Friday, April 3, 2009

Signs of Spring: Ravens

qtzite When out on our most recent long hike, last weekend, we decided to climb breccia hill once again, to ascend this rocky knob of Eureka Quartzite, in order to go to the arch in the upper part of the knob. If you look closely, you can see the arch: it's above a large brownish talus patch in the left center of the photo, and in the lower part of the upper ledge. For interested geologists, the Eureka Quartzite is Ordovician in age. See new geologic time chart here.
view We hiked and scrambled up the slope, finally getting high enough to have this great view of our eastern Nevada town, looking south toward the southern Egan Range.
two We'd been hearing a lot of raven-like croaking, and finally we spotted these two flying together, with the second bird looking like it was carrying something in it's beak. A twig for a nest?
nest At about that same time, and now on the upper part of the scrabbly brownish talus slope and still one ledge below the arch, we saw this large nest made of twigs and carefully placed in a protected area below an overhang of quartzite.
overlook One of the two ravens was watching the nest from a vantage point above it, while the second raven tried to get us to move away from the nest by flying elsewhere. If you look closely, you can see that this raven is sitting on brecciated quartzite. In fact, most of the quartzite is fractured, cut by multiple sets of joints and faults, and brecciated.
flapping The raven takes to the air, flying around in futher attempts to get us away from the nest. Unfortunately, our path to the arch - uphill and down - led right past the nest.
into nest One raven stands on quartzite, looking at the nest partially hidden by the piñon pine.
on nest A raven settles into the nest. We saw one of the ravens sitting on the nest as though there were already eggs present. It seems early, but is not outside the timeframe for the beginning of raven nesting.
arch Here's the slope above us, with large to huge blocks of quartzite, and the arch barely in view near the center of the photo. Some quartzite blocks larger than houses have rolled all the way down the hill.
view with rocks From the top above the arch, we had another great view to the south.
leaves nest As we descend past the lower quartzite ledge, a raven flies from the nest. The sun has gotten lower in the west, and the entire outcrop is now in shadow.


Desert Survivor said...

Looks like a neat hike. Ravens are one of the earliest nesters in this area--by the time many other birds are laying eggs in their nests, the raven chicks have already hatched and fledged.

Silver Fox said...

Ravens do start a little early!

The hike's not very long, but is pretty steep. And then there are more rocky knobs up above, and another hill to climb.