On January 24, it was -7 in Cranbrook and a clear morning. The snow from the day before had been cleared (or so we hoped), so we headed off on our next adventure. Our plan this time was to drive to Big Bend National Park in Texas to do some birding. We had planned to take our time getting south; allowing for possible weather delays.
All went well. Once we were past Spokane, the ground was snow free. We stayed the first night in Ritzville, WA, a choice we won’t make again. We were happy to have a 6 degree temperature, but not so thrilled with the mud that we encountered in the RV park.
The next day, we checked into an RV park in White River, WA (just over the Columbia from Hood River, OR.) Wendy was really glad that she wasn’t driving over the toll bridge because the lanes were 9 feet wide and our 5th wheel trailer is 8 foot 6″. Luckily when smaller cars see a big rig approaching, they move over. We had time to go for a hike in the afternoon. It was great to be warm enough to walk in short sleeves. There is a lot of basalt along the Columbia Gorge and you can see a good example in the bluff behind Doug in the photo below.
We walked below Coyote Wall on the old highway, before we headed onto the trail. The light was perfect when we returned to the truck.
The next day we drove to Grants Pass, OR where we planned to stop for a few days. Grants Pass was enveloped with fog, but Crescent City, CA was only a two hour drive away and the forecast was for sun, so we did a day trip. It was worth it for the views.
We hiked up to a headland and enjoyed the sun on our faces. It was about 16 degrees and no wind. Paradise! We had visited Crescent City in March on a previous trip and been much cooler.
You can fish the rivers in California in January, like we saw this group on the Smith River that goes through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We stopped to take a walk among the redwoods and came across a trail along the riverbank, with a good view of the river.
We had time to visit a few brewpubs. This one in Ashland, OR had the cutest succulent “mini-planter.” Their beer was good too. Doug enjoyed the Oak Street Amber and Wendy had “Darth Vator.”
Next stop, Lodi, in Central California. Sunny skies! Life is good! We were glad we had planned a couple of days here.
It turns out that Lodi, California is in the Pacific Flyway, so there were lots of birding opportunities. We started at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve. The Northern Mockingbird posed nicely.
Here’s a better view of the Northern Mockingbird, when he was on the ground.
We were at the Isenberg Sandhill Crane Reserve, so we had hoped to see some cranes. We had seen a couple of dozen in a field a long ways off, so we were thrilled to see these fly over. The light wasn’t great, but it was still pretty cool to see them.
We also caught a view of a Snowy Egret.
We were confused at first with this hawk, because it was spiralling upwards. We’ve usually seen the Northern Harrier flying low over fields with its white rump patch visible. This time we could see the underside of a male.
Later that day we saw a juvenile Northern Harrier perched in a tall tree.
Our second birding spot was at Cosumnes River Preserve. There were paved pathways close to the river and also out at the wetlands.
Here’s a White Crowned Sparrow.
Doug thought the Marsh Wren was singing, “Please take my picture!”
There were plenty of Golden-Crowned Sparrows, which were a new bird for us.
Another new bird to us was the Greater White-fronted Goose, a bird you would not likely see in British Columbia. There were hundreds of them.
We enjoy watching Black-necked Stilts anytime we see them. This photo hides his distinctive red legs.
Doug got a photo of a Northern Pintail, just as he emerged from the water. He spent most of his time with his head under water.
From California, we’re heading east to Arizona. Look forward to photos of cacti and warmer weather!