-Headed Grosbeak stuck in my garden.  We were overrun with grass in the garden last summer.  So this year we covered the entire area with black plastic to kill all the seeds.  This young Grosbeak was trying to fly out of the fenced area but just hadn’t mastered the skill of flying yet.  I was afraid it would get too much exposure to hot sun on black plastic, so I caught it and put it in a nearby oak tree.  He seemed much happier.  Soon after I released him he started calling for his parents.

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Black-Headed Grosbeak juvenile.  I can never resist taking a close-up pic when I catch a bird!

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Safely in the oak tree now

A couple weeks later I saw the same bird.  I have noticed over the years that when I catch a young bird and release it, they have a lot less fear of me.  This guy was like that.  He lets me get real close now.  I had rescued a baby American Robin one summer and it followed me around the yard for weeks.

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Black-Headed Grosbeak – I’m glad to see it got its wings!

I have a flock of Bushtits that live around my home.  They have built their nest in our yard for several summers now.  I’ve never been able to find the active nest, but one year I saw an old nest.  They love the bark butter I put on my tree.

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Bushtits greedily eating the bark butter

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These guys are so tiny.  They are difficult to photograph as they are very quick!

A few other visitors to the feeders at my house.

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House Finch – female

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Juvenile Chipping Sparrow

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White-Breasted Nuthatch

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Mountain Chickadee

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House Finch – male

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Canyon Towhee

A little further afield from home there are some open meadows that attract a different variety of birds than I get at home.

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Northern Mockingbird – they still had two young ones begging for food

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Swainson’s Hawk – juvenile

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Turkey Vulture – I swear it has maggots stuck to its face.  And there was a very dead skunk odor too!  Eeeewwww!!!

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Shy American Kestrals

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Common Raven

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Curve-Billed Thrasher

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Swainson’s Hawk – juvenile

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Swainson’s Hawk – juvenile

One day I had to go to the office in Cedar Crest – just a few miles from home.  I had my camera with me (surprised?).  It was a very cool morning after a rainy night.  The birds were very active.  Most weren’t very cooperative for photos.  But I did get a good shot of a Blue Grosbeak.  And I saw a very puffy hummingbird!

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Blue Grosbeak – juvenile male getting adult plumage

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Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

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Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

In late June I wrote about a Cooper’s Hawk nesting in my yard.  I had taken some photos in Late July of the baby hawk.  But I had misplaced the photos.  I was very upset with myself thinking I had accidentally deleted them.  But happily I found those photos this morning! Though a little late, I thought you might enjoy seeing pics of this hawk.  It had left the nest but was hanging out in the trees nearby.  Not long after taking these photos, it was flying much better and was more difficult to see for photos.  But I did hear it call for its parent most every evening for several weeks.

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Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk

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Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk

While I’m writing this Scarlett has her head on my lap, looking at me with those big brown eyes, willing me to take her out for a walk.  So I guess that’s what I will do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Hiking in the Sandias

I’ve been hiking a lot lately trying to get in better shape before winter starts.  And also for an upcoming trip in September for my 20th anniversary.  So I’ve been putting in lots of miles over the past several weeks.  Scarlett loves it of course.

Yesterday I didn’t really want to go hiking.  But Scarlett all but pulled me out of my chair, handed me my keys and shoved me  into the car! I’m glad I went though because it was perfect hiking weather.

As you can imagine, summers in New Mexico can be very hot.  So I do a lot of hiking way up high in the mountains where the temperature is much cooler.  The trails are very pretty this summer with lush grasses and wildflowers.

One of the hikes I really enjoy is a series of trails that take you to the top of the Sandias where there’s a huge meadow and a stone building called the Kiwanis Cabin.  I visited the cabin last summer with Scarlett but hadn’t been back until the last few weeks.

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Panorama of the views from Kiwanis cabin

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Panorama of the Kiwanis meadow

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Mule Deer with antlers in velvet

Of course, I had to make Scarlett pose at the cabin 🙂

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Miss Scarlett posing for me at the cabin

There’s a sign at the cabin with an official letter from the forest service telling you not to climb on the cabin’s roof or you could be fined and/or jailed.  I love the comment someone wrote on this notice.

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The views from the Kiwanis Cabin are beautiful.  You can see for miles and miles.  This summer has been very humid for us so the views have been limited some.  But still great nonetheless.

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View looking south from Kiwanis meadow

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Panorama of southern view from Kiwanis meadow

One of the days I was hiking, the clouds were hanging right at the top of the mountain.  It made for a pretty photo.  And really cooled things off!

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Hiking in the clouds

Scarlett loves hiking. She loves to explore, run, sniff everything! She’s a great hiking companion.

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Sweet Scarlett posing for me again.  🙂

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I love this photo of Scarlett.  The ground was wet so she left footprints on the rocks.

