How could I say “no” to something the size of a mint chocolate chip waffle cone?

Bill Williams Desert Sunset
An Elf Owl kind of sunset over the Bill Williams river.
Kayak Topock Gorge
Kayaking through the beautiful Topock Gorge on the Colorado River.
Ocotillo in Bloom
Ocotillo displays its gorgeous blooms. It reminds me of the underwater world plants in Super Mario Bros 3.
This chuckwalla basks in the desert sun, proudly showing off his designer reptilian suit.

I once again found myself on the lower Colorado River to continue the immensely rewarding avian research.  The Elf Owls had lured me back into their tiny grasp.  How could I say “no” to something the size of a mint chocolate chip waffle cone?

Grumpy Elf Owl
A grumpy Elf Owl.

This year, we captured a handful of Elf Owls to track via telemetry.  Once caught, we’d carefully apply a teeny radio transmitter that sent a set frequency, which we use to track their territories.  Outfitted with metal antennas, sometimes we braved the stormy skies like bison.

Telemetry Gear
It’s not like we’re carrying metal rods into storms or anything…. oh wait.
Alicia and Elf Owl
Keith and Elf Owl

Often, the nights would bring about unexpected treats like thread snakes, baby kangaroo rats, angry rattlesnakes, or a cougar sprinting off like a bat-out-of-hell after getting sprayed by a skunk.   The nights often brought a slight bit of sleep-deprived insanity in the form of creative camera shots.

Angel and Devil night shot
This is what happens when you leave two weirdos in the desert with their headlamps and a camera.

“Life nowhere appears so brave, so bright, so full of oracle and miracle as in the desert” –Edward Abbey


Peeping Owl Nests
Keith peeping Elf Owl nests with a camera.
Wild Asses
Resident asses. Often, the maniacal laugh of the Elf Owl was drowned by them braying madly.
Creosote Flowers
My favorite desert plant, creosote, displays it’s fuzzy seed capsules that were once yellow flowers. 
Western Tanager
Western Tanager

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