Monday

Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

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When it comes to “out of the box” architecture, there is probably nothing more creative than the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, officially the Cleveland Clinic. A curvy, undulating metal-and-glass trellis, rising 75 feet high screens the institute’s banquet hall, while a series of stacked blocks separated by glass-enclosed spaces form the main entrance. This contrast of forms suggest the dual functions of the brain; simultaneously ordered and chaotic, structured and yet imaginative. It is such a stunning architectural masterpiece that pictures can barely do it justice; it must be seen to be fully experienced. I took these pictures back in May of 2010. Click the thumbnail at the bottom right of this page to view a slide show.

Background Info: The $70 million dollar Center operates as an outpatient treatment and research facility. Designed by renowned architect, Frank Gehry, the center opened on July 13, 2009 in the ‘downtown’ area of Las Vegas. It is approximately 65,000 sq. ft. and includes 13 examination rooms, office for healthcare practitioners and researchers, a “Museum of the Mind”, and a community auditorium. The Center will also serve as the headquarters for Keep Memory Alive, the Las Vegas Alzheimer’s Association and the Las Vegas Parkinson’s Disease Association.


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Click here to view a slideshow ... Nevada Slideshows

PDF Collage: In 2009 I produced a series of  PDF collages for the creation of  "Our Travel and Entertainment Diary" blog. Click here to view a one page PDF collage showing my visit to the Lou Ruvo Center ... Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

Friday

Crustose Lichens, Nipton Road, NV

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This picture was taken on 02/24/2011 along Nipton Road between Searchlight Nevada and Nipton California, while on a hike with the rock hounds from the Henderson Senior Center. For more info on lichens visit … http://www.perspective.com/nature/fungi/lichens.html#crustose.

Buckhorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa)

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(Fig. 01)
Picture Notes: This shot (Fig. 01) was taken on a hike through the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area along the Joshua Tree Highway on 02/24/2011. The cactus in (Fig. 02) was taken at the Techatticup Mining Camp off Nelson Road in Eldorado Canyon.

Description: The Buckhorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa) is an upright, branched, cylindrical-stemmed cactus with long stem segments and yellow spines. This cholla is similar to Silver Cholla, but in Buckhorn Cholla, the mature stem segments generally are longer than 6 inches, while those of Silver Cholla are less than 4-inches long. A mature plant can be about 5 to 10 feet in high. Buckhorn Cholla is a common component of vegetation communities on well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils on upper bajadas and moderate slopes into the lower mountains in the Upper Sonoran  and Mojave Desert, up to about 5,000 feet. The chollas bloom in April or May and produce bright flowers to 2 1/4 inches wide that range in color from red, yellow, orange, pink, & purple to greenish or brownish. After flowering, the plants produce fruit. The fruit of the Buckhorn Cholla tends to be dry with long spines. The fruit falls from the plant after a few months.

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(Fig. 02)

Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia phaeacantha)

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(Fig. 01)
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(Fig. 02)
Picture Notes: The Prickly Pear Cactus can be a thing of beauty. It appears that their color depends upon the time of year and the amount of rainfall the area has received. The picture in (Fig. 01) was shot on 06/18/2013 while hiking in the Spring Mountains, west of Wheeler Pass. Click here for more info on the area ... Side Trips Along Wheeler Pass Road. The picture in (Fig. 02) was captured on 02/14/2011 while hiking in the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area along the Joshua Tree Highway, just west of Searchlight, NV. Click here to visit or go back to the Wee Thumb Joshua Tree Wilderness page … Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area.

On 08/21/2012, during a visit to Chloride, AZ, I was driving around the northern outskirts of town looking for its old jailhouse, when I found a private yard (Fig. 03) chocked full of Prickly Pear Cactus. I can honestly say that I have never seen such a large grouping of these cacti growing in one spot ever before. The close-up shot in (Fig. 04) shows off their many highly prized blushing fruit pods, sometimes called Indian Fig, but known in the Spanish-speaking Southwest as tuna – highly priced, one 3-ounce fig can go for as much as a $1.50. If you try to ‘harvest’ one of these figs, beware of the small, hair-like prickles called glochids, that easily  detach from the plant and penetrate skin, causing much irritation and pain. Click here to visit the page on Chloride, Arizona … Chloride Arizona.
         
