Working with the U.S. Geological Survey
Week 7: May 15-19, 2006
Mojave National Preserve
Dry study plot.

On my 7th week with the USGS, we headed back to Mojave National Preserve. This time we stayed only two days, worked near roads, and camped in Mid Hills Campground. We worked and camped in the Pinyon Juniper Woodland Life Zone at about 5,600 feet elevation.

We took Monday off, then headed down for two days to finish the Mojave Desert work for the year. The Pill went on Tuesday, but drove home that evening, and that was nice. On Thursday and Friday, we worked in the greenhouse, getting ready to close it down for the year.

Mojave National Preserve
Dry study plot.
We had three new people start this week. Two kids, Jeff and Maria, worked with us in the desert, and Rick started as a GS-07 crew boss later in the week. All three seem like nice people. Poncho hopes that with more people, the unpleasantness will be spread more thinly among us.
Mojave National Preserve
Poncho and Evening Primrose on an early morning plot.
The desert seemed to dry out in the last week. The first two photos show brown, dried-out little plants that we had to identify and count. At least these plants had grown to a size where it was reasonable to see them, and there were not hundreds of plants per square meter.
Leopard Lizard
My friends the Leopard Lizards were out this week!
The reptiles were out the last two weeks. We saw a rattlesnake crossing the road as we drove down, but the driver wouldn't stop to move it out of the road. This Leopard Lizard (photo left) came to check us out during lunch, but it was much too fast for me to catch. I've also seen lots of Side-blotched Lizards, a few Desert Horned Lizards, and even what looked like Sagebrush Lizards, although their range is supposed to stop miles to the north of here (but at least they were in areas with Sagebrush).
Mojave National Preserve
Along the higher ridges, the flowers are spectacular.
In the higher-elevation, mountainous areas, the flowers were still spectacular. This Mirabilis was quite showy, and the Evening Primrose carpeted the ground in some areas (photo above with Poncho). There were lots of species of flowers blooming, and I spent my one evening this week walking the ridges and savoring the moment with them, as I don't expect to be back before winter.
Liz at Mojave National Preserve
Liz and the New York Mountains. I'm not sure why Liz is tilting.
Last weekend, Liz and I went down to Mojave Preserve to see the flowers. Liz had only seen my photos and wanted to see the place for herself. We stopped in a low-elevation spot beneath the New York Mountains(left) to look for cactus in bloom, then headed to the higher elevations were the annual plants were still blooming. It was a good year for flowers in the burn areas, and some places were literally carpeted with flowers.
Mojave National Preserve
A friendly Glossy Snake with its tongue out tasting the air.
We stayed too late and watched the sunset before heading home, but we did get to meet three little people on the road. The first was a young Gopher Snake that bit me several times as we moved it off the road, and the other two were Glossy Snakes. This one is about as big a glossy snake as I have ever seen.
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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