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Mojave Desert
April 2006

    Death Valley National Park
    Mojave National Preserve


Sunday, 4.9.06, Travel to Death Valley
    I wish I could say the day went smoothly and we sailed into Death Valley, found a campsite, and settled in with plenty of time… but unfortunately that was not at all the case.  Starting from the beginning, things looked like they were going well.  The flight was on time and went well, until we had a somewhat turbulent landing.  I was quickly reminding how it would be a lot better to land in the desert during the cooler hours of the day – it might not be as convenient, but it would be a hell of a lot more comfortable.
    After landing, we retrieved our baggage fine and shuttled over to Budget to pick up our white Chev Colorado.  It looked great until we realized the truck as recently been used to haul sod or something of the sort.  It was pretty dirty and didn’t look appealing to have to sleep in.  The rental car people washed it out – probably a little too well for our needs, so we stood around and the sunlight began to wane.  We still had to go shopping for both my insoles for my hiking boots (which I forgot to pack) and the food and supplies for the desert. 
    As soon as we were out of the lot, I was thinking things were headed in the better direction.  But… there’s always a catch.  We headed toward a Big 5, hoping they’d still be open.  We spotted a Sport’s Authority on the way, so turned in there.  They didn’t have the Superfeet brand so we tried Big 5, no luck there and to make it worse they had a smaller selection.  Back to Sport’s Authority, picked up the insoles and thought to pick up the small butane can for the JetBoil stove… they had the JetBoil stove, but not the fuel… grrr… doesn’t make sense… We saw a Walmart up the way so headed there.  Daylight was gone by this point and my patience was quickly dwindling.  Walmart is a hellhole – where the devils come to play and annoy and suck away your soul.  We settled on a lot of stuff just to get out of there… There was no soymilk and they didn’t have enough 2.5 gallon water jugs.  And they didn’t have to right fuel for our stove… this was problematic… Back in Seattle finding the fuel was just a matter of going in any well stocked grocery store… here it seemed to be a bigger deal.  Walmart even had the stove that took the butane fuel tank, but not the tank.  Very frustrating indeed.  We had seen a Albertson’s down the road so took yet another short trip and were quickly disappoint yet again… at least we stocked up on some water.  We begrudgingly had to resort to Walmart again and purchase a Colman stove that took the more the small propane tanks.
    After that ordeal, we were finally ready to head out of Vegas… finally.  It was 8PM and Death Valley was more than a 2 hour drive away.  We drove without incident thankfully, but the drive would have been more enjoyable minus the stress of getting our supplies – it was a lesson learned – no more Walmart and travel with a propane stove.

    As we entered Death Valley National Park my stress slowly melted away, even in the darkness my excitement grew with the idea of what lay around us.  Suddenly a bobcat shot out across the road not more than 10 feet away from the headlights.  It was quite a heart pounding event as we processed what had just happened.  Jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, bats, and poorwills also crossed our path as we drove on.  Our goal for the night was to reach Butte Valley, which held several springs around it.  We headed up the Warm Springs Canyon dirt road, but that dirt road slowly be came a little more rocky and bouncy and we climbed up.  It looked close on the map, but with every minute on the bumpy road, we knew it would be another bumpy minute on the return trip.  We were soon in a narrow canyon, driving through washed and rocky inclines.  I tired my best not to scrape the bottom of the truck for we did need it for the remainder of the trip.  After checking the map several times, we finally decided to stop along side the road, it was late and it seemed more important to get rest than to travel on the questionable road.
    We pulled off and quickly set up the sleeping bags in the bed of the truck.  It was a little nippy out as a cold breeze when through the valley.  It was around 1AM when we finally settled it.  We reminisced a little about how we always seem to get in trouble when we say, “what if we go just a little more on this road…”  It seems our reward verses trouble ratio is 3:7… only a 30% chance of finding something good… but perhaps that’s half the adventure – the trip and it does make for a good story…  Thinking this we drifted off as the wind blew through the moonlit desert night.
