May 14, 2016 Clayton Lake State Park, New Mexico

Abandoned Building
Abandoned Building

On to Clayton Lake State Park

Clayton Lake State Park Campsite
Clayton Lake State Park Campsite

After a ten day stay at Ute Lake State Park where I was able to get caught up on a lot on internet based work, thanks to the park’s great WiFi, I headed out Monday for Clayton Lake State park, just a couple hours northeast of Logan but a couple thousand feet higher in elevation.
I arrived at Clayton mid-afternoon and got settled in on my reserved Site E3, a level site just large enough to accomodate my rig and tow dolly. This is a site with water and 30 amp electric, no sewer, and, be aware, the park does not have a dump station. There is a nice sheltered picnic table on a concrete pad, along with a metal grill. Decent separation between sites, but there really is no privacy. A couple dings, to me anyhow, are the way too bright presence of a tall street light at the bottom of the hill that casts a strong beam up the hill and makes enjoying the clear starlit skies impossible. The other is the absolute lack of any Verizon signal. You can drive about six miles back towards Clayton and pick up a useable signal.

Clayton Lake State Park Primitive Campsite
Clayton Lake State Park Primitive Campsite

If I were to stay here again, I would take one of two or three primitive sites that are large enough to handle my rig and get away from the bright light in the electric section of the campground.

Clayton Lake State Park Primitive Campsite
Clayton Lake State Park Primitive Campsite

Exploring the Wide Open Spaces

New Mexico Grasslands
New Mexico Grasslands

I have been driving the back roads in the area looking for abandoned ranches and wildlife and have had a little success in that regard.

Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House

For the most part, this is a flat, wide open, mostly featureless grasslands landscape, yet on a blue sky day, especially one with puffy cumulous clouds, it still holds a lot of appeal to me.
Have to cover a lot of ground out here in this sparsely populated region to find these abandoned buildings.

Abandoned Building
Abandoned Building
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch House
Abandoned Ranch
Abandoned Ranch
Grasslands Pronghorn
Grasslands Pronghorn

I have been delighted to find small groups of pronghorns everywhere out here, even saw one doe with a new fawn, but didn’t have time to get a shot of them. Many of the does look quite close to delivering, so I hope I am able to see a few newborns before I leave, something I have not come across with pronghorns before.

New Mexico Grasslands Pronghorn
New Mexico Grasslands Pronghorn
Pronghorn on the Plains
Pronghorn on the Plains
Pronghorn
Pronghorn
Pronghorn
Pronghorn
Prairie Dog Community
Prairie Dog Community

Along the gravel back roads, I also am seeing a lot of prarie dog towns, but they always scurry down their burrows whenever I stop to get a shot. They seem pretty scared of any vehicle stopping which leads me to believe that perhaps they are used as target practice by the area ranchers?

Lots of Birds

Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird

And of course, I am finding new birds to shoot. It really is pretty amazing the number of birds inhabiting this featureless landscape. Literally hundreds of them all along the dusty back roads, perched on the barbed wire fences that line both sides of the many miles of back roads here.
Although new to me, most of these guys are very common birds on the open plains. The one thing I have not seen, not a single one, is any form of raptor, no hawks at all, wonder if I am just missing them, or if there is a reason for their absence.

Horned Lark
Horned Lark
Lark Bunting
Lark Bunting
Red-shafted Flicker
Red-shafted Flicker
Lark Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Cliff Swallows
Cliff Swallows
Western Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Red-shafted Flicker
Red-shafted Flicker

I am not going to be doing many posts over the next several weeks, as the lack of a Verizon signal in the areas I am staying, and will be traveling in, makes uploading posts a bit of a challenge. Really enjoying the moderate temperatures and the dry air, cool nights, and unlimited visibility in these higher elevations, just a perfect spring climate for my tastes. I am at an elevation of about 6000′ here and will continue climbing upwards for the next few months. And unfortunately, Verizon signals will be hard to find.

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May 12, 2014 South Beach State Park, Oregon

I took a drive along the north shore of Yaquina Bay this morning with nothing to show for it.

Yaquina Bay lighthouse
Yaquina Bay lighthouse

Weather is very nice, low 70’s. sunny and breezy, so I continued a little farther up 101 through the city of Newport to Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area to check out the lighthouse.

Harbor seals
Harbor seals

There were harbor seals basking on the rocks below the lighthouse and I just missed a grey whale traveling along the rocks only a hundred yards off shore.

Seabird colony
Seabird colony

There are couple of sea mounds close to shore at the lighthouse where you look down on some very cramped seabird colonies. These guys must really like each others’ company!

Seabird colony
Seabird colony

This shot is a crop of the one above that shows just how crowded this rock is. Note the blue throats on the breeding cormorants.

