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San Diego County Cache Critters


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April 29

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Amped watching a grommet catch air in OB today. Totally guster. It was gettin’ worked by flushopolis winds. A quick hang ten from its woody parsnip. What a frube. I was hopin’ for gunsmoke. It floundered with wings open and flapping. Stoked to see it get 3” of vertical lift before it hyped out. Wowza! Thought it was fly-a for this goofy foot to the hack shack. It was garshed after 5 minutes so I shoobied over for a flick. Bammerwee.

Airborne

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Amped watching a grommet catch air in OB today. Totally guster. It was gettin’ worked by flushopolis winds. A quick hang ten from its woody parsnip. What a frube. I was hopin’ for gunsmoke. It floundered with wings open and flapping. Stoked to see it get 3” of vertical lift before it hyped out. Wowza! Thought it was fly-a for this goofy foot to the hack shack. It was garshed after 5 minutes so I shoobied over for a flick. Bammerwee.

Careful there...you're gonna fry poor ol' Harmon's circuits talkin' like that...

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Amped watching a grommet catch air in OB today. Totally guster. It was gettin’ worked by flushopolis winds. A quick hang ten from its woody parsnip. What a frube. I was hopin’ for gunsmoke. It floundered with wings open and flapping. Stoked to see it get 3” of vertical lift before it hyped out. Wowza! Thought it was fly-a for this goofy foot to the hack shack. It was garshed after 5 minutes so I shoobied over for a flick. Bammerwee.

Careful there...you're gonna fry poor ol' Harmon's circuits talkin' like that...

B-z-z-z-t! ... crackle, crackle ... pht!

 

Note to Self: Whut th' hale is that ol' girl talkin' about?

Edited by SD Rowdies
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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Took a short break from my osprey watch activities to do some climbing and kayaking out on the Colorado River north and south of Lake Havasu.

 

On the fourth day I discovered these three Great Horned Owls and their mom in a small cave about 30 feet up from the water level. As I entered a small side cove near Castle Rock, I did not see them as the air was abuzz with migrating Tree Swallows. On the way out I happened to look up and saw this amazing collection of eyes. It was a bit tricky holding my kayak steady enough for a hand held zoom shot with my small viewfinder camera. Just with their eyes, each owlet seemed to express a different personality.

 

Seven eyes

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Friday, April 9, 2010

The next day I kayaked up the Bill Williams River from its entrance at the south end of Lake Havasu. This Green Heron kept moving along a hundred yards or so in front of me as the Bill Williams narrows and twisted and turned through thick Cottonwood stands and understory thickets. Finally it paused here at a small sidecreek. An easterly wind kept blowing me downstream and it took a half dozen drifting passes before I managed this shot, once again with my small handheld. Getting focus through this brush and the harsh lighting were the principal challenges in addition to kayak motion.

 

Green Heron

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

On the morning of departure day, I headed back to Castle Rock and found an overland route that allowed another perspective and the use of my tripod and SLR with longer lens. Fortunately there was cloud cover to minimize harshness in the backlit situation. Although they look close, I was actually 50-60 yards away.

 

Nearly perfect camouflage

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Winging back to home coordinates

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Family portrait

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Edited by Team Gecko
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Friday, 4/30/2010

Could not resist posting a couple of shots from latest Osprey watch. These were taken this morning. All three are getting close to taking their first flights and the nest is getting might busy at times.

-GD

 

Three siblings

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Big air

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Can this thread be used to discuss flora as well as fauna? As a relative newcomer I wondered about the name of the nasty grass-like weed that has long, beautiful, but evil seeds that stick into your clothes and stay there because they have a fishhook-like barb. Is that "fox grass" or something else? Thanks.

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Can this thread be used to discuss flora as well as fauna? As a relative newcomer

I wondered about the name of the nasty grass-like weed that has long, beautiful,

but evil seeds that stick into your clothes and stay there because they have a

fishhook-like barb. Is that "fox grass" or something else?

 

Thanks.

Foxtail Grass perhaps, comes in several forms though.

 

Wikipedia: Foxtail Grass

 

Reverse barbs ... how clever is that?

 

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Try bunching your socks, that will

keep you out of trouble in more

than one way.

