28 de octubre de 2020

Bighorn and tortoise in the same hike

It has finally cooled down in Death Valley to go for a hike. Well, the last few weeks the mornings have been cool enough but the high still got to 100 degrees during the day. I’m not much of a morning person on the weekends, so I haven’t been exploring quite yet, just doing some evening drives looking for reptiles. Today the high was suppose to be 82 so I picked a location where tortoises have been reported to go hike. I’ve hiked here 2-3 times last Spring in hopes of seeing a tortoise, but never saw any. Today I returned in hopes of seeing one. Tortoises are very hard to find in Death Valley, they only inhabit a few locations, typically in the 3,000 foot range.

I hiked 4.5 miles up this particular canyon, seeing potential tortoise burrows and peaking inside, but they were too dark to see inside. I noticed that last Spring I saw lots of bighorn scat in the shade of the canyon walls, but today, didn’t see any. I thought to myself that they must not be frequenting the area as much as they did last Spring.

Hiking the 4.5 miles took 3 hours (12pm start time, 3pm end time) so I turned around so that I would make it back to the parking area with ample daylight time. In January 2020, I found an old tortoise scute (part of the shell) in the canyon in this turn-around point and casually looked for it but didn’t see it. One of my friends had actually seen this scute when he had hiked here, a few years ago. Some yellow flowers caught my eye and I took some photos. I had walked up the canyon on the left side of the canyon and then walked down on the other side of the canyon for my best chances of seeing different stuff. A minute after I took pictures of the yellow flowers, something caught my eye off to the left. It was not on the trail. It was on the very side of the canyon. I gasped when I realized what it was: An adult tortoise! It was tucked inside its shell, sitting in the shade of a large dirt mound. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Tortoises are sooo hard to find out here! Plus, most tortoises are seen in the Spring. October 27th is a little late in the season, although the weather was nice today (mid 70’s with a breeze in this location.) I took a few photos, then continued on. I cried for about 10 minutes walking down the canyon, I was so happy I saw a tortoise.

About 45 minutes later, I look straight ahead in the shaded area of the canyon, and a ram’s head is peeking over a bush looking at me! As soon as we locked eyes, he darted off, running up the canyon wall into the mountainside so quickly! When he got to a high point, he turned around to look at me and that’s when I snapped the photos. Then he continued further back, until I couldn’t see him any longer. I guess the bighorn still are here, although I didn’t see much scat!

I have never seen a bighorn and a tortoise in the same day before. When I worked at Joshua Tree, I saw more tortoises than I did bighorn. Here at Death Valley, I see more bighorn than I do tortoises. Both animals are pretty rare to see. I feel so grateful for today! Such a special day :)

Ingresado el 28 de octubre de 2020 por desertsolitude desertsolitude | 2 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de octubre de 2020

I saw a live badger tonight!!!

At 10:45pm tonight I was on highway 190 heading west in Death Valley National Park, just passing the turnoff for Echo Canyon, but closer to the Inn, and slowing down as the road gets really curvy. I turn a right hand corner and my headlights flash upon a badger on the right shoulder, low to the ground, the white stripe on the head, dark brown also on its head, and its staring right at me. It was like that moment froze in time. A badger was on the side of the road! The road was really quiet with no cars so as immediately as I could I turned around and grabbed my phone ready to take a picture. But it was already gone. Super amazing though!!!! I’ve only seen 2 roadkilled badgers in my whole life....so I saw a live one tonight! I am so glad it didn’t run in front of me, that would have been bad. It was 83 degrees at 10:45pm. There are a lot of mesquite trees and also a year round spring in this area, so a good place where probably a lot of cool critters live. I hope I get to see another badger someday and get pictures of one! What an amazing animal!

Ingresado el 20 de octubre de 2020 por desertsolitude desertsolitude | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario