Nature slowly recovers on the Placitas Open Space


I was going to post something after our hike in the Placitas Open Space today, but my wife’s email to some friends says it better than I could. Here it is along with a short video.

We took a long walk on the open space today. We hiked down from the NE gate, northwest along the creek basin, then south over the ridge and down to the relatively shady Coyote Canyon (former “horse central”) tucked under the pipeline hill. Then back to the ridgetop and east, emerging above the cliff where the great horned owls used to nest. We dropped down to the creek and looped back along the northeast bank, where much horse damage remains.Bluet (Hedyotis rubra)

It was beautiful out there today. Carpets of green along much of the creek basin and a profusion of blooming desert marigold and blue trumpet, along with paintbrush, bluets, bladderpod, desert zinnia, spiny dogweed, wooly milk vetch, blackfoot daisy, plains flax, white milkwort, white-tufted evening primrose, purple carpet verbena, and blue grama, ring muhly and feather grasses.

We counted say’s phoebe, house finch, lark sparrow, turkey vulture, scrub jay, Eurasian collared dove, mourning dove, and mockingbird. On the flats above the owl nest, in one of the LPA nest boxes, were four fluffy young house finches napping. In a second box by the creek, no birds, but an elaborate nest, built mostly of reddish brown horse hair, soft as a pillow. A few plump cottontails, no horses.

We took photos and video of the heavily trampled horse hang-outs that are only starting to recover, a steep horse trail coming down off the ridge with clearly-linked erosion below, some cryptobiotic soil crusts that have managed to remain untrampled, and lots of green vegetation and wildflowers. It’s really peaceful on the POS right now and worth a visit while it’s so lush with wildflowers.