Edited by SD Rowdies
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I was on the Warren Trail this afternoon. There was a lot of grass that's grown up along side (and on the trail since hardly anyone uses this trail.) I was a bit concerned about the possibility of surprising a snake in the grass since the cammo used by our friends of the Crotalus persuasion is phenomenal for hiding in the grass (at least when the grass is brown...) It turns out that I was right to be wary. Here's a four foot long Crotalus ruber. Not the best photo but I didn't have much opportunity to make adjustments to the camera before it disappeared completely. (This was near RS-Little Bit of Shade - GC1N7RT).

 

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May 2

The Power Cacher’s Power Trail (PCPT Series) includes #32 T.R. Violin (GC1Z3HB) near a common *twitchers roost. Following the arrow brought me to a gathering spot where a guy offered me a $$$ Canon catoptrics with an electric auto focus lens for $50. Skeptical, I asked where he got it and he said he found it in a trashcan. Rumors of the rarely seen Yellow-crowned Night Heron and famous Flying Tomato in this location are more believable than TR ever logging his namesake cache!

*see H for translation

 

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Party of Five

 

Seen near Lookie What I found (GC1V3J3)

 

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Took a short break from my osprey watch activities to do some climbing and kayaking out on the Colorado River north and south of Lake Havasu.

 

On the fourth day I discovered these three Great Horned Owls and their mom in a small cave about 30 feet up from the water level. As I entered a small side cove near Castle Rock, I did not see them as the air was abuzz with migrating Tree Swallows. On the way out I happened to look up and saw this amazing collection of eyes. It was a bit tricky holding my kayak steady enough for a hand held zoom shot with my small viewfinder camera. Just with their eyes, each owlet seemed to express a different personality.

 

Seven eyes

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Friday, April 9, 2010

The next day I kayaked up the Bill Williams River from its entrance at the south end of Lake Havasu. This Green Heron kept moving along a hundred yards or so in front of me as the Bill Williams narrows and twisted and turned through thick Cottonwood stands and understory thickets. Finally it paused here at a small sidecreek. An easterly wind kept blowing me downstream and it took a half dozen drifting passes before I managed this shot, once again with my small handheld. Getting focus through this brush and the harsh lighting were the principal challenges in addition to kayak motion.

 

Green Heron

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

On the morning of departure day, I headed back to Castle Rock and found an overland route that allowed another perspective and the use of my tripod and SLR with longer lens. Fortunately there was cloud cover to minimize harshness in the backlit situation. Although they look close, I was actually 50-60 yards away.

 

Nearly perfect camouflage

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Winging back to home coordinates

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Family portrait

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How cool, Don! What awesome photos. You have such a keen eye and an incredibly descriptive narrative. I thoroughly enjoy your posts!

 

Robyn :anicute:

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While we were hiking Black Mountain, we came across this bird on the trail.

We couldn't figure out what kind of bird this was. We thought it might be an owl, but after looking at the picture. I know it's not an owl.

It seems to have spikes or points on it's body and wings. Does anybody have an idea what kind of bird this is?

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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A few Caspian Tern's have moved into town and can be viewed along the Power Cacher’s Power Trail. They are quite large - the same size as a California Gull - and truly magnificent to observe as they fly a side-to-side dipsy do while hunting before diving.

-GD

 

A tern's turn

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Hovercraft

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While we were hiking Black Mountain, we came across this bird on the trail.

We couldn't figure out what kind of bird this was. We thought it might be an owl, but after looking at the picture. I know it's not an owl.

It seems to have spikes or points on it's body and wings. Does anybody have an idea what kind of bird this is?

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor). Frequently seen at dusk darting close to the ground while catching insects. They have distinctive white patches on their wings that, along with their flight behavior, is a good way to identify them.

-Gecko Dad

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Week of 24 May 2010

The three fledglings are expanding their playground and you can often see one, two, or three young birds flying about in the vicinity of the Power Cacher’s Power Trail. This past week, the older two were taking practice flights out over the tidal San Diego River channel. One even landed in the water at a somewhat low tide and thrashed about a bit before getting back into the air. If you ever wanted to see young Ospreys up close, now's an exceptional time to visit.

 

While you are likely to see Fledglings 1 and 2 out of the nest, Number 3 is seldom flying. preferring to hang around the nest and cry out nearly incessantly. It has always been the least adventuresome and is still very much low bird on the daily sushi lottery. When its two siblings are out and about, though, mom brings it fish and sits nearby while it eats. Eventually the word is out though, and there is often a scramble and tumble of wings as Fledgling 1 and 2 descend on the fare. All the ruckus gets magnified when dad shows up with a second fish and there are four sets of very large wings banging about in some pretty small airspace.

