Singing Birds of Joshua Tree – Video

May 24, 2015 at 11:26 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Video)

 

 

 

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Images taken with Canon SX-50

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Barker Dam Trail – Joshua Tree NP

May 24, 2015 at 8:05 am (California, Mojave Desert, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, )

Barker Dam Trail

Barker Dam Trail

A very nice short hike in the Hidden Valley area of Joshua Tree National Park is the Barker Dam trail.  There are a few climbing and bouldering routes past the dam, and except for a little scooting around rocks, it is an easy trail.

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Because I am a dilly-dallier, I spent around four hours on this two-mile trip.  After all, there were flowers, birds, and pretty landscapes.

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The birds are seen in my previous post, Birds of Joshua Tree.  I was at the dam probably an hour just watching the avian dinosaurs stop by – green-tailed towhee, Lazuli bunting, hummingbirds, finches.

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Even though I started out early, there was a little glitch that marred the experience.   Sound carries far in places like this, and there was a small but very loud family in the parking lot about 300 yards away shortly after I began the hike.  So I stepped up my explorations in an attempt to keep my distance.

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I didn’t want them to scare off the birds and wildlife I hoped to see.  Unfortunately, I heard them the whole way.

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When they arrived at the dam, I put on my “interpretive opportunity” ranger hat and explained that for some of us, being in a place like this is like being in church, and the silence allows us to hear the birds and see wildlife, like the bighorn sheep I hoped to see.

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It seemed to make an impression, but when they turned around to leave the squeals and loud yakking continued.  Sigh.  Some people really don’t get nature.

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There were many wildflowers still blooming in the park, and I take great delight in finding a “new” species.  Stay tuned for a future post on the flowers I met at Joshua Tree.

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Manzanita

Manzanita

Manzanita is in the madrona family, as you can see by the red, peeling bark.

Ruined petroglyphs

Ruined petroglyphs

Unfortunately, somebody who was ignorant to the value of rock art thought they were doing us a favor by painting over the ancient petroglyphs.  This is both a sacrilege and illegal.

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Petroglyphs are pecked into rock; pictographs are painted on.  This ignorant person ruined the experience for all of us.

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Other than those two black marks on the experience, the morning was a lovely one.  And I added another image to my collection of heart rocks.

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Images taken with Canon SX-50

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

These images available here

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Birds of Joshua Tree

May 19, 2015 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, Mojave Desert, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds, Wildlife)

Canyon wren fledgling looking grouchy

Canyon wren fledgling looking grouchy

The young canyon wrens made a non-stop racket at the 49 Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park.  The loud peeps helped their parents keep track of them when they were ready to fill those noisy mouths with caterpillars.

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The fledglings could fly well enough to pester a parent hunting for their meals.  Soon, though, these babies will learn to find their own food, and the palm grove will return to peace and quiet.

Cactus wren

Cactus wren

There are four wren species common to the Mojave Desert.  I didn’t see rock wrens, but there were a few cactus wrens, as well as Bewick’s wrens singing for a mate.

Bewick's wren

Bewick’s wren

May is still prime season for migrating birds, and a good time to see the regulars, such as the black-throated sparrow.

Black-throated sparrow

Black-throated sparrow

Black-throated sparrow

Black-throated sparrow

Males become bolder in spring when they sing for a mate, and to mark territory.

California thrasher male

California thrasher male

This Gambel’s quail had a flock of little chicks, and was hiding them from curious visitors.

Gambel's Quail in hiding

Gambel’s Quail in hiding

The Barker’s Dam near Hidden Valley had just enough water to lure a wide variety of birds.

Green-tailed towhee

Green-tailed towhee

Spotted towhee male

Spotted towhee male

Phainopepla male

Phainopepla male

Western tanager male

Western tanager male

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Wilson's warbler male

Wilson’s warbler male

White-throated swift

White-throated swift

House finch male

House finch male

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Oriole – hooded or Scott’s – not sure which

 

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Ladder-backed woodpecker

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Female hummingbird – black-chinned or Costa’s?

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Pacific slope flycatcher

 

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Images taken with Canon SX-50

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

 

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Wonderland of Rocks – Dusk to Dawn

May 17, 2015 at 8:49 pm (California, fine art photography, Mojave Desert, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , , )

Hidden Valley at dawn, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Hidden Valley at dawn, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Ryan and Amy wanted to go rock climbing in one of the world’s premiere spots – Joshua Tree National Park.  Who knew?  These rock pillows and piles didn’t look very impressive to me, as far as conquering goes.  But apparently they are very challenging, and very scratchy.

