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I returned to Big Morongo Preserve, 125 miles from where I live here in San Pedro, last Saturday for a visit along with our little group of birdwatchers we call The San Pedro Kingbirders (me, David, Jose, and Johnny, who couldn't make it). It was Jose's first time there, and being a 15-year-old bird phenomenon -- he's only been birding for about 2 years but he recognizes bird calls and seems to find 'em all the time -- he said Big Mo was "awesome". And so it was, though we were skunked by the Long-eared Owl seen there recently. But we got there at 8am and except for a break for lunch didn't leave until around 6:30pm. Here are some of the birds that we saw, along with a few I've seen on past trips, and a few landscapes to put the place in perspective. The full Big Morongo gallery consisting of pics I've taken there since 2008 is here --
Big Morongo Preserve, looking down the canyon, seen from the Yucca Ridge Trail --
Mr and Mrs Vermilion Flycatcher are back at Covington Park, across from Big Morongo; they just returned for the season a week or so ago --
And here's Mrs Vermilion --
Here's David (on the right) and Jose watching the birds at Dee Zeller's feeders at the entrance of the preserve. David is a phenomenal birder, constantly saying "There's 2 --- over there, and 1 --- singing over there, and..." and I can't hear a darn thing. And to augment his hearing, he sometimes carries a parabolic sound dish.
A White-breasted Nuthatch at a tree near Dee's feeders --
A male Nuttall's Woodpecker, also in the same tree near the feeders (waiting for his turn) --
Here's an interesting one; a hybrid of Nuttall's and Ladderback Woodpecker, that the local birders call "Nutty-backed" --
The Marsh Trail, home to Virginia Rail, Woodpeckers, and a lot of other good "stuff" --
Here's an Oak Titmouse along the Marsh Trail --
Fisher's Point, a house across from Covington Park, can have some interesting birds at its feeders; here's a Lawrence's Goldfinch, which was a Life Bird for me when I saw it in April 2010 --
The view from Yucca Ridge Trail looking west to the town of Morongo Valley and part of the Preserve --
Late that afternoon, while hiking down the Canyon Trail, David and Jose heard an Owl-like call. Well, as we were in Owl Mode at the time, we decided to check it out, which meant thrashing through underbrush to get to the other side of the creek where the call was coming from. Jose called it Xtreme Birding, and it was! Once on the other side, the call was at another location, of course, as we'd made enough noise getting there to wake up the dead (Natty Bumppos we ain't ) but after 15 minutes Jose said, "I see it!" and pointed to an area where David and I couldn't make out a darned thing. But Owls are good at concealment, so we kept looking, and looking, and then --- out flew a bird --
It had been a White-winged Dove all the time. Sibley's guide says it sounds just like a Barred Owl's "Who-Cooks-For-You" call -- and we'd been fooled.
All good things must come to an end, so here's Mr. Vermilion saying, "Goodbye!" to viewers as he takes off --
What a place!
Questions, comments and critiques all welcome.
Edited on Mar 08, 2012 at 12:43 PM · View previous versions