Monday March 29th
The weather is still beautiful but forecasters are saying a storm from the Pacific Northwest is going to sweep over southern California and reek havoc with the Spring Break crowd. We'll take advantage of the warm days while we can.
Behind the Cottonwood Campground here at Joshua Tree there hides Cottonwood Springs. A natural spring arises from the sand and wouldn't even be noticable if it weren't for the fact that there are huge California Palms and cottonwood trees growing all around it. It is an oasis for birds and other wildlife. Our plan for the day was to take the trail down to the springs and explore a bit. First we headed over to the Visitors Center to see if there might possibly be less people. Jon wanted a t-shirt and I wanted a bird checklist of the park. In all the National Parks you can go into the Ranger Stations or Visitors Centers and ask for a local bird checklist. Depending on the park they range from free to $2. Here they were free. I always like to get the checklist because I can peruse it and see what birds actually visit the area and at what time of year they can be expected. Some are residents, some visit only during migration, some are vagrants and only show up on occasion. The Nuttall's Woodpecker I saw yesterday and photographed isn't even on the list.
One of the books I read while on this trip is "Eating Stone" by Ellen Meloy. It is basically about bighorn sheep; the different species that exist in the western states, southwestern states, and Baja, their history, their habits, and their future. After seeing them close up in Anza-Borrego and knowing that there is a distinct possibility of seeing them here too, my curiosity is piqued. While we were in the visitors center I noticed they had bighorn stuffed toys so I had to buy one to stick in my backpack as my traveling companion. Ramsis now travels with me on all my hikes. I'm hoping he will be my good luck charm to viewing these beautiful animals.