Monday, 4.10.06 Death Valley
    I was awoken early next morning to the chucking and squawking on the near by canyon slope.  The squawking reminded me of Costa Rica and the loud raucous parrots.  But we were in the desert and it couldn’t be possible.  Dawn was still working around slowly, so I couldn’t see what was making the noise.  As it slowly approached I struggled to keep my binoculars steady enough to spot a chukar flying over head and landing on the nearby slope.  They continued to call loudly from atop the rocks.  It was still too early for the both of us and we drifted back to sleep to steal a few more winks. 
    We awoke a little later with the morning sun upon us.  We took in our surrounds in the morning light.  Aside from the very vocal chukars only a few other birds called from the underbrush.  A cottontail hopped around in the underbrush as we got ready to pack up and head back down to the valley.
    As soon as we finished packing and scarfed down the dry bits of “Wal-mart” brand muffin, we turned the truck around and bumped our way down the gravel road.  We pasted by a mine that we didn’t see in the dark – the old rusted machinery, piles of perhaps talc, and a gated off hole was all that remain.  The road finally evened out as we drove out of the narrow valley into Death Valley.  We could see the salt flats spread out down below.  We drove back to the main road to make several stops along the popular destinations. 
    Our first stop was at the Badwater – the lowest elevation in the US (second in the Western Hemisphere).  We stopped to walk out on to the salt flats – it was salty alright.  A dirty salty taste to it. Our next stop was at the Natural Bridge.  A short walk up a rocky canyon brought us to the bridge.  It was impressive though not to the same caliber as the bridge in Arizona.  There were many people there, so it was a little less enjoyable, but as the day progressed we realized how popular Death Valley was among the tourist. 
    We made a quick stop at the Devil’s golf course, before moving on to the Artist’s Palette – mountains colored by the many different minerals/metals in the rocks.  It was pretty and interesting, but I don’t truly know how to appreciate geology. 
    We stopped at Furnace Creek to check out the museum and the gift store.  The highlight of the day and perhaps Death Valley was our next stop at Salt Creek.  We walked out on to the boardwalk and pretty much right away we spotted the pupfish actively swimming, guarding territory and spawning in the creek.  It was quite amazing to watch them so openly in the shallow water.  After watching them for a great deal of time, then we headed up to the Panamint Mountains in search of a campsite for the night. 
    We past through the Devil’s Cornfield and the Sand Dunes as we snaked our way up through Emigrant Pass and into Panamint Valley.  The road turned a little rough at the end, but not too bad (compared to Warm Springs Canyon Rd).  As the sun began to set, we bypassed the Charcoal Kilns figuring we’d stop by the next morning.  And we made it up to the Thorndike campground, nestled in the valley and still holding small patches of snow.
    The campground was small – only five sites.  Three of the campsites were taken, we took one that was closest to a family with a very loud child – who thankfully petered out once inside the tent.  After setting up camp, we took a walk up the road past the campsite.  The road was badly eroded by the snow and running water.  It was cold (snowed at a couple of points) and a breeze made matters worse.  But there were still some birds around – several happily singing purple finches, some juncos and towhees. After our walk, we ate dinner and cooked up some pine nuts that laid in abundance around the campsite.  They were actually very tasted. Very thankful for having our tent with us, we holed up in our sleeping bags to keep warm through the cold night.
Tuesday, 4.11.06 To Mojave
    We awoke to a quite campground and were the first up.  We packed away our gear as the morning light slowly crept through the valley.  We headed back down to the Charcoal Kilns before the sunlight hit the valley floor.  The Kilns were impressive.  Large and very well preserved.  We had breakfast as we poked around some, and then decided to head out of Death Valley and to the Mojave Preserve.  Though Death Valley was new and interesting, we missed the wildlife and the better opportunity to hike around. We drove though Death Valley only stopping at a gift shop for more souvenirs.
