Spring Snow

It’s been a back and forth spring. Nothing new there except sometimes it can be a bit confusing. Yesterday morning we woke to a fresh cover of snow. Just enough to color the landscape white for a time. By noon it was gone.

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Just pull the car out of the garage for some quick maintenance, perhaps it will take an hour, the weather had a different idea.

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There have been signs of spring:

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Skunk Cabbage

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A closer look.

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Squirrel with acorn, (Donna)

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Winter Aconite

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Titmouse, (Donna)

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Last years leaves cast shadows.

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A too blue Bluebird, (Donna)

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Lichen and fallen log, (Donna).

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Looking closer

 

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Downy Woodpecker

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Fox Squirrel

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Crocus

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.    .    .    and then, in parting, perhaps until next year:

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The snow reveals things not usually noticed

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. . . creating patterns and design.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Early Spring Raindrops and Kinglets

The other day I was chatting with a friend and looking out the window at an early spring, gray brown, day. A quiet rain was falling. Water hung on still bare branches focusing the light. The water drop points of light reminded me that we need to cherish each day. Some days are just easier than others.

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Early spring rain.

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. . . but a closer look.

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Early spring days do try men’s souls. Certainly not an original thought. We can’t help but feel like we’re waiting for something.

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Waiting for green along Griggs Reservoir.

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To better manage such discontent, maybe the trick is to always be curious. The other day a Red Winged Blackbird stopped by are front yard feeder. Not something we’ve seen before as it’s a bird associated with more rural settings and we live right in the middle of the city.

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An uncooperative Red Winged Black Bird at the top of a tree in our front yard.

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Recently, on a day blessed with more sunshine, we went looking for Snow Trilliums. There is one spot along the reservoir not far from our house that so far has not been overrun by development or more common plants. No trilliums were seen. We’ll try again in a few days.

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But patience and attention pay off because we did see a few birds, most notably Golden Crowned Kinglets. A bird that will soon be heading north.

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Along Griggs Reservoir, on one of the few remaining areas covered with ice, a Hering Gull dwarfs a Ring-billed.

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A White-breasted Nuthatch peeks from behind a tree as we look for trilliums.

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Donna captures a beautiful Downy Woodpecker.

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The same downy from a different angle.

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Donna decided to take this photo but we’re not sure the Robin was happy about it.

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Probably the earliest we’ve ever seen a Mocking Bird, (Donna)

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Where there are Nuthatches and Downy’s you usually see Chickadees, (Donna).

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Not far away a Song Sparrow announces spring.

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We can always count on a Red-bellied Woodpecker to make an appearance.

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The real treat of the day were the Golden-crowned Kinglets, (Donna)

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But when you’re looking at the ground for trilliums you do see other things.

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Snowdrops are one of the earliest spring flowers to poke their head above the ground, Griggs Park, (Donna)

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Vernal witch hazel contrasting beautifully with the gray brown surroundings, (Donna)

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This time of year the lichen really stands out, (Donna)

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Adding color to otherwise drab branches.

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Thanks for stopping by.

An Early Spring Plant With Attitude

We’ve been working our way around the Scioto River Watershed in Columbus looking for migrating waterfowl and signs of spring. The spring part has been tough as snow continues to cover most of the ground. But today we discovered the first unambiguous sign that spring can’t be far away.

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On the road to discovery we noticed some things that weren’t that encouraging.

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Hayden Run Falls along Griggs Reservoir

 

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With winter dragging on, the birds seemed confused, some were swimming north others south, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Still, while looking for birds we took an opportunity to direct our gaze towards the ground hoping to see Skunk Cabbage a plant that generates it’s own internal heat to get the jump on lesser plants.

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Skunk Cabbage, Kiwanis Riverway Park

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A closer look, (Donna)

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After seeing the Skunk Cabbage it was hard not to notice and imagine the birds in the area celebrating our discovery.

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A Nuthatch with what appears to be the remains of an insect, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

 

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We never get tired of Cardinals, Kiwanis Riverway Park.

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Thank’s for looking in.

