Although numerous amusement parks and zoos make the San Diego area a great destination for families with small children, we are really more backcountry and wilderness people at heart. As a result, by day 4 of our trip we needed a break from the crowds and drove east, across the Laguna Mountains, for a little taste of desert hiking.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the second largest state park in the US at 2400km² and it is certainly of interest to birders. The local hawkwatch program counted 9000 Swainson's Hawks making their way north last spring, forming large kettles during the day and roosting in the town of Borrego Springs at night. The small oases of palm trees, irrigated land, and the nearby Salton Sea also provide waypoints and wintering habitat for migratory birds and it was to one such location that we headed for our hike.
Our first stop was the park visitor centre where I was pleased to find Verdin in the parking lot, as well as a Costa's Hummingbird feeding on cactus blooms in front of the main entrance.
|Verdin, an active little songbird native that seems to fill a similar role in desert scrub that the Chickadee does in coniferous forests here - looks better enlarged!|
|This roadrunner isn't doing much running anymore|
|California Quail on the trail|
|Exploring the habitat in the upper canyon|