February 18, 2007

Red Tank Draw and the GBBC

Your guess is as good as mine as to what the name of today's hiking spot means. I get the whole "red" part, and perhaps if you call a stream a draw, that makes sense, too. Oh well. At least it was a fun hike.

There wasn't much in the way of a trail, though. Which meant that most of the hike involved navigating our way over large river rocks and underneath/around/through assorted prickly things. Lots and lots of prickly things. Everything we encountered seemed to be armored with some sort of burr, prickle, thorn, spine or dagger. You'd think we were living in a desert or something.

But the dogs were having a great time playing in the stream and running around on the sandstone formations.

Sonja even found an old bear skull that Luna seemed to like the taste of.

So I dared Sonja to try a bite.

It was really cool to see the contrast between the flat, red sandstone and the round volcanic basalt. We were hoping to find some petroglyphs that are supposed to be down in that area, but after two hours of hiking in we decided we'd try again some other time. And rather than bushwack our way along the streambed and risk a sprained/broken ankle, we opted to climb up onto the ridge and take the "easy" way back to the car.

Ok, so let's just say we didn't think this plan through all the way. At least by the time we got back to the car the dogs had learned the fine art of cacti maneuvering. Well, sort of. But it only took us twenty minutes to pull all of the spines off of the two of them.

We also took part in the Great Backyard Bird Count today. We missed a few species I was hoping for (like a Greater Roadrunner), but overall not a bad showing for only a couple hours. No lifers, but it was fun to keep track during our hike. Here's our list of the 23 species we saw, in roughly taxonomic order:

American Coot: 6
Hooded Merganser: 1
American Widgeon: 32
Ring-necked Duck: 2
Red-tailed Hawk: 2
Cooper's Hawk: 1
Northern Flicker: 1
Ladder-backed Woodpecker: 1
Gila Woodpecker: 2
Common Raven: 2
Mourning Dove: 3
Western Bluebird: 6
American Robin: 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet: 1
Bushtit: 3
Bridled Titmouse: 2
Canyon Wren: 1
Rock Wren: 2
Northern Cardinal: 1
White-crowned Sparrow: 3
Dark-eyed Junco: 27
House Finch: 8
Lesser Goldfinch: 6

There's still another day and a half if any of you are interested in participating. All you have to do is watch birds anywhere you want to for at least fifteen minutes before the end of tomorrow (Monday). Record the species you see and the number of individuals you can identify for each. Go here for more detailed info on the rules and how to submit your list. And happy birding!


chris pereira said...

well i finally happened upon this page of yours in a continuing effort to find the two of you! i emailed sonja at her gmail account a little while ago... anyway, i'd love to hear from you!

the best way to contact me is at my school email - pereirac@msu.edu

hope all is well!

Patrick Belardo said...

I never knew that bears lived in the desert. You learn something new every day.