So the latest #throwbackthursdaytravel page is up under the travel tab. This week’s entry was our whirlwind afternoon in the White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico (though at the time it was still only a National Monument, it had been promoted to a National Park later).
This is actually the world’s largest gypsum dune field at 275 square miles. If you camp in the back country or hike any of the trails away from Dunes Drive, it is easy to see why parts of various movies (such as Independence Day) were filmed within the area, with rolling dunes and flat plains of gypsum as far as the eye can see.
While the dune field covers a large area, one doesn’t want to become ‘lost’ within it–especially since the park is also within the White Sands Missile Testing area and adjacent to a military base.
Our afternoon was spent basically taking the scenic drive through part of the park (the Dunes Drive is a round trip sixteen mile drive, but one should also account for time spent taking pictures, hiking up and down the dunes, and even possibly sledding down the dunes), hiking up some of the dunes and taking pictures.
While I may have only seen a single lizard, I was able to get pictures of several different wildflowers that are able to grow within the gypsum dunes:
I would love to go back to the park, and actually try sledding down a dune, hiking a little further than what we did, and even trying to camp out in the back-country for a day or two.
So there are another two bird pages live under the bird tab. These two birds, I had photographed a couple of years ago when I had gone to London for a brief networking/mental health break. While I was looking through the London photos trying to find the pictures of the ‘street pigeons’, I realized I had forgotten to ‘confirm’ my identification of all the other birds I’d taken pictures of. One of the birds I had originally misidentified and I realized that I never fully identified the second one.
The first one, is the one I originally misidentified is the great cormorant, which I had originally thought was the double-crested cormorant in its winter colors (since that is really the only cormorant I’d seen to this point). Well, I was wrong and it turned out to be the great cormorant (it is one of two members of the family found in the UK, with the other being the common shag).
I had managed to get pictures of a group of them sitting within the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens on my first day in London.
The second bird that I totally forgot to try to originally identify turns out to be an immature great-crested grebe, again spotted within the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens.
Unlike the great cormorant that can be seen along the coastlines of the eastern United States and Canada, the great-crested grebe is only found within the ‘Old World’.
Now I do have a ‘birding goal’ for whenever I manage to travel back to the UK (or even Europe in general)–try to spot an adult great-crested grebe.
While I will be starting to research the ducks, swans, and geese group next, there will also be several other additional pages added to other groups as I continue to go through my bird pictures and identify the various species of birds that I have managed to photograph.
Question–have you spotted a young grebe in the wild? If so–where and what species?
Did you know that June is the ‘Great Outdoors Month’?
It started as the ‘Great Outdoors Week/end’ in the late 1990s under President Clinton, and was expanded under the presidents that followed. It has only been the past two years (since 2019) that it was officially designated as the ‘Great Outdoors Month’ by Congress.
It was designed as a way to get people outdoors and being active, plus showcase how outdoor activities are economically beneficial as well for everyone.
Within the month, there are also ‘specific’ days that get celebrated as well, such as:
National Trails Day (1st Saturday of the month–so for 2021, that would be today), and National Get Outdoors Day (2nd Saturday of teh month, so this year it will be on June 12th).
So, today is National Trails Day which was established to promote awareness to the massive trail system in the country that is maintained by the local, state, and federal governments.
Luckily, I live just a few blocks from a great walking trail–Boomer Lake (the trail goes all the way around, plus there are mini-paths that branch off from some of the sidewalk). While there are still areas that I haven’t really explored (during the summer there are ticks to be worried about, and the the cold temperatures in the winter), but I do try to get out on the trail at least once a month (if not once a week). I’m also going to try to get to Sanborn Lake and see what type of wildlife is around there as well sometime this year.
There are other hiking trails that are nearby at one of the larger area lakes, but not within walking distance. Plus, walking/hiking the trails at Lake McMurtry requires you to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes. At least at Boomer Lake, it is only water snakes (and I don’t get close to those either).
When we managed to get up to northern Minnesota for vacation, there were always numerous hiking trails on the north shore of Lake Superior, and then just walking the roads around the area lakes also allowed for nature photography and watching. Depending on the time of year that we would go up there–it would either be in time to look for waterfalls, or take pictures of the different wildflowers growing.
One nice thing about hiking along the rivers, you could see where they entered Lake Superior:
Sometimes you can even follow the trail all the way down to the mouth of the river. Then you are able to see all the rocks that have collected over the centuries.
I do like trying to find agates on the beach–on the rare occasion I’m successful, but most of the time I’m not (though since I’m not a geologist–I may have missed quite a few of them).
I’ve managed to do several other small hikes over the years (these will possibly be their own pages under the travel section–coming soon[in addition to possible pages for the these hikes as well]), and hopefully will be able to do a several more in the future.
Where is your favorite hiking trail located, and is it an easy, medium, or hard hike?