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(Fig. 02)
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(Fig. 03)
Description: Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia phaeacantha), a.k.a. the Tulip Prickly Pear and Desert Prickly Pear. Older names for this species, and names for old species which are now considered variants of this species, include Plateau Prickly Pear, Brown-spined Prickly Pear, Mojave Prickly Pear, and Kingman Prickly Pear. Though there are many different species of prickly pear cacti, the Opuntia phaeacantha is one of the most common species of prickly pear cactus. It is found all across the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

Prickly pears typically grow with flat, fleshy pads that look like large leaves. These rounded platyclades are armed with two kinds of spines; large, smooth, fixed spines and small, hair-like prickles called glochids, that easily penetrate skin and detach from the plant. The pads are actually modified branches or stems that serve several functions -- water storage, photosynthesis and flower production. Many types of prickly pears grow into dense, tangled structures. Like all true cactus species, prickly pears are native only to the Western hemisphere. Prickly pear species, found in abundance in Mexico, are also found in the mid and lower elevations of the southwestern regions of the United States. the Rocky Mountains such as in Colorado, where species such as Opuntia phaeacantha, Opuntia polyacantha and others become dominant, and especially in the desert Southwest.

There has been medical interest in the Prickly Pear plant.  Some studies have shown that the pectin contained in the Prickly Pear pulp lowers levels of "bad" cholesterol while leaving "good" cholesterol levels unchanged. Another study found that the fibrous pectin in the fruit may lower a diabetics' need for insulin. Both fruits and pads of the prickly pear cactus are rich in slowly absorbed soluble fibers that help keep blood sugar stable. Prickly Pear Nectar is made with the juice and pulp of the fruits.

Thursday

Crustose Lichens, Grapevine Canyon, Laughlin, NV

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This picture was taken on 02/23/2010 while on a hike Connie and I made to Grapevine Canyon, located just north of Laughlin, Nevada.  As I have said before, I love to find pictures like this which seem remind me of other images. Call me crazy again, or maybe it's just the artist in me, but the main shape of the focused area reminds me of a left side view of a bust, face and head (looking towards you) and shoulders. I think it is easier to see if you stare at the picture and then squint your eyes. 

Joshua Tree (Yucca Brevifolia)

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This page last updated on 06/12/2017
(Fig. 01)



Picture Notes: The Joshua Tree in (Fig. 01) was taken on 02/24/2011 on a trip to the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area located 8 miles west of Searchlight on route 164, also known as the Joshua Tree Highway. "Wee Thump" is Paiute for "ancient ones."  At first glance, this flat, gently sloped alluvial plain between Searchlight and Nipton appears rather plain and boring; however, it offers a wide variety of plant life and occasionally, for the patient, glimpses of birds, lizards and other desert animals. After spending a couple of hours wandering the area I came upon this Joshua Tree, which without any doubt in my mind is one of the largest I have seen. Then on a subsequent visit in 2016, I captured this picture of my hiking partner Jim Herring standing in front of yet another large Joshua Tree in the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area. The picture in (Fig. 03) was taken near Barstow California, while exploring the site of the June 8th, 1966 crash site of the XB-70 VALKYRIE.

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Description: Joshua Tree (Yucca Brevifolia). Though it is not actually a tree, the Joshua tree is a giant yucca plant--Yucca Brevifolia--the short leaved yucca. The Joshua tree, the largest of the yuccas, grows only in the Mojave Desert. Natural stands of this picturesque, spike-leafed evergreen grow nowhere else in the world. Its height varies from 15-40 feet with a diameter of 1-3 feet. They grow 2 to 3 inches a year, takes 50 to 60 years to mature and they can live more than 150 years. In bloom, the Joshua tree features clusters of creamy white flowers. Its bell-shaped blooms, 1.25 to 1.5 inches large, each with 6 creamy, yellow-green sepals, crowded into 12 to 18 inch, many-branched clusters with an unpleasant odor. The trees bloom mostly in the spring, although not all of them will flower annually. The fruit is elliptical and green-brown. Six-celled, 2.5 to 4 inches, and somewhat fleshy, it dries and falls soon after maturity in late spring revealing many flat seeds.  Like most desert plants, their blooming depends on rainfall at the proper time. They also need a winter freeze before they bloom.

