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.

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

March 27, 2014 S. Llano River State Park

Strutting Turkeys
Strutting Turkeys

Finally Some Strutting Tom Turkeys!

Awoke to the usual grey, solid overcast morning, but strangely enough, still no rain. Appears Texas is capable of experiencing an extended drought yet also never seeing the sun, in the winter at least. Was wakened from a sound sleep twice last night by the exceptionally vocal deer in the campground, they let out a vocalization like that of a screaming eagle, probably in response to some perceived threat.

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

Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Displaying turkey
Displaying turkey
Displaying turkey
Displaying turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decided to do a road trip north of the park but had my plans changed when I finally ran into some strutting Tom Turkeys on the park road. I had about five minutes with them before a motorhome scared them off the side of the road and sent them running out of range. I turned around and travelled the park road back and forth hoping to see them again, but no such luck.

Wild turkeys
Trouble ahead!
Retreating Turkey
Retreating Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

During my time with the turkeys, the sun came out and the temperature started to climb. I stopped at the office to check the forecast and it called for sunny skies and temps in the upper 80’s! With good weather finally here, I decided to stay in the park and do some shooting from the blinds.

Female cardinal bathing
Female cardinal bathing
Northern cardinal bathing
Northern cardinal bathing

These Northern Cardinals really put some effort into their baths.

Chipping sparrow bath
Chipping sparrow bath

As does the Chipping Sparrow.

Lark sparrow
Lark sparrow

The Lark Sparrow was a new bird for me.

Black capped vireo
Black capped vireo

As was this Black-capped Vireo, a federally endangered bird with a sharply declining population due to habitat loss and brown headed cowbird nest parasitism.

Lesser goldfinch
Lesser goldfinch

Another new bird for me was this Lesser Goldfinch, not yet quite displaying the vivid demarcation of yellow and black that will be visible in a few more weeks.

Carolina wren
Carolina wren

Yet another new bird for me was this Carolina Wren, darting in and out so fast as to be almost impossible to catch.

Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing

Also making an appearance at the water feature in the Acorn Blind was one of my favorite birds, the Cedar Waxwing.

Audubon warbler
Audubon warbler

Another bird showing up regularly was this Audubon Warbler.

Bathing Inca doves
Bathing Inca doves

I got a kick  out of this Inca Dove going submarine while it’s mate tried to figure out what it was doing.

Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca dove

These Inca Doves have colorful red/orange wing feathers on the underside and topside of their wings that only show in flight – or if they are trying to dry themselves after a bath.

Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca dove
Inca doves huddling for warmth
Inca dove

 

 

 

 

 

Serengetti in Texas
Serengetti in Texas

Along the park entrance road there is large high fenced enclosure that gets you to thinking you have arrived on the Serengeti Plains of Africa.

Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Strutting Turkey
Cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing

 

 

 

 

Lark sparrow
Lark sparrow

 

 

 

 

Another Neighbor From Hell

A very large motorhome pulled into the space next to me today. This space is at least 100 feet away but there is nothing between us but grass. A really nice, new 45’ Class A. Just a little after it got dark, I had made a drink after concluding a long conversation with my other next door neighbors, and was getting ready to go sit under the stars for a while. One of the nice things about this park is the absence of road or site lighting, you can really enjoy the night sky here when it is clear. Just as I was about to step out the door, a flash of light hit, that I assumed must be a car going through. It wasn’t. The new neighbor had turned on his outside spotlights, THREE high intensity spots on the driver’s side of the coach ( turns out there are three more on the passenger’s side too ), front, mid section, and back, all pointing directly out at the neighbor’s site. And when I say they were bright, I mean I could read a book on my sight, over 100 feet away, with the light from his unit. I went over and knocked on their door to see if I could get them to turn them off so I could sit outside and enjoy a gorgeous starry night, but even though their car was there and the TV was on, no one would answer the door. This was only about 7:30, so I don’t know what they were doing, but they wouldn’t answer the door for the campground host either a few minutes later when I enlisted his help to get the spotlights turned off. So, I had no choice but to go inside, pull all the shades and watch TV instead of the stars. About 9:30, they finally turned the lights off. About 11PM, just after I went to bed, they turned them back on. Nice folks!