 

A Little Southwest of Columbus, part 3 of 3.

The first stop on our recent trip to the American southwest was Tucson. The weather, when compared to Columbus Ohio in February, was perfect, 40’s during the night and mid 70’s during the day. Great for hiking and exploring nature.  Our friends David and Joyce were gracious enough to let us stay with them while there, so no camping.

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It take two and a half days of deliberate driving to get to Tucson from Columbus. Much of it is not that exciting so we tried books on tape but our selections weren’t any better than some of the scenery so we resorted to taking an informal survey of the birds of prey perched along the highway.  One day we counted over 60, mostly Red tails.

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Below is a photo collage of some of the things seen while we were in Tucson. Highlights were visits to Saguaro National Park, the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Sabino Canyon, and Madera Canyon. If you enjoy the desert and biodiversity this is a great area with a greater variety of cactus than just about anywhere in the US.

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Catalina State Park Landscape

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For us the birds always seem to be the most exciting part of the adventure.

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Verdin, Sabino Canyon. Now if I could just arrange for the light to be on the right side of the bird!

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Curved Billed Thrasher, Saguaro Natl Park

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Ladder Backed Woodpecker, Sabino Canyon

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Gila Woodpecker, Desert Museum, (Donna)

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Cassin’s Vireo, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

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Cassin’s Vireo with bug, Madera Canyon

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Cassin’s Vireo, Sabino Canyon

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Black-throated Sparrow, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

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Black-throated Sparrow, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

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Painted Redstart, Madara Canyon, (Donna)

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Mexican Jay, Sabino Canyon

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Phainopepla, Sabino Canyon

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Black-chinned Hummingbird, Tucson

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Anna’s Hummingbird, Desert Museum

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Anna’s Hummingbird, Desert Museum

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Anna’s Hummingbird, Desert Museum, (Donna)

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Cactus Wren, Sabino Canyon

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Cactus Wren and nest, Sabino Canyon

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Bob and Donna, Madera Canyon

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But we were pleasantly surprised by the flowers. A recent rain may have been responsible.

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Unknown wildflower, Sabino Canyon

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Unknown wildflower, Sabino Canyon

New Mexico Groundsel,  Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

New Mexico Groundsel, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

Desert Globe Mallow, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

Desert Globe Mallow, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

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Donna along the trail, Sabino Canyon

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Of the plants, the cactus was by far the most interesting. Walking through the natural areas around Tucson was like walking through an arboretum.

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Saguaro Cactus, Catalina State Park

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Saguaro Cactus mutation, Sabino Canyon

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Eagle claws Cactus, Desert Museum

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Organ Pipe Cactus, Desert Museum

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Santa Cruz beehive cactus, Saguaro National Park

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Saguaro skeleton, Saguaro National Park

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Arizona Barrel Cactus, Saguaro National Park

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Silver cholla, Saguaro National Park

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Young Saguaro under the shelter of a tree, Saguaro National Park.

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Christmas Cactus, Saguaro National Park

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Teddy bear cholla, Saguaro National Park.

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Bob and David, Sabino Canyon.

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When we don’t see a bird we might just see a butterfly.

But American Snout and Fairy Duster at Sabino Canyon

American Snout and Fairy Duster, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

But Grey Hairstreak and Fairy Duster 2 at Sabino Canyon

Grey Hairstreak and Fairy Duster, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

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Painted Lady, Sabino Canyon

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Black Swallowtail, Sabino Canyon

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Texan Crescent, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

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Gulf Fritillary, Sabino Canyon

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Queen, Sabino Canyon

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Sabino Canyon trail.

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Then there were a few other living things/critters that grabbed our attention.

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Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Desert Museum

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Century Plant, young and old, Desert Museum

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Desert Landscape, Saguaro National Park

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Common Side-blotched Lizard, Sabino Canyon, (Donna)

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Rock Squirrel, Saguaro National Park

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Jack Rabbit, Saguaro National Park

Bob and Cacti landscape at Sabino Canyon

Along the trail, Saguaro National Park, (Donna)

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Sabino Canyon Landscape

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Thanks for looking in.