Once they bloom, the trees are pollinated by the yucca moth, which spreads pollen while laying her eggs inside the flower. Joshua trees (and most other yuccas) rely on the female pronuba Moth (Tegeticula) for pollination. No other animal visiting the blooms transfers the pollen from one flower to another. In fact, the female yucca moth has evolved special organs to collect and distribute the pollen onto the surface of the flower. She lays her eggs in the flowers' ovaries, and when the larvae hatch, they feed on the yucca seeds. Without the moth's pollination, the Joshua tree could not reproduce, nor could the moth, whose larvae would have no seeds to eat. Although old Joshua trees can sprout new plants from their roots, only the seeds produced in pollinated flowers can scatter far enough to establish a new stand.

It is difficult to determine the age of these plants since they don't have "growth rings" like real trees, but many are believed to surpass 700 to 1000 years in age. Yucca brevifolia is endemic to the Southwestern United States with populations in western Arizona, southeastern California, southern Nevada, and southwestern Utah. This range mostly coincides with the geographical reach of the Mojave Desert, where it is considered one of the major indicator species for the desert. It occurs at altitudes between 1,300 and 5,900 feet. 

Considered ugly by many, these trees come in a wide variety of shapes. The plant was supposedly named by the Mormons who thought it resembled the biblical Joshua welcoming them with upturned arms.

(Fig. 03)

Friday

Nevada Mine Samples

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This table-top rock collage was created from a collection of rock pieces I gathered on a hike through Columbia Pass, just north of the Table Mountain range with the rock hounds from the Heritage Park Senior Facility on 01/27/2011. They were collected from three different mine sites along Sandy Valley Road a few miles east of Sandy Valley. Each collage has a felt-like base made of Eco-fi, a hig quality polyester fiber made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. See also ... Rock Still Life #004

Nelson’s Landing on the Colorado River, Nevada

Today, Nelson's Landing, is merely a stretch of land at the end of a steep dry wash located about 16 miles upstream from Cottonwood Cove on the Nevada side of the banks of the Colorado River. There is no launch ramp, as the name might lead you to believe. It’s accessible by a paved road that takes you within a half mile of the river, after which it turns into a dirt road that continues to within a few hundred yards of the river’s edge as shown in the photos below.
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Nearly 40 years ago the area known as Nelson's Landing was a small boat launch and village located near the banks of the River. In 1974, a strong downpour in the regional mountains sent the runoff down five wide channels that converge into this small outlet, producing a flash flood that washed nearly everything into the river. The entire landing and village was destroyed and nine people lost their lives when the flood came through the wash. The wall of water and debris was reported as about 40 feet high as it reached the river.
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Crustose Lichens, Eldorado Canyon, NV

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These pictures were taken on a hike to Eldorado Canyon, just southeast of Nelson, NV, on 02/17/2011. Lichens are among the most fascinating organisms on this planet. Their very structure is unique: a symbioses of two organisms -- a fungus and algae -- so complete that they behave and look like an entirely new being. I have always been fascinated by these living organisms and the variety of colors that they often present. The yellow ones pictured here are probably what is know as Common Yolk Lichens (Acarospora spp.). Red ones are Caloplaca spp.; and green ones are called Lecanora spp. P1020251
Background Info:  Lichens rank among the least well known forms of life. Common names, when available, typically apply to the entire genus rather than to individual species. Lichens are generally divided into three basic forms: crustose, or crust-like; foliose or leaf-like; and fruticoseor stalked. Crustose lichens, such as those shown here, are flaky or crust-like. They can be found covering rocks, soil, bark, etc. -- often forming brilliantly colored streaks. Lichens can be divided into three basic forms: crustose, or crust-like; foliose or leaf-like; and fruticoseor stalked. A lichen can literally eat stones, survive severe cold, and remain dormant for long periods without harm.
Classification of lichens is undergoing change as well. In fact, Mycologists now suggest eliminating the Lichens as a Phylum and, instead, reclassifying each invidual lichen according to its fungal component -- mostly Sac Fungi (Ascomycota). Never-the-less, lichens look so different from other fungi that they deserve separate treatment here.

