Arrived in Desert Hot Springs (right across the hwy from Palm Springs) where we’ll stay a month. Took a day to reconnoiter & decide on outings we’d like to take in the area.
Jan. 3: Traveled to Salton Sea where we added 25 birds to our list (yeah, that’s alot in 1 day). Several shorebirds, a Caspian Tern, Brown Pelican & our hilite: BARN OWL!
Our SK birding buddies have been after us to set one up for them to find while in the area in a month or so. This was a “lifer” (never seen before in our life) for me last winter in TX – a big thrill. What a great-looking bird. Also added a Common Ground Dove, Black-necked Stilts, White-faced Ibis, Violet-green Swallow, as well as Snow & Ross’ Geese. It is a beautiful sight to see thousands of white geese take off into the sky, glowing in the sun. One other interesting bird was a McCown’s Longspur, still in breeding plumage! Bill has been having trouble photographing a Black Phoebe (another lifer from last year) which we have seen many times. This is the best he could do, but maybe he’ll get a better one later:
We spent 2+ days waxing the big beast of an RV – you can even say it glows! We have to take it into a nearby dealer Jan. 16th to get a few items fixed & we pray it is the last of the fixes!
Jan. 5: Off to Joshua Tree National Park just NE of us for our next adventure. Not only is it a refuge for these beautiful trees, but has beautiful & unusual rock formations. Nor were we the only ones choosing this adventure; it is a popular place for climbers & as the day went on, became busy at nearly every parking area. We didn’t spend alot of time in some of the places due to the crush of people, but here are a few impressions:
At the last place we stopped Bill spotted a White-throated Swift – one of my very favourite birds and one we see in Osoyoos, BC, but nearly impossible to photograph. So here’s a Western Scrub Jay:
Jan. 7: Drove in a loop up into the San Jacinto Mtns from Palm Desert (what a ritzy area) through Idyllwild (6000 feet) & back down – the hwy is called “Palms to Pines” & it is indeed true. There was snow above around 5000 feet, but the roads were pretty good. Unfortunately, the day was extremely windy & not very warm (around 10 C) so we didn’t get out of the car very often. We did however, pick up 4 new birds: Western Bluebird (several flocks), Oak Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch & Pinyon Jay. We vow to return again when the weather is nicer to really get out there & walk.
Jan. 8: By far the warmest day of our entire trip with high around 26 C! Unfortunately, we were stuck at the RV park waiting for the awning guys to come & see what’s wrong with our remote control or awning. I did laundry, but the day was basically shot! Now waiting on parts for the awning 😦
Jan. 9: Quite a reasonable day with the wind much, much calmer & high around 15 C, so we drove back up into the mountains to Idyllwild to walk the Nature Center. A White-headed Woodpecker (would be a lifer) has been seen there – but no luck for us today. We observed many Acorn Woodpeckers hawking for insects. Also walked 2 other associated campgrounds, hoping for Calif. Quail – but no luck. We did spot a Stellar’s Jay on the way back home. Also saw many White-throated Swifts flying along the side of the highway as we descended. Bill will try to photograph them again some time. We will return to try for the woodpecker & quails again before we leave.
Jan. 10: Today Bill had to make a trip to see the IRS to sort out some income tax issues & the weather has turned bad again. Skies have been dramatic all day with clouds shadowing the surrounding hills, some sun shining on the rain & making a rainbow. The wind is once again blowing a gale & even rocks the RV at times – we hope for improvement, but lows over the next few days are supposed to get below freezing again – ACK! Highs only 8-10 C! Temperatures have been the same as in Calgary once or twice – what gives here! Oh well… Here’s what it looked today. More later.