No cat around anymore so now this happens regularly: wild roadrunner in the living room. A sweet consolation. We are so fortunate.

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Warming up, so desert tortoises — like this dude at one of our properties — are emerging from their burrows where they’ve been brumating during the cold winter temperatures.

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Last week we got snow in our neck of Joshua Tree for the second time in 2019. The cat was intrigued. Here he is, in a photo by Stephanie, trying to pick up the scent of the local cottontail rabbits.

Rain and snow! At this point in the year that usually means there will be a strong wildflower bloom in the coming spring. Spring generally stretches from mid-March to mid-June — but who knows anymore, given the unfolding climate catastrophe. Anyways, book one of our historic homesteader cabins now if you’d like to visit.

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So great to have more birds of prey in our neighborhood recently. I saw the local Cooper’s Hawk Red-tailed Hawk this past Friday on my morning trot around the 80-acre “block.” But…wait! Is it really a Cooper’s Hawk? One bird nut saw this photo on Instagram is insisting this guy is actually a Red-tailed Hawk. Is it really possible to tell from this photo? Anyone know?

Click on image to bigify…

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Rain last fall, winter and spring changed the face of the desert. The drought was broken. Old plants grew bigger; new plants emerged; and wildflowers and grasses carpeted what had otherwise been nearly bare sand for years. The increase in vegetative matter meant more food for foraging animals. Insect, lizard, rodent and rabbit populations have exploded in size and variety. And that increase has in the last three months been followed in our neighborhood by the new, persistent presence of higher order predators (as well as increase in the coyotes that we always see, or more accurately, hear) that we had not previously seen.

A pair of Western Screech owls have taken up residency in our neighbor Miguel’s tree canopy, and often show themselves in daylight. Here’s two pictures from Miguel:

We’re also seeing a Cooper’s Hawk on patrol in the area in mornings and afternoons. Miguel was able to get this photo:

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Tiny butterflies (wingspan: around an inch) have been hanging out, with bees, on a desert broom bush in our yard. iNaturalist folk are saying they’re Mormon Metalmark (Apodemia mormo). Never seen these guys here before. Really beautiful. (Note the bee in the photo below the video to get a sense of scale.)

Video and photo by Stephanie

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Last week we had massive groups of migrating turkey vultures at dusk and early morning on consecutive days. Here they are warming up in the dawn sun. Wild animals are the best — never gets old seeing them!

Wikipedia: “A group of vultures is called a kettle, committee or wake. The term kettle refers to vultures in flight, while committee refers to vultures resting on the ground or in trees. Wake is reserved for a group of vultures that are feeding.”

Click on the photo to enlarge.

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Local wild desert tortoises have been showing themselves lately.

This guy was under one of our vehicles, taking shelter after some rain the night before. Click on the photo to enlarge. Amazing gaze from this fella.

And a happy guest got this photo of himself with a (different) tortoise outside our Sunever cabin

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A roadrunner suns herself on the patio. She scampered off a few minutes later. A very intense sitch to come upon!

A follower on instagram added: “Believed to be a way to warm up without expending energy and to help dislodge parasites by baking em”

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Two wild Coachwhips (aka Red Racers, or Red Coachwhips; scientific name: Masticophis flagellum piceus) mating. Filmed recently by a neighbor friend here in Joshua Tree; shared with his permission.

More info on this animal:

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