As you know by now, Scarlett loves water.  There’s not much water to be had in the Sandias this time of year.  But Scarlett still managed to have some fun in a water puddle left by the summer monsoons.

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Scarlett loves water!

The birds have been very quiet this late summer.  The raising of their young is just about finished and molting is starting.  Sightings are much more difficult this time of year.  But I still managed to see several variety of birds over the last few weeks.

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Baby Western Bluebird

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Lesser Goldfinch

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Plumbeous Vireo

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Western Tanager – female

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Western Bluebird

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I believe this is a Nashville Warbler

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A very scrappy looking Yellow-Rumped Warbler

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Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

One day I hiked over to the tram for a little change of scenery.  Scarlett and I met up with some sweet girls visiting here with their church group.  They loved Scarlett.

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Tram leaving the station

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Scarlett’s newest fan club members (Hanna, Karli and Lexi)

From the tram, you can see the Kiwanis cabin in the distance at the top of the peak.

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Kiwanis Cabin as seen from the tram (zoomed in of course!)

This year was a really good year for the House Wrens.  I’ve seen lots of babies while hiking.  They are just adorable.  And they haven’t learned to fear people yet, letting me get close for some nice photos.

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A pair of baby House Wrens.  They were waiting at the top of a bush for a parent to come by and feed them.

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This baby House Wren let me get really close.

Not very many butterflies were out on my hikes.  But I did manage to get a few.  There were lots of bees visiting the wildflowers.  I found one bee that was wet and cold and just sitting on a flower trying to warm up.  I took advantage of this to get a really close up pic.

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California Sister

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Field Crescent

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Painted Lady

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Cold, wet bee

Some of the days I hiked over to the travertine falls.  The falls are only a trickle this time of year, but still nice.

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Travertine Falls with wild mint and grapes growing at the base.

I’ve noticed a lot of trail maintenance this summer.  It’s nice that people volunteer their time to keep the trails cleared of fallen trees and overgrown brush.  Someone got really creative on the South Crest Trail near the falls.

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Natural art on the South Crest Trail

Scarlett posed for me at the falls.  Such a good girl!

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Miss Scarlett

Around this time of year is when you are more likely to see baby horned toads.  I love these little guys.  I usually can’t resist picking them up.  This also shows you how tiny they are!

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Adult horned toad

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Baby horned toad

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This is the same baby.  You can see it’s tiny!

Lots of lizards on the trails too!

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Of course, no visit to the Sandia Mountains in the summer would be complete without a trip to Capulin Spring.  But I have to say, I’m very disappointed in the recent work done at the spring.  I had been told they were going to clean up the area around the spring.  What happened in realty was way worse.  It was almost complete devastation of the surrounding area.  I met up with a woman there that had come upon the workers as they were “cleaning up” and she managed to stop the complete devastation of the area.  What is more disturbing, is that this was organized by the local Audubon chapter.

There were a couple small trees that people sat under for shade and concealment that have been completely removed.  Now when you sit to watch the birds you are completely exposed to the sun and to the birds.

There were two bushy trees to the right of the log that the birds loved.  They would land there to be sure it was safe to visit the spring and also to sit in and groom after they bathed.  One of the trees is a maple.  We have very few maples in this state.  The woman I spoke to stopped them from completely taking out these trees.  But they are half gone  now.

They had completely taken out the bushes on the way to the spring.  This woman asked the workers if they had checked the bushes for nesting House Wrens before they chopped them down.  They said no.  The college students helping the workers were horrified when they realized they had chopped down a bush with baby wrens in a nest.

They took out several big trees too.  The wood hasn’t been hauled off.  The debris from chopping down the beautiful bushes is still piled up.   The place is a disaster.  And the birds are very skittish now.  They are very hesitant to come to the spring when you are sitting there plain as day.  Even the common Dark-Eyed Juncos are spooked.

I can only imagine how much worse it could have been if that woman hadn’t gotten there when she did.  She said she had a big fight with them and made them stop.  One of the guys said about one of the workers…

“He just loves to clean up stuff.”  The woman replied that this wasn’t a back yard but a wild forest.  Go clean up somewhere else!

I know there’s more work planned for next summer.  I can only hope that future work there is considered and supervised much more carefully.  Ultimately this spring is for the birds and wildlife of the area.  We are just visitors there.

OK, I will get off my soapbox for now.  Here are some photos of the birds I saw at the spring.  It’s always a treat to see warblers!

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

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Virginia’s Warbler

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Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

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Band-Tailed Pigeons

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Orange-Crowned Warbler

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Yell0w-Rumped Warblers having fun!

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Dark-Eyed Junco – this one had a white tail.

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Mountain Chickadee

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

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MacGillivray’s Warbler

I can never resist photographing the little chipmunks at the spring.  They are always so adorable!

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While driving to the trail head the other day, I saw a Yellow Warbler fly by and land in a juniper tree.  I immediately turned around and parked for some photos.  He was busy hunting for insects but I managed to get a couple of pics.  I also saw a flock of Bushtits feeding in the same tree.  Bonus!

