This page was created to share the beauty and a bit of the intriguing ecology of
Tsegyalgar West, located in Baja Sur's Sierra de la Laguna.
All Photos were taken by Heidi Schor and me, Daniel Winkler, between Nov. 13 & 26, 2010 walking the land.
A Fishhook Cactus (Mammilaria sp) flashing its flowers. The spikes make it very clear that Mammilaria is not interested in our attention.
A granite pond situated in the main arroyo. For scale, note Heidi is standing on top of the biggest boulder, base rock to be precise.
A nearly full moon rising
During an excursion along the arroyo we rested in the vast expanse.
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Six vultures out of a group of 16 vultures resting in trees above the big arroyo. They were not disturbed by coming within 30 ft.
We checked back some days later and there was no more vulture summit.
Its generic name Cathartes means "purifier" in Greek.
The species name, aura, is latinized from the Native Mexican word for the bird, "auroura".
Turkey vultures spread their wings to absorb heat and to clean their wings. Their wing span is up to 180 cm / 6 ft. They are distributed over most of the Americas.
Maybe these vultures just simulate flight when they do not smell carrion?
The Big Fig
A big Wild fig (Ficus palmeri) known in Mexico as Higuera or Zalate. In Bodh Gaya Buddha Shakyamuni meditated for years under a Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa). These tropical figs often have air roots that start somewhere above ground and search for the ground. This root formed a perfect thigle shape to be filled with an A projection.
Khyentse Yeshi teaching under the Big Fig.
A fig growing in cracks in the arroyo protected from flash floods.
Dzogchen Community Presence
Casitas, Dance Mandala and shaded teaching area. The mountain on the right is still part of the community land.
Khyentse Yeshi Namkhai is teaching Dzogchen Longde.
Looking out of the comfortable casita.
Another Casita photo on Tsegyakgar Weppage
The Kitchen & its denizens
This 20 cm (8 in) big Tarantula came out of a rock crevice at night and posed patiently for photos.
This bat seemed to be feeding on insects stuck in spider webs. It came out in broad daylight and hid between the palm leaves of the palapa roof.
A big oak growing among granite boulders and palm trees. There are at least 3 or 4 on the land, including Cape oak (Quercus brandegeei), Encino negro. Overall the vegetation on the land is very interesting. Temperate elements like oak, willows [and even aspen high up according to Scott Schroeder] meet with tropical figs and palms as well as a wide range of desert life forms such as tree cacti and Ocotillo.
The land is located in the Sierra de la Laguna Range that peaks out at 2153 m (6675 ft), and reaches 1645 m (5100 ft) right to the south of the property of the Dzogchen Community.
"Wild Plum" (Cyrtocarpa edulis) locally known as Ciruelo is a member of the sumac family (Anacardiaceae), which also includes mangoes (planted widely in southern Baja) and Cashews.
Cyrtocarpa edulis is a dioecious tree, so only female trees will produce fruit. The taste of the Ciruelos we tasted was not as rich as the taste of a Mango, but still quite good for a wild foraged fruit. Maybe ours were not fully ripe yet, the fruit can turn yellow or red when ripe. It seemed like birds and other wildlife ate all the ripe ones before we arrived there.
We were not aware that the seed is also edible and is supposed to have a coconut like taste. Not surprisingly Ciruelo use predates European arrival and is still enjoyed by people in Baja.
The fruits are easy to be recognized by the spike-like protuberances on the outer fruit skin. Ciruelo is another Cabo endemic.
Also Ciruelo is often host to colorful mistletoe:
Phrygilanthus sonorae, a parasitic mistletoe is growing in a male Ciruelo tree. We did not encounter druids equipped with scythes harvesting these mistletoes.
Beautiful flower of Phrygilanthus sonorae -the Sonora mistletoe known in Mexico as Toji or Cupones.
Coralvine (Antigon leptopus) flowered all over the landscape. This member of the Knotweed family (Polygonaceae) is locally known as San Miguel or Flora de San Diego.
Tecoma stans, Yellow trumpet bush is a member of the Bignoniaceae or Trumpet Creeper Family. Palo de arco, as it is known locally puts out an incredible amount of flowers. The flowers are frequented by hummingbirds. We got our wake up buzz, or rather hum, each morning at 6 am. We could have set our clock to the regularity of the "Colibri"getting his matinal sugar fix.
A Xantus's Hummingbird (Hylocharis xantusii) feeding on a Hibiscus flower. Although this photo was taken in Todos Santos, we observed every day the same
hummingbird on the land. Another hummingbird we saw was: Costa's Hummingbird (Calypte costae).
A Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus) sitting in a date palm in Todos Santos. At the penultimate day of the teachings Khyentse Yeshi started to talk about the fruition of Longde practice. Just at this point a pair of Scott's Orioles landed in the Big Fig and started their beautiful melodious song.
A stand of Palo blanco (Lysiloma candida, Mimosoidae) a striking, white barked tree.
Much of the vegetation is impacted by intense browsing of omnipresent cows, which are owned by neighboring ranchos. They have been fenced out in some areas already and their presence will be reduced further, but it is slow process. Higher up in the mountains there are still some Peninsula mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus peninsulae).
An interesting couple, "Cardon", a tree cactus (Pachycereus,
maybe P. pringlei) being hugged by a Ciruelo (Cyrtocarpa edulis).
This Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens ssp. splendens) shows that the rainy season was short-lived in 2001. It already shed all its leaves.
A nearly 10 cm (4 in) long bug that we encountered on flowers. It seemed like he had a sweet tooth or a serious pollen addiction.
Scenes from the big Arroyo
Khyentse Yeshi teaching near one of the lower pools of the Arroyo
The big arroyo beyond the curve in the SW of the land.
The big Arroyo during rainy season in a dry year. Anyway, you do not want to be in an arroyo when a hurricane comes through and dumps 1000 mm (40 in) in a few days. But otherwise there are beautiful ponds carved into the granite, which are great for a dive or dunk.
Only a small runnel flowed in late November 2010. The palms are probablyBrahea brandegeei, Palma Colorado, which is endemic in the Baja Cape region and common.
Lizard and dragon fly resting on granite.
Two-striped Garter Snake (Thamnophis hammondii)
Two-striped Garter Snake (Thamnophis hammondii) swallowing a frog (some part still sticks out) at the edge of the pool.
The same 2 ft long snake sneaking up to snack on a small frog.
Garter snakes have no venom and are harmless to people, but not to little frogs.
A single very blue dragon fly on the rocks.
This kind of leopard frog is well camouflaged on granite.
Dragon flies: Yab-Yum-Yab?
Caught in the act: Dragon fly union male-female?
Or maybe they are just holding hands? However, their big wide open eyes look like they feel caught in the act.
If anybody has photos that would fit here and would like to share them, please let me know at
Page first published: 12-1-2010 Last change 4-7-2013
Roberts, Norman C, 1989. Baja California Plant Field Guide, Natural History Publishing House, La Jolla CA.
Granite from the Arroyo