Wednesday, January, 22
Cibola National Wildlife Refuge is located about 20 miles south of Blyth, CA, which is about 30 west of Quartzsite. We were up for an early start, but got delayed slightly with an impressive sunrise. We still managed to get out quickly and arrived around 10 AM after stopping once along the road to photograph some palms in a field.
After a short orientation at the visitor center, we set out on the auto tour through the north portion of the reserve. There was an impressive array of waterfowl on view. Our first stop at a small pond started out with just a few ducks. While we waited, a large flock of snow geese flew in, circled a few times, and landed. Quite a sight to see.
Back in the car, we made the first turn on this square route and found a large field of Sandhill Cranes and Canadian Geese. They were far off in the distance, but the combination of Mary’s reduced sensor camera, and my 300 mm telephoto lens, we managed a few interesting looks.
A little further down the road we came across a few piles of stones and 4 inch pipe sticking out of them. I’d remembered the naturalists telling us to look for these right by the side of the road, because this is where the Burrowing Owls reside. We would have just passed by if we didn’t know to look for them. Sure enough, there was one out standing in front of it’s burrow. Holding stock still except for the occasional swivel of it’s head. We were told if they began bobbing up and down it meant they were nervous. No bobbing, and our car with us in it was not more that 5 feet from them. Made some nice close-ups.
Around the next turn, I saw a large flock of something in the sky headed toward us over the corn fields. As they got closer we could hear the distinctive honking of Canadian Geese. They moved over pretty quickly and it was hard to tell where they were headed.
Around the final curve, we came across a rather strange scene. It appeared a small flock of geese had landed in one of the fields. What was strange was that right in the middle of the flock, was a group of men in camo along with their dogs. They seemed to be just milling around among the geese. Using the binoculars for a closer inspection, we discovered the geese weren’t moving at all. They were decoys. All different, in different poses. Not sure why they were set up in a wildlife refuge. Looked real to me.
We left this part of the reserve and head further south to another part. We only saw a single Ospry on a power line, so we headed back to the north section to find a lunch spot.
When we stopped at our original starting point, we discovered where the Canadian Geese landed. Right there in a pond in front of the Snow Geese! More came in for landings as we noshed and watched. Suddenly, the Snow Geese took flight. They circled the pond a few times – each go round, a large group would land again, until all had come in again. A great way to finish our birding session.
Still to come, posts of my Nomads portraits from some of the folks in camp. You already saw the one I did of Phil, but I will post those of, Bev & Chuck, David & Nona and Kathy. I also have posts coming up for our last days in Q as well as our time in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, where we are now enjoying some great hiking. More posts in a few days.