Ore Wagon at Techatticup Mine in Eldorado Canyon, NV

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On 02/17/2011 I visited the Techatticup Mine in Eldorado Canyon, NV, and found this wonderful old wagon that was probably used to haul various types of raw ore extracted from the mines down to the smelting area where the precious metals of gold, silver, copper and lead were separated out.

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Jumping Cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida)

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This page last updated on 06/19/2017
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(Fig. 02)
Picture Notes: All of  these pictures of Jumping Cholla were taken at the Techatticup Mining Camp in Eldorado Canyon.  The pictures in (Figs. 01 and 06) were taken on a recent visit on 05/27/2017. The remaining pictures were captured on a hike with the rock hounds of the Henderson Heritage Park Senior Facility on 02/17/2011. It is amazing at how plentiful these cacti are here; as these pictures show, this canyon is just loaded with them. As you can see from (Fig. 02), from a distance they look like a fuzzy, soft plant with many short, fuzzy branches looking like teddybear arms, growing from the top, hence the nickname Teddybear Cholla. As you get closer (Fig. 03) you realize that the cuddly looking plant is completely covered with silvery spines. If you are unlucky enough to touch the spines, you will find yourself painfully stuck to a spiny segment that seems to have "jumped" off the plant. Segments will also "jump" when stepped on and attach themselves to your leg.
             
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(Fig. 03)
Description: The Cylindropuntia fulgida or Jumping Cholla has several common names: Teddybear Cholla, Silver Cholla, hanging chaincholla and Cholla Guera. Its Genus is Opuntia; its Species is bigelovii. It is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.  The cholla is an arborescent (tree-like) plant with one low-branching trunk.  Its dense, 1 inch spines completely hide the stem. The cylindrical segments are light to bluish green. They are about 10 inches long and 2.5 inches in diameter. The jumping cholla can be 3 to 12 feet tall and has a single trunk with short drooping branches of chained fruit at the top. The stems are light green and are strongly tuberculate, with tubercles (small, wart-like projections on the stems) (Fig. 03) measuring 6 to 9 mm. Together, the plants form fantastic looking forests that may range over many hectares. The ground around a mature plant will often be covered with dead stems and young plants started from stems that have fallen from the adult. They attach themselves to desert animals and are dispersed for short distances. During droughts animals like the bighorn sheep rely on the juicy fruit for food and water. Because they grow in inaccessible and hostile places of the desert, populations of this cactus are stable.
        
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(Fig. 04)
The spines on young branches are silvery white, and have a detachable, papery sheath. As they age, they become dark chocolate brown to black in color. It blooms from February to May. The greenish-yellow flowers (Fig. 06) grow at the end of the stems. They are about 1.5 inches in diameter. The fruit is less than 1 inch in diameter, and sometimes has spines growing on it.
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(Fig. 05)
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Thursday

Colorado River at Nelson's Landing, Nevada




Stump & Rock Dog Faces


Sometimes I just dunno (do not know) what it is about a certain thing that captures me or causes me to take a picture. Sometimes I am drawn in by the textures or colors of a particular subject; sometimes I see a shape or something else in it that reminds me of something; sometimes it is just its uniqueness; sometime I dunno! In the case of this little “stump” that I shot on 02/10/2011 along Lake Mead’s Lakeshore drive, I immediately saw a ‘faces’ starring at me. To me it looks like a 'pug nosed' dog. Without saying anything, Connie noticed one as well when she first viewed it. What do you see? E-mail me at kccandcj@yahoo.com. Though my guess was that someone had ‘cut it back’ at some point, it was not dead. When I gave it a brief ‘tug’ it was securely rooted, indicating that it certainly had some life left in it.

It’s kind of like this picture I took of a rock on a hike in the Lovell Wash back on 01/20/2011. Its silhouette reminded of a schnauzer getting ready to chew on a bone. OK! So maybe you just have to have an imagination. P1000447

Sandy Valley Road Landscape

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I first visited the area surrounding Sandy Valley Road on 02/17/2011 on a daytrip with the rock hounds from the Heritage Park Senior Facility. This shot was taken about mid-morning from one of the peaks on the south side of the road.

