Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

My friends' plane was delayed so I had a day with no plans, well if you know me at all you know that will never do. I checked the map and decided to go to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge just over the border into Nevada.  I was in the mood for exploring and bird watching.  The wind from the previous day brought on the cold and more wind so it wasn't ideal for birds, still, when I first stepped out of the car I was greeted by a Loggerhead Shrike just sitting there in a bush. Of course I didn't have my camera since I was headed for the bathroom and I make it a practice to never, never take my camera into an outdoor pit toilet, so I missed the photo opportunity.

Back to my car I grabbed my camera and the next thing I saw was a Gambrel's Quail sitting in a bush overlooking his family.  I was too far to get a good photo.  So back to my car I went again to get my spotting scope. Now, I was all ready for some serious birding. But where did they go? I could hear a bird mocking me with every bird song he knew and I couldn't find him. I was not deterred and kept looking.

One of the big deals at Ash Meadows are the pupfish.  Since I hadn't seen any at Salt Marsh Creek this was the perfect opportunity for find them here. And sure enough as the trail crossed a small stream and then swung by a larger King's Pool at Point of Rocks, I saw the Endangered Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish.

The males were a beautiful blue, all the more striking as they fed on the brilliant green algae. The females were more green. These photos are not enhanced, the fish really are very brilliant.

My photos are fuzzy because I couldn't get my camera to focus through the water.  I certainly could have used that SLR that I decided not to buy. Darn! Anyway I enjoyed seeing them close up through my binoculars.

HERE is a Youtube video I made of them swimming.  Some of the males were defending their territory and would chase away intruders.

I kept hearing that expert singer calling in the distance and finally tracked him down and added another life bird to my list.  With my scope I had a good long look and easily confirmed that it was a Crissal Thrasher. Since it is only found in 5 states I couldn't have been happier.

Still looking for birds I moved on to other trails but the wind and cold were getting worse.  I did pick up a few pods from a Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens) that reminded me of beads like the Pickleweed at Salt Creek Marsh. These provide food for coyotes and small mammals and in turn they distribute the seeds for the tree.

Next I drove to another section of the refuge to Crystal Marsh where the wind was pretty fierce and the ducks were all hunkered down and hidden back in the bushes along the shore but what a view this lake was. 

The blue colors here was as brilliant as those in the pupfish.

By the end of the day I had seen three life birds, (Crissal Thrasher, Rock Wren, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher) endangered pupfish and a whole lot of beauty.  Life's good!

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1 comment:

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a great birdie place. The landscape shots are beautiful. Lovely photos.