Saturday, March 30, 2019

Winter in the Coachella Valley ~ California

Winter is different in this part of the country and brings sights that we would not see during winter months in the north.   The arid climate and countryside offers some beautiful sights and visitors for us to enjoy when we spend time in these areas. 

Desert blooms
Desert flowers have made their appearance but are a bit later than usual due to the cooler weather and the rain but that was helpful in creating even more blooms.  We visited Joshua Tree Park when the blooms were just beginning.  Late afternoon sun was coming quickly but gave us a chance to see some desert blooms before we left.

Cholla cactus blooming
I believe this is the Teddy Bear cholla but it is very similar to the Silver cholla so this could be either and is just showing buds.  The Teddy Bear grows to be about 5’ tall and is usually surrounded by a ring of discarded spines and flowers.  One does not want to touch one of these, they look fuzzy but they are not.  They adhere to anything and can be very difficult to remove due to the reverse barbs. 

Blooms and windmills
Lower altitudes and a few more weeks offer a bit more warmth to contribute to the bloom and these ones light up the field of windmills with yellow.  Snow can still be seen on the mountaintops of the San Jacinto Mountains and that adds to the charm of the scenery.  The Coachella Valley and local area has much to offer.

Winter months does mean fewer flowers to feed on until the spring does arrive so the hummingbirds that are here for the winter always appreciate finding a feeder.  They tend to be quite territorial so once they decide this is ‘their’ feeder, there are few visitors who won’t get chased away.

Cormorants are one of over 300 bird species that come to the Salton Sea, south of this area on their Pacific Flyway during these winter months.  They dive deep for their fish, which is plentiful in the deep Salton Sea.  I do not know what would bring them to this pond as if there are any fish in here, they’d be very small and I feared they might break their neck should they try to dive, the pond is not deep, lol, but no injuries claimed.  I have written information on the cormorant in an earlier post, click here if you wish to read more.

American White Pelican
Pelicans are another annual visitor to the Salton Sea but this is the first time I’ve seen one visit this pond.  A welcome sight he was and he’s been seen by others.  I think this pond is one of his stops while he tours around the valley.  Others have usually been seen in larger ponds.

Pelican fishes for food
The pelican swam around and scooped up whatever he fancied.  I don’t think he found much of a dinner but he swam the pond and was able to find something. Pelicans are one of the largest birds that do much soaring in their flight.

Decisions to make
I’m waiting to see him fly away, to see the big wing span and the black feathers he has.  It looks like he is thinking about doing that now,  he’s cleaned out the pond as best he could, so I wait patiently to see it happen and it did.

Pelican has left the pond

He wasn’t here for long but I did watch him fly away.  The wing span can be up to 45” wide and the black on the wings is not very visible until they fly.  He jumped from the edge of the pond, made a couple of bounces and then was making his way to his next stop.  There is much more info on a post I’d done on their visit to the Salton Sea.  Click here to see more.


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