 

It will take me months to sort through images from the last seven months but here are a few from last week's "birds aloft" phase.

-GD

 

Fledgling approach

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Mom follows 15 minutes later

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Role reversal

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Cross my Toes (Fledgling #1)

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Liberace outfit

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Get a grip

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Dad arrives (Fledgling #1 on right already has a pilfered fish)

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Family portrait (Left to right - #3, #2, dad, #1, mom)

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Let the tussle begin

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Edited by Team Gecko
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Monday, 5/31/2010 (Memorial Day)

After a somewhat crowded time down at Three Sisters, I headed over to Eagle Peak to pick up its latest reincarnations of GC and TC hides, including Revised Boulder Creek View, GC1PV2C. Unfortunately, both caches seem to have been muggled but I did have some memorable critter encounters, including this tarantula I met as it was heading up the trail and I was heading down at a point within 1/4mile of the peak. We spent 20 minutes together, face-to-face on the ground, as the sun went down behind Eagle Peak. Fortunately my camera has a built in flash so I was able to document some of it physiological features (see below).

 

Although tarantulas (family Theraphosidae) appear to have too many legs for a spider, there are only 8 (4 pairs), just like all arachnids. The extra appendages in front of the two front legs, are actually pedipalps which they use to break down food into smaller pieces. In males, these are also part of the reproductive system. The other pair of forward extensions are the multipurpose chelicerae, located in the center front. These have fangs that are used to inject venom into prey or for defense. A tarantula's mouth is between and below the chelicerae. Curiously, tarantulas can only inject liquids so they secret digestive juices to coat and break down their food before slurping delectable liquified entrees.

 

There is a an excellent Wikipedia posting that describes the lifestyle of these shy ground dwellers.

-GD

 

Twilight prowler

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Eyes on the back of the head

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Two spinnerets

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Fearsome looking mug showing the fangs

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Monday, 5/31/2010

Another critter encounter was this Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum blainvillii), one of three I came across on my hike up to Eagle Peak. The first quickly scurried off the trail but this individual shifted only slightly on top of a warm rock as I froze in position and waited for it to forget the vibrations it felt as I was approaching.

 

Coasties are one of my favorite lizards. Indeed, one graces the very first post that launched the critter forum. They are predominately ant eaters. Unfortunately, they have suffered due to loss of habitat, especially near the coast, as well as food source impacts from invasive and aggressive ant species.

 

Two good links to learn more about them are:

 

San Diego Natural History Museum Field Guide

 

Wikipedia

-GD

 

First view - catching some rays

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Side view and on alert

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Mug shot

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Licking its lips?

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Edited by Team Gecko
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Thursday, 6/3/2010

I was treated to these three Gray Fox pups (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) spotted in headlights after sunset on a return drive down the north portion of High Point Road after a long hike to Eagle Crag Endurance Cache.

 

In addition to some remarkable displays of late season wildflowers, I also spotted a couple of Coast Horned Lizards, a curious Anna's Hummingbird taking advantage of mananita blossoms, and three Red Diamond Rattlesnakes. The latter were courteous enough to rattle early and often and quickly scurried into the brush. Only the third paused long enough for a photograph.

-GD

 

Full of energy and curiosity

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Curious Anna

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Red Diamond #3

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Friday, 6/11/2010

Some new arrivals in town - a small troupe of Black Skimmers (Rhyncops niger). The continuous black coloration on the neck indicates breeding plumage. While performing in front of my position along the southwest section of the Power Cacher's Power Trail. I was here to check in with the Osprey fledglings but was captivated by the graceful flight strokes and unique harvesting approach.

-Gecko Dad

 

Open ...

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... and close

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Finny success

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Fish riot

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Mandible differential

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Parade lap

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Graceful turn

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Edited by Team Gecko
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Friday, 6/11/2010

Latest views of Osprey Fledgling #1 viewed shortly after the Black Skimmer sequence. All three siblings are still using the nest as base camp while they learn to hunt. The two parents are still their source of food with the male apparently doing most of the providing. He is looking a bit raggedy these days.

 

The fledglings make quite a ruckus while waiting as patrons of the rec center and sport fields are well aware.

