Saturday, August 7, 2010

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Because I had a short drive up to Big Morongo Canyon Preserve I slept in this morning not getting up until 6 AM. I hoped that I would finally find lawrence's goldfinches there. When I pulled into the preserve I found a crew of 4 trapping and banding hummingbirds. The top photo shows the net that they drop down over the hummer as it feeds. They put it into a small net bag for a few minutes until they are ready to take it out to determine the type and sex, and measure, weigh and band it. Over 5 hours they catch about 40 hummers. Today they had Anna's, black-chinned and costa's while I was there. They do this every Saturday morning from April to September.

There were also lots of different feeders near where they were trapping the hummers. I was able to watch and compare the very similar nuttal's and ladder-backed woodpeckers that came into a suet feeder. Unfortunately I do not have a good photo of either to show you because the suet feeder kept moving with a bird on it, and none of my photos came out clear.

The preserve itself has many trails some of which I walked. It was a really special place to bird even though I arrived about a week too late to see the lawrence's goldfinches that breed there. The preserve host told me that they arrive in April but leave as soon as they fledge their young which this year was last week. This bird is going to be a tough find now since they are "nomadic" once they finish breeding.

After a very pleasant morning talking with the banders and walking the preserve, I made the drive up thru the mojave desert to Las Vegas. On the way I drove thru a particularly desolate area south of I-40. In the one horse town of Amboy (founded 1848) I came across the collection of shoes and boots in the bottom photo above (remember to click on photo to enlarge). Who knows how many years this has been going on since there is literally no one living in Amboy today. A bush nearby had lots of socks on it. We humans sometimes do very odd things.

I saw 17 more new birds for this week, and the nuttal's woodpecker lifts the YTD total to 665. Tomorrow I will make the 7 hour drive up to the Ruby Mountains to join 2 other birders in our mutual quest to see the himalayan snowcock. Stay tuned!

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