November 22, California & Arizona


While in San Diego, we continued to enjoy the California sunshine and the good birding. Lara and her kids are all doing well. We had three very nice visits with Ashley. She has grown up into a lovely young woman, reminding us of how much time we have missed with her. The family she is living with are all very nice; we enjoyed meeting them and getting to know people who have been such a big part of her life.


Ashley

Alyssa, Justin, Sean and Ashley

We went to Alyssa and Justin's school for their Halloween parade. The kids all looked so cute in their costumes--lots of fun. We expected Alyssa and Justin would be our only "trick or treaters," but it turns out the RV park we stayed at was having a Halloween Party and all the kids trooped around to the various RVs. We had about 25 kids come all in one batch and then that was it--very cool. Part of the party was a Halloween dance held on the lawn not far from where we were set up. We didn't go over to dance but did enjoy hearing the live band, and the band quit playing at 10 PM, which we appreciated.

On leaving San Diego, we stopped in at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to do the hike out to the Palm Oasis. We started early while it was still cool, but it warmed up fast. That is one hot place! We had planned well though and had plenty of water with us, so had no problems. From there, we went on and spent a few days at the Salton Sea. The Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge (what a mouthful!) is located on the south end of the lake and is a great birding area. In one afternoon, we identified over 40 bird species. While observing a number of White-faced Ibis, Snowy Egrets, and various ducks from a photo blind, a Barn Owl flew up and landed on Riley's hand which was resting on the window sill. Riley jumped (ouch!) and the owl flew to a nearby tree, looking back to see why the window had moved (that hadn't happened before), and then flew off. Both Riley and the owl were quite startled--wish I had a picture. :-) The barn owl is a lovely bird--unusual with its white heart-shaped face. A statistic I was impressed with was that 90 percent of all Eared Grebes in the U.S. winter on the Salton Sea.


Palm Oasis at Anza-Borrega

American White Pelicans (& Eared Grebes) on Salton Sea

Snowy Egret

Black-necked Stilt

We spent the last week at Patagonia Lake State Park in Arizona, south of Tucson. We stayed here last year and came back because it's such a pleasant place to spend time and has lots of birds. Once again though, we did not see the Elegant Trogan, even though it was seen in an area that I had been in earlier in the day. Just not my lucky day! Oh well, there's always next year. The park had recently opened the Sonoita Creek Natural area to hikers--only 30 a day to limit impact. We hiked there one morning, but did most of our hikes in the area around the lake.

Now we are in Tucson parked in Randy's driveway for the annual Thanksgiving event. We are looking forward to turkey tomorrow with Randy, Ginny & Rachel. A smaller group then usual this year. Tonight, Riley and Randy have gone off to watch a basketball game at the university. I'm sure Arizona will win since they are there to cheer the team on. A Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Love to all,
Margie & Riley

P.S. U of A thumped their opponent and Randy and I (Riley) had a blast. It was the first college basketball game that I had attended in many years and brought back pleasant memories of watching the UCLA powerhouse teams in the mid 60s demolish the opposition.

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Bird Diary (* indicates new bird for us. Only Salton Sea is a complete list.)
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November 7, 2006 Tijuana Slough NWR, Imperial Beach, California
* Clapper Rail, light-footed (levipes)
* Costa's Hummingbird
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November 13, 2006 Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR, CA
Pied-bill Grebe
Eared Grebes
American White Pelicans
Brown Pelicans
Double-crested Cormorants
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
White-faced Ibis
Snow Geese
* Ross' Geese
Canada Geese
Northern Pintails
Northern Shovelers
Ruddy Ducks
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Gambel's Quail
American Coots
Killdeer
Black-necked Stilts
American Avocets
Greater Yellowlegs
Willets
Ring-billed Gulls
Caspian Terns
* Common Ground Dove
Greater Roadrunner
* Barn Owl
Black Phoebe
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Shrike
Yellow-rumped Warbler
* Abert's Towhees
White-crowned Sparrows
Red-winged Blackbirds, bi-color: m & f
Great-tailed Grackles: m & f
House Sparrows: m & f
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November 15-20, 2006 Patagonia Lake S. P., Arizona
* Hammond's Flycatcher
* Marsh Wren
* Zone-tailed Hawk
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