Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pleased to be Published In a New Book About Death Valley

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

We are pleased to belatedly announce that we were actually paid to have one of our desert tortoise pictures to be included in Death Valley: Hottest Place on Earth, by Roger Naylor.  We have looked over the book and are pleased to be associated with it and endorse it to our readers and followers.  The book is in large format softcover, heavy gloss paper, and full color.  The images range from small pictures like ours, to full page dramatic and panoramic shots.  The text subjects are interesting and well organized.

The book is available from the link above at Rio Nuevo Publishers out of Tuscon, for $12.95.

Our photo is down in the lower left corner of p. 71.

 And our credit....

Note: Our desert tortoise picture was not taken at Death Valley.  Rather, the picture was taken at the Desert Tortoise Natural Area, outside California City, CA, in the western Mojave Desert.  Click here for more of our pictures from the DTNA.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Less Dramatic Colorado River Crossings

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

I recently wrote about the Colorado River crossings in the Page, Arizona area of the Arizona strip.  Those river crossings consisted of dramatic steel arch bridges spanning hundreds of feet above the river.

In the Colorado River areas south of Las Vegas (Hoover Dam); down through Laughlin, Nevada; Needles, California; Lake Havasu City and Parker, Arizona; Blythe, California, and down to Yuma, Arizona.  We face a totally different environment as the river is fairly level with the terrain, but for the man-made levees used for flood control. 

These two bridges attach California with Cibola, Arizona and the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge.  I will write more on the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge at another time.

Crossing the Colorado River at Cibola, AZ

Looking North Up The Colorado River From Cibola, AZ (California on far side)

Crossing the Colorado River at Oxbow Lake, CA

Looking Up the Colorado River From the deck of the Oxbow Lake Bridge

Trolling Oxbow Lake, CA

Sunday, February 23, 2014

On Bighorn Sheep Pellets, Poop, and Scat...

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

A Ewe Dropping Some Pellets While Running Along a Rock Outcropping
On Bighorn Sheep Pellets, Poop, and Scat...
Bighorn pellets may be deposited singly or in clusters.  They may be strung out if the animal was walking or lie in a group if the animal was standing or lying down.  They vary in shape, from a tiny apple seed to the large chocolate drop with attenuated tip and an indentation on the bottom.

Exterior color may be black, brown, or sometimes green and interior color may be green or brown.  Some may have a pattern of alternating dark brown and light green.  Pellets are mount externally when first dropped but soon dry to a varnished finish.  They are dry internally, however, even when fresh.

Fred Jones says, to him, bighorn pellets are indistinguishable from those of domestic sheep and goats.  He knows of no method by which bighorn and deer droppings can be consistently distinguished.

Determining the age of desert bighorn pellets is uncertain because of the variation in color, consistency, and degree of external varnish at the time of defecation and because of variation in weathering rates.

The figure of average pellets groups per acre provides a population-related index to average animal density.

The size of the pellets, generally, but not always, is related to the size of the animal.  However, lambs dropping big loads and rams dropping small loads are not unknown.
...from Fred L. Jones, "Sign Reading and Field Identification", from The Desert Bighorn (Edited by Monson and Sumner) (1980)

More tidbits about pellets...
 Pellets are probably the least understood and most misleading single factor in sign reading.
 The Nelson bighorn leave remarkably few droppings behind them.

Freshness is of great importance in dropping analysis; and since there is very little moisture left in them when fresh, there is no way to tell how old they are except by seeing them drop.

 The daily incidence of defecation is assumed by some to be about the same as in deer and domestic sheep, or around 14 times daily.   However, the difference in the use of food in the acquisition and conservation of water precludes the validity of this assumption.

...from Welles, et al, The Bighorn of Death Valley (1961)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

More On The Promiscuity Among Bighorn Sheep: Or, While The Big Boys Fight it Out, I will Take My Chances!

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

More on the subject of promiscuity among bighorn sheep.

Bighorn sheep are promiscuous rather than polygamous, in their breeding habits, the rams being indiscriminate in their selection of a mate and the ewes accepting copulation by more than one male.  According to one researcher, "Most, and perhaps all, ewes are bread many times during the receptive period, not only by different rams, but quite often several times by the same ram within a very few minutes."  Acceptance in copulation of several different rams was witnessed as two different rams copulated with the same ewe within the space of seconds.

