Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Earth Day! Hope everyone had a chance to get outdoors and appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

This saturday I am doing the Sea and Sage birdathon, so keep an eye out for the post on sunday!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Anza Borrego Camping with OC-SCB

I spent this weekend camping in the desert at Anza Borrego State Park, in San Diego County. It was a beautiful weekend to be in the desert, if a little windy perhaps. Many people from the Orange County Society for Conservation Biology showed up, as did a few non-members who had heard about the trip through friends. 
Chollo cactus in the fading light
We arrived later in the day, due to a few detours (some intentional, other less so) and immediately jumped out of the car with our binoculars and cameras to go for a short walk before the sun ran out. Although the wind was blowing pretty strongly, there were plenty of birds around, western kingbirds, white-winged doves, and plenty of quail. After picking through a large flock of yellow-rumped warblers, we saw two black-throated grays. When the sun dipped below the ridgeline, we headed back to camp to pitch tents and make some grub.
View from the trail near our campsite

The even was quite pleasant, and consisted of acoustic guitar, stargazing, roasting marshmellows, the usual fireside story swapping, and some glow in the dark frizbee. The wind rattled tents during the night, but was not all that cold despite the voracity of the gusts.

Beavertail Cactus in bloom

At 6:30am, a stalwart few of us decided to get up and go for a bird walk. It was much quieter than the previous evening, but highlights included black-throated, Brewer's and chipping sparrows, hooded and bullock's orioles, black-headed grosbeaks, and a nashville warbler. Non-birding sightings included a coyote, multiple black-tailed jackrabbits, and multiple butterflies and other insects.
Doesn't it look like a smiley face?!

We came back with stomachs rumbing, to have a delicious shared breakfast of vegetable and egg burritos, Mmmmm. Then it was time to pack up camp and head out to the Anza Borrego visitor's center to pick up any choice items and see the gorgeous cactus gardens in bloom there. Then we headed to a trailhead and hiked up into a gorgous canyon, at the top of which was a palm oasis, complete with waterfalls and butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies galore. Orioles were flying in and out of the palms - no doubt nesting. We lingered there for a few hours, climbing around the rocks photographing everything we could, and splashing in the stream, before turning back down the canyon, and to the cars for the drive back to Orange County and reality.

It was an amazing weekend, if short. I always feel so relaxed and calm when I get out of the city and camp. I come home feeling like I've found my balance again. What a perfect weekend following my first week of spring quarter classes at UCI, talk about a way to relieve the stress, camping out under the stars!
Chollo in bloom
They were mini poppies!
More pics to come from this trip, check back!