Watching all the Ducks Float By

One of our favorite places to look for waterfowl this time of the year is along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam. It’s an area that’s accessible only on foot so using a car as a blind to get closer to the birds is not an option. When one ties to sneak up on waterfowl for a decent photo one quickly realizing why duck hunters use blinds. Truth is, after years of being shot at, the only the wary birds a left. The dumb ones have been selected out.

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So recently I tired a new technique. Rather than stalking the birds, moving quietly from cover to cover. I decided to find a good spot and quietly lean against a tree and wait for the birds to float by. It was a sunny 20 degrees with no wind which made the process not uncomfortable. In the past the other technique I’ve used is to walk down river and then slowly work my way back upstream. It turns out that the birds are less interested in swimming upstream to get away from a low level treat. However, when the treat is sufficient they will fly.

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So below are some of the results using the above techniques:

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Common Mergansers and a Ring-necked Duck, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Common Goldeneye, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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A haven for waterfowl, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Hooded Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Red Breasted Mergansers, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Herring (not Western X Glaucous-winged hybrid) Gull , Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Male Canvasback, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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Two Canvasbacks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Redhead, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Greater (not Lesser) Scaups, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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Ring-necked Ducks, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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There were also a few other birds that made me smile:

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Cardinal against a blue sky.

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Front yard Chickadee

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Song Sparrow, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

 

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It’s hard not to notice other forms of beauty when out looking for birds:

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Ice, Big Darby Creek

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Patterns, Big Darby Creek.

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A late winter scene along Big Darby Creek

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Thanks for looking in.

A Little Southwest of Ohio, part 2 of 3

On our recent trip to the American southwest we decided to stop in Big Bend National Park for three days. Not nearly enough time but we did manage to get in a few nice hikes despite some challenging wind, rain and cold on one of the days.

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Big Bend is not on the way to anywhere else so you really have to want to go there. While there are sexier places to visit in the west, Big Bend has a beauty uniquely it’s own. The focal point of the park is an island of mountains rising out of the surrounding desert. We stayed at the Chisos Basin campground located in a depression right in the middle of the mountains. It’s a magical place.

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Below is a photograph collage of a few of the things seen:

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Rock and living things, Grapevine Hills Trail to the balanced rock, Big Bend.

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Black-foot Daisy, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend

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Branches, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend.

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Mystery wildflower, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend.

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Christmas Cholla, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend.

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Chisos Basin, Big Bend.

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Lichen, Big Bend, (Donna)

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Acorn Woodpecker, Big Bend, (Donna)

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Eastern Coma, Big Bend, (Donna)

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Chisos Basin, Big Bend, (Donna)

 

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Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend, (Donna)

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Tree Cholla along the Chisos Basin Loop, Big Bend

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Colorful caterpillar, Big Bend

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Canyon Wren, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend, (Donna)

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Yellow Sunny Bell, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend

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Desert Marigold, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend, (Donna).

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Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend, (Donna)

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Pointed Phlox, Window Trail, Big Bend, (Donna)

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Roadrunner near our campsite, Chisos Basin Campground, Big Bend, (Donna)

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Roadrunner, another look.

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A view of Casa Grande along the Chisos Basin Loop, Big Bend.

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Prickly Pear Cactus, Chisos Basin Trail, Big Bend.

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Casa Grande, Big Bend

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Along the Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend.

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Abstract, Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend

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Dona photographing a Mexican Jay, Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend.

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Mexican Jay, Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend.

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Mexican Jay, (Donna)

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Along the Laguna Meadows Trail, Big Bend

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“The Window” from Chisos Basin, The Window Trail, Big Bend

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Along the Window Trail, Big Bend

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Window Trail, Big Bend

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Prickly Pear along the Window Trail, Big Bend.

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Cactus Wren, Big Bend

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Cactus Wren nest, Big Bend

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White Winged Dove, Big Bend

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Green Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend

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Balanced Rock, Grapevine Hills Trail, Big Bend.

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Thanks for looking in.

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