Wednesday

Desert Sunflower (Geraea canescens)

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Picture Notes: Traveling with the rock hounds from the Henderson Heritage Park Senior Facility, I captured this picture on 02/10/2011 at one of the many pull-offs along Lake Mead's Lakeshore Drive. It was located on a small divider in the middle of the parking area.

Description: The Desert Sunflower (Geraea canescens), is also known as the desert sunflower, hairy desert sunflower, or desert gold. This annual yellow sunflower-like flower head grows on the end of a slender, hairy stem. It grows 1-3 feet high. The sparse, gray-green, ovate, leaves grow to 3 inches long and have toothed margins. Its two-inch, golden-yellow flower head is composed of 10 to 20 oblong rays surrounding a golden disk. It grows in sandy, barren desert flats and roadsides below 3,000 feet. It blooms February through May and sometimes, with moist summers, again October and November. It can be found in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of southeastern California to southwestern Utah and south to Arizona and northwestern Mexico. P1010941-2

Sunday

A Redhead Drake

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I Took this picture of a Redhead at the Lake Mead Marina on 02/10/2011. Though I have seen them before, I never knew what they were called until I looked it up on the Internet.


Description: Redheads are slightly smaller than mallards and darker than canvasbacks. Known for its dramatic flight maneuvers, redheads sometimes drop from impressive heights at tremendous speed. The adult male, or Drake, has a blue bill, a red head and neck, a black breast, yellow or orange eyes and a grey back. The adult female has a brown head and body and a darker bluish bill with a black tip. Hens look similar to Scaup hens and have a white ringed bill. The hens are relatively late nesters and often lay their eggs in the nests of other ducks. The breeding habitat is marshes and prairie potholes in western North America. Loss of nesting habitat has led to sharply declining populations. Females regularly lay eggs in the nests of other Redheads or other ducks, especially Canvasbacks. Redheads usually take new mates each year, starting to pair in late winter. Following the breeding season, males go through a molt which leaves them flightless for almost a month. Before this happens, they leave their mates and move to large bodies of water, usually flying further north. They overwinter in the southern and north-eastern United State, the Great Lakes region, northern Mexico and the Caribbean.

Carp at Lake Mead Marina

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Carp are the swarming, splashing beggars of Hemenway Harbor. On any visit to the Lake Mead Marina and Las Vegas Boat Harbor you can be witness to literally hundreds of these popcorn-gobbling carp as they hug the docks, begging for scraps. I snapped this picture alongside one of the docks on a visit to the marina on 02/10/2011. These rather ugly looking fish will eat just about anything thrown at them and even though they are a popular tourist staple, and make money for the marina, they don't do much else for Lake Mead. Check out this related picture which show a mallard surrounded by carp ... Blue Headed Mallard Drake
Background: Though they generally average 3-6 lbs., they can grow to be more than two feet long and thirty plus lbs. The state Fish Commission introduced the species in the 1880s for sport-fishing and eating, but tastes have changed and people just don't fish for them anymore. These overgrown gray goldfish have multiplied to such an abundance, that they now make up a large part of the lake's ecosystem. The fish aren't just concentrated near the shore, but heavily dispersed in the lake. They get too big too fast, so stripers and bass can't eat them. Eighteen-inch carp aren't unusual. Also, they stir up sediment, clouding the water. They feed on vegetation at the bottom of the lake and destructively tear up vegetation in the water that acts as cover for other fish. Even though they're a prevalent force, they have little positive effect on the area.

