Joshua Tree National Park – A Favorite!

Cholla Cactus Garden Sign

Cholla Cactus Garden Sign

Close-up of Teddy Bear Cholla

Close-up of Teddy Bear Cholla

Sun Ring over Cholla Cactus Garden

Sun Ring over Cholla Cactus Garden

Mojave Mound Cactus

Mojave Mound Cactus

Joshua Tree Nicknamed the Telephone Pole

Joshua Tree Nicknamed the Telephone Pole

Bent Over Joshua Tree

Bent Over Joshua Tree

Large Joshua Tree

Large Joshua Tree

Jumbo Rocks

Jumbo Rocks

Close-up of Rock Formation

Close-up of Rock Formation

Joshua Tree Landscape in Infrared

Joshua Tree Landscape in Infrared

We always enjoying visiting Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert of California – it is one of our favorites! 

The spiny Cholla Cactus Garden is a wonderful place to take a careful walk (no sandals or flip-flops allowed). We got extra lucky when we visited because a sun ring formed in the sky above us – amazing!  More info on how sun halos form is at: http://earthsky.org/space/what-makes-a-halo-around-the-moon  

Joshua trees are fun to see because they come in so many shapes and sizes as a result of the environment. They are a member of the lily family. The rocky landscape is quite scenic, and is criss-crossed by multiple earthquake faults.  The San Andreas Fault forms the southern boundary of the park. More info about these faults is at: http://www.nps.gov/jotr/learn/nature/faults.htm   More info about visiting Joshua Tree National Park is at: http://www.joshuatree.org/

 

Purple Martin Babies are Fledging!

Female Martin and Babies Wanting Fed

Female Martin and Babies Wanting Fed

Martin Activity at Nesting Gourds

Martin Activity at Nesting Gourds

Martin Activity Above Gourd Rack (new fledgling is on lower left)

Martin Activity Above Gourd Rack (new fledgling is on lower left)

Martin Babies Grow Fast

Martin Babies Grow Fast

Two of Three Eggs Have Just Hatched in Late Nest

Two of Three Eggs Have Just Hatched in Late Nest

Martin on Gourd Rack with Dragonfly for Babies

Martin on Gourd Rack with Dragonfly for Babies

Closeup of Martin with Green Darner Dragonfly

Closeup of Martin with Green Darner Dragonfly

Our purple martin babies have grown so fast! Many are fledging and taking their first flights this weekend. This year our count is 57 babies and 22 adults for a total of 79 birds. What a joy to see them do so well!

Anza Borrego: Galleta Meadows Sky Art

Grasshopper and Scorpion Pair

Grasshopper and Scorpion Pair

Infrared Grasshopper

Infrared Grasshopper

Infrared Scorpion

Infrared Scorpion

Merriam's Tapir

Merriam’s Tapir

Infrared Desert Landscape

Infrared Desert Landscape

Giant Tortoise

Giant Tortoise

African Elephant

African Elephant

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep

Gold Miner and His Mule

Gold Miner and His Mule

Willys Jeep

Willys Jeep

Sand Verbena

Sand Verbena

Flowering Opuntia Cactus

Flowering Opuntia Cactus

Epic Desert Flower Bloom in Spring 1998

Epic Desert Flower Bloom in Spring 1998

Every time we visit Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California, we always make time to see more of Ricardo Breceda’s metalwork creations at Galleta Meadows.  He carefully considers the placement of each statue in the landscape for best effect.  New “Sky Art” is constantly being added to the desert plain.  A driving tour map is at: http://www.galletameadows.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52&Itemid=69.   Previous posts about the sculptures are at: https://naturetime.wordpress.com/?s=galleta

Beautiful Deer Visits Yard

Deer Hello

Deer Hello

Deer Eating Corn for Turkeys

Deer Eating Corn for Turkeys

Deer Portrait

Deer Portrait

What a nice surprise out our home office window – a beautiful deer was walking around our yard!  She had wandered in since I had left the gate open.  I had been hoping to get a picture of a deer in our area, because our neighborhood is called “Deer Run”. She is expecting, so maybe we’ll see a little fawn soon!

Florida: Pink Spoonbills are Nesting!

Goodwin Marsh

Goodwin Marsh

Rookery Island

Rookery Island

Spoonbill Landing on Nest

Spoonbill Landing on Nest

Young Spoonbill Being Fed

Young Spoonbill Being Fed

Close-up of Feeding Time

Close-up of Feeding Time

Young Spoonbill Takeoff

Young Spoonbill Takeoff

Adult Spoonbill Flying by Fledgling

Adult Spoonbill Flying by Fledgling

Colorful Adult Spoonbill Flying

Colorful Adult Spoonbill Flying

Meadowlark Singing at Marsh

Meadowlark Singing at Marsh

It is spoonbill nesting time here in Florida.  Love those beautiful pink birds!

Best Caterpillar Ever!

Photographing the Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Photographing the Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Horizontal View of Caterpillar

Horizontal View of Caterpillar

Front View of Caterpillar

Front View of Caterpillar

Eye Spots of Caterpillar

Eye Spots of Caterpillar

This past weekend I was working in the flower garden and found this Tersa sphinx moth caterpillar under our tapioca bush. Sphinx/hummingbird moths come out at dusk to drink flower nectar. They especially love pentas. I couldn’t get over the realistic eye spots on the caterpillar – I think it was pretending to be a snake so that birds wouldn’t eat it. It had gold spots on its body, along with delicate shades of pink and blue.  After taking pictures, and I carefully placed it back outside exactly where it was when I found it. What a spectacular caterpillar!

Space Station on a Starry Night!

Space Station Trail in Night Sky

Space Station Trail in Night Sky

Starry Night Sky with Constellation Orion (middle) and Bright Planet Venus (upper right)

Starry Night Sky with Constellation Orion (middle) and Bright Planet Venus (upper right)

Space Station Track (Yellow Line) by Our House (Blue Dot)

Space Station Track (Yellow Line) by Our House (Blue Dot)

Long Exposure to Capture Owl Hunting in Dark

Long Exposure to Capture Owl Hunting in Dark

The International Space Station tracked right by our house last night in Palm Bay, Florida! It moves FAST! ! Other evening sightings included tree frogs on the window, raccoon and babies under the tree, armadillo looking for bugs, and owl hunting from a favorite perch by the pond (her sudden whinny behind me was surprising!). 

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