Birding Big Bend Again March 2011 – Part II

I thought that for this part I would just show you a bunch of photos from the trip.  No bird photos, but some “touristy” images.

We were staying at The Lajitas House, a bed and breakfast type of house that we rented for our stay.  It is located on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande River.  This first picture is looking upriver from our patio.  Mexico is on the left, of course.

Rio Grande looking upstream from our patio.

The second image is looking across the river towards a little Mexican village.

Looking south across the Rio Grande River

Number three is looking north from our patio.

Looking north or to our right from our patio.

Our patio, where we sat enjoying the sunsets, sipping margaritas, and just relaxing.

The patio of The Lajitas House

Image number five – it doesn’t get any better than this. 🙂

Another view from the patio.

This view is from high in the southern part of the Chisos Mountains.  The cleft in the distant cliffs is Santa Elena Canyon, about 30 miles away.

Looking south from high in the Chisos Mountains

Next photograph is of a line shack on Homer Wilson’s Blue Creek Ranch.  Behind it is Sentinel Peak.

Homer Wilson's line shack below Sentinel Peak

This tunnel is on the highway that leads to Boquillas Canyon and Rio Grande RV campsite on the east side of Big Bend National Park.

Tunnel east of Panther Junction park headquarters.

About twelve miles north of Lajitas on highway 170 is the ghost town of Terlingua.  Someone had made this junk sculpture and mounted it on a post.  A whimsical replication of a wasp, I would say. 🙂

Junk sculpture at Terlingua ghost town.

How about a beautiful sunset shot from our patio.  As I said before, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Sunset from patio of The Lajitas House

I hope you enjoyed these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.  Click on any image for an enlargement.

BEEP! BEEP! More on Greater Roadrunners

I can’t resist it.  I must write about these Greater Runners again.  It was a gloriously gorgeous day here in San Angelo.  You don’t think that I am going to stay home and get things done, do you??  We toured San Angelo State Park, as we are want to do on days like this.  We saw the usual contigent of birds, including the Phainopepla that is starting to enjoy this west Texas weather.  Then we saw this Greater Roadrunner. and was able to catch these photos.   Click on the images to see an enlargement.

Greater Roadrunner

The Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is a long-legged bird in the cuckoo family, Cuculidae. It is one of the two roadrunner species in the genus Geococcyx; the other is the Lesser Roadrunner. This roadrunner is also known as the chaparral cock, ground cuckoo, and snake killer.[2]

The roadrunner is about 56 centimetres (22 in) long and weighs about 300 grams (10.5 oz), and is the largest North American cuckoo. The adult has a bushy crest and long thick dark bill. It has a long dark tail, a dark head and back, and is blue on the front of the neck and on the belly. Roadrunners have four toes on each zygodactyl foot; two face forward, and two face backward. The name roadrunner comes from the bird’s habit of racing down roads in front of moving vehicles and then darting into the weeds.

Portrait of a Roadrunner

The breeding habitat is desert and shrubby country in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, but some other western states as well. The Greater Roadrunner nests on a platform of sticks low in a cactus or a bush and lays 3–6 eggs, which hatch in 20 days. The chicks fledge in another 18 days. Pairs may occasionally rear a second brood.

Greater Roadrunners measure 61 cm (2 feet) in length, about half of which is tail. They have long, sturdy legs and a slender, pointed bill. The upper body is mostly brown with black streaks and white spots. The neck and upper breast are white or pale brown with dark brown streaks, and the belly is white. A crest of brown feathers sticks up on the head, and a bare patch of orange and blue skin lies behind each eye;[4] the blue is replaced by white in adult males (except the blue adjacent to the eye), and the orange (to the rear) is often hidden by feathers.[2]This bird walks around rapidly, running down prey or occasionally jumping up to catch insects or birds. It mainly feeds on insects, with the addition of small reptiles (including rattlesnakes up to 60 cm long), rodents and other small mammals, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, small birds (particularly from feeders and birdhouses) and eggs, and carrion. It kills larger prey with a blow from the beak—hitting the base of the neck of small mammals—or by holding it in the beak and beating it against a rock. Two roadrunners sometimes attack a relatively big snake cooperatively. Fruit and seeds typically constitute about 10% of the diet.[2]

Although capable of flight, it spends most of its time on the ground, and can run at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).[4]

Some Pueblo Indian tribes, such as the Hopi, believed that the roadrunner provided protection against evil spirits. In Mexico, some said it brought babies, as the White Stork was said to in Europe. Some Anglo frontier people believed roadrunners led lost people to trails.[2] It is the state bird of New Mexico.