During breeding activity there is much chasing of ewes by rams.  One researcher noticed that chases starting with 1 ewe and 1 ram often ended with as many as 11 rams in pursuit.

In one herd (harem), each of two rams was observed to copulate with the same ewe in the course of 20 minutes.

In another siting, 6 mature rams attempted to breed one ewe.  The ewe accepted at least three different rams in copulation several times.

On another occasion, 3 rams attempted mating with 1 ewe.  Two rams, were large, mature animals of about the same size, whereas one was much younger.  While the ewe was receiving much attention from the older rams, the younger individual did not approach more than 50 feet from the group.  Each of the older rams made repeated attempts to mount the ewe, only to have the other ram interfere.  On two occasions, both rams attempted to mount the ewe at the same time, the last of which terminated in vigorous battles taking place over 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, the fighting of the two larger rams allowed the younger ram to successfully copulate with the ewe.
One ram can serve perhaps 10 to 20 ewes.
From The Bighorn Sheep in the United States by Helmut Buechner (1960).

"Where can I find a good time around here?"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Geograstrotrivial Question about the New York and Arizona Strips?

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and


What is the difference between a New York Strip and an Arizona Strip?


1.  The New York strip is cut of steak obtained from the short loin area of a cow.

2.  The Arizona strip is that portion of the State of Arizona north of the Colorado River.  Due to the Colorado River Valley being generally defined by the Grand Canyon, crossing the Colorado River in northern Arizona is pretty much limited to only one area, around Page, Arizona, at the Glen Canyon.  The Grand Canyon isolates the around 8,000 persons living in (on?) the Arizona Strip from their 5 million neighbors of the State of Arizona.


Glen Canyon Dam Bridge 

The Glen Canyon Dam Bridge was originally built by the United States Bureau of Reclamation to facilitate transportation of materials for the Glen Canyon Dam, which lies adjacent to the bridge just 865 feet upstream. Carrying two lanes of US89 across the Colorado River, the bridge rises over 700 feet (210 m) above the river and was the highest arch bridge in the world at the time of its completion in 1959.

The Shadow of the Glen Canyon Bridge at Glen Canyon Dam

700 Feet Above the River

Navajo Bridges

The first Navajo Bridge opened in 1929, but is now limited to pedestrian and equestrian traffic and some random native-American vendors.  The new Navajo Bridge opened in 1994.

Ironically, despite the 450+ foot height of the twin spans over the river, a river-level ferry crossing at Lee's Ferry was the only river crossing prior to the building of the bridge.

The Arizona Strip

As access to the Arizona Strip is typically via Nevada or Utah, culturally, the Arizona Strip has much in common with the surrounding areas of Nevada and Utah.  For example, Since the area was first settled by Mormon Pioneers led by Jacob Hamblin in the mid-19th century, the Arizona Strip, and especially its largest community, Colorado City, has been one of the last strongholds of the nineteenth-century practice of polygamy, though this practice was disavowed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in 1890. Over the last century the region has been the subject of controversy because of the control minority polygamist Mormon offshoots exert within the region.

The Isolated Arizona Strip

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Point Reyes Lighthouse and National Seashore

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

Among the wild diversity of California's lighthouses, the Pt Reyes Light deserves special mention.  

Though off the beaten track north of San Francisco, via the winding Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1), visiting the Point Reyes Light is well worth the trip.

The Light has reasonable open hours...

Approaching the light, while driving through the Point Reyes National Seashore Area, has some awesome views of the land, sea, and animals of the Pt Reyes National Seashore.

Reaching the lighthouse is the final challenge.  The warning sign cannot be any clearer; you are about to undertake a climb up and down stairs equivalent to those of a thirty story building.

And what do those stairs look like?

More photos of the actual Point Reyes Lighthouse can be found at Dalmdad Landscape Photography's Point Reyes Light Page.

One last point...If you happen to be going from the Point Reyes area to Napa, you will pass through the very quaint town of InvernessPortions of the original version of the movie, The Fog, were filmed here.  Here are a few captures from the town.