Life in the mountain shrub community

Another hike, a bunch more fun photos. One of the big reasons I like walking is because I go slow enough to see interesting things.

Side-blotched lizard maybe 3

Side-blotched lizard.

If I’d know blotchiness on the side of the lizard would be diagnostic, I would have tried to get a shot.

Side-blotched lizard maybe 1

The slit on the lizard’s head is not a gill, as I keep thinking it is, even though I know better. Reptiles don’t have gills, they have nostrils and breath air.  The slit is the lizard’s ear.

 

Yellow brested chat

Yellow-breasted chat.

Yellow-breasted Chats look like lemon-breasted robins. But instead, they are overgrown wood-warblers, a family that includes birds like the Virginia warbler or Wilson’s warbler. Don’t recognize the names? That’s because they are too small to see easily, usually around 5 inches long, or smaller, and they prefer denser forest. Yellow-breasted chats, on the other hand, are around 7 1/4 inches long — robin-sized — and live in open shrubland.

mountain gentian-1

Fremont geranium

Fremont geraniums were all along the trail. Very nice.

Spotted Towhee

I love to wake up to the sound of birds singing. The “twup tewerp” of robins, the trills of house finches, the hyena-like call of Northern flickers. But in the past few years, I’ve started to hear a new sound in the mornings: “Cha cha cha che e e e ! Cha cha cha che e e e!” It took me a long time to find the owner of this song, and then I realized it was in the shrubs next to me. And when I realized that, I realized that Spotted Towhees were all over the neighborhood.

Spotted towhee in Gambel oak-07_edited-1 According to Cornell’s Birds of North America website http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/263/articles/introduction, Spotted Towhees breed in the plains, mountain shrub and lower elevations of the mountains, scratching for insects and seeds in the litter. When staking their claim to territory, though, they perch in the upper branches of a shrub and sing. A nice addition to the dawn chorus.Singing spotted towhee_edited-1