 

On this afternoon, #1 made three flights over to the channel and seems quite serious about hunting and touch and goes. Perhaps we'll see her catch her first fish soon.

-GD

 

Fidgety fledgling

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Launch time

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Leap and dive to gain speed

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Will hiking in Hollenbeck.....he was busy and very vulnerable wouldn't you say?

 

 

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Outstanding shot. Well done for taking the time to

get a picture. Sure beats my old photo of a gopher

snake with Wood Rat.

 

Gopher Snake with Wood Rat

 

When I was about twelve I hung out with an older

kid that collected snakes. Of course we fooled

around with the snakes a lot. One day I had the

notion to shove the tail of a gopher snake into it's

own mouth. I kept shoving it in and finally realized

that the snake started to swallow it's own tail. More

or less it couldn't stop once the tail was far enough

into it's mouth and down the throat. The oddest

thing happened ... in the end the snake flipped

completely inside out so's we could see it's innards.

We had a heck of a time puttiing it right, pulling it

back through itself much like reversing a turned

sock.

 

You might doubt the truth of this story but I know

that it is completely true because I wrote it myself.

 

Harmon

SD Rowdies

Edited by SD Rowdies
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When I was about twelve I hung out with an older

kid that collected snakes. Of course we fooled

around with the snakes a lot. One day I had the

notion to shove the tail of a gopher snake into it's

own mouth. I kept shoving it in and finally realized

that the snake started to swallow it's own tail. More

or less it couldn't stop once the tail was far enough

into it's mouth and down the throat. The oddest

thing happened ... in the end the snake flipped

completely inside out so's we could see it's innards.

We had a heck of a time puttiing it right, pulling it

back through itself much like reversing a turned

sock.

 

You might doubt the truth of this story but I know

that it is completely true because I wrote it myself.

 

Harmon

SD Rowdies

:):D<_<:unsure:

Yep, pretty believable, Harmon. Sounds like the makings for a future topologist.

-GD

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When I was about twelve I hung out with an older

kid that collected snakes. Of course we fooled

around with the snakes a lot. One day I had the

notion to shove the tail of a gopher snake into it's

own mouth. I kept shoving it in and finally realized

that the snake started to swallow it's own tail. More

or less it couldn't stop once the tail was far enough

into it's mouth and down the throat. The oddest

thing happened ... in the end the snake flipped

completely inside out so's we could see it's innards.

We had a heck of a time puttiing it right, pulling it

back through itself much like reversing a turned

sock.

 

You might doubt the truth of this story but I know

that it is completely true because I wrote it myself.

 

Harmon

SD Rowdies

:):D<_<:unsure:

Yep, pretty believable, Harmon. Sounds like the makings for a future topologist.

-GD

Yes, the experience lead me to a life of admiration for

Mobius Strips. That's how Herman Melville got his start

by the way.

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June 9

 

Near Heartburn Series (GC1M5G2) I inadvertently flushed a pair of Burrowing Owls into the air more than once. Cool to see one on the ground so expertly camouflaged against the desert floor.

 

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Burrowing Owls using Desert Tortoise hole.

 

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Burrowing Owl in flight.

 

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Digger Bee with Mt. San Jacinto in the background.

 

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On the way out of the Series I was fortunate to catch a Barn Owl perched in a bush.

 

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Mad scrambles while tracking the Burrowing Owls resulted in the discovery of earthenware pottery shards.

 

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Hi Desert Museum

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Passing on an unusual critter story I heard from a local...

 

Authorities caught a 170 pound rattlesnake, 15’ long with enough venom to kill 40 men that could devour a 2-yr old child found in a Southern State neighborhood. Took pics of their cell phone pics and thought I share ‘em in case you haven’t seen them yet.

 

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;)

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June 11

 

Spotted Zebra-tailed Lizard a couple of miles past the Canyon Trail (GC13CJE) in Big Morongo Canyon Preserve.

 

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Eyes in the back of its head.

 

Fastest desert reptile clocked at speeds up to 35 mph, raising the forepart of its body off the ground to use it back legs for running with zebra–tail curled high in the air for counterbalance.

 

It stayed near a creosote bush until I ventured too close and it slowly moved away. It was nearly impossible to see while flattened against the sand until I noticed a streak of yellow. Uses a sit and wait hunting method. Approached by predators, roadrunners and whipsnakes, it curls its tail over its back wagging it back and forth before sprinting away.

