Watching Desert Wildlife|
Tips for Safe Observation
If you want to view wildlife on your desert jaunt, you will want to plan your trek after the sun begins to set. A large majority of desert animals confine their movements to the cool of a desert night. When the sun is beating down, the desert appears lifeless since most living creatures are tucked away safely in the shade of vegetation and rocks or burrowed under the sand's surface where even a few inches down can mean a temperature that is up to 15 degrees cooler.
Keep a sharp eye out for animals that may stray underfoot as you wander at night ... stepping on the tail of a kangaroo rat won't generate much more than a mild adrenaline rush (for you and the rat) but treading on any part of a rattler is quite another matter. If you really want to see wildlife, find a quiet point overlooking an oasis and then settle in for a wild night of nocturnal observation.
A strong, lightweight flashlight with a red lens is a must for nocturnal viewing--red because it won't scare wildlife off and the bright light of a white beam will destroy your night vision completely.
If you really want to be treated to a spectacular show and see the "eyes" of a tarantula or scorpion glowing back at you, then a portable black light, fairly expensive, is an absolute must.
Good-quality binoculars will allow you to view distant geological structures as well as identify the smaller birds flitting among vegetation and to observe, without disturbing, the fascinating behavior of other various desert inhabitants.
I also carry a small hand lens with a magnification power of 10 with me so that I can more closely view the patterns inside tiny flowers and the world that exists between tiny sand grains.Contributed By: Michael Hodgson
Michael Hodgson is a an award-winning journalist and author of numerous books including Camping for Dummies, Compass and Map Navigator, and Facing the Extreme. He is a volunteer instructor for the American Red Cross, Nevada County Sheriff's Search & Rescue team and was a former mountain guide. Michael is well-known for his sense of humor and eagerness to try anything once in the pursuit of a really good story. His friends remain amazed that he can still walk. He has partnered with his journalist-wife, Therese Iknoian, on four web sites: his own www.AdventureNetwork.com, plus www.GearTrends.com, www.TotalFitnessNetwork.com, and www.SNEWSnet.com