    Outside of Death Valley, it was only a short distance and side track to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.  Ash Meadows was pretty quiet during the spring time – the hot sun contributed to it.  I could image during the migration Ash Meadows as a hub of activity – especially if the marshes get filled with water. 
    Despite the quietness of the refuge there were beautiful waters that dotted the area.  And I think each spring contains pupfish.  We stopped at King’s Pool first – it was a beautiful crystal clear blue pool with lush green algae lining the bottom.  Electric blue pupfish darted in and around the pool.  It was amazing how blue they were.  A pair of verdins caught my attention as they were busily lining their nest with fluff.  They chatted away as they worked.
    After a few moments of poking around and taking pictures, we headed over to Devil’s Hole, which is in the refuge though officially part of Death Valley National Park.  We pulled over on the side of the road and had to take a short walk into Devil’s Hole.  The place was completely fenced in and we could only use our binoculars to peer down into the hole.  After a few minutes we finally spotted the small fish darting around in the shallows.  I later learned that only a little over 50 of the Devil’s Hole pupfish were still alive at this point and their population has been steadily declining.  Sad and tough times for those little fish.
    We continued on to the visitor center/ranger station.  There was a small creek nearby that also held pupfish and unfortunately mosquitofish.  We had lunch at the center then continued on toward Baker.  On the way to Baker, we took another side short side trip to Saratoga Springs, back in the south end of Death Valley.  It was a fairly good size marsh, with a few good birds on the periphery.  Virginia Rail to called in the reeds and a Wilson’s Snipe poked its way to the side of the marsh where I was able to get some good looks at it.  A black phoebe flitted around the edge of the marsh as blackbirds and Marsh Wrens called loudly.
    Deciding to move on to Mojave before it got late, we packed up and headed to Baker.  At Baker we made a quick stop for gas.  And headed into the Mojave Preserve via the Cima Dome Road.  We tried a new spot in the Mid Hills – Cottonwood Canyon.  It was a longer drive up the dirt road than I had originally anticipated.  And the road was questionable at time – going through washes – big rocks and soft sand.  The environment was different than near where we usually stay (at the Granite Mountains).  There were a lot of Joshua Trees and as we continued up more junipers, more scrubby bushes – not as many cholla.  We could also see a burn that we later learned was caused by lightening and occurred the previous summer.  The burn was pretty big – covering most of the Mid Hills, in most places only the burnt Joshua trees stood.  Most of the smaller bushes were gone. 
    We finally made it up to the end of the road just as the sun set behind the mountains.  As we were setting up camp, the wind greeted us and we prepared for another cold night.  Poorwills and Western Screech Owls called in the night.  And I studied my star chart to find the constellations but the nearly full moon made it much harder.  And the cold wind didn’t make it too pleasant. We tucked in for the night and looked forward to a full day of hiking and exploring in the coming day.
Wednesday 4.12.06 Butcher Knife Canyon
    The next morning we woke up before the sun peaked over the hill.  It was quite windy the night before, and the morning wasn’t much different.  It was a bit nippy, but we packed up and hiked up the canyon to Cottonwood Spring.  It was a very short hike before we reached water and finally to the end of the springs.  The spring was narrow and didn’t pool.  It snaked its way through the sand, creating mini canyons.
    After a little while, we decided to head back and go back down the road to a fork.  The other fork led to Butcher Knife Canyon.  We hiked back down as the sun continued to rise, but the wind persisted always keep things cool.  We hiked back out of the Joshua forest and up the spit in the road.  It led into the burn so we could see it up close.  It was impressive how the trees still stood – though many of them looked like they didn’t make it.  Some however showed a little green on their tips and signs of recovery.