 

Abundant possibly due to its adaptability to food source, it has a broad range and is second only to the Side-blotched Lizard in the Southwest. The Zebra-tailed Lizard preys upon beetles and winged termites in the Sonoran Desert and grasshoppers in the Great Basin. It prefers its body temp around 102 degrees and with some tolerating temps up to 112. 3 ½ inches long. Ref: Desert Lizards by James W. Cornett

 

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Bluebird

 

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Gambels Quail

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June 11

 

Couple miles past Canyon Trail (GC13CJE)

 

Walking along the valley trail and about 40’ away I came around a bush spotting a Mule Deer doe and fawn. The doe began posturing vigorously, lurching forward and raising a leg in the air as if to charge me. She was so intimidating I stepped backwards behind a bush without even realizing it. As I moved forward for pics, a second fawn emerged from the undergrowth. A thrilling moment! This one could hardly walk with its spindly legs as it stumbled towards the doe. Interesting to watch the doe handle the transition from maintaining her protective stance between us and the fawns, to getting them uphill to safety. Both fawns were so awkward they could barely climb.

 

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Delayed plans for finding virtual Terracaches in Joshua Tree National Park due to the heat and having done Earthcaches in the past chose to try shorter hikes in the park.

 

Black-throated Sparrow

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Black-chinned Hummingbird

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Antelope Ground Squirrel

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June 14-15 Whiptail Lizard near GC13CJE

 

“…very active and fast predators. They use their tongues to smell with, searching out insects, spiders, scorpions, and some small lizards for food.

Whiptails are unusual in that five out of eight Sonoran Desert species are parthenogenic, meaning the populations consist entirely of females who reproduce by cloning themselves. The offspring are all daughters who are genetically identical to their mothers.” Ref: Desert Lizards by James W. Cornett

 

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Coolest spot in town and no GC.

 

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Great Grackle

 

“Formerly a species of the Gulf Coast, it has expanded its range northward and is now found in southern Nevada. It is largely found in urban settings, but also inhabits a few agricultural areas found in this part of the state." Portraits of Nature by Roy Purcell

 

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Red Robin

 

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White-tailed Antelope Ground Squirrel

 

Are active year round, running with bushy tails arched over their backs providing both shade and flashes of white to warn of predator in area. As I hiked a trail in JTNP, I saw countless white blurs flashing around me. Couldn’t figure out what they were until I paused and they ventured from their burrows. Spotted a few darker-coated ones while searching for GC’s in the Heartburn Series. wikipedia

 

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Cactus Mouse GC1M5G2

Camera ready, I snapped at a blur running for cover expecting another Antelope Squirrel but discovered a Cactus Mouse, commonly found in rocky outcroppings with cactus and yucca stands. Unlike most mice, the Cactus Mouse will climb shrubs to feed upon sees and fruits. Ref: Portraits of Nature illustrating artwork of the living desert by Roy Purcell

Edited by travelita
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Cactus Wren

 

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Wondering why numerous holes were in window screens at my digs, I look up catching the culprit in action. The prior day I had a first sighting in the front yard after searching unsuccessfully for it during my desert hikes.”It is particularly attracted to cholla cactus where it builds a nest, globular in shape with an opening in the side, for egg laying and for winter roosting. It is one of a very few species of North American birds that builds nests for roosting.” Ref: Portraits of Nature by Roy Purcell

 

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June 25 Near Quail Cache (GCME13)

 

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Leopard Lizard

 

“Reaches lengths of about 10 inches. Leopards inhabit generally level, open desert terrains where vegetation doesn’t inhibit running. Eating mostly insects, Leopards readily jump into the air to catch low-flying prey. Adult females are typically larger than males, and develop bright orange spots when breeding.” Ref: Portraits of Nature by Roy Purcell

 

“Unusual for lizards, or any reptile for that matter, Leopard Lizards can emit a shrill squeal if threatened.” Ref: 50 Common Reptiles & Amphibians of the Southwest by J & R Hanson. This one allowed me to observe it for 5 minutes until I moved in too close - approx. 7’.

 

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White-tailed Antelope Ground Squirrel

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June 4

Near BAMB: Palm Pilot a local was feeding the squirrel population and I stopped to snap pics of the babies.

 

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Near Island Vacation I got several pics of a radical Great Blue Heron fight that began when one landed in an occupied nest. Pics were so bad I only posted one on the GC page.

 

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