January 13, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Date Palm Shadows
Date Palm Shadows

Imperial Valley of California (and a bit of Arizona)

A little change of pace for this blog entry, a little local info. The map below, from Google Earth, shows the boundaries of the Imperial Valley, from the source of it’s life giving water, the Colorado River on the far right of the map, to the final downstream end of the water flow in the Salton Sea, where all the salt laden drainage from the agricultural fields ends up.

Imperial Valley Map
Imperial Valley Map

The map below shows the detail of the Map Inset from the top map and depicts the area where I am staying, and exploring, this winter, truly just a tiny portion of the Imperial Valley.

Imperial Valley Map
Imperial Valley Map

The map below, shows detail from the Map Insert of the map above, and depicts the dam complex where the mighty Colorado River is diverted to the All -American Canal and the two other canals that distribute water to the agricultural fields of the valley.

Imperial Dam Complex Map
Imperial Dam Complex Map
All-American Canal
All-American Canal

This shot was taken just a half mile from where I am camped and shows the volume of water diverted towards the fields in California.

Ringneck Ducks on the All-American Canal
Ringneck Ducks on the All-American Canal

The canal is the only place I have found large numbers of ducks in the area. These are Ringnecks, but I have also found Mallards, Buffleheads, Northern Shovelers, and Canvasbacks.

Shades of Green
Shades of Green

Windblown spray from the irrigation system tints the greens of a field of salad greens.

Salad Makings
Salad Makings

The text below was gathered from various websites. The Bloomberg article I found quite enlightening.

Although this region is in the Colorado Desert section of the Sonoran Desert, with high temperatures and low average rainfall of 3 inches (76 mm) per year, the economy is heavily based on agriculture due to irrigation, which is supplied wholly from the Colorado River via the All-American Canal. Thousands of acres of prime farmland have transformed the desert into one of the most productive farming regions in California with an annual crop production of over $1 billion. Agriculture is the largest industry in the Imperial Valley and accounts for 48% of all employment. An environmental cost is that, south of the canal, the Colorado River no longer flows above ground at all for much of the year into Mexico.

A vast system of canals, check dams, and pipelines carry the water all over the valley, a system which forms the Imperial Irrigation District, or IID. The water distribution system includes over 1,400 miles (2,300 km) of canal and with 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of pipeline. The number of canal and pipeline branches number roughly over a hundred. Imported water and a long growing season allow two crop cycles each year, and the Imperial Valley is a major source of winter fruits and vegetables, cotton, and grain for U.S. and international markets. Alfalfa is another major crop produced in the Imperial Valley. The agricultural lands are served by a constructed agricultural drain system, which conveys surface runoff and subsurface drainage from fields to the Salton Sea, which is a designated repository for agricultural runoff, with environmental considerations not yet solved.

A very interesting story on the history of water rights and fights in the Imperial Valley from Bloomberg can be read here.

It is estimated that more than 2/3 of the vegetables consumed in the United States during the winter months are grown here in the Imperial Valley.

Imperial County produced enough lettuce (including head lettuce, leaf lettuce and salad mix) to serve dinner salads to 2,352,000,000 people!

An acre of carrots can provide 320,000 people with a nutritious side dish.  Enough carrots were grown in Imperial Valley to serve a 1/4-pound helping to 75% of the Earth’s population!

Imperial Valley has a well-known reputation for midwinter salad vegetables. Shipments of crisphead lettuce, leaf lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage start in December and continue until March. Asparagus is in-season January, February and March. Carrots are harvested January to June.

Spring production of warm-season vegetables starts in late April with the harvest of Sweet Imperial onions, sweet corn, bell pepper, chili peppers, cantaloupes, mixed melons and watermelons.

Lotta Lettuce
Lotta Lettuce

This is a shot of a field of lettuce in in the tiny Arizona section of the Imperial Valley. The scale of the leafy vegetable growing operation of the valley is hard to imagine if one has never been here to see it.

Lotta Lettuce
Lotta Lettuce
Great Egret
Great Egret
Mixed Plantings
Mixed Plantings

I don’t know the reason for this type of planting, but it does make for an interesting change of pace from the solid green fields that surround it..

Mixed Plantings
Mixed Plantings
Anise Harvest
Anise Harvest

I had no idea what this was that this crew was harvesting, but then a timely article on the front page of the Yuma Sun on Sunday had an article called “Reap the Harvest” and had an image and text describing what the crew was harvesting.

Romaine Harvest
Picking Romaine

It is almost incomprehensible, when one sees the scale of these operations and the miles of fields, that each head of lettuce, each cabbage, each broccoli or cauliflower, is harvested by hand. The vehicle behind the pickers is where the plant is washed and packaged for the grocery store shelf, then boxed for transport, a moving assembly line platform. The white school buses on the right, usually towing one or two Porta-potties, are used to transport workers about the fields.

January 7, 2015 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Vermillion flycatcher
Vermillion flycatcher

A Few Birds and a Lot of Lettuce

I took an afternoon drive out to explore the Mittry Lake boondocking area to see if I might want to move down there rather than do another 14 day, $40 stay here at the LTVA. On the way to the Mittry Lake Road I decided to go check out the Laguna Dam Road that leads into a really tiny golf course alongside the dam and the Hidden Shores Village RV Park.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Vermillion flycatcher
Vermillion flycatcher

I encountered this bright little Vermillion flycatcher hopping from post to post on the lookout for dinner on the edge of the golf course. Also was about to get a nice shot of a meadowlark hunting in the short grass of the golf course when he was scared off by an errant drive. I definitely will have to come back in here early some morning as there appear to be a few colorful birds hanging around this tiny oasis.

