Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Big Bend Photo Report ~ Cattail Falls

One of the really cool places in Big Bend is Cattail Falls. The waters that collects in the higher Chisos mountains often drain through pour-offs like "the Window" creating great waterfalls. We hiked up out of the desert, across the Sotol grassland to these falls base of the Chisos. The falls are not on the park service map, though not officially off-limits. They discourage visiting, primarily because they use it as a water source for lower elevation facilities. This Rock Squirell (Spermophillus variegatus) has figured out that the park's water pipe is cooler than surrounding environment and is a nice place to hang out during the heat of the day. Hikers probably keep the preditors at a skittish distance too.

The falls seemed to appear out of no where as we hiked through the thick riparian trees. The only bad thing about these falls is the very high amount of Poison Oak the riparian zone, the only way to get to the falls without climbing.

They had great contrast of desert, rock, plants and water. My old friend Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus) was there as well, once again refusing to sit still for a photo. The falls are actually a series of falls that ends at this plunge pool. Like most everything in Big Bend, the etymology of the name held form; here are actual Cattails (Typha latifolia).

We noticed that there were egg sacs from an amphibian of some kind. From the way it looked to me, I'd have to say a Ranid of some kind.

Some eggs had hatched. There were many tadpoles of various sizes. My guess is Rana berliandieri, or Rio Grand Leopard Frog.

There were several dragonflies, both bright blue and bright red, zooming around picking off mosquitos and other insects. They wouldn't sit very still either.

I'm sure that the amount of flow varies greatly temporally. During dry times, the flow slows to a trickle, perhaps no water at all. When precipitation is more regular, as it has been recently, the falls flow. During summer monsoon events, I'll bet this falls is one big flash flood. We thought about what such an event would be like as we pondered the fall's beauty.

It was one of those visits I won't soon forget.