Sunday, June 17, 2012

Desert wildlife...

The other day, I was showing a friend some of my photos from my trip to the southwest and she asked me an unexpected question... "how did you find so much wildlife in the desert?"

The easy answer is that I was looking. The longer one is that I remembered something I was taught back when I was in the boy scouts- be quiet.

The general concept is easy- the more noise you make, the more the locals will hear and be scared off.

I did explain that it wasn't so much that the animals were coming up to me as they weren't necessarily running away.

Another benefit to being quiet is you're less likely to wake up creatures that you don't want to upset.

admittedly out of focus, but I had a compelling urge to not be there

On my first hike (actually, all hikes), I was carefully checking the pockets under and between boulders for snakes, and sure enough I found one. I quickly snapped a shot and moved away; since I was miles from any assistance, I didn't want to take a chance of being bitten.

These birds really do move like the cartoon. It's really funny to watch.

When I reached the turn-around point on the same hike, my memory card was nearing full when I saw a road runner. Since the trail out went right through the center of the "canyon," I figured I wouldn't see anything else but sagebrush, so decided to top off the card with a couple shots of the bird and head out. Just as I topped off the card, I was joking to myself, "where's Wile E.?" No sooner did I think that, and turn, then I saw a coyote not 40 yards away. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my card swapped out before he ran away.

My buddy LeRoi hanging out on a boulder.
The following day, I started on the west end of Petroglyph National Monument at the Volcanoes Day Use Area. I kept hearing rattlers in the distance, but didn't see any. What I did see was a lot of lizards, like the collared lizard above that was just hanging out in the sun. I decided to move sideways and kind of around him to get a better vantage point, in case heading straight for him might freak him out- I was originally directly in front of him. I popped off a couple shots, thanked him, and went on my way.

About half an hour later, I found this guy hanging out in the shadow side of one of the volcanoes hanging on the vertical face of a boulder.

Finally, much later that afternoon, this guy and several family members were all running around apparently trying to scrounge up some food. I couldn't believe how big they are. The guy above was likely a little over two feet tall.

Being from the east coast, I never would have imagined that there was so much diversified life in the desert.

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