Thursday, May 24, 2007

Owls in the Chihuahuan Desert

The Chihuahuan desert seems devoid of life to those poor ignorant folks who only drive past on the freeway doing 70 miles per hour with their windows closed and their air conditioner running full tilt.

But when you regularly walk around in the desert you quickly realize that it is absolutely full of life. I am very lucky that less than one mile from my house there is virgin desert. It has never been farmed, logged, mined, or built upon.

If you have lived in Europe or the UK you realize how special this is. Virtually all of the usable ground over there has been used. Many times on the same piece of farm land you can find evidence of stone age (Neolithic) man, sometimes going back as far as 5,500 BC. If you know what to look for you may find evidence of bronze age man (1,500 BC), the Romans 2,000 years before present era, occasionally evidence from the dark ages beginning around 800 AD, and certainly middle age or renaissance people.

And you may well see bomb craters from WWI or WWII. All on the same piece of earth.

And this same plot of land now is just forest or farm land which is deeply ploughed by the farmer’s John Deere tractor.

So virgin land that is filled with native plants and wildlife is indeed very special.

Every morning I take my little black doggie on a nice one mile (or more) walk in this virgin desert without a leash. He loves to chase the rabbits and the lizards.

One of the trails that we sometimes take goes right past where a couple of owls live. I have seen them several times, right in the same location. They have left a nice big trash pit with parts and pieces of rabbits, other birds, and egg shells.

When we walk past their abode one of them normally swoops and hovers overhead like a Vietnam era helicopter getting ready to drop its load of napalm all the while yelling really awful things at Inu and myself.

Once in a while a rabbit will go down its hole trying to get away from Inu. He is a remarkable athlete and can run amazingly fast over the sand dunes.

Today he was determined that he was going to dig the little bunnie rabbit out.

I just hoped that this was not the home of a snake!