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Yellow Warbler

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Yellow Warbler

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Bushtit

Until next time!!!

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Scarlett says “See you again soon!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Pedro Parks Hike

Last Thursday my friend Dia and I went on a hike I’ve been wanting to do for some time.  I didn’t want to go alone, because the location was about 1.5 hours away from home and in a “no cell” area.

The drive to the trail was very pretty.  We stopped along the way to admire the beautiful countryside.

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Interesting rock formations along the road.

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These horses have a great pasture!

There were lots of thistle and shooting star blooming alongside the road.  Bees and butterflies were enjoying the blooms.

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Honey bees

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Great Spangled Fritillary

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Black Swallowtail

This trail is located at over 9,000 feet in elevation.  It consists of a lake and several streams cutting through high meadows.  Unfortunately, this summer has been very dry so the water level in the lake was very low and the streams were dry.

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San Gregorio Lake

It’s been very hot this July.  Even at over 9,000 feet in elevation, it was in the mid 80s.  Scarlett was happy to see water to cool off.

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When Scarlett ran out of the water, she went right by Dia and covered her in mud splatters.  Bad Scarlett!! 🙂

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Dia covered in mud splatter – bad Scarlett

The were some neat rock formations near the lake.  So of course, we had to do some photo ops!

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Miss Scarlett loves climbing rocks now.

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Me and Scarlett

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Dia found her throne.

There weren’t very many birds out at this time.  But Dia spotted a Hairy Woodpecker by the lake.

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Hairy Woodpecker

When we entered the forest on the far side of the lake, the temperature dropped in the shade.   It was very pleasant to walk then.

Soon we came across some trees that had fallen over and their root balls exposed.  The size of these root balls was astounding!

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At some points in the trail, we had to walk around the downed trees.  Of course, Dia is so small, she just went under.  LOL!

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After hiking awhile, we came to an area full of flowers.  There were lots of butterflies enjoying the flowers.  I couldn’t resist taking a ton of photos of them.  I had a hard time identifying them.  So if anyone see’s an incorrect name, I’d love to know.

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Blue Copper

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Dainty Sulpher

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Margined Mustard White

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Purplish Copper

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Purplish Copper

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Small Wood Nymph

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Southwestern Atlantis Fritillary

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Southwestern Atlantis Fritillary

Out of all the orange flowers, I spotted one flower that stood out.  I loved the colors of this bloom.

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We eventually came to a signpost at a large meadow.  We explored a ways along the Rio de Las Vacas trail.  We tried to stop and have a snack in the deep shade, but the flies decided we were lunch!

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We headed back to the meadow and decided to see where the Damian trail led.  It didn’t go far at all or we lost track of the trail.  I clicked a couple of photos on this trail.  Now I always think of the Damian Omen movies when I see the name Damian.  When I was going back through my photos, I realized the cloud formation looked like a devil face….creepy!

 

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Damian Trail…with creepy cloud looking down on us

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Can you see the creepy face?

The day was growing late, so we decided to head back to the car.  By now we’ve hiked over 3 miles.

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The large meadows were very pretty.

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We turned around at this meadow.

I saw several house wrens, but they just wouldn’t cooperate for a photo.  But I did see this young Lincoln’s Sparrow.  He was very curious of us, but wouldn’t come too far out into the open.

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Juvenile Lincoln’s Sparrow

On the way back, I saw this beautiful moth on a flower.  When I looked up the name of the moth, I just had to laugh.  Who comes up with this stuff?!?  The black and white really stood out.  There were also a few more butterfly species about.

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Police Car Moth

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Police Car Moth

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Freija Fritillary

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Weidemeyer’s Admiral

About a mile from the car, Dia spotted a rock that she swore was petrified wood.  I have my doubts but she was convinced.  She carried that rock the whole mile back to the car.

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Dia with her “petrified wood” rock

We finally made it back to the car.  Since there was no cell service, I couldn’t use the Map my Hike app.  But my polar fitness band let me know how far I’d gone.  🙂

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Driving back down Hwy 126, we noticed a lot of birds hanging out on the barbed wire.  Of course, I just had to stop to take some pictures.  We saw lots of Western Tanagers, Black-Headed Grosbeaks and Bluebirds.  But all of them were camera shy. Here’s the pictures we were able to get.

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Western Tanager Male

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Juvenile Western Tanager

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I believe this is a Vesper Sparrow Juvenile

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Juvenile Western Tanager

We decided to take the road north through Los Alamos to head back home. The biggest reason for this was to visit a Starbucks.  Dia was pining for a Starbucks drink.

We drove by the Valle Caldera preserve.   The caldera basin was just beautiful.

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Valle Caldera

We had a fun but very long day.  We can’t wait for the next adventure!

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