February 8, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Imperial Dam Sunrise
Imperial Dam Sunrise

Another Uneventful Week in the Desert

A couple of sunrise shots from this morning.

Sunrise Clouds
Sunrise Clouds

A Couple more Boring Desert Bird Shots

Doves
Unwanted Crowd

To think that just a few weeks back, I was wondering if I would ever get the birds to discover me out here. Unfortunately, the Mourning Doves and the Red-winged Blackbirds have come in droves, making feeding a little expensive now that I have to put out seed two and three times a day to keep the Quail and others coming in. The Doves number forty or fifty at times and the Blackbirds often as many as twenty.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

And I have to feed them all in order to keep the Quail coming back, now almost a continuous presence as opposed to their earlier early morning, late afternoon arrivals. The rock this guy is sitting on has holes a couple inches deep and acts as a great natural feeder.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

They are a lot of fun to observe and without a doubt the most skittish of all the birds that come in. They are in constant motion and always choose to run rather than fly, even when the Merlin screams in. And as I have probably mentioned before, they are always peeping, gurgling, and cooing amongst themselves as they scurry around scratching at seeds, really interesting to listen to.

As you can probably guess, I am getting a little bored here and wish there was some way I could move on to new ground as I used to do, but I am unfortunately tied to this spot for at least another month of treatment.

January 22, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

House Finches
House Finches

Strong Desert Winds

I am forced to take a break in the action today as the wind from the north hits 35-40 mph and I am all but blown off the desert knoll I am perched on.

Wind Cancellation
Wind Cancellation

I made the mistake of filling this feeder with seed for the finches right at sunrise this morning. An hour later the wind began to blow… and blow some more. The wind emptied it, and the other platform feeders in just a matter of minutes.

Outdoor Studio
Outdoor Studio

The calm before the storm this morning. I did get to take a few shots before the wind started howling ( pull in the motorhome slides howling and put everything outside inside howling ). The shot above shows my setup for all the bird images I am posting on the blog.

Verdin
Verdin

This Verdin was a newcomer here….

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

…as was this White-crowned Sparrow.

The Watering Hole
The Watering Hole

I did add a watering hole for the birds this week and it is quite popular with everyone but the Gambel’s Quail. Don’t know why, but they walk right past it several times every day and never stop to drink.

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

I started out with just a single Mourning Dove here a month ago, but that number has increased to as many as thirty in here early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

As much as I’d like to keep trying to get some nice hummingbird shots and perhaps lure in other types of hummers …

Bees
Hummingbird Repellent

… the bees have pretty much brought my attempts to do so to a halt. Other than the first hour or so after sunrise they are constantly swarming the sugar water feeders and very effectively deterring the hummingbirds attempts to approach the feeders. Since they are also hovering around me I end up having to remove the feeders for my own protection.

House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant

Male House Finch Variant

House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant

This guy has obviously caught my attention. Apparently, this color variation is not terribly uncommon, especially in the Southwest. From the Cornell Lab:

 “All male House Finches have the same potential for yellow, orange, or red coloration. Researchers who kept House Finches in captivity found that the red plumage was replaced by yellow plumage unless a carotenoid pigment was mixed in with their food during molt. In the wild, three carotenoid pigments found in natural foods give House Finches their color. Beta-carotene produces yellow to orange colors, isocryptoxanthin produces orange colors, and echinenone produces red colors. Yellow House Finches are frequently seen in the southwest and Hawaii where natural foods are low in some of these carotenoids. In the east birds often feed on the high-carotenoid fruits of ornamental plants.”

House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant
House Finch Variant
House Finch
House Finch

A ” normal” male House Finch.

Gila Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker

Another newcomer here was this male Gila Woodpecker.

Gila Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker

And he was joined by the Mrs. this morning…

Gila Woodpecker Pair
Gila Woodpecker Pair

…though they usually feed at separate feeders.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

And of course, yet more Gambel’s Quail shots.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail
Gambel's Quail
Windblown Gambel’s Quail

A bit disheveled looking as that north wind pretty much blows this guy right off the top of the knoll.

Quail
Evening Gathering

Taken last night around sunset when the quail come in to feast before roosting. Like the doves their numbers have increased from just a single pair early on to as many as twenty-four in here at one time now.

