January 7, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail

Another Week in the Desert

Not a lot to report on my desert living this week. Weather, of course, remains consistently nice, though there is change of some showers tomorrow. This week the Gambel’s Quail, in fairly large numbers, found my feeding site, sometimes as many as 18 showing up at any one time.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

Several Anna’s Hummingbirds are frequenting the sugar water feeders I put out. After they come in, I pull the old bait and switch on them, remove the feeders and put up the ocotillo flowers that I drizzle with sugar water. They do seem to prefer the artificial feeders though. Anyhow, yesterday the bees discovered the feeders and I am going to have to take down anything with sugar water on it since they just overwhelm the hummers , plus I get a little timid approaching about 100 bees to replenish the sugar water. Hopefully a few days without anything out will encourage the bees to look elsewhere and the hummers will come back in later.

House Finches
House Finches

A few House Finches are now using the feeders, but nowhere near the number I had here last year.

House Finch
House Finch

They seem to really like the oranges I put out hoping to lure in some other more colorful birds.

Albert's Towhee
Albert’s Towhee

This ground feeding Albert’s Towhee shows up every day.

Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail
Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail
Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail
Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail
Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail
Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail
Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail
Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail

The quail are extremely wary and at this point don’t tolerate me being out there taking photos. Just the slightest movement on my part, or even just a gust of wind, sends them scurrying down the hill and into the brush.

Pair of Anna's Hummingbirds
Pair of Anna’s Hummingbirds

The Anna’s Hummingbirds come in and out all day long and it is kind of hard to figure just how many of them there are. The males don’t tolerate one another and fly off in combat when more than one appears at any given time. There are some young immature males that come in and they are a little hard to distinguish from the females unless the sun hits their throats just so, and a little color shows up.

Pair of Anna's Hummingbirds
Pair of Anna’s Hummingbirds

Male and female sometimes will share the feeders and the same goes for two females … sometimes.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird
Female Anna's Hummingbird
Female Anna’s Hummingbird

I don’t know why more of these little guys don’t take a break and feed like this female is doing, seems like it would save an awful lot of energy. Kind of a dicey perch because those thorns are quite sturdy and awfully sharp.

Female Anna's Hummingbirds
Female Anna’s Hummingbirds
Female Anna's Hummingbirds
Female Anna’s Hummingbirds
Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

December 17, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

House Finches
House Finches

LBB’s ( Little Brown Birds ) at the LTVA

Feeder Setup
Feeder Setup

It has been a long time since I have done a bird post, but the last two days I finally got out and did a little bird photography. When I first arrived here at Imperial Dam, I was greeted by a small flock of Gambel’s Quail right in front of my motorhome. So, I set up my platform feeder and spread some scratch feed on the ground where I could keep an eye on it from the front windshield, as seen in the image above.

Well, for a week I did not see a single bird take advantage of this free food. Then, slowly they began to show up, first just a couple house finches, then some sparrows, and finally the quail returned.

Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow

All pretty much just LLB’s, but since there were a couple I did not immediately recognize, and since quail are some of my favorite birds to shoot, I finally made myself drag out the camp chair and the tripod and semi concealed myself against the side of the motorhome and shot these images, all taken with a 600mm lens with a 1.4 teleconverter attached.

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

The Chipping Sparrow and the White-crowned Sparrow, I was familiar with, and have shot before.

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

Same with this Mourning Dove, a rare single dove, I never saw another one show up..

Albert's Towhee
Albert’s Towhee
Albert's Towhee
Albert’s Towhee

But the Albert’s Towhee …

Sagebrush Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow

… and the Sagebrush Sparrow sent me to my Sibley Birds guide to identify.

Sagebrush Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow

Both, though not rare, were firsts for me.

House Finches
House Finches

As is most often the case in the desert, most numerous of all that showed up were the House Finches.

House Finch
House Finch
House Finch
House Finch
House Finch
House Finch

Initially, I tended to overlook them, but upon closer examination, I became quite fascinated with the color variations in the males.

House Finch
House Finch

While most of them were not that brightly colored, there were several males that really stood out. There were two in the flock that sported quite a bit of yellow.

House Finches
House Finches
House Finches
House Finches
House Finches
House Finches

My perch on a small gravel hill here overlooking some wetlands provided a wonderful out of focus background for these images.

Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail

It took a while, but the Gambel’s Quail finally showed up in numbers, probably a couple of different flocks, one numbering  eight individuals and a second group probably between fifteen to twenty birds. Both groups were coming in several times a day, but were extremely skittish. At one point, I had to go in the motorhome and put up a barricade to keep Sam from jumping up on the dashboard ( her favorite lookout position ), since every time I heard her up there the quail would hightail it out of the feeding area.

Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail
Gamble's Quail
Gamble’s Quail
Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail
Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail
Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail
Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail
Gamblel's Quail
Gamblel’s Quail

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April 19, 2016 Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Santa Rosa Lake State Park
Santa Rosa Lake State Park

Santa Rosa Lake State Park

Monday, I left Oliver Lee State Park around 8 AM and drove about 180 miles north to Santa Rosa Lake State Park via Route 54. An uneventful drive through some pretty uninspiring high desert landscapes. Initially, this park was a bit of a disappointment after Brantley Lake and Oliver Lee State Parks. I arrived to find that most of the 20 plus sites in the utility section of the campground were all reserved sites and the few that were first come first served were all backins and all but one were occupied. The campground host told me that they were full here almost every night.

So I decided to set up in the primitive Juniper Campground down the road a little and ended up on Site #15, sharing the entire campground with just two others. The place looks a little rundown and some of the sites are a little too close to one another. No great view of the lake, or of anything really, and the lights from the dam are a little too bright to be able to enjoy the night sky here. But I certainly can’t complain about the crowds. Nice and quiet here and the weather is great, cool nights, and sunny days with temps around 80.  Like I did at Oliver Lee, I put out the bird feeders but I have yet to see any takers.

