Crystal Spring 9/10/06
- Hi all
Since we had never seen a Wood Thrush in California, we made the trek out to Crystal Spring on Saturday, & decided to come in from the north through Tecopa. We stayed overnight in Shoshone, & drove to the spring early Sunday morning. This is definitely the way to get there.......a very easy drive, paved most of the way, then gravel for the last few miles. Highly recommended.
We walked up the narrow canyon, following the stream & flushed many Chukars, enjoying them as they flew & scrabbled up the steep canyon walls As we neared the top, the Wood Thrush was out hopping around with his friend, the Hermit Thrush, about 30 yards below the boarded up spring area. As we approached, he slowly hopped upstream, feeding as he went, until he disappeared into his favorite mesquite trees at the top of the stream. As were waiting & hoping for him to reappear, the coolest thing happened. We heard some rocks falling down the opposite wall of the canyon, & all of a sudden a family of Desert Bighorn Sheep appear on the south ridge, about 50 feet away from us! They froze, & so did we. We slowly backed away, & quietly climbed up the north side of the canyon wall to sit on a rock, where we were hidden from their view by the tall cottonwoods growing in the streambed. After a few minutes, they slowly worked their way down the slope to the streambed, where we watched them drink & feed on the green plants growing near the water. What a sight! They were only about 30 feet away from us at this point. After taking many pics & some video, one of the ewes saw us, & after about a 30 second stare down, she alerted the others & they scrambled back up the slope. The group consisted of one ram, two ewes & one small lamb. Very cool! Oh, & the Wood Thrush came back out too, allowing for some great photos & video. It really pays to just sit still & wait.
As we walked down out of the canyon, thinking that that was the coolest thing that could possibly happen, I stopped to look into the water cistern/collection tub that's along the path & saw what looked like a large leaf stuck to the inside wall. Upon closer inspection I realized I was looking at a bat! It had blond fur on its back, that appeared to be wet. I believe it was a Western Pipistrelle. How cool is that? First the Wood Thrush right out in the open, then the close encounter with the sheep, & now a bat! Wow!
Other birds seen at the spring were:
Black Headed Grosbeak
Olive Sided Flycatcher
Pacific Slope "
many Black Throated Sparrows
Nashville Warbler (many)
Orange Crowned "
Black Throated Gray
Hermosa Beach, CA
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