Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Festival of the Cranes - Sunday's hike

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.
I think this is a creosote bush.
I think this is rabbitbrush.
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.
I think we were told this is chamisa, a form of rabbitbrush.
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.


Martha said...

You go such interesting places! I really enjoy my imaginary excursions with you.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Your pictures tell the story well.I can almost feel myself getting tired from all that walking.LOL That is a fascinating area.

Leedra said...

You mention Bill Thompson, is he from Thompson's Photo? If so, he is from Knoxville.

Wouldn't you just have loved to captured an owl with his head peeping out that hole? I would have probably been so excited I would have missed the shot.

Mary C said...

Hi Martha - I'm glad I can share my experiences with other bloggers. It's so nice to be able to share places one has visited with others who enjoy reading about them and seeing the photos that are posted.

Thanks, Ruth. You sound like I felt after that hike. I was physically tired, but exhilarated, too. It does feel good to get out and "hike" now and then. But I'm one of those folks who doesn't like carrying a lot of equipment with me.

Hi Leedra. Bill Thompson is Julie Zickefoose's husband and the editor of Bird Watcher's Digest. I did get a photo last year of the owl from that Mountain Birding Tour. But we didn't see any bird in this "hole" this year. It's so cool to see nocturnal owls during the day since it is unusual and doesn't happen that often. And yes, I get excited, too when I do see an owl. I have seen small sized owls in the past, but never had a camera with me when I encountered them. (sigh).

Anonymous said...

I'm going to my first birding festival this year, and as I've looked at your photos and stories of your adventures I'm even more looking forward to it.

Happy New Year, Mary!

Linda in Erie said...

I've always looked at desert settings as waste lands until I got involved with bird watching and the wildlife refuge system. It is amazing how you can change how you see things with a little education. I hated driving through those kind of areas before and now I actually see things I never did before and find beauty in it. Your photos are great looking out over the refuge. If you find out what made all those little holes please let us know. Our wildlife refuge is so much the opposite with 3 habitats-forests, fields and water's edge. I want to make it a point to stop at all refuges along the way on my travels. They all protect such wonderful parts of nature.

Larry said...

Great places that you visit! I would ask you to take part in Big January-(making a list of all the birds you see in your home state in January) but you're never home! Good for you.

Mary C said...

Wren, which birding festival are you planning to attend? I certainly hope you will enjoy it. Some festivals are larger than the Crane Festival in New Mexico. And there are others that are smaller and may not offer as many workshops.

Linda, I have found that the NWRs that are open to the public have considerably less traffic, which makes it great for birding purposes. Not only birds, but other critters tend to come out of hiding when there's fewer people to disturb their habitat. Paid access is usually less than National Parks, too.

Hi Larry. Happy New Year. Actually, it seems like I'm never home, but I'm here in my neck of the woods much more than traveling/vacationing. It's possible that I can attempt to take part in the Big January. For starters I'm hoping to go birding on Monday (my day off) within a couple hours drive from where I live.

Mary said...


You are always full of information, even if you don't remember the names of plants!

I enjoy your birding adventures as I get tired of the backyard :o)

Happy New Year!

Mary C said...

Mary, you have such a way with words. Thank you. I have noticed, too, that occasionally I get "tired of the backyard birds." And when I have traveled I learn so much and want to share it with others who may not get to visit places I've been to.


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