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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Obligatory Year In Review: CRITTERS!

As you know, April and I are very much into animals. Whether it is at a zoo, scratching up our furniture, or out in the wild, we try to see critters as much as possible.

I was warned about how little wildlife there was out here when we moved. I think that is a big ole lie. You just have to appreciate the fact that there are different types of animals out here and you have to know where to look. Every animal on the planet can't make it out here in the desert ya know.

Since we often head out to Red Rock Canyon I may as well start off with the Wild Burro. This is a great example of an animal that is suited to our landscape, but doesn't get much attention from folks who believe there's nothing to see out here. The fact that these burro are wild and NOT in a zoo makes it all the better. Getting the chance to see them is always a treat.

It would appear that the burro were also happy to see us.

On our first visit to Red Rock (2007) we saw our first Big Horn Sheep. This year, thanks to my job as a tour guide, I learned of a spot in Boulder City where most anytime I wanted I could see 60-100 of the darned things.

There is a city park near the mountains where the Big Horn love to come and hang out. Quite literally they come down from the hills and hang out in the park. It is not uncommon to see kids playing on the playground equipment and just a few feet away will be several of these majestic wild animals. Very cool!

They're only around in big numbers during the warmer months and they head back up the mountains when the temperature drops. I finally had a chance to bring April late in the summer and that was a big thrill for both of us.

On our trip to Bryce Canyon we saw a
Uinta Ground Squirrel, a cute little bugger common to Utah specifically. Very adorable. We'd hoped to see some Prairie Dogs that are found at Bryce but they were not around. However, what WAS around was something that is supposed to be a bit rare in the section of Bryce where we were.

BEHOLD! The Pronghorn Antelope!

Yeah, baby! That's the stuff! We'd heard they could be seen "occasionally" there, depending upon a variety of conditions. We figured we'd have no hope of catching something like this. Then we nearly hit one with our car. Soon after that we saw a couple more...and then about 20 more! We had a good day for spotting the critters.

Almost everywhere we went over the year brought us some sort of lizard. We really enjoyed stumbling upon the Southern Desert Horned Lizard though. how could you not enjoy finding this cute guy, right?

Our own little zoo here in Las Vegas provided some great fun. Sure we could have seen the new Komodo Dragon at the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef or the baby Dolphins & baby White Tigers at the Mirage. We love our little zoo and are members there, dammit! We take pride in our local efforts to make the town more fun!

At our zoo, which is the only place in North America you can see a Barbary Ape, we were treated to something we'd never seen before, the
Fossa. Fossa are critters that must have been the inspiration for the "Jeep" character in the Popeye cartoons. Very crazy looking, bouncy cat-like things. Hard to describe and harder to photograph sometimes. Our zoo has two of these buggers from the San Diego Zoo and they are awesome. However they are not quite as awesome as...


These guys are amazing and thanks to a special little tour given to us by a gal at the zoo, we got about as close to them as you could without having Fossa all up in ya'! We got to see them long before they were "officially" on display at the zoo and we couldn't be happier about that.

The zoo has recently gotten a Siberian Lynx and the first Bornean Binturong in Nevada. It is a great little zoo, even though it is not as "pretty" or "fancy" as some snobby locals would like.

Speaking of zoos there was a great nature preserve/desert garden/zoo-kinda place in Palm Desert, right next door to Palm Springs, CA.

The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens was a wonderful way to finish off our trip to Palm Springs. I hope to go back there as there are some great trails following the scenic canyon that we didn't get to see.

There were loads of beautiful animals and plants to walk through and see.

Aside from many a desert creature there were cactus gardens, a butterfly exhibit, and all sorts of beautiful things to photograph.

April also snapped a damn near perfect photo of a Hummingbird. Hard enough to photograph when they're flying. Try to get those bastards to stand still for a spell!

So you can see we had a most successful year with regard to our love for nature and the critters that inhabit it. All told though, we have more than enough animal love around this house. Of course I am speaking of Phil. Phil is all the animal we need. After all...

SOMEBODY has to keep our favorite chairs warm!

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