Beep! Beep!

Happy Bidrding!!

More images of The Big Bend

I’m going to do a little different for today’s post.  Not that I don’t enjoy the avian photos, I also dearly love the Big Bend area of west Texas.  But this blog is also about photography in general.  So looking back through my archives, I pulled the following eight photos out of the files.  I may or may not have shown some of them before, but if I have, have another look and enjoy.

Boquillas Canyon.  Boquillas Canyon is located on the far east side of Big Bend National Park.  There is a little trail at the end of the highway that leads directly to the entrance.  When standing in the entrance, it is a humbling experience, as right in front of you, across the Rio Grande only about 50 yards away, a cliff rises straight up from the water nearly 2,000  feet.  Talk about feeling tiny!!  This photo was taken from a few miles away, from a hill where you have a view across the river.  In the foreground, is the Mexican village of Boquillas.  Note the multi-story buildings that appear as tiny boxes.

Boquillas Canyon and Boquillas Village from across the Rio Grande

Santa Elena Canyon.  This is one of my favorite views of the Santa Elena.  It was taken back around 1985 during one of my first visits to the Big Bend National Park.  We were driving south on the Old Maverick Road.  The Ocotillo plants were in bloom with their fiery blossoms.  As we rounded a curve this sight met our eyes.  We were still about 3 miles from the canyon, but I decided to frame it between the Ocotillos.  I hope you like it.

Santa Elena Canyon and Ocotillo

The Big Hill.  Highway 170 from Lajitas to Presidio, Texas, is one of the most spectacularly, scenic drives in the United States.  As you travel through there you have the Rio Grande River direct on your left.  Across the river on the Mexican side rise towering mountains.  On the right side of your car are the mountains of Big Bend Ranch State Park.  About 12 miles west of Lajitas you climb to one of the highest points on the road, aptly, named the Big Hill.  At nearly 500 feet straight up, above the Rio Grande you have awesome views both to the west and to the east.  These are two of my images from that hill.

Rio Grande River looking west from the Big Hill

Rio Grand River looking east from the Big Hill

Mule Ears Peak.  As you drive along Ross Maxwell drive in Big Bend National Park you will see this landmark that rises south of the Chisos Moutains.  This image was taken late in the afternoon when the setting sun was just hitting the upper parts of the peak/s.

Mule Ears Peak

The Window.  High in the Chisos Mountains is what is called The Basin.  The basin is where the Chisos Mountain Lodge and campgrounds are located.  The elevation of the floor of the basin is 5,000 feet.  I guess it was named the basin, because it is surrounded by mountain peaks that rise further higher to an elevation of around 8,000 feet.  On the western side of the basin is this V-shaped formation, aptly called the Window.  This is a pour-off.  All of the water that is collected in the basin, drains down the slope to the bottom of the V where it drops over the edge several hundred feet to the Chihuahuan Desert below.  It is a one of the most photographed views in the park, especially at sunset.  A trail leads from the lodge parking lot, down to the botom of the window.  A hike of about a mile, the elevation dropes 800 feet.  That makes for a very strenuous return.

Look west from The Window

Casa Grande thru The Window.  This photograph was taken from the Ross Maxwell highway a few miles west of the Chisos Mountains.  In this image you are looking back “into” the Window.  You can see Mount Casa Grande, which is on the far eastern side of the basin.  Mt. Casa Grande is not the largest peak in the Chisos, but the most photographed.

Mount Casa Grande through the Window

Mount Casa Grande.  As stated previously,  Casa Grande peak is the most  photogenic peak in the park.  This image was taken in the late afternoon as the western sun was striking it.

Mount Casa Grande

I hope you have this, another visual tour of the Big Bend area.  Maybe there will be more on another day.  Click on any image to see an enlargement.