May 31, 2010

The Good Taste Bug

Okay, we know these guys love a PBJ sandwich. (Photo from last November)
But who would've guess that this little guy (photo taken yesterday) would be enamored of the same lunch choice?
I don't know what kind of bug this is, but he's kind of cute, don't you think? And he has good taste in food.

May 30, 2010

Bear, Elk and Butterfly

We hike the Mill Hollow trail in Indian Canyon.  The bunch grass is turning green.
A few butterflies are out.
Bears walk the trail again, and leaving sure evidence behind.
An elk stopped on the hill to have a look at us before she ran off to join the rest of the herd.
The wind gusts to about 40 mph. This big old pinyon pine has been shaped by many years of wind.
Along the lower part of the trail, about 7600 feet, golden currants bloom.
Aspen leaf out along low hills and the creek.
We see Oregon Grapes with yellow buds.
It's early spring in the mountains.

May 29, 2010

On the Trail Again

Daisy loves any outdoor adventure, and finding an unexpected patch of snow is especially exciting.
After a long day of sniffing and running, she's pleased to relax in a cold creek.
Now that's refreshing.
For more cute critters, click here.

May 27, 2010

Desert Survivors

Life in the desert is a struggle for survival, but some species adapt quite well.
Here is the sage lizard.  See how it blends into the environment, hiding out beneath the junipers?  Its predators are hawks, snakes, and perhaps coyotes.
This lizard is very quick.  When startled it usually darts into the shade, where it is harder to see.  Sometimes it will freeze, which is fortunate because it's the only chance we have to get a photo.
This little bird seemed to have a nest nearby and didn't flit away instantly as its kind usually does.  I think it's some variety of flycatcher.  We see them in the tops of the juniper trees.  They probably eat the juniper berries and use the tree branches for shelter and nesting.
I believe this is a lark sparrow.  We saw two of them hopping along in the sand.  This one stopped on an ant hill and pecked up a few of the tasty (I assume) insects.

May 25, 2010

Desert Discoveries

There's always something new to see in the natural world.  We returned to the Cedars to see what was blooming.  We found:
a Lupine Road (or perhaps I should say a lupine 2-track)
A carpet of daisies.
They very much resemble the cultivated variety in my garden.
Showy Rushpink is always a special find.
This purple flower is some variety of milkvetch, I think. The blooms are tiny, but beautifully intricate.
This bright yellow daisy-like flower is bright enough to make the lizards smile.
Claret cups are blooming,
but the prickly pear cactus isn't quite ready to show its colors yet. (My header shot is from last year in mid-June.)

May 24, 2010

Bristlecone View

Last week, we drove into Indian Canyon and hiked from the trailhead for Grayhead Peak (9500 feet).
The trail still had a lot of snow in the shade, but Daisy didn't mind.  All the better for cooling off.
This gray jay, also called a robber or camp jay, kept a close eye on us, following along from tree to tree.  I guess he was hoping we'd drop a few crumbs.
We didn't reach Grayhead, but we had a nice view from our trail that follows mountain crests.
Here's one of the Great Basin Bristlecone pines that grow above 8800 feet in this area.  They seem to thrive in dry, windy, harsh conditions.  Bristlecones can live over 4000 years.

May 22, 2010

Love the Dove

Several Eurasian Collared Doves have been hanging around our bird feeder.  These birds are native to Asia.  They expanded their range across Europe during the 1900's, and have spread across most of North America since being introduced into the Bahamas, in the 1970's.  They're amazing survivors, and well adapted to humans, seeming to prefer living near houses and farms where food sources are abundant.
This particular dove is missing a claw and part of a toe on its left foot.  
 For more cute critters, click here.

May 21, 2010

The Mountain Awakens

We hiked to the top of Lake Mountain last week, a distance of 2 miles and 1000 feet elevation gain.
Marsh Peak (12,240 feet) comes into view, still covered with snow.
On top of Lake Mountain (9000 feet), snowbanks still remain in the shadows.
This gray-headed, dark-eyed junco dances in and out of icy water from the snowmelt, hunting for seeds or insects.
This is probably the type of bird whose nest we found near the same aspen groves last July.
Buttercups are the only flower blooming at 9000 feet elevation, so far.  Spring is slow to arrive in the high country.  The aspens haven't leafed out yet.  
Gull Lake reflects clouds and sky.  We'll come back in a couple of weeks, maybe on horseback, to see what flowers are blooming then.

May 19, 2010

Fracas at the Feeder

Some birds don't like to share.  Mr. House Finch has a little disagreement with the blue bird (female lazuli bunting, I think), while Mrs. House Finch looks on.
But perhaps there is enough for everyone after all.
Mr. Lazuli Bunting waits until everyone else leaves.  He wants all of the seed to himself.

May 17, 2010

More Desert Bounty

Phlox nestled in the arms of prickly pear cactus.
Serviceberry blooms.
Claret cup cactus buds will open soon.
Indian rice grass from last autumn remains to provide forage as the spring grasses mature.
For lovely and unusual sights from around the planet, click here.


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