It is about a 5 or 6 mile drive down a wide, but washboarded, dusty dirt road to the area where boondocking is permitted along the road and along the shore of Mittry Lake. It looks like all the good sites are occupied that I could see, though there may be more setback from the road that I did not explore. Guess I will just stay where I am here in the LTVA while I have more solar work and general maintenance work done on the motorhome.

Happy Campers?
Happy Campers?

A couple of “happy campers”

Speaking of the Imperial Dam LTVA, I ran into these two happy campers ( I am assuming they are happy, after finding shade in the treeless desert on a rather warm day ) on my way down to check out the “ Liberry “ in the LTVA, an old Airstream trailer, loaded to the rafters with paperbacks, sorted by genre and author. On the honor system you are allowed to take out up to 6 books and return them when done, nothing to sign, no agreement to even bring them back, something you don’t encounter everyday.

Desolate and visually unappealing as this place may be, after 2 weeks here, it is starting to grow on me a little. It is quiet, the people are almost universally considerate, the dump station/ water filling/ trash facility, that I had occassion to use is well laid out and convenient, and the $40 for 14 days is not too bad a price either. My only complaint at this time is that I had to take in my hummingbird feeders after the bees discovered them finally and completely took them over, doing away with my hummingbird photography.

After driving through the Mittry Lake boondocking area, I decided to keep going down the road to see where it came out, rather than backtracking the 6 miles of dusty road I came in on. The road becomes the paved Laguna Dam Road not too far south of Mittry Lake and that becomes Avenue 7E that connects with Route 95 on the east side of Yuma.

Yuma agricultural fields
Yuma agricultural fields

This road took me through a small portion of the extensive agricultural fields in the area and I had the chance to take a few photos of the lettuce fields,

Baby lettuce
Baby lettuce

from new seedlings,

Why the mighty Colorado River no longer makes it to the ocean
Why the mighty Colorado River no longer makes it to the ocean

to established fields being heavily watered,

Lettuce harvest assembly line
Lettuce harvest assembly line

to a crew harvesting an older crop, and all the stages in between as the plantings are staggered to produce continuous harvests.

Lettuce harvest assembly line
Lettuce harvest assembly line

A colorful scene, might just become a watercolor some day!

Great egret patrolling the lettuce fields
Great egret patrolling the lettuce fields

Along this road, I also encountered pest control measures employed by these huge farms, both amongst the crops,

Snowy egrets
Snowy egrets

and along the irrigation canals that border these fields.

My blog posting problems finally resolved?

As of this post, I believe ( I am keeping my fingers crossed ) that my ability to do blog posts in a timely manner has finally, after a month of frustration, been resolved. For those of you who follow this blog, you may have to re- bookmark the page to this new address:    ramcquade.com

 

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

March 17, 2014 Goose Island, Texas

Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher

Migrants are arriving!

On the way out of the campground, I caught this tricolor heron fishing in one of the ponds just as the sun was beginning to light things up.

Tricolor Heron at Sunrise
Tricolor Heron at Sunrise

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Tricolor Heron Fishing
Tricolor Heron Fishing

While there were 9 Whoopers scattered around the pastures, none were close enough to get any good shots, so I headed back to the campsite to get some computer work done. At the last second I decided to run up to the fishing pier in the campground just in case there were some small wading birds on the water’s edge.

As I drove between the two sections of waterfront campsites, I spotted some colorful movement in the tall grass and shrubs on the side of the road…a scissortail flycatcher, a new bird for me!

Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher Pair
Scissortail Flycatcher Pair

 

 

Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher
Scissortail Flycatcher

 

 

 

 

 

On my way back from shopping yesterday, I spotted this odd couple along the road in Fulton. They appeared to be channeling their inner hunting dog, although they seemed a little confused as to which way to point.

Roseate Spoonbill and Great Egret
Roseate Spoonbill and Great Egret

 

January 25, 2014 (a second post) Anahuac NWR

Redtail hawk
Redtail hawk

Sun melted all the ice away by 10 AM and I decided to return to Anahuac NWR to check on birds and see if some nice weather might have brought some in. It did!

As always, click on any image to get a larger, sharper version.

There appears to be a lot more water in Anahuac than I remember there being in the past, perhaps they got a little relief from their long drought this summer? Anyhow, lots of snow geese and greater white-fronted geese in the fields and more ducks than I have seen here before, all of these birds are staying out of range though.

Common moorhen
Common moorhen
Common moorhen
Common moorhen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tons of coots and some common moorhens mixed in with them in the canals. I like the colorful matching beak and legs on these guys.

Snowy egret
Snowy egret
Great blue heron in flight before sunrise
Great blue heron in flight
Snowy egret landing
Snowy egret landing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great blue herons, great egrets, and snowy egrets abound.

Saw a male northern harrier on two occasions but just couldn’t react quick enough to get a good shot. Someday!

Redtail hawk liftoff !
Redtail hawk liftoff !

I did manage a couple of nice flight shots of an immature red tail hawk ( I think that is what this is, I am not very good with my hawk ID’s, especially youngsters )

Krider's redtail hawk in flight
Krider’s redtail hawk in flight

and one nice flight shot of what I was told is a Krider’s red tail hawk, that one is not even in my bird book!

White ibis landing
White ibis landing

A few white ibis rounded out a good day at Anahuac NWR.

Brown pelican head on
Brown pelican head on
White ibis landing
White ibis landing
Snowy egret
Snowy egret

 

 

 

 

 

Snowy egret
Snowy egret
Snowy egret
Snowy egret
Snowy egret
Snowy egret