    Flowers cropped up in the burn – taking advantage of the new wealth of nutrients and water otherwise taken by the brush.  We finally reached the end of the road and found ourselves in a wash.  We continued up the wash and came upon water, which trickled down from the canyon.  The water was much like Cottonwood canyon except on a bigger scale.  The water created a deeper channel in the sand and continued for a greater distance.  We followed the water up the canyon, having to scramble up boulders at some places.  But like Cottonwood there were no pools to hold tadpoles and no sign of aquatic life.  Butcher Knife Canyon showed some signs of the burn, but it seemed to jump back and forth between it, not everything was consumed by the fire.
    We stopped in an opening for a snack and in the nearby pinons and junipers, I was lucky enough to spot a single Juniper Titmouse.  I heard another call nearby, but was fortunate enough to see one before the small flock moved on.  We continued up the canyon, scampering up rocks and straddling the stream until the canyon opened up and we found ourselves walking into a wash as the stream faded underneath us.  The wash continued to presumable the top of the mountains, but we didn’t pursue it.
    We walked back down the canyon to a side canyon where water flowed out joining the main canyon.  The water in the side canyon faded in and out as we followed it up.  It finally ended at a steep incline up the mountain.  We climbed the incline, hoping for a view below, but were instead rewarded or greeted by a great wind and a view of another mountain top.
    We turned around and continued back down the main canyon.  As we left the canyon and the wash, the cottontails and jackrabbits seemed to scatter before us.  Bounding away quickly.  Several Crissals Thrashers flitted about the tops of brushes as we followed them out of the wash.  Many small flocks of White-crowned Sparrows and Black-throated Sparrows flew around the brush near the wash, always staying close to each other.
    Curious about a mine, we climbed the hillside next at the end of the road.  There were two mines at least one contained copper.  They were both wide deep holes in the ground, with no safeguards other than a sign.  As we looked around, we spotted a 4-5 foot long gopher snake lying nearby.
    After having a good look around we decided to cut back through the burn back to the truck.  It was fairly easy going - not having to skirt though any brush.  We stopped to study a small flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers and Chipping Sparrows when a Copper’s Hawk swooped in a grabbed one.  It flew off with its meal in its talons.
    Back at the campsite, we attempted to wash up, but the water was cool and the wind made it even worse.  At least the sun was still up to dry and partially warm us.  The hummingbird feeders I put up the night before were very popular.  Two Rufous Humming birds fiercely defended each feeder and chased away any that got too close.  I did see a male Calliope slip in to get a drink though.
    The sun set and the winds began to pick up again.  We took a short walk to warm up and to see if anything would show at Cottonwood Springs.  There wasn’t much life – a couple of mating beetles, mating crickets, and the tip of a tail – maybe a chipmunk’s tail.
    Back at the truck I once again tried to find the constellations and commit to memory the ones I’ve learned so far… sadly I’ll have likely forgot them all before I get to see the stars again.  But it was fun to try to learn.
Thursday 4.13.06 Old campsite
    We packed up camp early and let the hummingbirds duke it out as much as possible.  I took down the feeders feeling slight guilty for doing so.  We drove back down the bumpy road and stopped at an old coral.  There was a Black-tailed Deer nearby that walked off as we pulled in.  A Loggerhead Shrike called loudly and a single Horned Lark feed on the open well grazed area.  I watched a Gray Flycatcher repeatedly smack a juice grub on the barbed wire before swallowing it.
    Continuing down the road we spotted Ash-throated Flycatchers and Western Kingbirds.  We finally made it back to the main road and decided to check out the new visitor center at the old Kelso Depot.  We also wanted to find more information on the burn as that would affect where we’d stay the next night.  The visitor center was fixed up nicely, but the very lush green lawn and palm trees were disturbing to me.  The museum seemed a little too spacious for the amount of information that provided.  Seems like they should either downsize the rooms or increase the exhibits.  But overall it was nice.  We picked up a few more souvenirs before heading out. 
    We drove back to the Mid Hills and crossed over the west side.  We got a good look at how extensive the burn was.  As we were passing one of the designated campgrounds a black dog came running up the road.  If it were anywhere else, I probably wouldn’t have given it any thought, but I stopped and we got out to give the dog a drink.  It was very thirsty as it tried to lick out the drops of an empty water container.  As we gave the dog water, I spotted a ranger coming down the road from the campground.  I flagged her down and she pulled in.
