Sunday, February 28, 2010

Finally Some Rain

We did finally get some rain yesterday. The forecast was for it to begin at 11:00 AM and be done by 11:00 PM, but it didn’t really get going until just before 11:00 PM and was soon over. I’ve been hoping to get some rain to test the water bars and drainage ditches on the trails. This morning I was out the door early to survey the trails and I found the ground had pretty much soaked up the rain, no erosion damage. While coming back on the Buckskin Trail I spotted this Common Chuckwalla soaking up the morning sun. This is the third day in a row I have seen him. As a side note, today is the last day of February, which means Jeanette and I are finishing up our third month of our volunteer service here at Buckskin Mountain State Park. We weren’t sure we could stay put this long, but we are loving it!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hiking Suprises

Yesterday’s Nature Hike contained, well for lack of a better word, many surprises. First was the number of hikers. I had not done any extra promoting, like knocking on doors to remind people there was a hike, so I was surprised when a record 17 people showed up including two French-speaking people from Quebec and two German-speaking people from the Netherlands. The second surprise was to find our first Beavertail Cactus in bloom. It was not there the last day I hiked the trail. Next was my first sighting of a Chuckwalla, up to this point I have only seen the small Side-blotched Lizards. And then the event that confounded me for the rest of the day was when the two people who had lagged behind all the way, causing the whole group to wait up, opted to not take the loop back, but extend their hike. I guess one needs to expect the unexpected. Speaking of surprises, it’s supposed to rain today!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Birding Change

At the beginning of  yesterday’s Bird Walk it was a little disheartening to look out and find an almost empty river. Gone were all our winter visiting ducks; American Widgeon, Ring-necked Duck, Gadwall, and Common Golden Eye. These are all ducks I could depend on seeing daily. Evidently they have all taken off for their journeys to the north. Some Mallards have stuck around for handouts at the RV park across the river. Coots are still here in good numbers, I doubt they will ever leave, and we spotted a couple of Pied-bill Grebes. In the end the local birds, that is to say, the birds that are permanent residents here, showed up in good numbers and we ended up with identifications of 21 different species.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Tuesday afternoon we grabbed an opportunity to move the coach to this site with some great shade. Although our old site had a good view of the river and canyon wall, we were exposed to the afternoon sun. With the increasing warmer tempatures here in Arizona, too much sun was causing us a problem every afternoon. Now we have the luxury of some nice afternoon shade!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


There is such a fine line between work and play here at Buckskin Mountain State Park that I some times am not sure which I am doing. Everyday I put on my boots, shoulder my possibilities bag, and strike out on the trail. I knew yesterday was play because I had Buster and Jeanette with me, and we had a very fun morning exploring beyond the formal trails of the park. You can check it out a little closer in the Trip Journal.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jeanette the Magician

Jeanette receives an appreciative pat on the back from another grateful camper for magically pulling an available campsite out of the hat. Daily she has to perform some sort of magic in providing campsites in an increasingly full campground here at Buckskin Mountain State Park. Campers come and go every day, and the rangers some times refer to the hectic exchange as the Buckskin Shuffle.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

iPod Touch

Yesterday, last night, and today have pretty much been absorbed in purchasing and getting running two iPod Touches for Jeanette and I. I haven’t seen a need for one until recently when people started showing up for my Bird Walks with them and then they were able to show the group what the bird we were trying to identify looked like. Last week my interest heated up to a full boil when Bill Geible was here and showed me his iPod Touch with the birding shoftware even with audible birdcalls. I had to have one. Combined with our Verizon MiFi, which we already have, we will be able to access the Internet, which opens up all kinds of possibilities. Jeanette and I will be using each of ours differently, while I will be using mine a lot for birding, she will enjoy being able to down load and play game apps. The one thing we will both enjoy equally is being able to easily check our e-mail with out dragging out our laptops and waiting for them to load.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring Time on the Colorado

This pair of Gadwalls seen this morning during our Bird Walk at Buckskin Mountain State Park points out that spring is really starting to get into full swing here on the Colorado River. Our group today also saw Double-crested Cormorants paired up, with the male displaying his double crests and a silly grin on his orange throat pouch. Earlier in the day I had seen a two great Egrets on that side of the river eyeing each other. Yesterday I saw a pair of Mallards mate after exchanging a couple of consenting nods, and today while innocently walking back to my motor home, I witnessed a pair of Eurasian Collared Doves on top of the camping cabanas share a couple of tender nibbles before he pummeled the heck out of her. Gawd, I’ve got to go take a cold shower!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Just had to share this photo of Gene, Marvin, and Bill jamming around the campfire last night. Linda took the photo and Bill e-mailed it to me late last night from their campsite in the cabanas just across the street from us using our Verizon MiFi. People were still talking today about what a wonderful experience the campfire was, truly a high point in our time here at Buckskin Mountain State Park this winter.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fun Filled Days

Bill and Marvin are shown here “jamming” this afternoon. But, let me back up and explain our fun filled days with guests. Bill Giebel and Linda Willnow, friends from Silverton, got here yesterday just in time for the Bird Walk. Then Jeanette and I drove into Parker to have dinner and a tour of the Blue River Casino where my sister Kathy and her husband Gary and their friend Opal were staying. This morning Kathy, Gary and Opal stopped at our park for a quick visit on their way to Las Vegas. Then this afternoon Bill got together at our site with Marvin, a neighbor in the park, and played Blue Grass. Jeanette thought that was good enough to put together a campfire this evening. Gene, a harmonica player showed up and joined in and we ended up with 37 people circled around the campfire enjoying the music, singing, and telling stories and jokes.

