Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cheetah! September 29, 2008

The Living Desert has cheetahs on exhibit, but we rarely see them. First, they blend in with their surroundings so well and hide in the tall grass that even when they are out, sometimes we don't see them! Second, they aren't let out that often! Third, we just never seem to get there at the right time. This trip, in 2004, however, we did! It was early morning, when they had just been released from their cages. Can you see the cheetah? Isn't he beautiful?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mexican wolves! Sept. 27, 2008

The Living Desert Reserve currently has two Mexican wolves on exhibit. They are both males. One is resting in the shade by the rock. The other one was down below, in the pool, when I came by the other afternoon. It is unusual to see them out in the afternoon, since, like dogs, they are usually resting. The one by the pool looked up when I accidentally snapped a part on my camera. He followed the sound with his head and looked directly at me. That is unusual, too. I was able to follow him along the trail and get several pics of him! The Mexican wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf and is the most endangered subspecies. They are sometimes released back into the wild in eastern Arizona, almost to the New Mexico border. We actually visited the wolf recovery release area in 1999. It is very mountainous there with a lot of rock caves for dens. UNFORTUNATELY, several of the wolves released there were killed by humans. The Living Desert actually went and picked up one of their females and brought her back to the reserve from Arizona when another one which was released was killed. Breeding stock is important for this species and the loss of one wolf is devastating. I have always enjoyed visiting the wolf enclosure and watching the wolves there. There is a wolf center in Julian, which is about an hour away, and I would like to visit it some Saturday. The Julian Wolf Center is located in Julian, CA. Here is the link to their website:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

mountain lion!

The Living Desert now has a plaque to remember their mountain lion, Reno. He actually lived for 22 years! They now have the remaining female mountain lion in the exhibit and I saw her Monday afternoon. You can see the wires on the exhibit. She was in the tall grass, but she did poke her head out for a photograph!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Reno, Living Desert mountain lion 092208

Did you know the Living Desert had two mountain lions on exhibit for several years? Reno was the male mountain lion. I believe he was hand raised by a family until he got too big. And, BOY, did he get BIG! Just look at those paws! His enclosure was shared by a female mountain lion and sometimes they had their "spats". At one point, he bit her on the tail and she had an owie for a while. As you know, mountain lions are solitary animals, and while they would occasionally play together in the water, for the most part, they kept their distance from each other and glared across their enclosure.

Reno died last year. He lived for about 19 years and I believe he was the longest living mountain lion in captivity. I took some photos this afternoon of the remaining mountain lion and I'll post them tomorrow. There are mountain lions in our mountains above our desert. I've never seen one, but some friends up in Garner Valley told us a lion went after their goats one night. Hikers do NOT hike alone on trails in our mountains. I was foolish to do that ONCE and I was warned to either join a group of hikers or go back to my car! I went back to my car and I no longer hike alone! Only a few miles away, in Orange County, hikers HAVE been attacked AND killed by mountain lions. They are there. We just don't notice or hear them. Their paws make them deadly and silent killers. I wanted to post these photos to remember Reno. He was a beautiful mountain lion. If you click on the photos, you can see them in a large format.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

desert summer flowers Sunday, September 21, 2008

The desert southwest has an amazing variety of sunflowers. Some grow naturally by the roads and our roads are now covered with them. I have a friend who threw out some seeds in her yard and now her yard is covered by them! Here are some pics of the sunflowers and other flowers currently in bloom. Aren't they pretty?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Swainson's hawk???

It was a BEAUTIFUL, crystal clear day in the mountains today and it wasn't 90 degrees! In fact, when I drove up, it was about 60! After going to the swap meet, I worked my thoroughbred, Gigondas, then proceeded to drive down the hill back to the desert. As I was leaving, a hawk took off in a field. It wasn't a red tailed hawk. I KNOW those hawks. It was a beautiful, lightly colored one. By the time I pulled over to take a closer look, it was soaring away. I looked it up in a bird book and asked around and apparently it was a Swainson's hawk. Here are two photos I found...see the open field? That's like the field where I saw the hawk. Aren't they beautiful?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mexican wolves! 9/19/08