Blue-headed Mallard Drake Duck

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I took this picture at the Lake Mead Marina on 02/10/2011. I always thought that all Mallard drakes had green heads, but regardless of the angle, this one had a blue head. The thing that really amazed me however, was how he just sat there, seemingly totally unbothered by the dozens of carp and stripped bass that were swimming directly below him. If anyone knows more about "blue-headed" mallards, email me at kccandcj@yahoo.com.
Description: The Mallard, or Wild duck, is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and sub-tropical areas of the US and other regions around the world. The male birds have a bright green head, while the female's is light brown. They generally live in wetlands, eat water plants, and are gregarious by nature. It is also migratory. The Mallard is the ancestor of all domestic ducks, and can interbreed with other species of genus  This interbreeding is causing some rarer species of ducks to become genetically diluted. The Mallard is 22–26 inches long, has a wingspan of 32–39 inches, and weighs 32–42 oz. The breeding male,or drake, is unmistakable, with its iconic bright green head that sits atop a white neckband that sets off a chestnut-colored chest and white-gray body. It has a yellowish orange bill tipped with black (as opposed to the dark brown bill in females), The female Mallard is a light mottled drab brown in color, but sports iridescent purple-blue wing feathers that are visible as a patch on their sides.
Mated pairs migrate to and breed in the northern parts of their range and build nests on the ground or in a protected cavity. They normally lay about a dozen eggs, and the incubation period lasts just under a month. Mallards are territorial during much of this period, but once incubation is well underway, males abandon the nest and join a flock of other males

Tuesday

Waterfowl of Floyd Lamb Park

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On 02/06/2011 I made a follow-up visit to Floyd Lamb Park as I felt my stop there last week with the senior group was much too short. In a little over an hour I snapped 375 pictures. About half were of the peacocks, and the other half were of water fowl, mallards, snow geese, Canada geese, etc. After nearly two hours of reviewing when I got home, I whittled this number down to around 150 and I’m still having a hard time reducing this number down to just a few really good ones. Of the more than 150 pictures that I ended up with, I think these shots of the Snow Geese and Greylag goose are my favorites. It was shot on the shore of Tule Springs Lake, the largest of the four lakes at Floyd Lamb Park. Most of the pictures in the first grouping were shot around Tule Springs Lake, the largest of the four lakes. The majority of the second grouping were shot at Mulberry Lake, the second largest lake. Click here to view a slide show of my favorites and email me if you find a favorite that should be singled out for special attention ... Waterfowl of Floyd Lamb Park.

Description: The Snow Goose, also known as the Blue Goose, is a North American species of goose. Its name derives from the typically white plumage. This goose breeds north of the timberline in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern tip of Siberia, and winters in warm parts of North America from southwestern British Columbia through parts of the United States to Mexico. Outside of the nesting season, they usually feed in flocks. In winter, snow geese feed on left-over grain in fields. They migrate in large flocks, often visiting traditional stopover habitats in spectacular numbers. Snow geese often travel and feed alongside white-fronted geese; in contrast, the two tend to avoid travelling and feeding alongside Canada grey geese, who are often heavier birds.


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Description: The Greylag Goose is the largest and bulkiest of the grey Anser geese. It has a rotund, bulky body, a thick and long neck, and a large head and bill. It has pink legs and feet, and an orange bill. It is 30 to 35 inches long with a wing length of 16 to 19 inches. It has a tail 2.4 to 2.7 inches, a bill 2.5 to 2.7 inches long, and a tarsus that measures 2.8 to 3.7 inches. It weighs between 103 to 127 oz. Males are generally larger than females, more so in the eastern subspecies rubirostris. The plumage of the Greylag Goose is greyish-brown, with a darker head and paler belly with variable black spots. Its plumage is patterned by the pale fringes of its feathers. It has a white line bordering its upper flanks. Its coverts are lightly colored, contrasting with its darker flight feathers. Juveniles differ mostly in their lack of a black-speckled belly.

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Friday

Cypress Tree at Corn Creek

I love taking pictures of old trees, especially those with abnormal gnarled parts, with really unusual shapes or crazy roots. Between their bark and burley knots, they offer some of the most interesting textures and color variations found in nature. This picture was taken on 2/3/2011 at Corn Creek inside the Desert Wildlife Range, NV. You gotta wonder just how old this tree is?

What is It?

Here is a crop of a picture I took at Tule Springs on 02/03/2011. As soon as I saw this I knew I had to add it to my "Textures in Nature" series.  If you think you know what it is, click here to view the full picture.

Winter Reflections



I took this picture on a hike to Tule Springs with the Rock Hounds from the Henderson Heritage Park Senior Facility on 02/03/2011. Don't know why or what is special about it, but it just caught my eye and I liked it.