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However, they are very beautiful, especially at dusk and dawn.  Some of these images are taken right in the campground, or very near it.

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I’m sure hard-core climbers will recognize certain routes in these photographs.  There are around 5,000 climbing routes in the park, and several books on how to find and conquer them.

Early morning photographer above the campground

Early morning photographer above the campground

I thought this guy was my son – same build.  But no, he and Amy were sound asleep and missed all the glorious drama of a bruise-gray sky from an approaching cold front, backdropping the liquid gold spilling over the rockscapes.

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The following morning, with a clear sky, did not yield anywhere near the same intensity of color and contrast.  Just goes to show, every storm has a silver — er, gold– lining.

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The evening was surprisingly cold for mid-May in Southern California.  A few days later, the nearby mountains got snow.

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While the “kids” climbed rocks, I hiked.  All of these images were made in the space of about 45 minutes that chilly May morning.

Hiddey-Valley-dawn,-Joshua-Tree-NP-CA-(39)-copy-2Enjoy the view!

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Images taken with Canon SX-50

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

These photographs available here

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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Bighorn Sheep, Valley of Fire

May 17, 2015 at 4:04 pm (Mojave Desert, Nature, Nature photography, Nevada, Photography, Wildlife) (, )

Desert bighorn sheep, young rams, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Desert bighorn sheep, young rams, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

I just returned from a 10-day outing in the desert, most of it with my son and his wife.  The bighorn sheep were the grand finale of the visit to the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada,

Young rams

Young rams

At first it was a couple of ewes peering over the mountaintop, then later, the whole herd came down to munch on mesquite and other succulent plants in plain view of hikers.

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There are eight sheep in this photo – and four or five more were already down the hill.

Ewe in a classic pose

Young ram in a classic pose

There were no trophy rams in this group – but the young males still look impressive.

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This was on the Mouse’s Tank/Petroglyph Canyon trail around noon.

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The Valley of Fire is named for this rust-red sandstone that contrasts beautifully with the browns and grays of the landscape.

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The gray sheep stand out beautifully against the sandstone.

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A ewe and her lamb.

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The baby is just a few months old.

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And so I bid ewe a farewell while I edit the rest of the great trip images!

 

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Images taken with Canon SX-50

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

These photographs available here

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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Rainbow Basin Natural Area

April 26, 2015 at 9:09 am (Bird photography, California, Mojave Desert, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildflowers, Wildlife)

Rainbow Basin Natural Area, Barstow, California

Rainbow Basin Natural Area, Barstow, California

The photos may not show it as well as the eye sees it, but there really are green rocks in them thar hills.  Rainbow Basin Natural Area is a gem of a place in the Mojave Desert, just north of Barstow, California.

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The last hour of the day is a marvelous time to visit.  In late winter/early spring you can see desert tortoises, wildflowers, and a Joshua tree or two in bloom. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Few Good Birds of Mojave National Preserve

April 20, 2015 at 12:01 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds, Wildlife) ()

Zone-tailed hawk

Zone-tailed hawk

Going birding with an expert familiar with which bird will be found where is usually an excellent way to “meet” new species, and the zone-tailed hawk was the highlight for me on a trip last week to Mojave National Preserve, California. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mojave National Preserve

April 19, 2015 at 9:50 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, Butterflies, California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds, Wildflowers) (, , )

Mojave National Preserve, near Mid-Hills Campground

Mojave National Preserve, near Mid-Hills campground

Since I moved to Southern California, I’ve been “saving” a visit to Mojave National Preserve for just the right weekend – an early April birding trip with the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society.

Rock Springs House and desert purple sage (Salvia sp.)

Rock Spring House and desert purple sage (Salvia sp.)

The weather was perfect, I added two birds to my life list, and the scenery surpassed expectations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Desert Tortoise

April 4, 2015 at 11:11 am (California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

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Watching desert tortoises isn’t as bad as watching paint dry.  They might freeze up if you approach them, but within a few minutes they will probably resume their foraging, or walking, or whatever. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bighorn Sheep at Anza-Borrego

March 20, 2015 at 6:38 am (California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife) (, , , )

 

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The highlight of my trip to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park last month was seeing newborn desert bighorn sheep with their mamas on the Borrego Palms trail. Read the rest of this entry »

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