Desert Bird Oasis

Time flies. Happy New Year! We have now been in Joshua Tree for two weeks. We hung out and climbed with some lovely people (Lennie and Sam) from Montreal, spent a wonderful Christmas with Graham’s parents, and just before New Years became reunited with our Aussie friends from Bishop, Jordan and Ali. 
J Tree family Christmas

We have now been in Joshua Tree for two weeks. We hung out and climbed with some lovely people (Lennie and Sam) from Montreal, spent a wonderful Christmas with Graham’s parents, and just before New Years became reunited with our Aussie friends from Bishop, Jordan and Ali.

I have been completely thrilled with Joshua Tree from a desert ecology perspective. While I believe this would have been the case regardless, I am fairly certain it is aided along by my inability to climb. I have spent a lot of days doing cold-weather-puffy-marshmallow-desert-yoga and finger putty exercises…
Meanwhile, Graham has been getting into the J Tree groove, and climbing some very awesome-looking problems.

 

False Hueco Traverse (V2)
The Love Machine (V10)
Attempting “the move” on Nicole Overhang (V10)

But what I really want to talk about in this post are the new desert bird species we have seen. These are mostly common winter birds down here, but to me each new species has spiked an I-can-hardly-handle-it level of excitement. Even as I get to know and recognize the birds the thrill doesn’t dissipated. Graham has captured most of the bird photos we have (and even admits that he likes it!) Kudos to him, as these guys RARELY sit still. 

 

Acorn Woodpecker
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
Black-throated Sparrow
Cactus Wren
Greater Roadrunner
Say’s Phoebe
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Oak Titmouse
Verdin

The other thing I am quite excited about are the cacti. So many kinds! And they are all out to get us, each in their unique, spiny beauty. Here are a few of the common suspects we tend to come across.

 

Beaver Tail Cactus
Barrel Cactus
Jumping Cholla
Hedgehog Cactus

Finally, in the visitor centre the other day I saw the “Field Guide to Desert Holes”… my intrigue was piqued at the idea that one could write an entire field guide on holes in the desert floor, so I flipped through it a bit. MY am I ever tempted…. We shall see if I can resist. In the meantime, here are a couple creatures who use those desert holes. 

 

 
A rattlesnake! In January! Photo credit: Ali Roush

All for now. More updates on more climbing-related things coming soon 🙂

 

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