Springtime Nature – April 2016, #2

As I have done most afternoons lately, I drove up to Orilla Verde, to see what was going on. I had my fly rod and tackle in the van, but didn’t think it likely that I would go fishing, since the water had just jumped up to 900 cfs – too high for fly fishing.

But I had both my cameras with me – my Coolpix P600 Superzoom, and my Nikon D90, with an 80-300 zoom lens. I suspected that there would be some flowers already blooming, and I was right. And beside flowers, I knew that I could get some wildlife sightings.

I had noticed, at Petaca CG a few days back, that Western bluebirds were around. And they were again today, perching on posts. All the photos that follow were taken with the Coolpix, except those noted as being taken with the D90.

Western bluebird

Western bluebird

Western bluebird

Western bluebird

A few yards up the road, I noticed this squirrel, eating Siberian elm seeds.

Squirrel, D90

Squirrel (D90)

I was heading for the Gauging Station area, which I usually visit in the Spring to find blooming cactus, but stopped on the way to photograph a pair of mallards, and a favorite section of the gorge rim.

A good-looking male mallard and a frowzy-looking female

A good-looking male mallard and a frowzy-looking female (D90)

West rim of the Rio Grande Gorge

West rim of the Rio Grande Gorge (D90)

I saw, as I arrived at the Gauging Station, a group of 4 mule deer, down at the water on the opposite side of the river. They didn’t get too alarmed by my presence across the river, but started to amble slowly away. About a week ago, I saw 3 Bighorn rams in the very same spot.

Mule deer

Mule deer

Mule deer

Mule deer, amongst basalt boulders and sage

Then I started my search for blooming cactus and early flowers.

Fleabane and Green Hedgehog, close to blooming

Fleabane and Green hedgehog cactus (left), close to blooming



Green hedgehog

Green hedgehog cactus

Green hedgehog, with a $1 bill beside it for scale

Green hedgehog cactus, with a $1 bill beside it for scale. It’s a very small cactus, and easy to miss.


Claret cup (also a hedgehog cactus)

Also blooming was the Western wallflower.

Western wallflower

Western wallflower

Sagebrush and lichen-covered basalt boulders

Sagebrush and lichen-decorated basalt boulders


Gauging Station Rapid, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Then I continued upstream to the Taos Junction Bridge area.

Sign at the Rio, Grande Spring

Sign at the Rio Grande Spring

Teasel and willows, alongside the river

Teasel, willows and a mullein stalk, alongside the river

Cottonwood tree, with catkins, next to the spring

Cottonwood tree, with catkins, next to the spring

Mayfly, on my windshield

Mayfly, on my windshield

Well … I sure got my money’s worth on this two-hour jaunt! You just GOTTA love the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument!

About Evensteven

I am a photographer and author, and live in Embudo, New Mexico, alongside the Rio Grande. I have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: The Grand: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447 I have also published six additional iBooks: 1. The Salt River: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-salt-river/id12449222822. 2. Coyote Buttes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/coyote-buttes/id1271773201 3. Four Cornered, the Land: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered/id1384038899 4. Four Cornered, The Rivers: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered-book-two-the-rivers/id1402287568 5. Rio Marañon: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered-book-two-the-rivers/id1402287568 6. Rio Grande: https://books.apple.com/us/book/rio-grande-new-mexico/id1469126321
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