The Living Desert Reserve, in Palm Desert, CA has several Mexican wolves in its wolf enclosure. A couple of years ago, I used to stop by the LDR on my way home, take my camera, and walk out to the wolf enclosure. Several people mentioned that they heard one of the wolves howl when a fire truck went by and I desperately wanted to hear that. I never did, but I went so often I became a "regular" at the wolf enclosure. I was saddened to hear that Cisco, their male Mexican wolf, recently died. These are some pics of Cisco and another wolf at the Living Desert Reserve.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Golden eagle 9/14/08

Well, I saw my first golden eagle up close this morning! As I was driving through the mountains, almost to town, I saw a movement to my right out of the corner of my eye. Yup. A golden eagle, aquila chrysaetos. He/She was very large and dark brown. Definitely NOT a hawk! I've seen the hawks up there and this was no hawk! It began to unfold its wings and start to take off. A nearby field had recently been plowed, so it was probably after some rodents. What a beautiful bird! Unfortunately, I had 3 cars behind me, so I didn't stop and attempt to take its photo. This isn't my photo. Aren't they beautiful birds? I was talking to Bill, who owns the ranch where I board my horses, and he said, yes, their valley does have golden eagles. He can see them from their porch. They move around, depending on where their food is, but they still stay in the valley.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Above Zion National Park Sept.13, 2008

Cattle grazing on the road above Zion National Park, Utah. Utah has some incredible scenery in our desert southwest, from red canyons to aspen.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

North Rim Grand Canyon September 11, 2008

The north rim of the Grand Canyon is very different from the south. First, there are fewer tourists! Second, you have a completely different view of the Colorado River. Third, you can actually drive along the rim. There are no shuttles. No need. Not that many cars drive out to the north rim. Finally, there are beautiful, lush forests right up to the north rim. The south rim has pinyon, and, yes, there are forests there too, but the north has many more tall trees. Unfortunately, those trees also burn and when we were there in 2006, a forest fire had burned much of the forest. It looked like a moonscape. We enjoyed our trip out to the north rim.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Indian summer

You know, here in the desert, while we don't really have Indian summer, we DO notice a certain change of days. The days get shorter. The afternoon shadows get longer. The late sunlight is a beautiful shade of yellow. We get afternoon winds. Look at the colors in these photos! Aren't they gorgeous? Hubby took these on the "boys" trip to Utah in 2006.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bighorn sheep Monday, September 8, 2008

It was just announced on our local news tonight that the Bighorn sheep land here in our local mountains will be reduced BY HALF! WHAT? An endangered species' habitat is being reduced? Yes. Apparently the other half up for grabs is for "development purposes". There are so few Bighorn sheep left in our local mountains that apparently they don't need as much land. I just heard there are only 800 left in California! There is a meeting Wednesday night at the Living Desert. I think I'll go. This is insanity! It would be a pity if another species disappeared from our planet. I will keep you posted as to the developments in this story. These photos were taken at the Living Desert Reserve. They have a herd of Bighorn sheep there and people love to stop and observe them. They aren't always easy to see! They blend in with the rocks! Hubby says he has seen one while I was driving down the mountain. He says it was silhoutted against the sky. I'm always driving, so I don't get to scour the mountainside, but I'm glad he did get to see one. While he can, that is.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

More leopard pics Sunday, September 7, 2008

We were fortunate that this Sunday morning both leopards were out and moving around. They are so interesting to watch! And so quiet!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Leopard, Living Desert Reserve

This gorgeous guy lives at the Living Desert Reserve. If you wish to see the leopards, you need to go early in the morning. They aren't always out, and certainly not in the afternoon! We were fortunate to see him one morning enjoying a nice sun nap on his rock and taking a bath. Isn't he gorgeous! His PAWS are huge and deadly silent!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cedar Breaks

We drove up through Cedar Breaks in 2006 during our summer vacation. We stayed in St. George, Utah and made several side trips during our summer vacation that year. We stopped here on the way to Bryce Canyon Park. Aren't the colors pretty? It isn't as big as Bryce, but it is just as colorful and it is 10,000 feet high! Cedar Breaks isn't as crowded as Bryce NP (it isn't as large) and it was nice to visit without having to fight all the crowds! The elevation really got to me! I was easily winded! Or, maybe I'm just out of shape? NAH! It WAS the elevation! I bet this would be gorgeous in winter with snow hanging on the cliffs.