Kious Critters

We’re strong believers in the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That goes for restaurants (we’re loyal until we have a bad meal, and even then we might give the place another chance, depending…) and hikes, because if you’ve got a good thing going, why mess it up?

So in Great Basin National Park, we like to hike a little traveled trail to the Kious Basin. It doesn’t follow a stream, doesn’t climb to an amazing lookout, so it doesn’t attract others, a big reason why we like it. Plus, we never know what we might come across.

In early June, flowers were bursting open everywhere (please comment with corrections if I’ve misidentified any of them — I’m using a new field guide), like this Many-Flowered Goldeneye…


…Desert Paintbrush…


…Beehive Cacti…


…and some purple beauties I don’t even have a guess as to their name:


As ever, we loved re-discovering the old safe (which we have learned has been opened by the park service and found to be empty)…


…and an old mine entrance, which is open only far enough to give a couple of people shelter from weather and is sealed to keep curiosity seekers from getting hurt:


But best of all? Spotting this pair of Sagebrush Lizards, sunning on a rock alongside the trail:


They must have been sleeping, because we crept up very close
before the female (she looks full term, doesn’t she?!?) scattered away, leaving the male, who gave us his most intimidating stare:


No napping for the butterflies, which made the most of the wildflowers in their neighborhood:


And back at the RV park? More critters. Birds flitted around us, sometimes landing on a branch of a nearby tree. Here’s lesson number one in observing nature: Never assume because a bird or other animal is common that it isn’t worth watching. Just look at this common House Sparrow feeding its young:


Ah! The wonders of nature!

About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
This entry was posted in and Critters in General, Animals, Birds, Cool Experience, Flowers, Hiking, National Parks and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Kious Critters

  1. emhelms63 says:

    Looks like that mine entrance would be an ideal place for a Western Diamondback to escape the heat of the day! Wow, House Sparrows (Weavers Finch?) way out in the desert! No MacDonald’s or other parking lots to find crumbs. How ever do they survive in the wild? Oh yes, by reverting to the wild creatures they were meant to be! Beautiful photos, you guys! Keep on trucking, and as always, Happy Trails!


    • Ellen says:

      Thanks, Mike! I looked up “Weavers Finch” in one of my bird books but couldn’t find it. The adult looks just like the male House Sparrow in my Stokes field guide, but it just seems weird to see a male feeding young like this…. though… maybe they do?

      And yes — I try to remember to smack my hiking poles around things like that mine opening to be sure I startle anything before it gets me 🙂 Take care! Stay cool!!

      • emhelms63 says:

        If I’m not mistaken, what we commonly call “house sparrow” is actually a weavers finch. They originally came to the US aboard ships from Europe (by nesting in the rigging on the tall merchant ships). So yes, they are “house sparrows,” but they are in reality “weavers finches.” (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) — Happy Trails!


      • Ellen says:

        Ah! Thanks so much for clarifying, Mike! I’ll stick with your story, too 🙂

  2. Great post! I really enjoyed you beautiful flower photos. So much fun to find interesting critters in their natural setting.

  3. Ellen says:

    Thanks so much! I love seeing the critters and getting their pics. I saw a bear yesterday (not even a mile from the Pacific Ocean…) and NO CAMERA! Naturally 😦 At least the lizards sat still for a bit. Stay cool out there on the east coast!!

  4. jengle says:

    Great philosophy! Just over 8 months before we’ll be full timing, then we can start comparing notes.

    • Ellen says:

      Excellent, Jeff! Looks like you’re doing some part-time RVing before the full-timing kicks in. Good idea! Ideas about where you’ll head first?

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