Sometimes out hiking, you''ll startle a covey of quail or a jackrabbit hunkering behind a creosote bush. A hawk or golden eagle soaring overhead might track you. Occasionally when we're walking along a deserted road, we'll see vultures. William always jokes, "Don't sit down too long or they'll think we're dying and swoop on us." Once, tired after a long hike in the sun, we both spread out flat across a boulder to rest. A pair of turkey vultures circled for a closer look and then flew off.
Most of the time though, if you're walking along a road or trail, stop. You'll notice the sharp scent of mesquite and creosote. You'll hear the wind rustle. Maybe a bird call. Slowly, the critters, predators and prey, will start to creep, run, scurry past. If you sit long enough you'll see more movement than you might have imagined--a stinkbug waddling along, roadrunner speeding by, a coyote skulking for a meal.
Photos taken at Joshua Tree National Park: a sidewinder, a jackrabbit (whose outline can be seen at the far right of the image), snakeskins, a chuckwalla, a tarantula
Photo taken at Grand Canyon National Park, 2005: a raven