beluga

beluga

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Birds

Today Dave and I took a road trip to the Salton Sea.   Our destination was the Sonny Bono/Salton Sea National Wildlife Sanctuary.   

We love spending time here in Borrego Springs, but their grocery store leaves a little to be desired from our point of view.    Occasionally we need to drive about 60 miles to Brawley to get everything on our list and on the way we've noticed clouds of white birds in the distance.      Snow Geese, we figured,  so today we packed lunch and went in search of a closer look.

We drove through huge agricultural fields of alfalfa hay, onions, cabbage, broccoli, beets, and lettuces of all kinds in Westmoreland.   

natural weed/pest control

The road to the Refuge was being tarred and was closed in random places, necessitating our frequent detours down dirt farm roads.




harvesting lettuce

We did have to drive a little way on the fresh tar, but a worker suggested we drive on the wrong side of the road because it was already almost dry.


Dave is wonderful.    He always stops whenever I see a bird I want to look at.   He backs up, turns around, drives on the shoulder of the road, even into fields when I ask.   Who else would do that?    Most of the time we're too far away to get a good picture of the bird, a showable picture, but I always try to at least get something to identify it by.

a Belted Kingfisher shopping the ditch

I saw a flock of Snow Geese in a field, so Dave pulled off and stopped where I could get the best shot.


I took several pictures to try and decide whether these were Snow or Ross Geese.    Dave turned his binoculars on the flock, then started to laugh.

a paper decoy - a field of paper decoys!

We never did find out why the field was filled with fake geese, but we did have a good laugh!

Once we arrived at the Refuge we set off on the trail to see some real Snow Geese.

coming in for a landing, gear down



We didn't finish the entire trail (only a couple miles) because in my zeal to get closer to the birds I went off the path and through the rough.   I stepped on a big thorn and it went through my shoe and into my foot so we decided we'd seen enough and turned back.

The big excitement of the afternoon, however, was still to come.    As we sat in the Jeep eating lunch we couldn't believe what we were seeing right in front of us...


A little California Burrowing Owl standing in the opening of a drainage pipe!

As I've said before, we're a very exciting couple, fascinated by watching an owl watching us!     We sat there for a very long time.    We couldn't take our eyes off his crabby little face and his beautiful yellow eyes.   




So, that's how we spent this beautiful California day.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

We're having a good time!

Golfing afternoons occur often here.    After all, the course is just steps away from Beluga and is in beautiful shape.   It just makes it so easy to get on after a leisurely morning and  lunch......


I won't bore you with more course pictures, how much green can one tolerate?

Well, just one more.   The Wright's had on such colorful clothes that day.

Plenty of water on the course attracts lots of birds.   I do try to concentrate on Dave and John's game, but my eyes keep sliding away to watch the birds.





There are Bluebirds, Black and Say's Phoebes, Hawks of all sizes, the requisite Sparrows and Finches, Coots, Wigeons, and Mallards, Phainopepla, Hummingbirds, Verdin etc., etc.    Golf is fun here!

Today, however, we eschewed the game and piled into our Jeep to do some more desert exploring.    Before setting off we sent Lewis over to the Wright's motorhome for a little vigorous exercise with his "there" ball.   We wanted him to be tired and satisfied to stay home because most of our Jeeping would be within the boundaries of the huge Anza Borrego State Park and their rules do not allow dogs on the trails.

First stop was along the Arroyo Salado at 17 Palms.  We had bypassed it the other day when we stopped  at 5 Palms with Jodee and Bill.   Rumor has it that there is a small wooden "mailbox" in one of the 17 Palms where people leave notes and small memorabilia.

bottle cap art

Dave and John approach the oasis

Pam counted the palms and discovered that there are more like 24 than 17 but we won't tell.


the "mailbox"

John wonders why anyone would leave a dollar in the mailbox.....

We sat on rocks and enjoyed our lunch before heading back down the Arroyo in search of Rainbow Wash and the badlands below Font's Point.


Dave and John had a map in the front seat and we had a map in the back so we discussed, consulted, pointed, suggested, squinted at trail markers and bounced across the desert to arrive at pretty much the exactly spot we were aiming for!     We're getting good at this desert stuff.


the Jeep drives away as I'm trying to read a trail marker....what's up with that!

The desert may seem barren, but signs of spring are beginning to show themselves.





the poisonous Datura springs from the cracked desert floor

two tiny white eggs!

We could see our destination ahead as we approached.  We were excited to be able to drive into the maze of colorful, eroded hills and washes that we had only ever seen from high above.




We drove as far into the narrow canyons as we felt comfortable then left the Jeep and followed the wash for awhile.


It was getting late in the afternoon, the sun sets around 5 p.m., so we didn't go really far.    Far enough, however, to let us know that this is a place we'd like to spend more time in.    It's on the list!




today we were waaaaay down there!

MonaLiza took this beautiful picture of us on Font's Point last year.


We returned to the Jeep and continued on our way home, using a number of narrow washes and a nice scenic paved road that took us right past the town's dump!     That Five hours just flew by.....we were home by dark.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Another desert drive

It rained Monday night and into Tuesday.    Dave and I are fighting a little cold so we took the rainy desert time to just relax.   We did a bit of grocery shopping but otherwise did nothing of any note.

The "winter storm" moved out yesterday it was a beautiful and sunny day.   Golf happened.

the Wrights herd the 9th hole Wigeons

Today we spent a lazy morning at Beluga then headed out to check out a spot that sounded interesting.

our beautiful site


The Wright's went out on a hike and we took the Jeep to see if we could find a geographic area called the gas domes.

I love riding through miles and miles of emptiness.   The sky is so blue, the sand patterns so mesmerizing, the quiet so absolute.  Peace.



We discovered some interesting concretions and small, quirky rock formations.





and ended up at a couple of small, bubbling gas domes.   The grey volcano like mud pots are cold to the touch with large gas bubbles rising to the surface in an irregular pattern.







We left the gas domes and followed the trail through the stark desert.   We came upon a small artesian well left when a 1919 oil exploration discovered geothermal water instead of oil.  The only evidence was a sputtering pipe at the base of a small palm tree.  Warmish water spurted from the pipe and created a narrow channel of water running off into the desert.



Birdsong.....birdsong in the otherwise silent desert.   We both remarked on the wonderful sounds at the well. 


There was a small flock of what we finally decided were Horned Larks.   From these terribly fuzzy photos, what do you think?    We want to go back sometime and just sit quietly with binoculars to see what the water brings us.




We enjoyed a yummy Mexican dinner at Carmelitas with the Wrights when we returned home and now we're all settled down for the evening.