Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Living Desert - Palm Desert, California

Roger here...  I am still missing Robyn and Atul, but the fun we had today helped to ease the withdrawal a bit.  Besides, we will get to see Robyn again in July, along with our other wonderful daughter, Amanda, and our beautiful granddaughter, Kaia.

Anyway, get a load of the great picture Dianne took of the Bighorn Sheep at the Living Desert in Palm Desert, CA.  We both love zoos and we both love landscaping.  This place had both.

The Living Desert was about 45 minutes from our campsite - actually our gourmet breakfast site (via the expensive car dealerships).  The overall theme of this working ecological park was life in the desert, particularly life in the deserts of North America and Africa.  

Prior to this visit, our favorite zoo was the Miami Zoo.  This place does not compare in scope, but it certainly compares in quality and excels in ecology.

Flora, fauna?  Let's start with the desert flora.   

Ok, this is obviously an oasis, but it is in the desert.  These groves of California Fan Palms only grow naturally in desert springs.  I have seen two of these now (Dianne has seen one).  It looks like another world.

Below is a view of another oasis with ocotillo (in bloom) and cactus in the foreground.

The blooms at the top of this saguaro were probably 30 feet above the ground.  We really like the quality of the zoom feature on our new camera. Notice the wasp?

Dianne really admired this arrangement of agave.  Maybe we could replicate it in south Texas?  Probably not, I think we have run out of room.  The picture below is of a Coral Fountain. We have two of these at our place in south Texas, but we call them Firecracker Plants.  While ours are beautiful, they are not this prolific, YET.  

The picture below is of a prickly pear cactus --- not necessarily an interesting subject, now that we have become accustomed to the desert.  However, we love the way light reflects off the green of the cactus.

Time for fauna --- the things that move.  Let's have a look at the animals of the African deserts; first, a couple of small mammals:

The fennec fox, below, is the world's smallest fox. It lives in the sand dunes of North Africa.  It has the largest ears of any fox.  The large ears aid in finding prey (insects and small reptiles) as well as dissipating heat.  Can you tell I used to be a science teacher? 

This little guy is called a Cape Rock Hyrax.  Never heard of it? He is about the size of a beaver, looks like a giant guinea pig, and is so unusual that he is in a scientific order of his own.  Can you tell I used to be a science teacher?  He and a couple of his friends spent their time hopping around their enclosure while we watched them.  Believe it or not, his closest relative, genealogically, is the elephant.  Yep, definitely used to be a science teacher.

Can't leave out the birdies.  Look at the outrageous colors of this parrot; and that creepy reptilian eye.

Ok.... On to the larger African desert animals.  Gee, I wonder what this is?  Well, the guy below is definitely a Greater Kudu.

The Kudu's large ears are extremely sensitive to sound, making them difficult to approach as they commonly sneak away when detecting a predator. If they are attacked, they can leap as high as eight feet!  More science teacher info.  What a magnificent creature.

The kudus and the giraffes lived in the same large space.  The kudu seemed to be longingly gazing at the giraffe during the entire time that we watched.  I wonder what that was all about?

We can't leave Africa without seeing a couple of predators.  Check out the Cheetah --- the fastest mammal on our planet.

This is a Madagascar Boa, nonpoisonous, a constrictor.  Dianne and I both touched it --- not slimy.  Felt like leather.  Always the science teacher.

Bandido and Tequila were disappointed that we did not get any pictures of the wild African Dogs or the Hyenas.  They were hiding behind the rocks in the shade.

Time to look at the desert animals of North America: 

This coyote is taking an afternoon nap.  It was warm on this day --- in the 100s.  

The bobcat also thought it was a good day to stay in the shade and lounge around, and the huge mountain lion had no desire to even move on this hot day.

The birds seem a little more active.  

We seem to find snowy egrets everywhere we travel in the southern climes.  They are still unique to us.  We definitely did not see them in Indiana, but we did see their relatives, the big blues.
These are night herons.  Striking large birds, that were breathing heavily, probably due to the heat.

The most active of all the desert animals on this day was a reptile --- no, not a snake.  This desert tortoise was on his way to lunch!

The docent said that these turtles can feel touches, much like we feel through our fingernails.  Dianne and I both were able to pet the tortoise.  We kind of liked him.   

Yum!  Is this a mixed green salad or a garden tossed salad?

It is almost time to leave The Living Desert, but before we do, it is important to note the good that the people at this fascinating place do for the desert animals of the California deserts.  

The Tennity Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center rescues and rehabilitates the desert friends that live with us in our world.  This is a photo of one of their surgery rooms.  We saw several animals in the park who had suffered injuries that would have been fatal without these facilities.  The hospital is run by professionals and by volunteers.  A good place.

I could not leave Palm Springs without a few pictures from our site at the The Happy Traveler RV Park.  

View from couch
 This park is very close to the ritzy area of Palm Springs, walking distance actually (in cooler weather). 

View from door
 The sites are narrow;  however, due to the tall oleander hedges, they are extremely private.  We did not meet our friendly neighbors until the last day we were here.  The view from our front windshield is below.

This is the view from the back.  If we return to Palm Springs, we would, without a doubt, stay here again.

The pet picture of the day shows the ever-vigilant Tequila on guard at the campsite.  Even though we did not see any, there could be lizards.

Our next post will be from Twenty Nine Palms CA, at the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.

1 comment:

Bill and Nancy said...

Living Desert is an amazing place. What a great day you had. Certainly will have that on our list when we head out west!!