Bobcat on video

Brian Kot, a researcher from UCLA, gave us a video clip of a Bobcat (Felis rufus) hauling away its dinner (Jackrabbit) along Kelbaker Road in Mojave National Preserve. However, the real reason Brian was out with his video camera at this time of night was to a woodrat climbing a shrub. He is interested in the locomotion of these desert animals and how they use the vegetation around them. Brian also gave us these nice photos of a Rosy Boa (Charina trivirgata) that he saw around midnight at Norris Camp.


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Assistant director on Car Talk

Upon returning to the Center after a trip to Baja in January 2005, Assistant Directors Megan and Jan discovered that heavy rains had caused extensive flooding throughout portions of Granite Cove, including the parking area near their house resulting in their Toyota Corolla being buried in sand. 

After many hours of washing silt, sand, rocks, and branches out of the interior and engine, the car still wouldn’t start. Interestingly, when Jan attempted to start the car he noticed air being sucked into the muffler and being blown out of the air intake in the engine – seemingly the engine was running backwards! It took a call to Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the Hosts of Car Talk from National Public Radio to solve the mystery. Their prognosis: The timing belt had shifted 180 degrees, causing the exhaust valves to open when the intake valves should be opening and vice versa. Two hours later Jan had the timing belt replaced and the car running. Jan and Megan are still using the car and have driven it over 30,000 miles since the flood.


“Hackberry” Fire in Mojave National Preserve

In June of 2005 the Mojave National Preserve witnessed a 70,000 acre burn, called the Hackberry Complex Fires.  As a direct result of this fire there was a phenomenal bloom all throughout the burn area despite the lack of rain.  During March – May of 2006, the landscape was filled with purple, yellow, white, and orange due to the native species in bloom.  Species such as, Verbeena goodingii, Sphaeralcea ambigua, Phacelia campunalaria, Gilia stellata, Senecio multilobatus, and Chaetopappus ericoides, came up in abundance. In addition, all but a few of the perennial shrubs were seen resprouting, including, Opuntia triglochidiatus, Ephedra nevadensis, Prunus fasciculatus, Yucca schidigera, Robinia neomexicana, and many more. What is even more amazing is that a similar bloom was seen this year in March, April, and May on even less rain.  The bloom was not quite as showy this year, as the predominant species were smaller in stature; for example, Cryptantha gracilis, Eriastrum eremicum, Gilia clokeyi, and Phacelia freemontii, were all carpeting the washes and slopes. Again, the perennial shrubs were seen with new growth coming as a resprouts from the base or in some cases from the tips of the plant (e.g. Yucca brevifolia).

Spring 2006 rare birds

The spring of 2006 proved to be an exceptional year for rare birds visiting the Granite Mountains, with several new species documented for the range. Highlights included several eastern US species, including a Northern Parula, an Indigo Bunting, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. There were also a number of unusual sightings for the range, including a Yellow-headed Blackbird (Granite Cove), Osprey (Yucca Bajada), and Belted Kingfisher (Norris Cabin) this spring. Equally impressive were the numerous Black-Headed Grosbeaks in Granite Cove throughout May, and the waves of Hummingbirds (Anna’s, Costa’s, Black-chinned, Rufous, Calliope, and Broad-tailed) that visited the blooming Bladderpod (Isomeris arborea), Spiny Senna (Senna armata), and Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) throughout Granite Cove.