Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sunday was the final day for the Festival of the Cranes. The festival always runs from Tuesday through Sunday. Last year, our Sunday trip was the Mountain Birding Tour led by Mary Alice Root of the New Mexico Ornithological Society, and Bill Thompson and Julie Zickefoose. This year we took the Canyon Trail Hike, a 2-1/2 mile round trip through Solitude Arroyo and canyon. The trailhead is located about 1-1/2 miles south of the visitor center. Bob Merkel, a Bosque volunteer, was our leader. We walked/hiked through quite a bit of sandy soil at first, and then we climbed higher into the canyon and the trail became rockier. Below are the photos I took of the trip. All of these photos were taken with my Kodak point and shoot. I was too lazy to bring my Canon and two lenses. Besides, I think I got good quality shots with the Kodak. My biggest problem is trying to identify all of the plants. Again, another form of laziness - I failed to write down the names of the plants our leader pointed out to us. And now, I regret that I didn't take notes. So bear with me, and if anyone notices my plant IDs are incorrect, please let me know.
If you want to see a larger image click on the photo. These are ripe gooseberries. I think birds and other animals will eat them.
Prickly pear. I don't know why its coloring is different. Most cacti stay green all year long. I'm just wondering if this plant is sunburned or does it get this color after a frost.
By now we have reached a higher point and the rockier part of the trail. Below is the visitor center. The tent was extra for the Festival of the Cranes. This was probably the tent where the exhibits and vendors were.
This is looking east from the top of the trail. Center, right, is a lagoon, still part of the Bosque del Apache, although I don't think there is public access to this area. At least not by car. It's possible there is another foot trail around the lagoon.
This is looking north from the trail. I think the mountain on the left is Chupadera Peak (~ 6200' high), the most recent addition to the Refuge. There's also a hiking trail going up to the top that was created just this year.
These next two photos are pack rat nests. I found these to be very interesting. We didn't see any pack rats around, just their nests. These animals are nocturnal. They are also plant eaters and love "collecting" shiny objects to add to their nests. Click here for more info on desert pack rats.
Ok, now here is where my memory really fails me. I just asked my husband and his recollection is totally different from mine. He thinks these holes in the wall(s) were a result of "mother nature." My recollection is these holes were created by mud daubers (wasps). If anyone else has a suggestion I'd be more than happy to hear it. Nonetheless, this was quite fascinating to see while hiking through the canyon.
And here is a much larger "hole in the wall." And you can see the "white drippings" very clearly. Knowing the size of this hole I'm assuming it was a nest site for either an owl or a hawk. I think owls are known to use these holes. Last year's Mountain Birding trip provided a similar sight where there was a "hole" in a mountain wall and Bill Thompson found a great-horned owl perched in it. Click here to see the last picture of my post from last year.