Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Day of Hiking & Birding

Yesterday was a day off and we promised to do a day of light hiking and birding.  In the morning we hiked to the Red Rock Grotto at SARA Park.  You can read about it in the Trip Journal here. We were still jazzed up after lunch so we went exploring to check out some birding sites on the North end of Lake Havasu.  The first two were disappointing, but this one at Castle Rock Bay was more of our cup-of-tea, plus we met another couple from Oregon with a pair of small dashhounds! We might have had too much fun, in the end we were pretty tired. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Sun Came Out

With over an inch of rain yesterday, birding shut down and we were pretty much holed up for the day in the motor home.  But today the sun came out, just like Annie always sang so well, and with it came the birders and the birds.  I had a record number of eight people show up for the guided bird hike, and we identified 27 different species. Some of the outstanding birds were: a pair of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Orange-crowned Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets that both flashed their crowns, a Costa’s Hummingbird male that displayed his gorgeous purple coloring, and an American Kestrel which was a first for me in this county.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

We have been here in Lake Havasu State Park for a month now, and almost daily I get a fleeting glance of a woodpecker in the Arroyo De Camino Cactus Garden. From my experience at Buckskin Mountain State Park, and based on range maps I was confident I was seeing a Red-naped Sapsucker.  A few days ago while leading my guided bird hike we got a little longer view and I was explaining to the group about looking at the back of the head, or nape, to spot the red marking.  Oops, this bird did not have the red mark, only the red crown!  This sent me back to the bird guides for some serious study.  Yesterday morning before the hike I went down to the cactus garden and was lucky enough to get some photos.  After more comparisons and confirmation from eBird I now can pronounce it is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a rare sighting this far West.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Arroyo De Camino

The Arroyo De Camino Cactus Garden is sort of a “Garden of Eden” at Lake Havasu State Park.  A wonderfully maintained diverse collection of cactus, shrubs and trees, it makes a real oasis for birds. This is where I start and end my guided bird hikes Wednesday thru Sunday. From the garden we take the Mohave Sunset Trail to the north or south on its winding route along the shoreline of Lake Havasu. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Birding Class

This is the group from yesterday’s Guided Bird Hike sitting in the shade reviewing our bird lists.  On my Guided Bird Hikes I provide an alphabetized bird list for the participants to use, checking off the birds we identify.  At the end of the hike we to do a quick review of what we have seen and make sure everyone has recorded all the birds. In this case, Dan had two birds that I had failed to write down.  Thanks Dan. Left to right the group members are Mary, Mark, Rick, Dick, Joe, and Dan.   

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hiking at SARA

Yesterday we took our friends Dan & Charlene hiking at SARA Park. Click here for the Trip Journal.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

"A" for the Day

Joe Leeak from Seattle Washington got an “A” grade for the day this morning.  I get all kinds of people in all states of preparedness showing up for my Birding Hikes on the Sunset Trail at Lake Havasu State Park.  Many times they are without binoculars and bringing a bird guide would be very rare.  But, that’s OK, I try to have spare binoculars around and I bring a spotting scope to share and explain the birds we see.  I do insist that they make a list, which I provide and they merely need to check off each species when we see it.  Joe was on my Bird Hike a couple of days ago and I was glad to see him return, but I was blown away when he showed up this morning with not only binoculars and a guide book, but a clip board with a check list!  He had taken the previous trip’s list home and scanned it into his computer, erased the day’s count, and printed out a new list. I call that prepared, and Joe gets an “A”!  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

This one's for Bev - - -

This photo and post is for Bev Beam back in Oregon.  This weekend at Lake Havasu State Park is a big annual gathering of VW fans called Buses By the Bridge, so named because of the proximity to the London Bridge. Bev traveled around in her VW bus to these events with her club the Wet Westies for many years.  I’m sure she will recognize a couple of her buddies in the photo.  In January of 2011 after being in Arizona for a Buses By the Bridge she went out of her way to look us up at Buckskin Mountain State Park where we were volunteering.  I posted about that event here.  It looks like this is going to be a good weekend here Bev, your comrades are streaming in and the weather is at last warming up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Forster's Tern

Today’s gift was this Forster’s Tern we found along the shore of Lake Havasu.  I probably would have over looked it as yet another Ring-billed Gull, but lucky for me we had an experienced birder with us today that picked it out right away from a group of gulls. It did not look familiar to me because of its non-breeding plumage that includes a black bill in place of the orange bill of the breeding season, and a black mask instead of the black cap. It was great find for me in that it is another fresh addition to my Mohave County list. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

More Than Birds

Some of you may think that Cascade Ramblings is just for the birds, pun intended, but I offer this photo as proof there is more. I took this image about four days ago and it continues to hang in my mind.  It’s a Queen Butterfly feeding on a BahaFairy Duster flower in the Arroyo De Camino Cactus Gardens in Lake Havasu State Park. Queen Butterflies are members of the same genus as the better known Monarch Butterflies. One reason that this image continues to bang around in the forefront of my mind is the book that Jeanette and I are reading on her iPad Mini, Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.  It was recommended to me by Dan Scott fellow RV’er and Winnebago View owner.  I always enjoy Barbara Kingsolver’s books, but this may be her best, and certainly provides some thought provoking insights into our world’s current environmental crisis.  I recommend everyone read this entertaining, but educational book.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Greater Roadrunner

