Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Sandy bottoms and missing swifts

For our last day on the ranch Yoss left our little band to join the rest of the family on horseback. Judith and I went off to the great sand-dunes national park, 20 minutes from the ranch. This is really a very strange area - mighty sand-dunes between the mountain and the plains, just popping up out of nowhere almost. Apparently it is caused over millennia by natural winds in the valley collecting the sand into that one corner. Anyway, they're really big and it was VERY hot!!!!
However, I firstly had an early morning trip with Lawrence, who lives part-time on the ranch, and is a UK birder but an expert over here as well. Really needed this as local knowledge was badly needed as I was struggling to get the bird list going. We only walked around the immediate area but we quickly got onto Evening and black-headed grosbeak, Lewis's woodpecker, mountain chickadee, pine siskin, Cassin's finch, chipping sparrow, rufous hummingbird, red-naped sapsucker and warbling vireo. To jump forward before going onto the dunes, we also went to a local lake that eveing and gor black-crowned night-heron, white-faced ibis, cinnamon teal, American wigeon, redhead, spot sand, loggerhead shrike, horned lark and sage thrasher.

Anyway, onto the sand-dunes. Basically its along walk up very soft sand in stifling heat, but well, well worth it. The views are spectacular and everyone seemed really friendly talking about what they were doing on the way up. I suspect it was a sneaky way to take a break!!! Thr loca sport is to surf down the dunes although we didn't have a go.
Finally, we went up into the mountains to Zapata falls. This is a local beauty spot, quite wooded and with a walk ALONG the stream to get to the foot of the falls. Apparently it is also a good spot for both black and white-throated swift although we didn't see them. A nice end to the day though.