The Road to Master Naturalist: Oh No! Noxious Weed Alert ….. 

Probably best known as Tree of Heaven (ToH), Ailanthus altissima seems to be more widespread in the Albuquerque area and up in the East Mountains than I thought. And it’s officially on the noxious weed list for New Mexico.

How did this happen?

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The Road to Master Naturalist: A Field Trip … Tijeras Creek Remediation Project

Yay! After waiting out Covid for 2 years, Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) is once again holding classes for Master Naturalist certification! Both Roy and I applied and were accepted into the program along with 20 other students of all ages and backgrounds.

Many of the classes are being held via Zoom meetings. But thanks to scheduled field trips we are getting to know each other while learning some cool stuff, including a visit to The Tijeras Creek Remediation Project, in our home town. We never realized!

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Backyard Birds: Up Close and Personal

Hummingbirds are one of the most fascinating and beautiful bird species that come to our yard each summer. The black-chinned, the broad-tailed, and the feisty rufous are the three species we see most often. Competition for nectar can be fierce, and it’s exciting to watch their aerial acrobatics as they buzz back and forth to determine the “owner” of our flowers!

It’s all about nectar ….. a commodity somewhat scarce in the desert, especially during a drought.

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An Urban Desert Surprise Dressed in Pink Chiffon

“Nature has an economy, an elegance, a style ……” if we could just ”rise out of the rubble” and see.

What is your motivation for getting out in nature? Is it to log miles, climb the next hill, socialize, take a pretty picture, experience wildlife, or perhaps calm your mind? When walking, anywhere, how often do you just pause and really see what’s around you, or ”oops” underfoot?

More often than not, I like to think I fall into the latter category, but at times it doesn’t hurt to get a wake-up reminder …. and yesterday was one of those days.

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Escapito Mini: Perea Nature Trail, Pueblo Pintado Solar Fields and Open Pit Coal Mines

Do you ever wake up with an urge to head out for the day on an adventure? To go somewhere new ….. excited about the chance of seeing something different? It was the last day of May, and we decided to play tourist in our home state. But where? With so many areas closed to public access because of extreme fire danger, our choices were limited.

So we pulled out our book of New Mexico maps and found an entire portion of the NW badlands area we’ve never seen. And look …. the 291 mile round trip would take us over the Continental Divide too! Cool.

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Backyard Birds: The bold, the pushy, the curious

What a successful breeding season it’s been! Our backyard bird population exploded in size during May. with the addition of dozens of youngsters. The house finches have been the most prolific, and watching the newbies spar at the waterbowl or compete for the best perch on the feeders has been hilarious. But I’ve had the most fun getting to know the newest addition to the spotted towhee clan …….

…… George.

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Spring Botany Study, Part 6: Kentucky Coffeetree Rediscovery

With Albuquerque temperatures climbing rapidly, Spring 2022 is almost a memory ….. almost.

As luck would have it, I found myself once again in northABQ with a bit of quality time on my hands, so Luna and I set off on the 2 mile round-trip walk to revisit my beloved Kentucky Coffeetrees. It was a rediscovery of sorts and a surprise to find the 2 female trees had progressed way beyond blooming! Fully leafed out, they were showing off newly developing, soft as suede seed pods!

Darn! Missed seeing the flowers, but Wow! What a sight to see these two ladies and the 6 male trees healthy and growing like gangbusters!

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Escapito #2b: Cuba Mesa, Santa Fe National Forest

We packed up camp at the Angel Peak campground early in the morning, and bounced back down 8 miles of washboard road towards the highway. Along the way we pulled into several picnic areas with scenic overlooks and ooohed and aaaaahed at the spectacular Kutz Canyon from many angles. Every stop was worth it..

But then a new destination was calling …… about 70 miles southeast ….. over the Continental Divide to Cuba Mesa.

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Escapito #2a: Angel Peak Scenic Area

It has been a while between Escapitoes, but for good reason! We decided to sell our RV, BagoBago, and go with a pull-behind travel trailer that would get off the beaten path more easily; would be equipped with all those features for off-grid camping and exploration. After a few weeks of shopping we decided the new MicroMinnie FLX from Winnebago would fit the bill nicely. This high clearance, rugged 22 foot trailer is loaded with solar panels, lithium batteries, on-demand hot water, eco efficient heater, AC and range, etc., and is surprisingly roomy with a Murphy bed large enough for two plus our 50# dog, Luna. (Yes, Luna is very spoiled!)

Enter ”The Felix” ….. and her maiden, shake-down voyage to the Four Corners region of New Mexico.

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Spring Has Arrived! Part 5: Blanket Flower

There are some flowers, no matter how common, that always make me happy! So when the trails are decorated with sunflowers of any variety, it’s hard not to smile from cheek to cheek!

Yellow Blanket Flower fills this bill …… a what a lovely burst of sunshine popping up today!

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