Yeah, I know it’s summer now, but I wanted to share what good winter moisture will do for one of my favorite parks, Joshua Tree National Park. The desert comes alive with flowers and wildlife in the spring time.
The Ocotillo (Fouquieria Splendens) bloom with small crimson flowers at the tips of the branches. Because of their sturdy nature, the stems/branches of Ocotillo have been used as fence posts and walking sticks.
While exploring the southern portion of the park I came a number of gorgeous yellow bottle brush like plants, Desert Princes’ Plume (Stanleya Pinnata). Just after capturing the image above, I heard what sounded like a hummingbird getting closer and closer.
It turned out to be a White-lined sphinx or Hummingbird moth (Hyles lineata) gathering nectar from the Desert Princes’ Plume.
Walking around some more I found these tiny, about a half inch across, Wild Heliotrope (Phacelia Distans) flowers.
A bit later in the day I was up in the Queen Valley area and found the bright magenta flowers of the Engelmann’s hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii).
And for the highlight of the day! I’ve been coming to Joshua Tree National Park multiple times a year since I was a kid back in the 1960’s and I knew there were Big Horn Sheep that lived in the park, but I have never seen any. I was driving one of the dirt roads in the Queen Valley when I came upon a herd of twenty to thirty Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) crossing the road about a hundred yards ahead. Noticing they were moving towards me, I backed up a bit, parked and grabbed the long lens and spent the next half hour photographing them as they slowly moved up into the mountains. Wow!