In Praise of a Dog Park

I live in Santa Fe, in a sort of depression. The area was a Japanese-American internment camp in WWII. Sometimes I call it "the hole".

These days the governor wants us all to stay at home except for essential travel. I'm guessing we shouldn't be heading out to the national forests, so most of my meanderings are now in the hood.

I'm coming to appreciate "the hole" more and more. It's no mountainside, but climbing out of it is still good exercise.

At the top is the Frank Ortiz dog park. It used to be a garbage dump, though possibly not an official one. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

The thing about the dog park is, it has great views.

The Landscape

Santa Fe Watershed
Santa Fe Watershed
under water at 10,000 ft
Jemez Mountains, Winter Dawn
Jemez Mountains, winter dawn
Placer Mountain and the Cerrillos Hills
Placer Mountain and the Cerrillos Hills
Santa Fe Ski Area at Sunset
Santa Fe Ski Area at Sunset
Monsoon Season
Monsoon Season

Wildlife

The dog park has a lot of wild residents and transients, too.

Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker
Ladderbacked Woodpecker feeding on a yucca
Ladderbacked Woodpecker feeding on a yucca
(eating aphids, I think)

Corvids

Ravens, of course
Ravens, of course
Woodhouse's Scrub Jay
Woodhouse's Scrub Jay
Piñon Jays
Piñon Jays
I like their half-crazed, laughing call.
It's startling to see one skillfully reach into a piñon and twist off a cone with its beak.
Changing climate may force them to move on from northern New Mexico.

Little Birds

Male black-chinned hummingbird, resting
Male black-chinned hummingbird
resting after an arcing airshow
Juniper Titmouse
Juniper Titmouse
Like the jays these may disappear, if the junipers and piñon die out.
Bewick's Wren
Bewick's Wren
Kingbird
Kingbird
Mountain Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird
Western Bluebirds
Western Bluebirds
Spotted Towhee, greeting the dawn
Spotted Towhee
Greeting the dawn
Eating snow
Eating snow
Cassin's Vireo and breakfast caterpillar
Cassin's Vireo
and breakfast caterpillar

Raptors and Falcons

Juvenile Northern Goshawk
Juvenile Northern Goshawk
Red-tailed hawk
Red-tailed hawk
I see these mainly in winter.
Juvenile Cooper's Hawk
Juvenile Cooper's Hawk
Sharp-shinned hawk - alert and unafraid
Sharp-shinned hawk
Alert and unafraid
A Cooper's (or is it a sharp-shinned?) hawk trails a raven.
A Cooper's (or is it a sharp-shinned?) hawk trails a raven.
Merlin and prey
Merlin and prey
I've only ever seen these small terrors during winter migration.

Ground Pounders

Scaled Quail
Scaled Quail
Scaled Quail and Cottontail Bunny
Scaled Quail and Cottontail Bunny

Jackrabbits

Blacktailed Jackrabbit, just before it casually speeds away
Blacktailed jackrabbit, about to jump to lightspeed
I rarely see more of these creatures than their long legs, loping away.
I can't imagine why they're so shy, with so many dogs around.
Blacktailed Jackrabbit munching piñon needles
Munching piñon needles

Cottontails

Cavorting
Cavorting
Cottontail Bunny
Cottontail Bunny

Rodents

Botta's Pocket Gopher – with its poor eyesight, I don't think it saw me
Botta's Pocket Gopher
With its poor eyesight, I don't think it saw me.

Reptiles

Little Striped Whiptail
Little Striped Whiptail
These can mate with western whiptails to form a female-only hybrid species, the New Mexico Whiptail, that reproduces by parthenogenesis.

Plants

This is high desert, dominated by junipers and piñon. As you get used to the landscape a variety of plants becomes visible.

Western Jimson weed, or Sacred Datura
Western Jimson weed, or Sacred Datura
Camphorweed
Camphorweed
Prickly pear - their blooms remind me of shaved ginger
Prickly pear
Their blooms remind me of shaved ginger.
Yucca
Yucca
Cholla bud and blossom
Cholla bud and blossom
Scarlet Beeblossom
Scarlet Beeblossom
Beardtongue
Beardtongue
Claret Cup Hedgehog Blossom
Claret Cup Hedgehog Blossom
Its subtle detail reminds me of scanning electron microscope imagery.
Hedgehog and Hummingbird
Hummingbird - aerial refueling

Good Fortune

Santa Fe has several nice neighborhoods. I used to think that one of those might have suited me better. Right now this seems an ideal place, where a few minutes of effort can yield a complete change of scenery.

Low clouds crest the hill from Tesuque
Low clouds crest the hill from Tesuque