Southwest Birders
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02/02/13
Algodones Dunes Fog
Filed under: California, Algodones Dunes
Posted by: Bob @ 5:13 pm

Hi all,

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!


LeConte’s Thrasher.

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
Protocol: Traveling
7.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Submitted from  BirdLog for Android v1.6
25 species

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
Verdin  5
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)

3 Responses to “Algodones Dunes Fog”

  1. Lunatic Chick Says:
    Wish I coulda been there…
  2. David Vander Pluym Says:
    Great shots of the mite Bob! Amazing how the fog changes the look of the landscape.
  3. Bob Says:
    Thanks David. A bug friend doing research in the dunes has given an initial identification of “Dinothrombium pandorae”. Giant Velvet Mite. Not positive yet though. He also noted that, in the dunes, they have yet to collect this mite or a winged termite which they feed on. VERY interesting stuff!!