It has been a couple years since I did a page on California birds and I just bumped into these images and thought what the heck … so here is a very mixed bag of desert, water, and mountain birds of our most western state. The images come from a trip that featured a visit up into the San Jacinto Mountains. Perhaps you have just heard of the town that recently elected a Labrador Retriever as its mayor?
It is a small town in these very same mountains, about two hours out of Los Angeles (well a couple hours if you drive it at 2 or 3 in the morning); and about an hour uphill from the golf course haven called Palm Springs. The town is Idyllwild and it is a lovely mountain village deep in a forest of many pines and cedars. The pines are often the very large Ponderosa, but could be Jeffrey’s, Sugar, Lodgepole, Knobcone, or Single-leaf Pinyon. The Coulter Pine is not the tallest but has a cone the size and weight of a canteloupe! There are also Incense Cedars and Western Junipers.
I have a long time friend who lives in this small community, or communities actually as three or four very small villages are censused together as a single unit, having somewhere around 3000-4000 people in total. The area has long been a getaway spot for Los Angelinos but has somehow kept its quaint small-town look and feel. Like many places people visit, relax, and leave – that must be what it is like in Pine Cove, Idyllwild, and Fern Valley. The nearby San Jacinto Mountain reaches a height of 10,483 feet. There is a funicular, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, that lifts you about 6000 from Palm Springs up into the mountains with great views of Chino Canyon and the Palm Springs lowlands – and back down again. The temperature will drop between 20 and 30 degrees from the bottom to the top. Arriving up in the mountains at more than 8500 feet provides a nice break from the desert heat.
We get to visit and to see White-headed Woodpeckers at Humber Park when up in the San Jacintos. The woodpeckers can be found anywhere in the area but there are several parks and nature centers with trails and postings to help newly arrived birders locate the highlights of the area. There are also lots of the comical Acorn Woodpeckers as well as Nuttall’s and Hairy Woodpeckers. There are also a couple sapsuckers (Williamson’s and reds-breasted) and the Red-shafted Flicker rounds out this group.
I start with that anecdote but really want to show a series of images from a lower elevation.