Saturday Jan 26. Jan Wilson and Dick Norton met me in dense fog at my house before sunrise and we headed out to the Algodones Dunes in search of LeConte’s Thrasher and adventure. The fog was heavy all the way out and stayed that way till late in the morning and to me that is about as awesome as you can get in the dunes!! They had never been deep in the dunes before so when the fog started to lift and several hundred feet tall dunes appeared out of the mist nearby they were surprised.
We heard LeConte’s Thrasher calling and found where they had been digging for insects but did not get on the first one. Deeper into the pocket we got our first looks at a pair with one of them racing across the dunes in the fog.
Watching LeConte’s Thrasher in the fog in the dunes!
We went southeast from Glamis and Hwy 78 onto Wash Road for several miles and then turned south into the dunes. It had rained a steady winter rain for most of the night and day before so everything was soaked and there is great potential for spring flowers this year. You must have a flag at least eight feet above the ground and purchase a permit to drive into the dunes.
The wash into a deep pocket.
On our way back out of the pocket we were able to get a good count of three pairs of LeConte’s Thrasher and I showed them a nest from previous years. I had not loaded my waypoints properly in my GPS so it would not display my thousand plus dune waypoints. It felt pretty good to be able to recognize individual trees and walk right straight to the nest!
Jan in the forest…in the dunes!
Still researching this brightly colored little one but it looks to be in the Trombiculid family of mites. It was about the size of a pencil eraser and we saw two of them this day. It was always on the move and tough to photograph so when it stopped for a minute I got a few good shots. Looking at the pictures I realized it had stopped moving because it was EATING a smaller insect!
Red Velvet Mite?
We then went over the dunes and dropped into the Garden of Eden which is one of the densest pockets out there. I once had a Western Scrub-Jay in this pocket and on this day we had a very unusual number of TEN Green-tailed Towhee! The pocket was very muddy. One of the plants had a seed that swelled with the rain and was extremely sticky. We had a heck of a time getting them off then realised they came off easily when they dried and were not much larger than a grain of sand. Many sparrows were bathing in the rain puddles.
Immature White-crowned Sparow that had bathed in a rain puddle.
The Garden of Eden pocket. Forest or jungle?
We moved out of the Garden of Eden and went to explore another pocket that I have been wondering about but had never been into. Turns out it is not an easy one to get to and so has very little traffic. We found evidence of a resident Bobcat in there and Dick caught sight of something crossing ahead of us that might have been it!
Not a double image but two Loggerhead Shrikes.
A dune overtaking a palo verde tree in the pockets.
The following three pictures were taken by Jan. I wanted to show them a dune cricket so we hiked up a dune and I excavated what I thought was a dune cricket burrow. Turned out to be larvae possibly of darkling beetles. Still researching this one too!
Darkling beetle larvae?
Yours truly at home in the dunes.
I hear it too but can’t find it!
More pics from the day on flickr HERE
See ya at the sea………………………………………………..
eBird report for the day:
Algodones Dunes 09 Garden of Eden, Imperial, US-CA
Jan 26, 2013 7:00 AM - 2:23 PM
Comments: Submitted from BirdLog for Android v1.6
Northern Harrier 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Mourning Dove 70
Great Horned Owl 1
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) 3
Say’s Phoebe 4
Ash-throated Flycatcher 2
Loggerhead Shrike 5
Common Raven 2 2 together
Rock Wren 2
House Wren 8
Cactus Wren 4
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher 6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Le Conte’s Thrasher 6
Green-tailed Towhee 10
Brewer’s Sparrow 40
Sage Sparrow 7
Song Sparrow 2
Lincoln’s Sparrow 5
White-crowned Sparrow 70
House Finch 20
Lesser Goldfinch 28
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S12731371
This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
Mary photographing butterflies.
Kerry had to head home the night before, so on day three of our visit, Mary and I took a hike through the Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area. We drove about five miles northwest of Glamis on Ted Kipf Road and did a 4.5 mile hike through the pockets. The pockets had received exceptional rains during the August monsoons but no follow-up rains till just a few weeks before our walk. The pockets that received flashfloods from the Chocolate Mountains were quite lush. If we get some rain about once a month the pockets should be very nice this spring.
Queen Butterfly on Apricot Mallow.
Mary in the lush pockets.
Painted Lady Butterfly on Apricot Mallow.
On the dunes overlooking the pocket. Chocolate Mountains beyond to the north.
Stories told on the sand.
Like a city park.
Do not touch!
Unknown military ordinance.
More pictures of our day in the dunes can be seen on my flickr photostream at the following link.
My New Years tradition for many years now is to go out on the New Years pelagic birding trip out of San Diego and that is where I will be when the sun rises on my 2013.
Still working on the pictures from my trip to Alaska and wanted to have them up here by new years but…….
Happy New Year all!!!!!!
See ya at the sea………….or on it if you are on the New Years boat!
My eBird report for this day:
Algodones Dunes 04, Imperial, US-CA
Dec 20, 2012 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Comments: With Mary Muchowski. One unidentified thrasher species. First thought was Sage but bill was too long. Bird had bright orange eye, no white on face. Seen from side and back so unknown spotting on breast. Bill was too long for Sage. I beieve it was Bendire’s but can not rule out Curve-billed.
Gambel’s Quail 2
Mourning Dove 47
Northern Flicker 11
Say’s Phoebe 2
Loggerhead Shrike 3
Horned Lark 34
Cactus Wren 3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Crissal Thrasher 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 8
Spotted Towhee 2 Both heard, one seen.
Chipping Sparrow 35
Brewer’s Sparrow 70
Vesper Sparrow 1
Black-throated Sparrow 7
Sage Sparrow 23
Song Sparrow 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow 1
White-crowned Sparrow 115
House Finch 25
Lesser Goldfinch 15
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S12427088
This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org/california/)
(3) Black-tailed Jackrabbit