Monday, March 2, 2009

Ash Meadows

This is part two. Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.
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Roughly an hour and a half north west of Las Vegas. It was established in 1984 and comprised about 22,000 acres of spring-fed wetlands and alkaline desert uplands. Over 10,000 gallons per minute of water flow out of the various spring there. 24 plants and animals found there can be found no where else in the world. A small portion of the park called Devil's Hole, is actually part of Death Valley National Park. Within in lives the Devil's Hole Pupfish.

In comparison to many federal parks, it is VERY rustic.


We arrived there about 1PM or so. Not a good time of day for bird spotting, and not a good time of year for it, but we wanted to see it none the less.
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Like many parts of the Las Vegas valley, it is comprised of alkaline which makes for a bright white soil.

Shortly after we arrived, a Law Enforcement truck for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Division showed up. There were 3 ATVs parked next to us and they asked us if we saw who was driving them. Which we didn't. We talked with them a bit, they were very friendly, asked if we were bird spotting. There was a sign posted that said "During certain parts of the year, be very careful of poisonous animals" but it didn't say what part of the year....lol So of course we asked. They said we should be ok since it had not become very warm out yet and we were sticking to the trails. Karen was worried. I was never really worried about that kind of stuff until I watched a show last night called "When animals attack!" I'm afraid to go out of the house now!!

The agents then went in search of the ATV drivers. ATVs are banned from this park.
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The agents located the drivers near by at the pond. They were a group of older people from Utah I think. They had a young child with them and were looking at the spring and the Ash Meadow Pupfish IMG_9565that were in it. And drinking a few beers enjoying the scenery. The agents explained that ATVs were not aloud in the park, to which the drivers pleaded ignorance. As we entered, the drivers and the agents were walking out and were talking about all of the different animals that could be seen here. I was happy to see it end that way...a polite explanation that ATVs were not allowed, and then a nice conversation about the park.

We drove to Crystal Reservoir, not realizing I had been there before with Betty and Tom,we saw a Killdeer. This is the first one I think I've seen in Nevada. As I approached him he began to display the famous "broken wing" defense as seen below:
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The bird will lift one leg and one wing and hop around like its wing is broken. This is done to try and draw you, or a predator, away from its nest, hoping the predator will go after it, instead of its young.

Here they are after I got too close and they decided to leave. They are FAST birds!
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This is the boardwalk near the main part of the refuge.
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Not sure what this is. Its not a sparrow, its not a Nuthatch, nor a Finch or a Flycatcher.
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Here is Karen reading one of the displays.
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This is one of the spring that run through the park.
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This was also after I got bit by a very large dog! A boxer to be exact. As we were walking the boardwalk, a couple were leaving and they had 3 dogs with them. We met and stopped to talk. I am hesitant to approach or pet unknown dogs, but the owner assured us that they would only lick us to death. So I balled up my hand and put it out to the nearest dog, a large boxer. You are supposed to ball up your hand to spare your fingers if the dog does bite you. A millisecond later the boxer had engulfed my balled up hand in his mouth. Not a finger could be seen. But he never bit down on it! No blood, no marks...nothing. I'm lucky!!!

This is the water of the spring. It flows something like 2,600 gallons a minuet and is the most crystal blue water you could imaging. Its about 87F too!!!
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Ofcourse I had the wrong lens on my cameras. The 100-400. I had left the 24-105 in the car. I realize now that selling both of my other cameras was likely a mistake...lol

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