Friday, March 13, 2015


We drove south to El Paso today (a 460 mile trip) and as we went through Alamogordo, I told Georgia (who grew up there)- "There's Harris' hawks here now".  This is interesting because Harris' hawks didn't used to be there and have moved into the area in recent years. Derek perked up and started pointing out raptors on the telephone poles. I said, "No... they won't be up there. They're more likely down in the lower trees like... um... those mesquite" and then I point to 2 Harris' hawks sitting in a mesquite tree.  Ha!

Decades ago, we were at the Sonoran Desert Museum near Tucson. I had yet to see a wild HH so I asked the lady there "are there any Harris' hawks here?" She says "not very many- they're pretty rare." We get in the car and drive about a mile and there at the top of a saguaro is a large adult HH.

Another time, I was driving down a remote NM road with a friend talking about redtails and describing the brown tail of the immature. I look out the passenger side window and surfing along in the truck's wake is... an immature RT hawk. It stayed with us for 1/4 mile and my passenger got a great look at the brown tail of an immature RT hawk.

It's almost like magic sometimes.

On the way down, I decided to video the scenery to sort of document the changing terrain- and boy, does it change from our house to El Paso!  We went from high plains grasslands, down through the pinon/juniper country, then through yucca country, and finally into the rocky Mexican desert of El Paso.  The yuccas went from ground level to 10 feet tall or more, the rocks went from sharp round volcanic to sharp flat granite.  The hills go from smooth and rolling to mostly straight up and down. And the moisture went from snow to non-existent. If' we'd gone through Taos to pick up the alpine stuff, I think we could have crossed most of the major life-zones in the U.S. on this trip. Here we go....

First, we stopped in Las Vegas for a brunch at the excellent Charlie's Spic 'n Span.  We started off with fun stuff:

Followed by a most excellent green chili breakfast burrito. This was one of the green chili things that you could smell a good 12" from your nose. I had no trouble eating the whole thing and drinking 2-3 cups of the coffee.

This is New Mexico Food

Properly stuffed, we hit the road again and promptly missed our exit.  No worries- we just proceeded on down the road and took NM 3, a small and lonely road also heading south.  That's where the video record starts.

Following are some comments I jotted down:

Duran is leaving the high country and starting out through the central grasslands. There's less moisture here and more yuccas.

The Corona area is full of pinyon/juniper and used to be full of deer- might still be. Once when Georgia and I were still dating, we were driving up to the ranch and going through Corona about 2 am.  I was asleep, G was driving, and I suddenly woke up, grabbed the steering wheel, yelled "watch out for the deer!!!", and then fell asleep again.  I can't believe she stuck with me after that.

Approaching Carrizozo, the country is definitely moving into the tall yuccas. It's getting drier and the grass is getting much sparser.  I did raptor surveys for 2 years in the country to your right (west), all the way to the AZ border.

Running alongside the Jornada del Muerto or Journey of the Dead Man. This is a flat, dry basin running most of the length of central New Mexico. It's home to White Sands Missile Range now.

Just outside Alamogordo is where we saw the Harris' hawks.  Note the tall yuccas and tall mesquite trees. The soil is sandy and this is some seriously dry country.

At the end of this journey, these are some seriously steep mountains.  Hueco Tanks State Park- a famous bouldering area is just around the ridge to the right.

Coming.... "Northbound"!

No comments:

Post a Comment