Tag Archives: Desert Tortoise

Hike 19: チャックワラ Chuckwalla Trail

ヒーラモンスターばかり追いかけていた私たちですが(依然として目撃できてません)、今年になってからまだリクガメに出会っていなかったことに気がつきました。そこで早速チャックワラトレイルを歩いて来ました。約7km。 We’ve been preoccupied on the Gila Monster and forgot about the Desert tortoises. We haven’t seen them this year yet. So we decided to hike on the Chuckwalla trail for about 4 miles.

今日のレンズは 24-70mmです。リクガメですから 800mmレンズは必要ありません。でも、結局リクガメに出会うこともなく、鳥のざわめきも見逃して、ちょっとしょげていた時でした。I brought my 24-70mm lens today because I wanted to capture tortoises. I don’t need an 800mm lens for that. But we couldn’t find any tortoises. So then I was a little upset because I missed all the bird activity without the long lens.

こんな岩の中から鳥の鳴き声が聞こえて来ました。 But then, I heard constant chirping coming from this rock.

鳴き声が逃げて行かないように、そーっと、ゆっくり近づいていきました。岩の中に入って振り返ってみると、いた!産まれたばかりの幼鳥です。 We stealthily walked towards the sound, hoping that whatever was making it did not run away. When I looked inside, then from the inside looked back towards the entrance, OMG! The source of the noise was there, newly born chicks!

きっと孵化してからあまり時間が経っていないんですね。まだ、目が開いてません。でも、鳴き声は威勢よかったですよ。I assume they hatched not so long ago because their eyes weren’t opened yet. But their chirping voices were quite loud.

この子達は一体誰の子供でしょうか。それを確かめるため、洞窟から出てお母さんが餌を咥えてくるのを待ちました。 Whose babies were they? In order to find out who their parents were, we went out from the cave, and waited for the parents to come back to them with food.

もう〜、望遠レンズが無いことを再び悔やみました。この姿でわかるでしょうか。 I couldn’t express enough how much I regretted not bringing my long lens. Can you identify who it is with this shot?

日本語名は長いです。チャイロツキヒメハエトリ It’s a Say’s Phoebe.

焼け跡で - Fire Ravaged Area

We had many wild fires this year, including some in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. This post is specific to one of them. Although we protect Desert Tortoises there, many of them couldn’t survive through the fire. Even for the survivors, the plants they feed on were burned as well.

Last Spring was my first experience seeing wild Desert Tortoises. Therefore, my heart is still attached to them, and the unfortunate news gave me pain. So I participated in a volunteer project last Wednesday.

The work was simple. It involved planting small native plants and protecting them until they grow larger by adding wire cages around them. The cages are to protect them from being eaten by wild animals.

Plant plants to feed animals, but don’t let them eat? That sounds like a contradiction! It turns out we need to be patient until the plants grow larger after about six months to two years. The plants die if the Desert Tortoises eat them when they are young, but when large enough the plants can easily survive being nibbled on. We will carefully monitor them and remove the cages gradually.

Red Cliffs NCA is right next to the Pine Valley mountains, and a fire started at Pine Valley the day before Wednesday. As we worked, we could see the smoke coming up from there.

By the way, this is a heart-warming story. I was wearing a pair of sunglasses at the beginning of the work, but took them off and put them in my pants. When I was ready to go home, I realized that I don’t have them in the pocket or my backpack. So I asked the students, volunteers, and the professor who organized the activity if they have seen them. They started searching for them without any hesitation. It’s quite a vast area. I was actually ready to give up. But they said, “Don’t worry, we can find them.” and sure enough, they found them 20 minutes later. Wow! I said good-bye saying “You all are my heroes!!!”

That unexpected kindness made me even happier that day.

サバクゴファーガメ – Desert Tortoise

先週は記念すべき週となりました。初めてサバクゴファーガメに遭遇することができたからです。しかも、青年カメと子供カメ。場所は Red Cliffs Desert ReserveChuckwalla trail です。 – It was a memorable week last week.  It’s because I met Desert Tortoises, a young adult as well as a yearling on Chuckwalla trail in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.

子供と青年の違いがよくわかる所は甲羅と足の爪です。甲羅のそれぞれの模様の中にできる輪の数で年齢を図ることもできると言われています。輪の数の半分が年齢なので青年は6-7歳ぐらい、子供は1-2歳。方法はあくまでも目安なので正確とは言えないとも言われています。 – I noticed that two major parts of their body show differences between an adult and a child.  One is its shell.  The number of rings inside the patterns divided by two is the age.  For the case of these tortoises the ages, based on my counts, are 6-7 years old for the young adult, and 1-2 years old for the young one.

もう一つは足の爪。青年の方はすでに黒くなっていますが、子供はまだ透明感があります。 – Another difference is the nails on their toes.  The nails of the young adult are already black but the child’s nails are still transparent.

それぞれの大きさは、青年が 30cm ぐらいで、子供は 10cm ぐらいだったでしょうか。50-60 年、生きると言われています。また、成長しきるには 15-20 年かかります。医療の発達が今ほどなかった頃の人間の寿命に似てますね。- The length was about 30cm for the young adult, and 10cm for the yearling.  Their life span is about 50-60 years, and to reach maturity, it takes 15-20 years.  It’s similar to a human life span before all the medical technology came in.

最後に、1分のビデオを作って見たので見てください。- Lastly, I want to share a one minute video with you about them.