Gunlock State Park, a few birds and Mojave Joshua Trees

/, Gunlock State Park, House Finches, Mojave Desert, Red-tailed Hawks, Trees, Utah, Washington County/Gunlock State Park, a few birds and Mojave Joshua Trees

Sunset view of Gunlock State ParkSunset view of Gunlock State Park

I’m back from my trip to southwestern Utah earlier than I hoped to be but there were not that many birds to photograph this time of the year and despite coming home early I still had a wonderful time exploring an area of Utah that was new to me. It started at Gunlock State Park; which I have been to before, but the lower altitude of the Mojave means hotter temps and that can be uncomfortable for camping. The reservoir at Gunlock State Park is much lower than it was in 2010, they really need water there.

The setting sun on the clouds over Gunlock State Park IThe setting sun on the clouds over Gunlock State Park I

The sunset made for spectacular colors on the clouds overhead. At first this cloud was kissed with gold.

The setting sun on the clouds over Gunlock State Park IIThe setting sun on the clouds over Gunlock State Park II

Then pink hues and just a touch of gold.

The setting sun on the clouds over Gunlock State Park IIIThe setting sun on the clouds over Gunlock State Park III

Then deeper violets and blues  just before it got dark. It was warm but the little bit of a breeze made it quite comfortable.

The morning sun on Joshua TreesThe morning sun on Joshua Trees

The next morning found me in an area I have never been to before, Beaver Dam Wash Conservation Area and the Mojave Desert where Joshua Trees are the tallest trees around. Joshua Trees are in the Yucca family and their bayonet shaped leaves look as sharp as any Yucca I have ever seen.

Joshua Tree on a hillJoshua Tree on a hill

Joshua Trees were given their name by the Mormon settlers but long before they arrived the Cahuilla Native Americans used the leaves to makes sandals and baskets and harvested the seeds and flower buds and still identify with this plant as a valuable resource and call it “hunuvat chiy’a” or “humwichawa” and if I can learn to pronounce those words it would be my preference to use what they were called before the pioneers arrived.

Male House Finch on a Joshua TreeMale House Finch on a Joshua Tree

The birds in the Mojave were few but I can see why spring would be a better season to visit for more bird activity plus I would love to see the desert in bloom. I saw so many different kinds of cactus under the Joshua Trees and I could visualize what it must look like. The birds I saw the most of were House Finches and that took me a little by surprise because I have grown to think of them as urban birds and I was glad to be proved “wrong”.

Adult Red-tailed Hawk perched on a Joshua TreeAdult Red-tailed Hawk perched on a Joshua Tree

I did see two Red-tailed Hawks on the way to Lytle Ranch one of them was close enough to even take images of as it perched high on a dead Joshua Tree. When I first saw the hawk I thought its tail looked a bit odd then I realized that it was the dead leaves of the tree not its tail. The bird stayed put for a long time and didn’t flinch even when a cattle truck rumbled by…

Red-tailed Hawk lifting off from a Joshua TreeRed-tailed Hawk lifting off from a Joshua Tree

And just when I was about to put my camera down without even a warning poop it lifted off.

I enjoyed my journey to Beaver Dam Wash and the Mojave Desert even though I didn’t see the birds I hoped to photograph, every journey is an adventure. To be savored. To be relished.

Life is good.



  1. Patty Chadwick October 13, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Love the cloud pictures…much as I love the landscape, plants, animalsb and birds, I love the big skies and incredible cloud formations…especially sunsets and sunrises…get a teal high from them(no pun intended)…

  2. Jolanta October 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Stunning photos! Thank you 🙂

  3. Ingrid T October 13, 2014 at 10:59 am

    The leaves looked like a tail to me, too, on first glance. 🙂 Mia, there’s a chanting group at Joshua Tree known by its name, Humwichawa. I’ve always been captivated by the beings who thrive on desert landscape, plant and animal both. You’ve reminded me of that beauty and connection.

  4. Utahbooklover October 13, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Many wonderful images. I also found special attraction to the Joshua tree, having lived in Lancaster CA for two years, where I learned to love the Mojave desert.

  5. Montanagirl October 13, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Terrific photos!

  6. SkyHawker4 October 13, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Beautiful photos Mia. Love those RTH Hawks!

  7. Colleen October 13, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Beautiful pictures as always and the added bonus of places to visit when hubby and I visit Utah.

  8. Lois Bryan October 13, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Gorgeous images … I especially love that Joshua tree … beautiful detailing and light capture!!!!

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