Ground Squirrel and San Angelo State Park


I was leaving San Angelo State Park one day, and as I drove by some trees this Mexican Ground Squirrel was muching on a mesquite bean pod.  He looked at me as if I was being rude to watch as he ate.  Embarrassed that he caught me looking, I moved on. 🙂

Mexican Ground Squirrel

Seriously, soon there may not be any mesquites left in the park.  They are not a native specie, but were brought in many years ago, probably accidentally on truck tires, carried by birds, etc.  They are a very thirsty plant.  They multiply, their roots run deep and they use up all of the ground water.   The Concho River is the source for O. C. Fisher lake, and the mesquites along the water shed and in the park are spelling the demise of the river and the lake.  To that end, a program is under way to eradicate all of the mesquites in the along the watershed and the park.  The park itself, encompasses more than seven thousand acres.  I worry for the loss of habitat, but those authorities in the know, say that there are enough native species left to sustain the wildlife.

Cabin at San Angelo State Park

More native species will be brought in to some areas.  With the mesquites and salt cedar gone, someday, along with some good rains, perhaps the river will flow again, the lake will fill, and the boat ramps will reach the water. 

O. C. Fisher Lake at San Angelo State Park

In other good news, a showing of my framed photographs will continue for another month at the Crockett National Bank in downtown San Angelo.  Originally I was invited to show for the months of December and January only, but it has been so well received that I have been extended indefinitely.  So if you get to San Angelo, drop in and have a look.  All of my work there is for sale, and I also have prints available in any size.

Click on the photos to see enlargements.

Bosque Del Apache Trip – Part II


The Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge consists of open fields, copses of trees, and several large lagoons or ponds.  Also included is a board-walk over one watery acre where there are reeds and water birds.  But the main part is the 12-mile driving tour that goes through and around these areas.  You may take your time and do it at your own pace.  You may stop anywhere you desire.  All you have to do is pull to the side of the road.  There are also many permanent viewing areas placed along the drive.  At the visitors center you can use the blinds and cactus gardens to see quail and other birds and small wildlife.  Rather than bore you with a lot of narrative. I will show some more images that I captured there.

But before I do that, I want to relate one our most thrilling experiences.  As we were doing the driving tour, we came upon this large lagoon that was filled with several species of ducks.  I spotted with my naked eye what I at first thought was a rather large white breasted duck.  Then through my binoculars, I realized that it was a hawk trying to sink it’s claws into a Northern Shoveler.  I figured that I might have as much as a minute to grab my 500mm and the tripod.  But just I reached for them, a beautiful Bald Eagle swooped down, snatched the duck from the hawk, and flew away.  An awesome image that I regretted that I wasn’t able to capture.

Gambel's Quail in tree

Cactus Wren

Black-throated Sparrow perched on Cholla

A young Western Meadowlark

Merlin in the brush

Sandhill Cranes in afternoon sun

So those were some of the highlights of the trip photographically, that is.  While in Las Cruces we enjoyed the fine Mexican food that can be found there.  However, a trip by Bob Zeller must have a dramatic ending, shouldn’t it.  After dining at La Posta restaurant in Old Mesilla, I stepped off the curb.  Then after seeing an automobile approaching, I stepped back up on the curb, slipped, fell and badly abraised my arm and hand.  So a trip to Walgreen’s drug store, for bandages, etc. ensued, followed by going back to our room to get cleaned up.  No broken bones, fortunately, but it will be several days before my arm and hand will be without bandages.

Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Happy Birding!!