Friday, September 13, 2013

A New Topography

One thing I forgot to mention in my post about my trail ride yesterday is how much the topography of the desert has changed.  It's somewhat subtle in places, but I can really feel it on the back of a horse.  Whenever it rains a lot over a short period of time we get flash floods.  The desert floor isn't very good about soaking up water.  New channels force their way downhill.  So, while riding on a trail that had been flat all of last year, I was taken by surprise by all the leaning forward and leaning back I had to do while Bombay and I rode up and down hills.  Though it hasn't rained for several days, we were still having to navigate around mud puddles, as well.

My husband has been working on creating natural barriers to redirect the flood waters away from our house in the arroyo on our property, and he told me about all the changes he witnessed after the last flood.  Before the flood, there had been a drop off at the edge of our property line where the water flowed in two directions and pooled.  Now that drop off is gone and sediment has been laid down to flatten it out by the latest flood.  He said that the water is moving away from our house now.  We were getting worried because one bank became so eroded that the roots of a large tree were exposed and we knew it was only a matter of time before it fell into the arroyo and created an unwanted dam and bigger problems.  I'm just glad I don't live in an area where I have to deal with beavers.  That would be a nightmare.

I am continually fascinated by how quickly things change in the desert, and the power of water.  One day before the latest rain storm, the rocks along my arena fence were just piles of rocks.  After the rain storm, the rocks were overgrown with the mature flowers of rattleweed just in a matter of days.

My husband found another new-to-us creature.  It comes out at dusk and flaps its wings really fast while feeding off the Lantana flowers.  If you look closely, it appears to be a tiny hummingbird, but apparently it is a moth that looks like a hummingbird with a hooked beak.  It would be difficult to get picture of one, because they only come out in the dark and they move very fast.

I like to keep track of what time of year various insects, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals come around so that they won't take me by surprise the next year.  While many of them are enchanting, they do cause problems and we have to adjust our routines to work around them and adapt to their presence.  However, this year seems very different from last year.  I suspect that the animal appearances have more to do with the weather patterns than anything else, because this year's weather has been nothing like last year's weather.


Katharine Swan said...

Was the moth a hawkmoth? We have those around here too. In fact I think my sister may have had one as a pet when we were kids -- she found it as a big green caterpillar, kept it in the fridge while it was in its cocoon, and brought it out to "hatch" it when it was time.

Cheryl Ann said...

We've had almost 3 weeks of thunderstorms (daily) and our mountains are GREEN! Yes, I'm wondering, too, how all this water is affecting our plants and animals.
~~Cheryl Ann~~

Dreaming said...

I've seen that hummingbird moth before. It really does look like a bird, though!
Yes... the power of water. Much of Colorado understands that now - luckily we haven't had much impact at all, except for small washouts near the new garage.
How smart of you to keep track of what you see and when. In the future that might help you predict changes in weather, etc.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Katharine - Yes, it was a hawkmoth. I couldn't remember the name of it when I wrote the post, but we looked it up, and that was what came up.

We are also getting green hummingbirds with red throats, which are much larger than the hawkmoths.

Cindy D. said...

Hey! I just saw that moth this morning!

Once Upon an Equine said...

I've see one hawkmoth at our flowerbed last year. It was fascinating. Wish there were more around. Interesting how the desert changes with the elements. Your trail rides will never get boring.