The opening image above is an overview of the primitive Juniper Campground at Santa Rosa lake State Park.

Santa Rosa Lake State Park, Juniper Campground Site #15
Santa Rosa Lake State Park, Juniper Campground Site #15

And here is a closer shot of my campsite. The wind is howling, as you might see if you got a closer look at a very windswept Jenny being blown along the drive from the campsite. Several nice pull throughs here in this campground with somewhat reasonable spacing between campsites. Most sites have a picnic table under a sturdy shelter but there are no electric or water hookups here. Unfortunately, most sites are not very level. Verizon internet signal is quite weak also, but just strong enough to be able to check email and the weather, but not strong enough to do much with blog posts.

Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM
Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM
Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM
Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM

I checked out the Blue Hole on one of my drives into town. This must have been quite a discovery to the first pioneers coming through here. Just about the last thing one would expect to find in this harsh dry high desert environment. In the warmer months, scuba divers come here to explore this unique spot. At the bottom of the image above are some goldfish swimming around, I have a feeling they may have been recently introduced. They really stand out in the blue tinted water, the blue being more than simply sky reflection.

Abandoned Buildings
Abandoned Buildings

I also took a drive over to Conchas lake State Park to check out camping there, most likely my next stopover point. They don’t take reservations until May 1 so all sites are first come/first served and there were plenty of sites available as I drove through the three campgrounds. Office was locked so I couldn’t ask any questions. Will probably head that way next Monday. The image above is of what may have at one time been quarters for ranch hands, I really don’t know. Obviously has been abandoned for some time and would make a great candidate for a watercolor somewhere down the road.

While out, I stopped at  Silver Moon Auto in Santa Rosa to see about getting yet another new tire for the dolly and getting my most recent new/old tire with the tube repaired. While there also asked about fixing my onboard generator gas leak and taking care of my six foot mud flap angle iron replacement. Made an appointment to leave the RV with them Monday.

Last of the Birds From Oliver Lee

Gambel Quail
Gambel Quail

These guys, with that strange feather in their cap, always amuse me.

Green-tailed Towhee
Green-tailed Towhee

This Green-tailed Towhee is a first for me.

Black-throated Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow

A handsome Black-throated Sparrow. I was amazed at the number of species in the campground at Oliver Lee State Park.

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April 14, 2016 Alamogordo, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument and Campsite Birds

Wednesday, I drove the Prius back up to Cloudcroft to check on the descent Route 82 makes coming down from the mountaintop to Alamogordo. When coming this way in the motorhome Monday, I chose to go a few miles out of my way to avoid this long downgrade I had been told it would be wise to avoid. After driving it in the Prius, I guess I would have to say I made the right decision, it is a loooooooong downgrade that is best avoided in a rig like mine. The grade probably is no worse than others I have done, but it does go on forever and could well prove to be too much for my old motorhome.

Campsite Birds

Canyon Towhee
Canyon Towhee

I noticed a number of little birds hopping around in the underbrush around my campsite so I dug out the feeders and my post prop from Salineno and also spread a bit of seed on the ground to see if I could entice any of them into the open. The Canyon Towhee, a first for me, was one of the first to show.

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher

The curve-billed thrasher, just like his cousin, the long-billed thrasher back in Salineno, enjoyed the peanut butter/lard/cornmeal mix.

House Finch on Ocotillo
House Finch on Ocotillo

Wasn’t long before a small flock of house finches turned up.

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

Several white-crowned sparrows also came in to feed.

White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove
White-winged Dove

A couple white-winged doves have shown up, although I have yet to ever see the dove on her nest hop down to feed, though I’m sure she must?

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands national Monument

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

This was my first trip into White Sands N.M. though I have driven past on a few occasions. Certainly worth doing if you are ever in the area. There is a paved road into the dunes that turns to a sand ( gypsum ) loop road about 6 miles into the monument. The glistening white gypsum dunes are quite impressive on a blue sky day and I would love to be able to catch them at sunrise or sunset, but, unfortunately, the road is only open from 7 -7 daily, and at this time of year, that misses both sunrise and sunset.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

When you come here, be sure to park and walk out into the dunes. Easy to walk on and you will discover a lot of interesting details, such as animal tracks and interesting vegetation, once you venture a ways from the road.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Aguirre Springs Recreation Area

Leaving the Monument, I drove west on Route 70 about 30 miles to check out the Aguirre Springs Recreation Area that I had noticed on my New Mexico Benchmark Atlas. I was curious to see if the campsites there were accessible to a rig like mine and if so, what the campground looked like, to see if it might be a boon docking option sometime down the road.

Wildflowers
Wildflowers

On the road into Aguirre Springs I saw my first wildflowers of the spring.

Aguirre Springs Rec Area
Aguirre Springs Rec Area

This imposing peaks hover over the campground and can be seen from miles away as you approach the area on Route 70 West.

Aguirre Springs Campsite
Aguirre Springs Campsite

There is a sign stating that the narrow winding road to the campground is not recommended for trailers over 23 feet long. Now, the paved road is narrow and winding, but I really do not think it would be anything to worry about for a rig like mine.

There are a few, not many, campsites that could accomodate a large rig once you get up to the campground. The setting is gorgeous and when I was there midweek in mid-April, there was no one camping in any of the 60 plus sites there. No water, dump station, or electric at the campground, but it is a wonderful secluded setting, way off the beaten track and I definitely will consider staying here sometime down the road.

Female Northern Cardinal
Female Northern Cardinal

This last shot was kind of a surprise to me. A left over shot from Salineno that was on a disc I hadn’t removed from my backup camera in a while.

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