    She said something about the owners coming behind and shortly after another truck came down the road and they jumped out to claim their dog.  Apparently the dog ran after one of its owners earlier, but obviously lost that owner.  It was good to know the dog was back and going to be okay.
    We continued on our way and decided to check out a road near the Mitchell Caverns.  I remembered the campground near the caverns had an interesting environment so we hoped this road would hold the same.  As we drove up, we noticed a ranch that shared the road.  The road was well graded, but we soon began to realize we weren’t gaining elevation and worried the site wouldn’t be good.  Just as we were deciding to turn around a Roadrunner jumped out of the creosote and paused on the road side.  It was our first Roadrunner in the Mojave.  It was pretty exciting.
    But we still decided to turn around and go to our usual Mojave campsite.  We drove around – out of the preserve via the highway and back in near the Granite Mountains.  I always have the worry that someone would be at the campsite as we bump and crawl our way into the road and this time it was warranted.  A pop-top had already claimed the spot.  We also noticed a road was recently graded that lead to the campsite – this meant a lot more people would be using the road and campsite… unfortunately.  But we went down the road toward Coyote Springs.  There were a couple of turn offs along the road and we settled on the first one.  An old shack stood on the opposite side of the wash.
    We parked the car and decided to hike out to Cottonwood Springs for lunch and for exploring.  We had to walk a little farther and through the wash, which was more work – especially now that the wind seemed to be gone and the sun hotter.  As we neared the springs what probably was a ringtail cat, darted in front of us.  The spring seemed to have grown in quite a bit.  But we enjoyed the shade and I watch the many warblers and vireos that flew in.
    I was very fortunate to see a male Northern Parula.  At first I almost dismissed it as another Yellow Rumped, but noticed it lacked yellow on its head.  I then noticed the triangle of yellowish/olive on it’s back.  And the fact that the blue wasn’t as dark.  Around its eyes was a white broken eye ring and it had white underneath with a blue “belt” with yellow below.  It was gleaning on the cottonwoods as I got good looks at different angles.  It was a great and wonderful surprise at this oasis.  A rare western visitor in the middle of the desert!  I watched it for a couple of minutes before it flew off.  I later spotted it again in the cottonwood, but it took off again.
    After resting at the springs, we headed out to the middle springs.  There wasn’t as much bird activity there.  There are no cottonwoods/bugs to create the great draw.  But it was interesting to explore the water and watch the beetles swimming around. This was the earliest we’ve been to the desert and the rains must not have come too long before we did.  The algae in the pond was meek – and young.  Things were just starting to grow back.
    We waited at the springs for nightfall and the hope that the toads would come out.  We were not disappointed.  First a toad started calling before dusk from a crack in the boulders.  Then young toads started appearing.  As night fell the male toads came out to claim their calling spots in the stream.  They called loudly and continuously, trying to seduce any female toad nearby.  But it was probably too early for that, still I guess it’s good practice.
    We hiked back in the dark.  It was easy and enjoyable in the cooler hours, but we had to weave through the vegetation when we had to walk through the wash.  We saw Kangaroo Rats in the brush.
    Back at the campsite, we set out treats for the Kangaroo Rats, but they didn’t seem to like the pitas we placed out there.  Instead they fed on the sunflower seeds and we didn’t get to see them.  Like the earlier campsite in Mojave, it was a little too cool at night to be on the watch for critters at night.
Friday 4.14.06 Rain
    I awoke early the next morning to the sound of a few rain drops.  I quickly hopped out of the sleeping bags and we hurriedly dressed and put everything in the cab of the truck.  By the time we accomplished that the rain was long gone, but we figured it could easily return.  The sky was overcast and dark clouds were on the horizon. 
