Sunday, March 06, 2016

Early Spring Visit to City of Rocks National Reserve

Karyn and I just returned from a few fabulous days exploring the City of Rocks National Reserve. It is a great time of year to visit as we were essentially the only people camping there. The first night there was one other campsite occupied, the second night – none.
The weather cooperated providing us with 60 degree, calm , sunny days.

The view from our campsite at sunrise
Our campsite was spectacular. Great views and great sounds. We watched the courtship flight displays of Northern Harriers (two males courting a female), listened to male solicitation calls of the nearby Northern Goshawks, and heard three owl species – Two Great Horned Owls courting all night, a Barn Owl, and on our last night there, a nearby Northern Saw-whet Owl calling for a mate. Love was definitely in the air!
The landscape is unique and spectacular.

The park superintendent, Wallace, is an avid birder and joined us for a morning hike as we explored the park.

Wallace and Rob (me) searching for Cassin’s Finches.

Male Spotted Towhee.

Western Scrub-jay
At one point Wallace, Karyn, and I were sitting on a rock when I spotted a Short-tailed Weasel (a.k.a, Ermine) still in winter fur passing under a rock. I was too slow to grab my camera. However, the animal turned and headed straight toward us providing excellent opportunities for photographs. It eventually passed under the rock we were sitting on.

Short-tailed Weasel (a.k.a., Ermine) in winter fur.

Don’t forget to visit nearby Castle Rocks State Park.

Yellow-bellied Marmots in Castle Rocks State Park.
We definitely plan to return!