Thursday

Indian (Blue) Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)

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On a recent visit to Tule Springs with the Heritage Park Senior Facility hiking group on 03/24/2011, we were all privy to the courting ritual of the park’s only leucistic white peafowl. Though many think it is an albino peacock, it's technically a white peacock which is a genetic variant of the Indian Blue Peafowl. Off and on, this gorgeous display went on for more than an hour. Considering how windy it was, I was amazed that he could even keep its fan-like tail plumage spread. It was truly breathtaking to watch. Scroll down for more info and pictures.
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Description: The Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), sometimes called a Blue Peafowl, is a large and brightly colored bird of the pheasant family native to South Asia, and is in fact, the national bird of India. Predominantly blue, the male peacock has a fan-like crest of spatula-tipped wire-like feathers and is best known for the long train made up of elongated upper-tail covert feathers which bear colourful eyespots. These stiff and elongated feathers are raised into a fan and quivered in a display during courtship.

In contrast, the female (above right) lacks the train, has a greenish lower neck and has a much duller brown plumage. They generally forage for berries and grains but will also prey on snakes, lizards, and small rodents. They forage on the ground, moving in small groups and will usually try to avoid contact by escaping on foot through undergrowth, thereby avoiding flying. They are know however, to fly up into tall trees to roost. Their loud squawk-like calls make them easy to detect and often indicate the presence of a predator or perceived danger.

Within the plumage of a peacock lies a complex architecture that's continuously changing color. Though the colors of a peacock are revered, it can be just as stunning without them, as in the leucistic white peafowl. Often referred to as an albino peacock, it is nothing of the sort. Leucism is a condition characterized by reduced pigmentation in animals and humans. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in all types of skin pigment, not just melanin. Pigment colorization in birds comes from three different groups: melanins, carotenoids, and porphyrines. Melanins occur as tiny specs of color in both the skin and feathers, and ranges from the darkest black to pale yellows. Carotenoids are plant-based and are acquired only by eating plants or by eating something that ate a plant. They produce bright yellows and brilliant oranges. The last pigment group, Porphyrins, produces a range of colors including pink, browns, reds, and greens. Another important factor is feather structure. Each feather consists of thousands of flat branches, each with minuscule bowl-shaped indentations. At the bottom of each indentation is a lamellae (thin plate-like layers), that acts like a prism, splitting light.
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Wednesday

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitian

After four years of construction, the $3.9 billion, 2,995-room Cosmopolitan opened in December to much applause from everyone. The property also includes two 52-story towers. Connie and I explored it back in February of 2011 and, after touring the inside of the property for nearly two hours, were quite impressed. It certainly has a unique ‘feel’ when compared to most Las Vegas Casinos. In fact, because of its unique design, being built on a relatively small foot-print everything is built upward instead of spread out like most Vegas casino properties, leaving you with the feeling that you are not even in a casino. We were quite impressed with the design and layout and really liked it.

P1000793Probably one of its most noted features is the three story crystal chandelier. With seating for more than 500 guests nestled within its shimmering strands of 2 million beaded crystals. The first floor of blends effortlessly into the casino itself and features a DJ and is devoted to intricate specialty cocktails. The second floor provides the most exclusive experience, serving drinks with molecular garnishes delivered tableside from a modern bar cart. The third floor, overlooking the entirety of the casino, exudes femininity and offers yet another take on creatively infused cocktails. Floral elements like rose, violet and lavender essences are used to make a mix of classic and modern drinks such as the Violet Femme, a gin and elderflower cocktail rimmed in violet sugar with edible violets.

Background Info: Before construction even began, engineers had to deal with an underground river that flowed beneath the property to the tune of some 80,000 gallons a day. In order to accommodate its 5-story underground garage, Initial excavation went down 10 stories below the Strip, with slurry walls thick enough to stand on their own. Original plans called for the casino to be on the second floor, but this was later changed and the casino was built on ground level, like most other Las Vegas hotel-casinos. Due to the decline in the economy, the planned condo units were cancelled and replaced with studios and other hotel rooms.The multistory design now includes a casino on the ground floor with access to the Strip and restaurants, entertainment and shops on upper floors, and three pool areas overlooking the Strip on the fourth floor.