Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Colors of the Desert

We are staying just north of the Phoenix city limits with desert all around us.

About nine miles from the RV Park is Cave Creek Regional Park, covering roughly 3,000 acres of extremely lush desert foothills in the upper Sonoran Desert.

The steep and very rocky slopes offer excellent habitat for cacti, desert trees, and many other plants. A pair of the tall Saguaro Cacti are shown on the left.

I believe the small, shiny cactus which dominates this steep slope is the "jumping" cholla.

Despite the Barrel Cactus' dense armor of spines, Desert Bighorn Sheep are able to penetrate the defenses and feed on the flesh.

I was not able to identify all the types of cactus we saw or the flowers that were just starting to bloom.

I think this is the Brittlebush flower. The Park offers programs on the flowers and the birds of the desert, and I could have used the information.

Unfortunately, the "Desert Wildflowers 101" program will not be held for 10 days, and we have tickets for the Cub-Mariners game that day.

We found these Desert Bluebells along the Overton Trail in the Park. This was one of the shorter trails (1.9 miles) of the Parks six trails, ranging from 0.2 miles (Jasper) to 5.8 miles (Go John).

Many of the flowers were close to the ground. Since we wanted to get as close as possible, we assumed some interesting positions--all for the sake of the photographs.

Because we took so long setting up some of the photos, we did very little hiking. But then again, had we been hiking, we might have missed some of these small flowers.

Since it was a calm, cloudy day, we were able to take these photos in a "natural lighting" setting. I believe that this flower is the Filaree Storksbill.

It was a bit early for the desert to be in its fullest array of colors, but it was a welcome introduction of what the desert has kept hidden all winter.

Maybe I can sign up for the "Desert Wildflowers 101" course on-line.

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