14-03-23nm road_2797 copy

“Trees are much like human beings and enjoy each other’s company.  Only a few love to be alone.”  ~Jens Jensen, Siftings, 1939

Out here in the desert, trees grow few and far between, as do the people.

Find comfort in not being alone!    en theos monos ††† jim


14-03-23nm road_2696 copy

“There are powers far beyond us, plans far beyond what we could have ever thought of, visions far more vast than what we can ever see on our own with our own eyes, there are horizons long gone beyond our own horizons. This is courage- to throw away what is our own that is limited and to thrust ourselves into the hands of these higher powers- God and Destiny.To do this is to abide in the realm of the eternal, to walk in the path of the everlasting to follow in the footprints of God and demi-gods. The hardest part for man is the letting go. For some reason, he thinks himself big enough to know and to see what’s good for him. But in the letting go…… found freedom. In the letting go…….. is found the flight!”
― C. JoyBell C.

Oh, to find the courage to fly! ….en theos monos ††† jim

Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #318


We were at Bosque Del Apache watching some snowy egrets, when I saw this “black stick” slowing moving across the road about 50 yards ahead of us. I drove up to where I thought it had been. I got out of the car and I guess I was thinking the snake would be much further away by now. I was looking for him down in the brush when I glanced down at my feet and he was about a foot away from my boot.

I had my 300mm lens with an 1.4 tel-extender which made the big guy (4 feet) a little too close to get more than sections of him. The combination of a black snake and heavy shade made for a wide aperture and very little DOF. He sniffed and posed for 5 minutes or so. He allowed me to gently lift his tail section off the ground. He finally grew tired of me and quickly disappeared down a hole in the ground.

The speckled kingsnake is often called the “salt-and-pepper” snake.   This snake is easily recognized by the light spots covering a black body.  The body is almost always solid black and the spots range from yellow-orange through creamy yellow to ivory white.   The spots can appear on almost every scale.  It is not uncommon for the spots to form thin, light crossbars on the dorsal surface, making the snake look somewhat banded.

The semi-banded specimens are the most common pattern form throughout the range of speckled kingsnakes.  Animals with little or no banding pattern are often referred to as “multipspeckled.”

Although most wild caught speckled kingsnakes will calm down in captivity, this subspecies has a reputation for being more aggressive than others.  From personal experience, about 40% of our wild caught individuals will try to bite and emit a foul smelling musk that you won’t soon forget. The other 60% range in attitude from extremely docile to just wiggly when held. With frequent handling, though, most will calm down and make as fine a “pet” as any other kingsnake. However, captive bred pets are strongly recommended over wild collected ones.

Speckled kingsnakes are well respected by most of the rural folks.  Most of them are well aware of their appetite for rodents, although they unknowingly think that they primarily seek out and eat predominately venomous snakes.  They DO eat venomous snakes but only as opportunistic feeders. They eat what is available to them, i.e. whatever they come across.  Young feed mainly on lizards and small snakes (such as baby garter and ribbon snakes). Adults feed mainly on rodents and snakes (including various water snake and cottonmouths). Speckled kingsnakes utilize many habitats including farms, open fields, swampy areas, forested areas and in many towns.

Experience a little wild on your journey††††nada te turbe†††jim

Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #317

HEY IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN OR WAS JEREMIAH A BULLFROG OR DID WE JUST GO A COURTIN’ AH-HAW AH-HAW ?????????Thought it only fitting to follow a “Horned Frog” with a real frog. I believe this is a bullfrog, but not well versed in amphibian aliases, so croak out if I am wrong!Frogs are a tough stalk and like others things in life, I found this one while looking for for something else…… just came a float’n by.Be prepared for whatever comes a floating by on your journey††††nada te turbe†††††jim

via Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #317.

Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #317


Thought it only fitting to follow a “Horned Frog” with a real frog. I believe this is a bullfrog, but not well versed in amphibian aliases, so croak  out if I am wrong!

Frogs are a tough stalk and like others things in life, I found this one while looking for for something else…… just came a float’n by.

Be prepared for whatever comes a floating by on your journey††††nada te turbe†††††jim

Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #313

Great Egret (Ardea alba) in flight.

