Monday, October 16, 2017

San Javier

On our second day off from diving we rented a car and drove up to San Javier. We went for a short hike up one of the side canyons before it got too hot. The bushes (thistles?) in one area were full of butterflies of several different kinds.

Painted lady butterfly

Queen butterfly


I couldn't figure out what this last one is. Anyone know? The wasps and bees were also enjoying these flowers.


There were also small toads hopping around everywhere! They were quite small (1 cm, .5 in) so I'm assuming they had recently hatched, probably a result of the rain associated with hurricane season. I think they are red-spotted toads which grow to 7 cm (3 in).

Red-spotted toad

The one above looks quite plump despite its small size, but some of them were quite a bit skinnier, presumably more recently metamorphosed from tadpoles. There were also tadpoles in some of the pools of water.

The dragonflies were taking advantage of the water to mate and lay their eggs:

dragonflies mating / laying eggs

There were lots of turkey vultures around. Not the prettiest birds, but impressive fliers.

Turkey vulture

And a few great egrets. I didn't see them feeding on the toads, but presumably they'd make easy pickings.

Great egret

Surprisingly, we also saw an owl. We could hear some noise in the trees ahead and when we came around the corner two birds flew out. This one flew a short distance and perched on a rock outcropping where we got several photographs. I think it's a great horned owl, except they are supposed to be nocturnal. The other bird flew away and I couldn't tell if it was another owl or something else. The photograph isn't great but zooming in, it almost looks like the owl has something fluffy like a chick in its claws. Perhaps it had raided another bird's nest?

Great horned owl

This vine was flowering all over the place, adding a lovely splash of color to the desert. I was told the name but didn't pay attention, assuming it would be easy to identify something so common. But I couldn't find it in a quick search on-line. Can anyone identify it?

flowering vine

Cactus and flowering vine

Even without flowers, the desert here is quite a rich environment. (Although it's not always this green.)

hillside with cactus

Interesting exposed tree roots along the arroyo:

tree roots

We did make it to the actual Mission San Javier, although that's less important than the scenic drive.

Mission St. Javier

And we visited the 400 year old olive tree (part of the mission gardens).

400 year old olive tree

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