Monday, February 15, 2010

More About Desert Holly

Yesterday while exploring for an old mine, I happened through the wash where I dug up the Desert Holly as mentioned in the previous post. This miniature valley contains what I would call a colony of Desert Holly. While taking a rest and drinking some water I noticed that a near by plant had different flowers than a plant I had photographed the day before. At first I was puzzled, then a light when on in my brain, and I remembered reading something about male and female flowers and how they are on separate plants. I started looking around, and sure enough some plants had one type of flower and other plants had a different type of flower. So here we have a situation where plants with male flowers, and other plants with female flowers are all in close proximity, which probably assures fertilization, and thus a colony.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Desert Holly

Here at Buckskin Mountain State Park, we have ten interpretive signs located along the trail to explain the desert vegetation. The problem has been that at the second sign, the plant Desert Holly is dead. Today I made an attempt to rectify that by transplanting a new plant. Desert Holly is actually pretty scarce in the park, but some time ago I found some while exploring off trail in an out of the way small wash. I went back there today and dug up a small sample, with the idea being I could get more of the root system. I gently placed it in a large plastic bag and into my backpack. As I was hiking back I got to reflecting on what was different from the collection site and our display site. The leaves on my collected plant seem to almost sparkle with what I guessed was moisture. Our display site is on a windy saddle and I would think that the wind could easily dry out the moisture. The plants that were wild and thriving we located down in a protected area. So I decided to move our sample site across the trail to a more protected site from the wind. It will get the morning sun, but will have some late afternoon shade. I’ll be checking back on it during the next month and a half that we are here to see how it does.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Exploring the Bill Williams

The Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge is only about ten minutes away from our site at Buckskin Mountain State Park, so it’s a quick easy trip to an interesting area to explore. Check out the Trip Journal for our latest adventure.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wild Burros

Today we got to see some Wild Burros. It was our day off and we took a driving tour of the Parker Dam Road Back Country Byway, which runs along the Westside of the Colorado River from Parker Dam to Earp California. I had to do some research to find out what Wild Burros were. I learned that they originated in Africa, and were brought to this continent by the Spanish in the 1500s. Here in the South West they have outlived the Spanish and early miners who used them as beasts of burden and now roam wild on public lands.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Vent Voyeur

Late this morning when I opened up the overhead vent in the bathroom, there staring at me from an overhanging tree branch was this Copper’s Hawk. I don’t know who was the most surprised, he or I. He stood his ground while I got my camera and snapped a couple of photos. Although he is a juvenile in his first year of coloring, he has made a wise choice to hunt for birds here in the park with our abundance of little sparrows, and finches.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Moring Sunshine

It rained yesterday afternoon and evening, but this morning when I stepped out of the motor home at 8:00 to go inspect the trails, this is what I saw; the sun striking the rocky cliffs across the Colorado River. It turned out to be a bright sunshine Arizona morning.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Suprise Visit

Jeanette and Buster made a surprise visit this morning to where I was working on the Interruption Point Trail. The most amazing thing is that Buster made all the correct turns at all of the junctions. Jeanette had no idea where I was working, but Buster, I guess going by scent, was able to make the right choice at three trail junctions to end up on the trail I was working on. I was very surprised when I glanced up to see him racing towards me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Nature Hike

The Nature Hike I lead on Friday mornings is usually centered on the plants of the desert here in the park, like various cactus, trees, and shrubs. But today we had a treat, just as we were climbing up the Lightning Bolt Trail, a Roadrunner was perched on an outcropping next to the trail sunning himself and doing his cuckoos. We see the bird hanging around the campground looking for handouts all the time, but this is the first time I have seen him out on the trail.

Today people on the hike were from Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Ontario Canada.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ahamacave Trail

On our day off on Tuesday we went hiking on the Ahamacave Trail just south of Parker. Like so many of our hikes in recent times, our hike turned out to be more of a birding trip. That’s not a bad thing; we get a lot of enjoyment out of searching out and identifying different birds. For more information on our trip check out the Trip Journal.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two-Month Anniversary

Yesterday marked our second month here at Buckskin Mountain State Park, the halfway point. Time feels like it is really starting to fly. In the morning I played, I mean Worked, on the trail. In the afternoon I got to, ops I mean had to, lead the Bird Walk. You get the idea, --- I’m having a lot of fun. Jeanette continues doing a superior job with registration and reservations, and Buster now has 3 other doxy friends in the park.
A few of the record 14 people on the Bird Walk are shown here looking through the scope at a Phainopepla in a Mesquite tree.