    Our goal this day was Coyote Canyon.  We headed down soon after we got up.  It drizzled every now and then, but it wasn’t too bad.  I heard several Roadrunners calling as we hiked.  We think every time we’ve gone to Mojave it was too late to see or heard the Roadrunners – they are there always, but hearing them was easier than seeing them.  By going early, we get to see the courting ritual.  By going later, they are busy feeding their young.  Or it could be that when we see one, we start seeing them all…
    Continuing down the road, we saw an old coyote gourd plant and all the gourds on the ground.  It must have been a good year last year as we later spotted a couple of more coyote gourd plants.  We stopped at some boulders to look around.  The rain slowly increased and a short down pour led us to take refuge underneath a leaning boulder.  The rain made the desert scents come alive.  Hard to explain, but it’s not the same as when the rain starts in the Washington mountains…
    After the rain, we decided to head on.  We stumbled upon the real Coyote Springs.  As we realized we mistook Cottonwood Wash as Coyote Springs.  At the real Coyote Springs, we followed it up.  It was a pretty open springs – no canyon or cottonwoods.  It was open.  There were many pools and we spotted a couple of young toads.  Monkeyflower and blue-eyed grass dotted the sides of the spring.  The spring ended at some seeps in a hillside. 
    We turned around and headed back down the springs.  We took a side path and found a small marsh paralleling the springs.  Bird life seemed pretty good around the springs.  An oriole flew over head and a black phoebe was catching the insects.
     The clouds in the sky were still pretty threatening, but we hiked over to Cottonwood Wash.  There was plenty of “fresh water” running though the wash.  I was a couple of toads near the spring.
    Heading back to the car, we could see a wall of rain down the valley.  We tried to determine which way the clouds were going, but it was confusing as different layers were going different directions.  We hurried our pace and took several short cuts off the road.  Once at the truck, we set up our tent just in time as the rains hit.  We took shelter in the truck as the rain began.  As it rained we debated whether to leave and stay in a hotel out of Vegas.  We finally decided to wait it out and I’m glad we did.  When there was a break in the rain we got out to look around a bit.  It’s hard to explain, but after the rains the lighting, the colors, the smell… well all seemed different.  For one the reds of the plants (hardly noticeable in a dry desert) stood out.  It smelled very fresh.  It’s difficult if not impossible to capture on camera…
    We huddled back up in the truck as it continued to rain again.  Then soon after the rain broke and the clouds began to break as well.  The lighting was perfect for pictures and the scenery was just breathtaking.  It was now quite cold and we knew we’d have to spend the night in the tent.  We bundled up for the night and hoped it wouldn’t be too rainy or it’d make packing up more difficult.  But it was a relatively peaceful night.
Saturday 4.15.06 Going home
    We awoke early the next morning to pack up everything.  We managed to squeeze our gear back into the two duffel bags and headed out.  We passed the old campsite, the pop-top was gone and a different van was in it’s place.  We tried the newly graded road out– which was very nice.  Getting this spot in the future would be a bigger worry…
    We left the Mojave behind.  And entered Las Vegas - from one world to another.  There weren't any major issues with returning the car and getting into the airport.  It was relatively quiet at the airport – probably because it was a Saturday morning.  The flight was on time and we got home in one piece. 
    This trip was definitely different than the past ones from Death Valley to going a couple of weeks earlier.  It was good to experience and live it all.