The Great Egret is most certainly not the most graceful looking birds when taking off and landing. But let them get up to air speed, pulling that neck into an S to which even my second grade teacher Miss Kelly would give a silent nod of approval. They become a wonder of grace and poetry in motion. So it is a real treat to be in a quiet place yet close enough to hear the power of those wings creating the lift needed to carry their 2 pounds into flight.

Watching their landings, you will likely find the quiet broken with your snort of laughter at seeing a small tree quake under their weight, accompanied by the squawks of their colony as they settle to roost.

May you always walk away from awkward landings on your journey†††nade te turbe†††jim

Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #310

This Yellow-crowned Night-Heron greeted me and the morning sun just like most of us, with a yawn.

Unlike other “night herons” it is active during the day as well as the night. That being said, most of them I saw during the day at Bosque Del Apache were sleeping very soundly.

The Yellow Crowned variety will usually nest in colonies with their homes being constructed on a platform of sticks in trees or shrubs. Once these birds find a nice place to live, they usually keep the nest for quite a while, some nesting sites being used repeatedly for over 20 years.

The Yellow-Crowned Night Heron was hunted during the 18 and 1900′s since their feathers were popular amongst humans.  The hunting has ceased but now we destroy their habitat. You know those homes they stay in for 20 years…well, they are getting destroyed. Luckily, the population of these handsome birds are mostly stable but who knows how long that will last if we continue to move into their habitats.

Stay alert on your perch on your journey, you never know who else might like where you are†††nada te turbe†††jim

Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #309

We had a fun time watching this family of nutria. It was a quiet time of the day and there were very few birds to see at Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico. While sometime called river rats, we found them living up to the old saying “busy as a beaver”. They were in almost constant motion and after a while seemed oblivious to our watching eyes. Surely as much fun as you could have watching a rodent.

The Nutria (Myocastor coypus) is a rodent native to South America, and was introduced to Europe, Asia, and the US for fur farming. When the fur market crashed in the US (1940s) many were released in the wild.

Adult are smaller than a beaver, but larger than a muskrat. They are about 14 inches long with a round hairless tail almost as long as their body or longer (12 to 17 inches). Nutria usually have dark brown fur. They have 4 inch long whiskers and large incisors that are yellow-orange to orange-red. Nutria average 16 to 18 pounds, but sometimes reach a weight of 25 pounds.

Nutria are vegetarians and consume almost 25% of their weight daily. Their favorite foods include: rushes, reeds, cattails, arrowhead, square-stem spike rush, and sawgrass. They eat sugarcane, alfalfa, corn, and rice if they can get them. Unfortunately, nutria over-harvest, which results in killing desirable plant species, and destroying wetland habitats.

Nutria are semi-aquatic and spend most of their time in or near the water. Nutria burrows often have entrances underwater. Nutria may use elevated, platforms of dead vegetation instead of a burrow, or may nest in dense vegetation.

One male usually has a “harem” of 2 to 3 females. Female nutria only produce 6 litters of young in their lifetime. Litters average 4 to 5 young. The teats on a female nutria are high on the sides so young nutria can nurse as the mother swims.

Fun Nutria Facts

– Nutria have 3 sets or lengths of fur: primary and secondary guard hairs, and under fur.

– Nutria are also called coypu, coypu rat, nutria rat, and swamp beaver.

– Nutria have valves in their mouths and noses that can be closed so water doesn’t get in.

– At birth young nutria are fully furred.

Find things of interest in unexpected places on your journey†††nada te turbe††††jim

Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #308

I felt this light and wind as it patiently and powerfully swept across the yellow of the grass in a section of Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico. I felt peace, and  a stir in my heart and was reminded of scenes from the Gladiator. “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. ”

Ah, to stand up for all you believe in, does it only happen in the movies?

I could feel the grass beneath my hand and felt the sway of both the grass and my heart.

See those things that move you along on your journey†nada te turbe†jim

Photo of Da day @ Da Pine #306

We spotted this Viceroy butterfly while stalking frogs along one of the many irrigation canals on the Bosque Del Apache wildlife refuge in New Mexico. It was during the heat of the day and frogs are not an easy stalk at anytime, but it was in the 100’s and we were sweating and questioning what the heck are we doing.

For whatever reason the Viceroy made it all come to fruition. I had my 500mm lens with a 1.4 extender and I was pushing the envelope to focus as close as my subject was. No time (and too hot) to run back to the car for the macro kit. So you work with what you got.

Always be ready for what shows up on your journey†††††nada te turbe†††jim