Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bad day for the bighorn whisperer- only spotted 5 bighorn sheep at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve yesterday.

I saw 2 loners on the ridge tops, opposite sides of the canyon, and a group of 3 on a hillside, all before the .5 mile marker. On the way down to the canyon trail, I filmed this short video of a mesquite hedge row to illustrate a comment made by Kevin the other day. You can see his very interesting blogs here, here, and here.

Mesquite offers more to the animals and birds than tamarisk trees plus uses less water.

The temperature was about 95 degrees F down on the trail and the sun was
relentless the whole time I was out, about 4 1/2 hours. The allergic rash came
back with a vengeance on my legs as well. By the time I got home 2 hours later, there were welts on my upper thighs so I ended up taking Benadryl as a
precaution, just in case the reaction went nuclear, as in your throat closing up while you are asleep, causing a premature checkout of this game of life. When
I got back I felt cold and very tired as well, so I am thinking the allergy was worse this time.

Enough though about me, let me show you the bighorns. I am really getting
good at spotting them way up the hillsides with my naked eye. Here is the first
one I saw alone up near the top of the ridge.
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Taken with max digital zoom enabled. Below is the normal view taken of the hillside sheep.
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Those skeleton trees above were the cottonwoods killed by the disastrous fire that swept through the Preserve in
2005, I believe. A close look will reveal one of the bighorn sheep. Below is a better look.
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Another view below.
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I told you there were sheep, plural.
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With the digital zoom enabled, I got a little bit closer.
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In the next photo it looks like the sheep was using a hoof to move a rock that was blocking access to a tasty treat!
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In the photo below, can you spot the ram on the round hill in the middle? I did, right away. I will make the picture big to make it easier.
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Did you find it? Okay, here it is below.
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And again, zoomed in a little closer.
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I must have looked harmless, this is how he was when I left, heading down the trail and out of his sight.
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Little did I know that there would be no further bighorn sheep sightings on this
smoking hot afternoon. Off I went down the trail, goal to reach the gnarly old
tree at the 2 mile marker that I have named Senor Cottonwood. Here is a photo
taken the day of this hike of the Senor.
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And a photo taken in the bottom left of the picture against the rocky cliff side. 
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While I was sitting on that huge fallen branch under Senor Cottonwood, I
made many attempts to photograph a hummingbird in a branch above me. The
zoom system on the Nikon Coolpix P510 kept missing and hunting, I think I ended using the “find target” focus method. I don’t have my camera with me so
I am writing this from memory. Here are a couple pics of the tiny fellow below.
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The little ham is posing for me in the next one. Look at the focus plane, interesting, eh?
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So up the trail I trudged, slowly and hoping again to spot the elusive bighorn
sheep. No such luck on the way back. While on the mesquite trail and on my
way back to the parking lot, I decided to try my luck again at close up photography. This one is a keeper.
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The above photo taken handheld with the vibration reduction mode enabled. Click on it and it will open larger in a new window.

After sleeping overnight on it, I am still wore out from this hike and it may be due to the allergic reaction I seem to be getting from the plant growth that is
choking the trail in a few places around the 1/2 mile marker. I think it is one plant doing it. I meant to take a close up of the plants blooms and leaves to
look up on the net, but my blood was up, and I was on a mission to look for bighorn sheep. So I think the best thing now is to wait a couple of weeks and make sure that this allergy has completely left me before returning. You see, I
still could see faint signs of the previous rash on my legs yesterday morning,
so obviously I wasn’t over the preceding condition. The risk that I am taking is
that with summer coming on, the bighorn may leave soon. I hope not.

There is some good news. I start a new bus driving job day after tomorrow. So
this may change my accustomed days off, we will see. One of my friends is just amazed that I was fired 3 weeks ago and picked up another gig this fast in this recession depression that our economy is in right now. So am I, so am I. Some of you have written me encouraging words which were much appreciated
and helped give me a needed “pick me up”- for that I am very grateful.

That’s it here at Lake Woebegone the O.C. hope to see you back on the backporch soon!



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