Chukars, Death Valley National Park
Badwater, Death Valley National Park
Badwater, Death Valley National Park
Badwater, Death Valley National Park
Salt of Badwater,
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park
Natural Bridge, Death Valley National Park
A bad child wanders a little too far and gets a needed scolding from a parent, Death Valley National Park
Devil's Golf Course, Death Valley National Park
Beautiful mountains of the Artist's Palette drive, created by mineral/metal deposits in the mountain, Death Valley NP
Artist's Palette, Death Valley NP
Artist's Pallette, Death Valley NP
Pupfish male of Salt Creek, Death Valley NP
Spawning pair of pupfish: female the less colorful brown and the male is yellow and blue.  Salt Creek, Death Valley NP
Spawning pupfish, Salt Creek, Death Valley NP
Salt Creek, Death Valley NP
Salt Creek, Death Valley NP
Devil's Cornfield, Death Valley NP
Sand Dunes, Death Valley NP
Snow donuts,
Death Valley NP
Charcoal Kilns,
Death Valley NP
Panamint Mountains,
Death Valley NP
Ash Meadows NWR, Nevada
King's Pool, Ash Meadows NWR
Different populations of Pupfish vary in color, size, and sometimes behavior.  This brilliant blue male pupfish is found in King's Pool of Ash Meadows NWR
Verdin nest, we watch a pair adding to the lining of this nest, Ash Meadows NWR.
The much controversial Devil's Hole - with a unique population of pupfish. The pool is owned and protected by Death Valley NP though it is surrounded by Ash Meadow NWR.  The pupfish in Devil's Hole were threated by the lowering of the water table caused by ranchers and farmers.  After that problem was resolved, however, the pupfish population has steadily been decreasing.  Scientist are racing to find the problem.
Devil's Hole, Death Valley NP
Ash Meadows NWR
Mosquito fish are among one of the threats to pupfish populations. Ash Meadow NWR.
Saratoga Springs located on the southern part of Death Valley NP.  Birdlife was a productive at this marsh - not a lot of ducks, but many smaller wetlands birds, eg. rail, snipe, black phoebe.
Loggerhead Shrike, we saw many of these birds at the preserve.  They have very colorful songs.  Mojave National Preserve.
Sunrise over Cima Dome, Mojave National Preserve
Cottonwood Springs, Mojave National Preserve
Flowering Joshua Tree, Mojave National Preserve
A natural wildfire recently passed through this area.  Many Joshua Trees and shrubs did not look like they made it through the fire.  Mojave National Preserve.
These flowers seem to thrive after a fire.  Mojave National Preserve
Butcher Knife Canyon, Mojave National Preserve
Sunset over Cima Dome, Mojave National Preserve
Sunrise over Mojave National Preserve.  A Black-throated Sparrow sings on the Joshua Tree.  Cima Dome is illuminated in the background.
This Rufous Hummingbird was quick to claim the feeder we put up.  The hummer was very aggressive in chasing off the smaller Calliopes. Mojave National Preserve
This Black-tailed Jackrabbit was confused when we drove down the road.  It wasn't sure which direction to run.
Mojave National Preserve
An old corral. Mojave National Preserve.
Side blotched Lizard warming itself near Cottonwood Springs. Mojave National Preserve
Springs usually attract wildlife especially in dry years.
Mojave National Preserve
Phainopepla, Mojave National Preserve
Toad, Mojave National Preserve
Impending rain on the horizon.
Mojave National Preserve
Ex-coyote gourd plant.
Mojave National Preserve.
Stick bug.
Mojave National Preserve
Coyote Springs.
Mojave National Preserve.
Rain sweeping across the desert toward us.
Mojave National Preserve.
Raindrops view of a yucca. Mojave National Preserve.
After the storm.
Mojave National Preserve.
After the storm.
Mojave National Preserve.
After the storm.
Mojave National Preserve.
Clouds lifting after the storm.
Mojave National Preserve.

