Mexico II

After the last post our weather changed.  It got cloudy, windy and cooler (low to mid 60’s).  We even had what passes for rain around here which isn’t much.  The wind stopped us from riding our bikes but we either walked or taxied instead.

We visited a place called CEDO – Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans.   They gave a talk about what they do and had an exhibit of different creatures from the ocean including a skeleton of a juvenile Fin Whale.

Nancy and Fin Whale, view from CEDO, Cholla Cactus on the trail around CEDO

 They also offer a few expeditions.  We signed up for two of those –  Exploring tidal pools and visiting an estuary.

On our drive down to CEDO we discovered a whole street that had artisan shops on it.  This was in biking distance so on a fairly decent and partly sunny day we visited it and wandered through the shops.

Shop lined streets, Giraffe, Interesting moth

Lots of murals in this area

Last Thursday the owner of our rental, Raul, offered to take us to El Pinacate for the day. He brought his 23 year old son, Eric, with him.

El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve
The 714,566 hectare site comprises two distinct parts: the dormant volcanic Pinacate Shield of black and red lava flows and desert pavements to the east, and, in the west, the Gran Altar Desert with its ever changing and varied sand dunes that can reach a height of 200 metres. This landscape of dramatic contrast notably features linear, star and dome dunes as well as several arid granite massifs, some as high as 650 metres. The dunes emerge like islands from the sea of sand and harbor distinct and highly diverse plant and wildlife communities, including endemic freshwater fish species and the endemic Sonoran Pronghorn, which is only to be found in northwestern Sonora and in southwestern Arizona (USA). Ten enormous, deep and almost perfectly circular craters, believed to have been formed by a combination of eruptions and collapses, also contribute to the dramatic beauty of the site whose exceptional combination of features is of great scientific interest. The site is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

This was a fascinating place.  We were immediately greeted by a Golden Eagle that seems to have become somewhat of a pet as he is always around.

Golden Eagle

We got to walk around three different craters – Elegante, Tecolote, and Colorado.  Elegante is the largest with a diameter of about a mile and is about 800 ft. deep.

Colorado is less than half that diameter and only 328 ft. deep. There is a very primitive campground at Tecolote which is the smallest of the three craters.  We climbed around on the rocks to get good views of the area.  The first picture below is looking down at the campground where you see a few cars.  The second picture shows Eric at the top of rock and the third is of Denny next to some cactus and a Palo Verde.

The landscapes were beautiful with all the lava around.

Colorado is a tuff formation made of clay and volcanic ash has a reddish color, hence its name.

There was a new visitor’s center that we visited that had very informative exhibits and a movie.  It was a great day despite the spitting rain and chill. Here is the view from the visitor’s center.

view from vc

The next morning we went on the Tidal Pools exploration with CEDO.  We discovered all kinds of creatures that we never would have found on our own or known what they were.  We saw Brittle Starfish, Sea Stars, Volcanic Sponge, Fiery Worms, a bunch of different Anemones, some fish including Bleni, Turban Snails and other snails, Turkey wing Clams and lots of shore birds.  Unfortunately we didn’t bring our cameras for fear of getting them wet so we didn’t get pictures but yesterday we rode our bikes down there and took some pictures. The weather has gotten better- sunnier and a little warmer but we haven’t gotten back to the 70’s yet.  As long as the sun is out and it’s in the 60’s we’re happy.

Beach, tide pools and incoming tide

Cheerios Anemone, Sand Anemone, Coral

Snowy Egret, Ring-billed Gull, Semi-palmated Plover

We have 2 more weeks here and have plans for the estuary visit on the 27th and are still trying to arrange a trip to Bird Island.  More later.

 

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