Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, NV

Staying in Pahrump, NV for a few days to wait out the high wind warnings before going to Death Valley. Saturday morning the winds hadn't started yet so we went to Ash Meadows.
Views from the entrance.

First "wildlife" seen was this Loggerhead Shrike.
There are several springs and wet areas in this large Refuge. We drove to Point of Rocks Spring first.
Blooms on the Screwbean Mesquite tree. These "catkins," as they are called, turn into seedpods by June, providing food for many desert animals.
The interior roads on the refuge are graded gravel.
Raven flying overhead.
This plant is called Desert Prince's Plume. High in selenium, it can poison animals grazing on it.
Native Americans boiled the plant to remove the selenium and used it as a spinach-like food.
Trailhead and sheltered picnic area. The trail is a boardwalk that keeps you above the endangered desert plants.
Flycatcher...not sure what kind.
Map of the trail.
Along the boardwalk.
New bird for me. Birdie was excited to first hear, and then find this Yellow-breasted Chat for me.

It is a type of warbler, and it was singing.
The Refuge was named for the Ash trees that grew here.
Ash tree
Artistic features like this bridge give you clues what to look for.
Pebble streams gurgle from hillside springs, sheltering the tiny pupfish, snails, and other tiny creatures.
Not sure what the pink-blooming trees were along here.

Birdie says this is probably a juvenile Verdin.
An adult Verdin was nearby.
Nevada side-blotched lizard.
As we near the King Spring we read more about the endangered pupfish that live here.
Approaching King Spring.
A flower blooming beside the spring.
King Spring
Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish. Blue-colored males are most colorful during spring and summer breeding season.
Females are olive green to tan coloration.
Birdie photographing the pupfish.
Western Pondhawk...among the smallest of dragonflies. This is a male; females are green.
More pupfish.
Pupfish eat both plant and animal material and have adapted to be able to live in an inch or less of water as warm as 93 degrees.

13 species of snails are endemic to the refuge, and are on the state endangered list. I don't know which kind this is.
From this shaded stop one might see Desert Bighorn sheep. Scopes are prvided for viewing the mountains.
We couldn't find any with scope nor binoculars.
Bighorn Sheep habitat.
These holes worn in the rock were used by Native Americans to grind mesquite beans into flour. Wild grapevines grow here too.

Wild grapes
More of the boardwalk.
An important birding area.
We had lunch in the picnic area next to these marble-top benches.
Next we took the road to Devil's Hole, a water-filled cavern in the rocky hillside. You have to walk out to it.
On the way we saw a desert iguana.

The area around the Devil's Hole is fenced for protection...of you and the pupfish.

This time you are inside the cage.
The Devil's Hole pupfish has been isolated here for 10,000 to 20,000 years. 
Devil's Hole became part of Death Valley National Monument in 1952. The Park Service monitors water levels and movement, as well as the endangered pupfish.
Divers have entered the cavern and gone as deep as 500 feet without finding a bottom. No one knows how deep it is. Two young 20-something divers climbed the fence and entered the cave. Their bodies have never been found.
Steps used by scientists to reach monitoring equipment.
It has been discovered that when there is a major earthquake anywhere in the world, the water in Devil's Hole begins to slosh back and forth, sometimes within minutes.
A ranger happened to be there and video-taped the event after an earthquake in Mexico. It only took 10 minutes for the effects to occur at Devil's Hole.

Here's a link to the You Tube Video: 
Solar Panels provide power for the equipment here.

A view of Crystal Reservoir near the Visitor Center from here.
Crystal Spring
Western Kingbird
Crystal Reservoir...lots of birdlife here.
Coots and Phalarope
Wilson's Phalarope

I love the color of the water. Reminds me of the Caribbean.

They were bathing.

Ruddy Duck

Eared Grebes in breeding plumage.

Grebes and a female Ruddy Duck in the background.
It was getting hot.
Another reservoir...Scaup and Ruddy duck.
A pair of Redhead Ducks.
Ring-necked Duck
Female Ring-necked duck

Lesser Scaup
Female Redhead
Ruddy reflection
A pair of Gadwalls.
View from there
We didn't see half...will need to go back. We had great views of snow-capped Spring Mountain on the way back to Pahrump.

Interesting house built into the side of the hill.
Front view
Side view
Rear view
Their view

View from the Escapees Campground in Pahrump.
On to Death Valley next.

1 comment:

  1. Such great wide open views and even water views not to mention all the birds.


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