Birds in Landscapes: The Other Southern California
(The one with more birds and fewer people.)
Tour Dates: April 25 – May 2, 2021
When someone mentions southern California, what comes to mind? Surf? Sand? Sun? Traffic? Any of these would be a reasonable guess. But there is an entirely different Southern California waiting for you. Leave the beaches and the crowds, cross the coastal ranges and you will find yourself in the Mojave Desert. The Mojave seems like another world from the California coast.
Here is found the Salton Sea, a treasure trove of waterfowl and shorebirds, created by human accident in the early 20th Century. Here is the magnificent Anza-Borrego, the largest state park in the lower forty-eight states. Here, too, are the fantastic Joshua trees, signature species of the Mojave, and the cool heights of the San Jacinto Mountains, rising from the desert basin below.
And each of these habitats has its own special suite of bird species. Join us this spring for an opportunity to see this dramatic landscape and to seek out the birds that are found in its numerous different habitats.
During our time in the Mojave we will visit Anza-Borrego, 916 square miles of arid mountains surrounded by desert basins. Here Costa’s hummingbirds buzz among the cactus, a black-throated sparrow trills from the top of an ocotillo, and a California thrasher emerges from a thicket. Then it’s up a winding road, into the San Jacinto Mountains, where we may find a Nuttall’s or perhaps an acorn woodpecker. Wrentit and Cassin’s vireo are also found in these mountains.
Leaving the mountains, we drop to a lower elevation at Big Morongo Canyon. Here we might find oak titmouse, Lawrence’s goldfinch, Anna’s hummingbird, California quail or black-throated gray warbler. Over a hundred species were seen here in April of 2019. At the Salton Sea we will find droves of shorebirds passing through, along with hundreds of ducks, grebes, cormorants, gulls, ibis and egrets. Almost anything can show up here, either on the water, on the shore, or in the surrounding desert.
And, of course, no trip to the Mojave would be complete without a visit to Joshua Tree National Park. The Joshua trees themselves would be enough reason to come to the park, but there is also no shortage of birds. The park is home to cactus wren, phainopepla, verdin, black-throated sparrow and black-tailed gnatcatcher, to name just a few of the desert specialties found here.
The latest in our “Birds in Landscapes” series, this tour offers a wide array of unique species in a starkly beautiful desert setting. It is an experience you will not soon forget!
Study Leader: Norm Lewis is Department Associate of Zoology for Denver Museum of Nature & Science and has over thirty years of birding experience. He is a Past President of the Denver Field Ornithologists and Colorado Field Ornithologists. He leads birding field trips for Denver Museum of Nature and Science, as well as trips for the Denver Field Ornithologists, Colorado Field Ornithologists, The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Society. He holds a B.S. in geology from Indiana University and a M.S. in geology from Northern Arizona University.
Exertion Level: This trip will be moderately strenuous, with the usual 6-8 hours of walking and standing on dirt and gravel trails each day. (Note: On any day of the trip, you may opt to rest on the motorcoach for a few hours). Field excursions will take place rain or shine! Participants should be in good physical health. This trip is not recommended for those with walking difficulties or with wheelchairs. To ensure a safe trip for the group, all participants are required to truthfully complete a medical questionnaire in order to participate.
Pricing: Price includes seven nights hotel accommodations, breakfast daily, get acquainted pizza party and farewell dinner, Professional Birding Guide throughout trip, motorcoach transportation for birding in California, and admissions to all birding sites. Price per person double occupancy is $2,595 and single occupancy is $3,295. Cost does not include transportation from home city to Palm Springs nor transportation from Palm Springs airport to hotel in Palm Desert. Does not include meals and snacks not listed in itinerary above, alcoholic beverages and items of a personal nature. Travel protection insurance is not included and is recommended. Optional travel insurance information can be obtained by requesting same on the reservation form from Leisure West Tours & Cruises.
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