Day 19 – Critters

Beautiful, warm morning, perfect for roadrunner hunting!  Started out early, again searching where Aleta had last seen the elusive Geococcyx californianus cantfindusnowhereicus.  Walked around the entire resort, no luck.  However, I did see hummingbirds, Canadian geese, Mallards, Hooded Mergansers, rabbits (lots of rabbits), egrets, hawks, swallows, shrikes, sparrows, But. No. Roadrunners!

Roadrunner Nest & Egg

Finally, my luck turned!  I found a rare roadrunner nest with an egg in it!!!  Unbelievable, who would ever have thought?!?!  I carefully hid a few feet away and watched for mama roadrunner to come back.  Ten minutes passed…no mama. Twenty minutes passed…no mama.  Forty minutes…no mama.  Finally, I reluctantly walked away and I as I got about 20 feet away I swear I heard a faint “beep beep”.

You realize of course, that I’m not the only one taken by these birds.  Of course, they were immortalized in the Looney Toons Cartoons.  Everyone remembers those heart-tugging lyrics of the theme song,

 

If you’re on the highway and Road Runner goes beep beep.
Just step aside or might end up in a heap.
Road Runner, Road Runner runs on the road all day.
Even the coyote can’t make him change his ways.Road Runner, the coyote’s after you.
Road Runner, if he catches you you’re through.
Road Runner, the coyote’s after you.
Road Runner, if he catches you you’re through.That coyote is really a crazy clown,
When will he learn he can never mow him down?
Poor little Road Runner never bothers anyone,
Just runnin’ down the road’s his idea of having fun!

Here’s a link in case you’ve forgotten: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwYQsZuh2CM
But did you realize that Neil Diamond’s song “Solitary Man” war originally titled “Solitary Bird” because of his deep affection for the roadrunner?  He too, grew up with Looney Tunes and was forever mesmerized by the beep beep of the roadrunner.  Speaking of “beep beep”, Donna Summer’s lyrics of  “Toot toot, hey, beep beep!” forever immortalized the life of street roadrunners gone bad.  Yes, I am not alone in my love of these creatures.

Pinterest Breakfast!
Ancient Petroglyph

Ancient Indians also reverved the roadrunner.  Witness to that is their ancient petrogylphs etched in sheets of corten steel.  You can see these scatter throughout the resort and each one takes your breath away and you think of the effort the Cahwilla put into these masterpieces of art.

 

But, it’s not to be…no roadrunners today.
I trudge back to the villa and better times ensue!  We cook breakfast, scrambled egg pinwheel via April’s Pinterest posted recipe and we’re ready for the day!

We head out to hike in 1000 Palms Canyon, an oasis on the San Andreas Fault.  We get our briefing at the visitor center.  A coyote, a bobcat, a great horned owl, and Gambel’s quail have been sited.  Even a zebra lizard or two is on the list.  We’re pumped!  (Note: Did you know that today is a big solar flare day?  That’s what’s happened to Mona’s hair…it’s solar flare hair!)

We’ve been here at 1000 Palms Canyon lots of times before and usually we’re the only ones.  This time the parking lot is full and there is a school bus there as well.  We like to be as silent as possible so we can sneak up on the critters.  (Be vewy vewy qwiet!)  But, it’s not to be today…we’re constantly encountering people who are laughing, talking and making all kinds of noise….not to mention groups of 20 first graders who are generating 150 decibels of energy even while whispering.  But, it doesn’t matter, we’re still enjoying the canyon….lots of California Fan Palms towering over us, then out into the desert where we see lots of little lizards.  No iguanas, no rattlesnakes, no zebra lizards, but we still really enjoy our visit.

No rattlesnake this time.  Whew!

On the way out we see something dart across our path…it’s a Gambel’s quail.  These little guys have a topknot that hangs over their eyes.  There are four of them and we play hide and seek for several minutes.

 

Desert turtle home

Now it’s time for geocaching.  We do some city caches, then head back out to the desert.  Caching in the desert is fun, but you have to be prepared…water, good shoes, caution, and a big stick to prod the cache area before putting your hand there.  We’re set and off we go.  Found a few and then headed for a cache named “Log Only”.  We get close to the cache and this strange creature bounded out in front of us.  Huge back legs and l-o-n-g ears…it bounces across the desert in front of us. We’re too stunned to even reach for a camera…we’ve just seen our first jack rabbit and we’re so excited we’re laughing out loud.  Love the experiences we get from geocaching!

Back to the villa.  Decided to drive around the resort a bit before heading in. What’s that?!?!?!  Right there!!!???  It might be, it could be, IT IS!!!  A roadrunner!!!  We stop the car and start taking pics.  Here, use this camera…now, use this camera.  Get closer!  Don’t spook him!  Mr. Roadrunner took it all in stride.  He’s been hounded by the paparazzi before and he maintains his grace and stride.  He knows the poses we want and he struts in style. Our visit to Palm Desert is now complete.
Zipper is still on duty!

 

Wow, can the day get any better? Yes, it can!  I saw a Vermont plate.  We’re down to four states still outstanding: New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island and West Virginia.  Since last status update we’ve also seen Baja California and Saskatchewan  .   Monte saw Nova Scotia, but we can’t add it to the “spotted list” since neither of us saw it. The game goes on!

 

We relax with a few drinks, shrimp, salad and brie.  Waiting on that full moon again! We finally get the moon and Mars, too…it’s so bright and Orion is on guard above.  Gotta love desert nights!

One Response to Day 19 – Critters

  1. cillic March 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    Jupiter and Venus will be only 3 degrees apart on Monday. Great photo op out in the desert…

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