Sunday, January 31, 2010

Visitors - Ron & Bev

Friends Ron & Bev Noble made a stop on their route from Salem to Tucson. We had a good visit yesterday afternoon, then Mexican food in Parker last night, and this morning a great hike on the trails of Buckskin Mountain State Park. For more details check out the Trip Journal.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Nature Hike

I had a record 14 people turn out today for the Friday Morning Nature Hike. If I get any more people I may need to split up the group. I have already added an assistant, Wayne Tucker another Volunteer here in the park, so we could easily have two groups. The weather was perfect, a warm sunny morning with no breeze. Everyone remarked at how happy they were to be here instead of the cold and snow of “back home”. Some buds are starting to show on the Beavertail Cactus, so bright desert colors are not too far away.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cibola Birding

On our days off we are enjoying exploring the surrounding area here on the lower Colorado River. Yesterday we visited the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge south of Blythe. This Loggerhead Shrike seems to be giving us a critical eye as we tour his refuge. Check out the Trip Journal for a more detailed report of our trip.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Today was the 3rd week of Monday afternoon Bird Walks that I lead here at Buckskin Mountain State Park. Each week has been different in regards to people and birds. Today’s winning question was: “What did they call Roadrunners before there were roads?” ---- I didn’t have an answer.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Now What?

Yesterday afternoon after lunch, Jeanette and Buster wanted to get out and enjoy the sunshine and get some exercise so we took a walk and ended up doing some exploring. Buster appears to be posing the question, “now what?” when we found ourselves boxed in at the end of a rocky canyon.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Storm Over

After a couple of days and nights of rain and wind it appears that the major storm is over. Southern California was badly hammered as was most of Arizona, but here down on the Colorado River surrounded by rocky cliffs we faired very well. We did have some major rain and wind and we lost power for a couple of hours last night, but no other damage. I made an inspection of the trails today, and all the work I had done the last two mornings paid big dividends with the water bars draining the water off of the trail. I guess I was so engrossed in checking my work that I forgot to take any photos. The forecast for the day was 50% chance for rain, but the day has proven to be 100% free of rain with blue skies and sunshine.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Calm Before The Storm

Even though it was my day off I was out early this morning working on the water bars on the trails. It rained hard last night, and I was anxious to access the damage and make any kind of adjustments I could before a major rain event is expected tonight and tomorrow. Worked hard all morning and got two of the trails repaired, the Lightning Bolt and the Buckskin Trails. Didn’t have time for the Abandoned Mines or Interruption Point Trails Now I just have to wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quartzsite RV Show

Today was our day off and we took the motor home to Quartzsite. The Quartzsite RV Show bills itself as “The largest gathering of RVs and RVers on Earth!” This is its 27th year and they expect over 150,000 people. The tiny community of Quartzsite that sits at the intersection of Arizona State Highway 95 and Interstate Highway 10 gets completely overrun with snowbirds every January. They overfill the town and spill out into the desert for miles and miles. We drove into this congested mess this morning for a pre-arraigned appointment with Henderson’s Line-Up to have a Roadmaster Heavy Duty Rear Anti-Sway Bar installed on our motor home. While Henderson’s did the work on our RV we toured the show. I meant to take some photos of the show, but I guess I was too busy hanging on to my wallet! When we returned to pick-up our motor home I asked Jeanette to snap this photo of me. By the way, the handling of the motor home is much improved.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bird Walk #2

Rain on the roof woke us up at 4:00 this morning. It continued to rain off and on all morning. Our first rain of 2010, and very much needed, but not a very promising day for a bird walk. However nine people joined me at 2:00 for my weekly bird walk. Less than last week, they more than made up for it in cooperation and enthusiasm. Someone in the office had tipped them off that we had identified 22 birds last week, but I cautioned them that we had better weather last week and more people. But, at the end of the day we broke last weeks record with 23 birds!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Side-blotched Lizard

We have been having tempatures in the low 70’s for several days now and on Friday’s Nature Hike we saw quite a few lizards along the trail. They are tiny and hard to get a close look at as they scurry off among the rocks. I took a photo or two and spent the afternoon struggling to make an identification. I had taken a close up photo of one last month, but it was only after a renewed effort yesterday that I got the identification right. What I originally thought was just a shadow on the side behind the front arm, turns out to be the identification mark of the Side-blotched Lizard.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Photo Upgrading

