Find Aldo

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, on a Tuesday in the off season. Most of the crowd is behind the photographer.

Canyonlands National Park. There’s only a single tourist  in this photo…

Made a 2,000 mile loop  through northern New Mexico, Utah and Colorado last week.

Highlights of the trip included a migrating marbled godwit  on the San Juan River, and being directly underneath a peregrine falcon as it nailed a robin in midair, close enough to hear the ‘thwack’ as it hit.

whoopers

Whooping cranes eat blue crabs almost exclusively as they winter over at the Aransas NWR on the Gulf of Mexico. The tide was going out as we came along and this pair was busy feeding.

There were about 14 cranes in view as the boat worked up along the edge of the refuge, two more can be seen in the background. About 290 birds exist in the wild, up from 15 total in existence in the world back in the late 60’s.

It was unusually cold this morning, and only 11 people on the boat. The captain is an avid birder and a happy progressive. His deckhand hadn’t shown up, so being a former sailor I volunteered. I was able to assist a top heavy birder up from the deck after his apparatus took him down when the boat made a sudden maneuver to avoid ramming a grebe.

Plunge pool

The Aldo Leopold Wilderness in Southwestern New Mexico received a good blanket of snow this past winter, more than has been seen in many years.

The usually intermittent streams had beautiful waterfalls this spring, many of which have already dwindled now that the snow is completely gone.

I took this picture in East Railroad Canyon, standing about 50 feet above the stream, hence the odd perspective.

sasquatch unseen…

However, we did observe this curious unicorn peering at us from the pines…

Much of the wildfire burns underbrush and lower story deadwood, most mature trees survive.

Trees like this oak, weakened by time and drought, often break apart in the tumult of wildfires.

An electric power transmission line on one division of the fire began arcing across from one line to the next, the carbon in the smoke thick enough to become a conductor.

Pan-ic

Back home after 18 days in smoky, gritty, grimy, poison oak infested northern California.

I was at the Butte Lightning Complex, flew out of Redding this morning back home to Albuquerque.

We had to hold it all the way home, Bush was at the airport yesterday, and Secret Service had removed all the porta-potties for security reasons.

I think the real reason is that he had filled them all up.

I’ve missed you all…

Here we sit like birds in the wilderness,

(everybody sing along)

birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness, here we sit like birds in the wilderness, waiting to be fed…

Every year a pair of Western Kingbirds nest in the windsock at our helibase. Somehow they manage to raise a brood in spite of the spinning, squeaking and flapping of the windsock. Not to mention the nosy human who climbs up a step ladder perched in the front yard to take their portrait..

remnant

A broken spear point, missing its tip on the right hand end in this photo, it may have been perhaps 3 inches long intact. The notches for attachment to the shaft are broken off as well. Made from a fine grained jasper that isn’t found in the area where this tool was left, it’s too large for an arrowhead, possibly the point of an atl-atl (spear-thrower) dart.

The somewhat rough workmanship suggests it is a relatively recent tool, probably nomadic Athapascans (Navajo, Apache), rather than the earlier Desert Archaic peoples who had more refined tool making skills.

Rules regarding artifacts require that they be left undisturbed when found. I take a picture, mark the waypoint in my GPS, and report the details to my district archaeologist. Most sites I run across have already been documented, still it’s fun to roll out the maps and locate them.

The best part is to sit down, look around, and begin to imagine who may have been there, where they might have lived, the animals and plants they sought, and the feelings they may have had…

environmental impact statement

Just got back from a fire….

This song always causes the tears to well up behind my eyeballs.

Peter Garret, the lead singer of Midnight Oil, is now the Environmental Minister of Australia.

I resemble him when I think there is no one around to see me gyrate and gesticulate.

My crew is mostly Navajo, I see their faces and hear their silent cries. And witness their stoic strength.

Good day, eh!