Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Touring The East Side of Sevilleta NWR - Page 1

Not long after our arrival at the Refuge a local refuge volunteer took us and the other two residential volunteers on a tour of some of the non-public eastern property.  We had a great day out replete with beautiful views, new plants and flowers, unique geological features and more.

Our first stop was a look out over Palo Duro Canyon.  In the far distance you can see the Sierra Ladrones.  Ladron Peak is considered a Sky Island which means that it supports vegetation and wildlife not found in the surrounding grasslands.  It is also high enough to have a coniferous forest on its upper slopes.

Patty and Ron venture out to the ‘point’ and overlook the (currently dry) Rio.  Looking right from here you see what is pictured in the previous photo.  The Ladrones mark both a northern most boundary and a western one for the refuge.  If you looked left from this point you’d see that we were only a short distance from the Pinos (pictured in previous posts) which help mark the refuges’ north easterly boundary.

Looking directly into the sun (not the best idea photographically) and slightly southeast.  You can see the continuation of the Rio and the southern most tapering of the Pinos off in the distance.

                    Doesn’t this rock look like bark from a tree?

          From the Palo Duro overlook we headed toward Cibola Spring.

                               Footprints - A sure sign of fresh water nearby.

These almost perfectly painted circles decorated many of the rocks in the wash.

They are a neat geological event called Reduction Spheres and are formed when organic material in the center (or nucleus) ‘reduces’ the reds and browns and leaches out white.


And, in case you were wondering if they were just on the surface of the rock...
  In this broken flake, you can see that the sphere is consistent throughout.

                     Badger, Raccoon or somewhere in that family.

Our first view of the spring water.  Wasn’t moving much in this part.  The ‘thick’ characteristic of the water made for some unique (though unfortunate for the subjects) photos.



                                         Bobcat, perhaps?

Have you ever seen the ocean in the middle of New Mexico?  We haven’t either.  But we have seen evidence of it.

crinoid_arms                                  This is a Crinoid in its normal environment.

               These are Crinoid fossils on the way to Cibola Spring.

  A closer look.  It is amazing to think that this area was once ocean covered.

And before we bring Page 1 of this two page post to a close... Have you ever seen a Vinegaroon?  Well, we hadn’t either until we stumbled upon this creepy fella.

                      The Giant Vinegaroon a.k.a. Whip Scorpion
He was just a shell of his former self but there’s enough there to get the idea.

According to the internet:  Although its tail (missing in above photo but it is typically long, thin and straight) is unable to sting, this creature can spray an acidic mist from a scent gland at the base of the tail when disturbed. The spray is 85% concentrated acetic acid/vinegar, hence the common name “Vinegaroon.” The heavy pinching mouthparts can also inflict a painful bite.

Sort of glad that our first encounter with this creature presented us with no opportunity for being pinched or acid misted.

Stay tuned for Page 2 of Touring The East Side of Sevilleta NWR, Cibola Spring and Pino Canyon.