While staying here at Buckskin Mountain State Park this winter I am getting a good opportunity to take photos of birds, particularly because of the great variety in habitat. Some of the birds I see and photograph I already have in Cascade Ramblings. But my policy is to always show the “best” photo I have of any particular bird. So what is happening this winter is a number of my birds are getting their photo upgraded. The Cactus Wren, just taken this morning, is a case in point. It is replacing a photo I had of a Cactus Wren taken in Sabino Canyon in Tuscan two years ago. This is now the fourth bird to get a photo upgrade while here at the park.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Uninvited Guest

Yesterday was our day off and we took off to visit the Achii Hanyo Native Fish Facility located south of Parker. It took some effort to find as there were no signs and the only road there is a three and a half mile graveled access road along an irrigation canal. Achii Hanyo is Navajo, meaning fish ponds, and that is what it is, a number of fish ponds run by the US Fish and Wildlife in cooperation with the Colorado River Indian Tribes to raise primarily Bonytail Chub an endangered species of the Colorado River. Mark Yost is the resident biologist and gave us a very informative tour of the facilities. After our tour we returned to the car to find that a cat had jumped through an open window of the car and made himself comfortable in the back seat, much to the chagrin of our dog Buster.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bird Walk

Monday I led the first of what is to be a weekly Bird Walk here at Buckskin Mountain State Park. I didn’t really have much of an idea of what to except, but I was actually surprised to have over a dozen interested people show up. Just looping through the campground here in an hour and a half we identified 22 different birds. The last bird we saw was this juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. It stuck me later that this hawk, who preys mostly on other birds, was watching the same little finches, sparrows, and flycatchers that we were.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Bread Winner

Here is Jeanette off to work this Sunday morning on her bicycle. The office is only about a quarter of a mile from our campsite, so she loves to zoom to and from on her bicycle. I must confess that she has become the real breadwinner. Since discovering at the first of the month that technically we only need to have 20 hours a week of work per site, not 20 hours each person, I have become a little bit of a slacker. As long as she continues to work 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, I’ve got my backside covered.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Nature Hike

Today I led the first of what is to be a weekly nature hike here at Buckskin Mountain State Park. I would have to say I think it was an outstanding success. We had thirteen hikers, and all where enthusiastic, and very cooperative. We did the loop of the Buckskin Trail, stopping at the ten interpretive signs to talk about the plants and trees found here in the park. For most of the participants it was their first time to be on this trail. They all seemed to feel they got a good workout, and based on the questions they asked I would say they learned a lot.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Working Secrets

I’m beginning to feel like an amateur naturalist here at Buckskin Mountain State Park. Tomorrow I start leading a weekly Nature Hike, and Monday I start leading a weekly Bird Walk. Because of that I have been busy cramming to learn all I can about the plants and birds to be found in the park. Interesting enough, the trails seem to give up another their secretes each day I am out working. Today, it was this sight of a Ladder-backed Woodpecker working on a Buckhorn Cholla. I’ve always though of woodpeckers working on trees, not on extremely stickery cactus.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Meet Patty and Kordell Blair. Today is our day off and we drove to Surprise Arizona where Jeanette’s sister Patty and her husband Kordell have just bought a new house. Surprise is in the greater Phoenix area and we have enjoyed an afternoon of visiting in the sun in their back yard.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Off-road Vehicles

One of my concerns about off-road vehicle riders is their lack of consideration for the environment. In fact their lack of consideration seems to extend to rules, and to other people as well. Yesterday Jeanette and I were hiking through an area set aside for off-road riders, and here is an example of what we saw, a gun blasted sign that was to serve as a reminder to ride responsibly.----- I’m probably preaching to the choir, I don’t think these people read.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I Hike for a Living

It may be hard to believe, but I hike for a living. That’s right, it’s my job to hike! I can hardly believe it myself, but it's true. In my position as a volunteer at Buckskin Mountain State Park it’s my responsibility to look after the four trails found here in the park. Every morning five days a week I put on my boots, shoulder my pack or carry some tools and head up the trails. I may dig out some drainage ditches, clean out some culverts, or replace rotten steps or faulty water bars. Or, I may only end up carrying out some orange peels and toilet paper. But by the end of the morning I return to our campsite tired, but satisfied ---I did my job.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Out with the Old - in with the New

Here I am packing out a post from a rotting bench I am removing on the Interruption Point Trail. When finished this will complete my major projects of getting the trails ready for our winter guests. Starting this month Jeanette and I will begin some new job responsibilities. Jeanette, in addition to working in the Registration Station will be reorganizing the Visitor’s Center. In addition to some trail work; I will be leading a Bird Walk on Monday afternoons and a Trail Hike on Friday mornings.