Sunrise
Sunrise

Lastly, a couple of sunrises from the past week, showing the varying colors from day to day. Most mornings, there are no clouds to produce the dramatic sunrises I like to see.

Sunrise
Sunrise

December 21, 2018 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Whole Lot of Nothing
Whole Lot of Nothing along the way in Nevada

On the Road Again ! ( Finally )

After four months of confinement in Bend, Oregon, I finally received permission to head south for warmer temperatures. My oncologist told me I was ” in a good place right now ” as far as my bloodwork was concerned and he gave me permission to head south to Yuma where arrangements have been made for me to continue weekly chemo treatments. After surviving several nights of temperatures in the very low teens here in Bend without the motorhome freezing up, I had been granted a little weather relief recently as temps warmed up considerably and the danger of freezing up decreased significantly. But the cold would definitely be reoccurring this far north and I had been anxiously awaiting a chance to escape Bend and head south.

So after my 9 AM doctor’s visit and chemo treatment, I packed up and was on my way south by 11 AM Thursday for the trip to the LTVA ( BLM’s Long Term Visitor’s Area ) at Imperial Dam in Winterhaven, California.

Snow Fears
Snow Fears at 6000′

Wanting to avoid the traffic and high gasoline prices going through California, I was pleased to get a good weather window to take the more easterly route to Yuma through the state of Nevada. Route 20 east out of Bend took me to Route 78 east and south into Nevada where I picked up Route 95 south. This route was all 2 lane highway, with a short section of I-80 thrown in, and the road was in very good shape, with no severe inclines or mountain descents, and not a whole lot of traffic. my only concern along the way was along a section of highway that ran around 6000′ elevation and where signs of snow started to appear along the highway.

Sunset in Nevada
Sunset in Nevada

Fortunately, the only snow I saw was on the distant hillsides and I was able to make great time and covered the 1050 mile trip to Quartzite, Arizona in just two days of driving. After filling up with gas and propane, I spent the night at one of the 14 day stay BLM camping areas in Quartzsite before driving the remaining 60 miles to the LTVA at Imperial Dam, arriving Saturday morning.

Perfect Desert Campsite
Perfect Desert Campsite

Incredibly, I was able to snag my favorite spot here, the exact same campsite I had here last winter. Perfectly isolated with a great view of the surrounding area, uninterrupted by other campers.

View Out Front Window
View Out Front Window

As an added bonus, I know from last year that I should be able to entice birds to my site, so I will have something to do here other than just painting and doctor’s appointments.

View Out Side Window
View Out Side Window

All the surrounding vegetation provides a lot of cover for the quail and other birdlife here. Unfortunately for little Pearl, it also provides a lot of cover for coyotes. Our first night here, I went to bed around 9 PM, tired from the 2 day long drive, and not 5 minutes after hitting the bed, I was startled awake by a coyote wailing directly under my bedroom window … I could have reached out and touched him/her?, it was that close. Don’t know if it was upset that I settled in on it’s territory or if it was warning me of it’s presence , or maybe it was just the full moon, who knows. But I do know I won’t dare let Pearl out unescorted.

Pearl Exploring her New Campsite
Pearl Exploring her New Campsite

She seems totally unaware of the potential dangers here and wants to get out and investigate all the new smells.

Sunrise
Sunrise

Nice to see the colorful sunrises and sunsets again here in the desert, hope to capture many more before I leave.

December 25, 2017 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

Time to Leave

Sunrise, Imperial Dam LTVA
Sunrise, Imperial Dam LTVA

One of the very few colorful sunrises here at the LTVA. Usually these colorful shots are easy to come by, but for some reason, this year in my three week stay here there were only two mornings where there was any real color in the morning sky.

Anna's Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird

One of my few decent hummer shots taken here. Again, not really much action with the hummingbirds here.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

More Gambel’s Quail

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

Now these guys were plentiful and I would have to say this was my best experience attempting to shoot these very timid birds.

Gambel's Quail
Gamble’s Quail

They are fascinating to watch, and when there were as many as 20 in the yard, also wonderful to listen to them coo, chirp, and otherwise communicate amongst themselves.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

This guy was kind of unique amongst his peers with his double top knot or whatever you call those distinctive feathers on their heads.

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

 

Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail

Heading east to Tucson tomorrow to explore the area a little … stay tuned.

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