There is a new Walmart just north of town, something that has actually been a rarity around my route the last few weeks, so I took the opportunity to store up on some staples.

Yaquina Bay lighthouse
Yaquina Bay lighthouse

December 12, 2013 Falcon Lake, Texas

Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca doves huddling for warmth

Another interesting day at the bird feeding station

( As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version )

Yet another dull, grey day spitting a little drizzle now and then, gets me starting to wonder if the sun will ever make another appearance here in south Texas. Yet I am very happy with the blind and feeder setup here, right next to the motorhome. I am able to draw in quite a few birds, with new varieties showing up each day. The Salineno bird feeding site I visited last week was where I figured I would be spending all my time while here, yet I have not even thought about going back down there since I really don’t see how I could do any better than what I am getting right here. Plus this is a heck of a lot more convenient and also more comfortable, what a great campsite!

Prryhuloxia
Prryhuloxia

My only serious drawbacks here, in addition to no decent light since the sun refuses to cooperate, are the clouds of red wing blackbirds that hover around the campsite waiting for me to drop my attention so they can come in and clean out the feeders, and the campgrounds’ resident gang of javelinas. When I was here a few years back, I remember the birders at the Salineno site would use a slingshot to scare the blackbirds off when they would descend, sometimes by the hundreds, to clean out their feeders, so far here, I only have to clap my hands or bang on the side of the motorhome to get them to leave… but, they do always return.

The javelinas are another story! They are not easily discouraged and will only leave if I physically chase them out, and, of course, they return the instant I get back in the blind. They completely ignore my yelling or clapping from inside the blind or the motorhome, even though they are only 15 feet away, and my attempts to throw rocks at them from inside the confines of the blind are a little pathetic and produce no results. Today, while I took a lunch break, they somehow managed to once again rip down my platform feeder and devour a day’s worth of seed and lard/peanut butter mix, along with a couple of oranges, all in a manner of just minutes. They are really starting to annoy me.

Help! I don't know what this mystery bird is
Help! I don’t know what this is
Female Nashville warbler, maybe?
Female Nashville warbler, maybe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newcomers today were two birds I really do not know what they are, if anyone out there can help me identify these two, I would really appreciate it! I am only guessing when I label this one a female Nashville warbler and I can find nothing in my bird books to identify the other, even though you would think the striped head would make identification quite easy.

Eurasian-collared Dove
Eurasian-collared Dove
Eurasian-collared Dove
Eurasian-collared Dove

 

 

 

 

 

Inca dove
Inca dove

The Inca doves were new to me and the Eurasian-collared dove also. I am a little confused about the collared dove ID, since the Eurasian-collared dove and the Collared turtle dove are both present in Texas and, to me, look quite similar, and I do see a slight difference in the two photos of these collared doves, so who knows? Again. if anyone out there can help out, I would appreciate it!

Northern cardinal
Northern cardinal
Green jay
Green jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green jay
Green jay
Green jay
Green jay
Female hooded oriole, I think!
Female hooded oriole, I think!

 

 

 

 

 

Green jay
Green jay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 9, 2013 More Glacier National Park

An early morning run up to Many Glacier for bears

 

Got up early around 5 to catch up on journal work and still be able to get out early and go back up to Many Glacier before the traffic picks up. Unfortunately weather is as bad as predicted, really grey and misty, still can’t see the mountains across the valley.

Grizzly on the run
Grizzly on the run

Well, that was worth getting out early for. Three different bears this morning along the way to Many Glacier, two grizzlies and one reddish black bear.

Grizzly on the run
Grizzly on the run

 

Nervous grizzly
Nervous grizzly

The sun came out and the clouds lifted around noon and I decided to make a run up Going to the Sun Road. Lots of night time construction going on, most of the lower turnouts on the east side are blocked off for equipment and a sign at the gate warns that the road closes from 9 PM until 7 AM. But the big problem is traffic. Crowds. I have never visited here in August, usually early June or after Labor Day, and I have always appreciated the lack of crowds in the Park. Certainly not the case in August. The scenery is still breath taking, but the crowds and the roaring Harleys, literally hundreds of them, kind of completely destroy the atmosphere and certainly make wildlife sightings very scarce.

The Logan Pass parking lot was closed due to overcrowding and as I passed, I thought it looked more like Times Square, than a peaceful National Park. I guess, regardless of the weather, I will be at the gate exactly at 7 AM tomorrow to see if I can recapture some of the magic of Glacier National Park.

Took a scouting trip up to the border going to Waterton just to check it out. About a 30 mile trip from St. Marys and nothing in the way of wildlife or great scenery except this one not very bright ptarmigan.

Ptarmigan auditioning for roadkill career
Ptarmigan auditioning for roadkill career