Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Joshua Tree National Park - birds and critters

searched all around Joshua Tree National Park looking for birds and other critters but the best birding spot was my own campsite and surrounding grounds.  This Gambrel's quail came by every morning and evening.  When I first saw them there was a small covey but later in the week I only saw the one male.  I don't know if he lost his harem or what but he called continuously for a few hours every morning from the highest bush he could find.

My first sighting of a Gambel's Quail was in Nevada and I was thrilled now I have the privilege of seeing one each morning and evening.  He was getting an early start on spring breeding calling waow in all directions for find suitable mates.  I found him adorable.

Below is a California Thrasher.  I tried very hard to find a Le Conte's Thrasher but they alluded me at Anza-Borrego and here at Joshua Tree.  Still this California Thrasher is a sight to behold.

Below is a Western Scrub-Jay that are very common but still very beautiful.

Here is a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet that came down right next to where I was sitting and hopped around for a little bit before flying off.  I think it is actually the first time I have even looked down to see a kinglet.

Cactus Wrens are abundant in this part of the state.
While looking for birds in the campground I took a photo (below) of a California Ground Squirrel.  They are pretty large.  Their legs are shorter than tree squirrels and they don't raise up their tails the tree squirrels do. It ran off into that bush, out the other side and then into a hole.

The other mammal I saw was at Baker Dam.  At first I thought it was another squirrel but I looked it up and found out that it is a chipmunk!  A Merriams Chipmunk. It was pretty large, I'd say about 10.5 inches excluding the tail.

I saw lots of these little critters (below) but usually just a fleeting glimpse.  It is a White-tailed Antelope Squirrel. Yes, a squirrel! It is only 6 inches long and so cute with big bright eyes.  This one was running all around Keys View.
 Whoa! Did you feel that!
 Run, the end is near!
Maybe I'll be safe up here. 
 Whew, it's over.  I'll never get used to living so close to the San Andreas Fault.
While up at Keys View I took this photo of the San Andreas Fault.  I didn't realize I was so close. It is that dark ridge in the valley floor. If I come back here next year I will likely be about 2 inches southwest of where I was when I took this photo.  This is where two tectonic plates, the Pacific Ocean Crust and the North American Crust slide past each other causing earthquakes.


Willow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Willow said...

Sorry I wasn't watching my spelling in first reply ~ was commenting on how much I enjoyed your nature photos, and my fascination with that ground squirrel :)

Potomac Valley Nature Writing Group Reading List said...

Love the critters! Didn't know you could actually SEE the San Andreas fault. I thought it was something hidden beneath. I hope my faults aren't so obvious!