Bird List

Common Name Latin Name Where Seen Notes
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura both
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus both
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii Mojave caught a small bird from a small flock of warblers
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis both
American Kestrel Falco sparverius both
Chukar Alectoris chukar both a large number near Butte Valley/Death Valley - actively calling
Gambel's Quail Callipepla gambelii both
Virgina Rail Rallus limicola Death Valley - Saratoga Spring heard only - very vocal
American Coot Fulica americana Death Valley - Saratoga Spring
Wilson's Snipe Gallinago gallinago Death Valley - Saratoga Spring 1 seen foraging on edge of the pond
Rock Pigeon Columba livia Mojave - near train tracks
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura both
Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus Mojave were actively calling in the mornings
Western Screech-Owl Otus kennicottii both heard only
Common Poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttallii Mojave heard only
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis Death Valley
Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna Mojave - Cottonwood Spring/Granite Mts
Costa's Hummingbird Calypte costae Mojave - Cottonwood Spring/Granite Mts
Calliope Hummingbird Stellula calliope Mojave - Cottonwood Canyon eating from feeder
Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus Mojave - Cottonwood Canyon very aggressively guarding the feeders
Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris Mojave
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus Death Valley
Dusky Flycatcher Empidonax oberholseri Mojave
Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii Mojave 1 seen smacking a worm/grub against barb wire fencing
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans both - DV: Saratoga Spring; M: Coyote Springs
Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya both
Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens Mojave
Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis Mojave
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris both
Tree Swallow  Tachycineta bicolor Death Valley
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina Mojave
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis Death Valley - Salt Creek
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Death Valley - Salt Creek
Scrub Jay Aphelocoma coerulescens Mojave
Common Raven Corvus corax both
Mountain Chickadee Parus gambeli Death Valley - Panamint Mts
Juniper Titmouse Baeolophus griseus Mojave - Butcher Knife Canyon
Verdin Auriparus flaviceps Ash Meadows NWR seen lining a nest in a cat's claw tree
Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus Mojave - Butcher Knife Canyon
Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis Death Valley - Panamint Mts
Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus Mojave
Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus both
Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus Death Valley
Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii Mojave - Cottonwood Wash
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris Death Valley - Saratoga Spring
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula both
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Polioptila melanura Mojave
Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi Death Valley - Panamint Mts
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus Mojave
Crissal Thrasher Toxostoma dorsale Mojave
Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens Mojave
Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus Mojave
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris Mojave
Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus Mojave
Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata Mojave
Northern Parula Parula americana Mojave - Cottonwood Spring/Granite Mts 1 male feeding off cottonwoods - rare migrant!!!
Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata both
Black-throated Gray Warbler Dendroica nigrescens Mojave - Cottonwood Spring/Granite Mts 1 male
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas Death Valley - Saratoga Spring 1
Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla both
Green-tailed Towhee Pipilo chlorurus Mojave - Coyote Springs 1 flyby
Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus both
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina Mojave
Black-throated Sparrow Amphispiza bilineata Mojave
Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis Death Valley - Salt Creek
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia Death Valley - Panamint Mts heard only
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys both
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis both gray-headed race
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus Death Valley - Saratoga Spring
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta Mojave
Hooded Oriole  Icterus cucullatus Mojave - Coyote Springs 1 male flyby
Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus Death Valley - Panamint Mts
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus Mojave
Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria Mojave - near spirngs
House Sparrow Passer domesticus both - near humans

Other Critter List

black-tailed jackrabbit both - many seen running away
desert cottontail both - many seen running away
Merrium's Kangaroo Rat Mojave - heard and seen
Bobcat Death Valley - ran in front of the car at night
White-tailed Antelope Squirrel many seem active in Mojave, also seen a few in Death Valley
bat sp. Mojave
Panamint Chipmunk Death Valley - Charcoal kilns
Black-tailed Deer Mojave - near old coral
Coyote Mojave - heard calling at night
Gopher Snake Mojave - near old mine, about 4 ft long
Common Collared Lizard Mojave - Butcher Knife Canyon
Side Blotched Lizard Mojave - Cottonwood Spring/Granite Mts
Toad Mojave - at springs, saw small and adult toads, males calling at night
White Lined Sphinx Mojave, only a few
Pupfish Death Valley - Salt Creek & Devil's Hole
Ash Meadow NWR - King's Pond (two types) & Crystal Spring near ranger station



Mojave National Preserve
Death Valley National Monument 


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page updated: 3/18/08