“Back, baby, back in tiiiime…”

Gillian Welch was referring to a man when she sang those lyrics, but I’m thinking back to wildflowers. To winter rains and superblooms and majestic California landscapes. 2017 has been…..oh goodness…well,many things to many people. The part I choose to reflect on is the spectacular blooms  following those winter rains that brought some relief after years of drought. I chased these blooms through the spring and summer (and, of course, the birds, and bugs, and lizards, and other life they support) and barely came up for breath. With the adventures I have planned for 2018, I fear I will never go back through these photos if not now (uh, yeah, I think South Africa will keep me distracted for a good while).

In April, we took a group of botany and zoology students to Mojave NP. I was introduced to this particular spot within the Mojave by my colleague who has been going there for many years. Neither of us had seen it as green and colorful and alive as it was this spring. Here are a few of my favorite images from this weekend….

This Speckled Rattlesnake taught me how high I can jump! I heard his rattle before spotting him coiled under a shrub I was just a few steps from. I backed away but managed to catch a few shots. He cooperatively stayed in place while I ran back to camp to round up the zoologist and the students.

Quite a bit of springtime bird activity in the Mojave this time of year, including this Ash-throated Flycatcher and Costa’s Hummingbird. The eggs were being tended by a Black-throated Sparrow and I observed a Verdin carrying nesting material into the nest above. We also saw Rock Wrens, Phainopeplas, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and Gambel’s Quail.

Lizards scampered across the desert floor…well, except for this Chuckwalla, he just perched.

And, of course, the BLOOMS were spectacular!

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