This day held several surprises, the first being that even though the weather was colder and the wind was blowing even harder,  I still had three persons show up for the Bird Hike. They were repeat customers so it wasn’t that they didn’t know what they were in for.  Birds were pretty scarce, I think it was just too cold for them, so of course I really didn’t get any good photos.  But mid-afternoon while walking back from the campground I spotted this Greater Roadrunner and was able to get a photo.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

More Birders

The surprise for the day was that despite temperatures in the forties and wind of 20 mph off of the lake we had six brave people show up at 10:00 for the guided Bird Hike. Birds were not very available today, but visiting among the participants was at a high level. Counting Jeanette and I we had 3 couples from Oregon and one couple from British Columbia. Installation of water and electricity to the campsites has now been postponed until May so more people are coming into the park to camp, which is a good thing, because more people means more birders. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Next Day - Next Gift

I don’t know how many days in a row I can pull this off, but this is the second day with a “gift of the day” being a great photo.  Today’s was actually not a part of the guided bird hike, but occurred after lunch while Jeanette, Buster, and I were going through the campground to let people know of the daily bird hikes.  When we stopped at sight number 36 the man told us about a very small bird with a bright red top that had been attacking the mirror of his pick-up.  In fact it has even stopped briefly on his shoulder. He wondered what kind of bird it was, I was suspecting a House Finch, Jeanette thought Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  Just as we were about to leave his site it reappeared and sure enough it was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.  The exciting part of this is that it is very unusual to get to see the bright red crown of the male flared up as in this photo,  most of the time the time the feathers are laid down and impossible to see. In this case the male has probably spotted his image in the mirror and is dead set on chasing away what he views as a competing male. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Gift of the Day

Because I go birding nearly every day, I see a good number of the same species day in and day out.  I have a pretty good idea of what I will see and where I will see it.  However, and this is the thing I love about birding, every trip seems to at some point hold a surprise, a new or different bird, or an unexpected location, or a close up encounter that provides new or additional information.  These incidents I like to call “the gift of the day”, and there always seems to be at least one sighting that stands out above the rest.  Today “the gift of the day” was this SpottedSandpiper, which is always a favorite of mine to observe, but todays sighting was the first for me in Lake Havasu State Park and Mohave County. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Good Day of Birding

The campground here at Lake Havasu State Park is essentially empty because the installation of water and electricity hook-ups in the campsites is to start any day; so I was particularly pleased that my sister Kathy drove over from Sun City for the Bird Hike, and that we were also joined by a local person, Denise, who had a good birding knowledge.  Our Park Ranger Specialist, Mia LaBarbara also started with us and took the above photo.  In the photo I think I am probably explaining the difference between Pied-bill Grebes, and Eared Grebes, or maybe the difference between Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks, or God knows what.  Anyway, we had great weather and were able to identify 30 different species of birds, our largest number so far this year.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Light House #2

A little over a week ago I did a post on the Lighthouses of Lake Havasu and featured a photo of the Cape Hatteras replica on the north-end of Lake Havasu State Park. Today’s photo of Buster and I was taken by my wife Jeanette and features the lighthouse on the south-end of Lake Havasu State Park.  This lighthouse marks the mouth of the channel that leads under the London Bridge.  It is the Vic Reyes Memorial Lighthouse that honors Captain Vic Reyes who operated Vessel Assist Lake Havasu. It is our “day off”, but we still enjoyed a “walk in the park”. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Gambel's Quail

Mr. & Mrs. Quail stopped by our site late yesterday afternoon to check out what was available to eat.  The Mr. is easy to recognize with his black belly splotch and mask and a cinnamon-brown cap.  They brought along about twenty of their extended family members and together thoroughly scavenged the area, particularly under our newly set up suet feeder.  They are a curious bird to watch, preferring to walk everywhere rather than fly.  A common site in the campground, they move from site to site in mass pecking away at the ground. Most times a lone sentinel stands watch on a post or high view point ready to call an alarm of an impending threat. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Start of Lake Havasu Guided Bird Walks

This morning was the official start of the guided bird walks that I will be leading daily at Lake Havasu State Park.  Actually, Jeanette’s sister Patty and her husband Kordell are here in Lake Havasu City visiting us for a couple of days, so it sounded like a good start day.  In a way they served as guinea pigs in kind of a practice run today.  And, what a test I put them thru, cold temps in the 40 degrees with stiff winds off of the lake of 25 miles an hour! They were extremely good sports and seemed or pretended very well, to enjoy it.   In all we identified 22 different species, a very good number particularly in light of the conditions. The group is shown in the photo below during our start in the Cactus Gardens.  This is not a posed photo, Kordell is pointing out a small unidentifiable bird in the bottom of a bush.

If you are a follower of Cascade Ramblings and in the area, I will be leading these guided bird hikes Wednesday thru Sunday at 10:00 starting in the Arroyo De Camino Cactus Garden.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First Day Hikes

Lake Havasu State Park participated today in First Day Hikes, which is a national program involving all 50 states.  It’s an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a hike.  Supervising Ranger Cindy Smith and I led the hike on the park's Mohave Sunset Trail.  Cindy pointed out desert plants and animals, both native and invasive, and talked about their distribution and uses.   I chipped in on birds, identifying the ones we saw, and pointing out nesting sites. We had eleven people show up for the hike on this cold morning, and most interesting to me, it was the first time for each person to use the trail.