Saturday, October 10, 2009

Birding



Instead of sleeping in until 8 a.m., I got up early and joined our friends Phyllis and Richard on a Saturday morning bird walk. These walks take place Wednesday and Saturday mornings down in Morongo, at Covington Park and the adjoining Big Morongo Canyon Preserve.



This was my first birding expedition, and it won’t be my last! Altogether we saw 47 different species. There’s a migration under way right now, so that number includes more variety than normal.



I was particularly taken by the bright-colored vermilion flycatcher. My other personal favorites included the rock wren, which likes to hop around on rocks; the Western bluebird, whose silhouette you can see in the partly dead tree; and the red-breasted sapsucker (click on the names of the birds to see more photos).



The natural habitat is interesting as well. The shrub with the yellow blooms is called alkali golden bush. The last photo shows a close-up of virgin bower, a vine that grows downward from the trees and has seeds reminiscent of a dandelion (click on the photo for a detailed view).



A big plus on these walks is the presence of serious birders who can instantly recognize most of the species. The walks take place year round and are a great excuse to spend a few uplifting hours in the great outdoors.