From above, it’s flawless.
Sunlight casts a glow on its strengths and shadows provide texture to its shape.
The endless maze of canyons gives it complexity. It’s just enough of everything to know it could be dangerous. Perfection to a fault.
Gorgeous sunrise over Painted Canyon
The San Andreas Fault. It’s a seam in the ground, that snakes 800 miles through California and extends to depths of 10 miles within the Earth. It’s the geological feature responsible for plenty of earthquakes and is capable of producing the Big One.
Does this even look real to you?
Wile E. Coyote lives up there
This master fault line runs the length of the Coachella Valley. It protrudes from the earth in spectacular form, producing tangible geology, that anyone can experience.
Heading into a slot canyon in the Mecca Hills
This jacket says it all…really…DO IT!
Director Brian navigating the trail and Videographer Ian wearing my pink-ish hat so I can navigate better. (low rock ceilings) He’s such a gentleman!
The Meccacopia wilderness; home to dozens of hiking trails where you can reach out and touch a piece of what the San Andreas Fault created. Hike the canyons; the effects of its constant shifts are everywhere, major uplift, colorful outcroppings and sandstone hillsides that look more like moonscapes than desert.
Ladder Canyon…it feels like you’re in a Star Wars Pod race!
Now Ron has a cool job!
Ron Chang of Big Wheel Tours says his guests often use the word otherworldly to describe the terrain through this area. He leads jeep tours through these parts, the visible boundary between two massive tectonic plates. The North American and Pacific plates work against each other here creating both a constant threat and fascinating eye candy.
We’re heading into the Meccacopia Wilderness here
I shed a tear walking up this hill, it felt WAYYY higher than it looks here. I only could look out, not down. Good thing the view is AMAZING!
The Fault forms a narrow break in the Earth’s crust, there’s not a particular spot where you can gaze into the center of the earth, it’s covered by erosion, but the effects of its active existence are everywhere.
The Salton Sea in all is beautiful glory
The Mud Pots blew my mind. They were percolating little wonders.
A mud volcano formed from all the spewing mud
The Eastern most point of the San Andreas runs parallel to the Salton Sea.
Where it ends, an explosion of bubbles! In geologic terms, mud pots and mud volcanoes.
They release gases from inside the Earth; bubble up through holes in the ground, and give a muddy grand finale to a day of exploration.
Bubble, bubble, bubble, they never stop
There are multiple pot holes to choose from and then you just have to stand there in amazement
Ian vs. the volcanoes
Mud Volcano in all its glory
Not quite as dramatic as an Earthquake but a fascinating mess none the less and another visual reminder, of the fault below the surface. Geologists say it’s been there for 15 to 20 million years and seismologists predict it will be the one to blame for plenty of shaking for years to come.
After a long day of shooting we were reinvigorated by this incredible close! Thank you Mother Nature
For the latest information on the accessibility of the geothermal mud pots contact the Visitor Center at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.
I’m typically not one for quoting quotes, but who can go wrong with Shakespeare? Especially Shakespeare lingo that one can understand. I certainly can’t say it any better than that beaded English poet. So here. “The earth has music for those who listen” ~Shakespeare
He’s just got to be talking about the wind through the trees and the creatures within them, right? In this case yes because it’s fitting. It’s fitting to my blog on birding.
I pretty much love birds in all their chirpy glory they are darling little creatures. If they weren’t such elusive fliers I would probably hug a bird a day. Perhaps that’s why there were given the gift of flight because they are just so cute, evolution had no choice but to protect them.
I grew up with parents who are pseudo birders. Mom and dad mostly stalked birds from their backyard then jotted notes in their bird guide. They keep natural skirts on their palms and a fairly lush backyard so they had plenty of year-round visitors. They even raised a few that either got blown out of their nests before feathers or were runts and were rejected by their biological bird parents. My dad once attempted to incubate owl eggs that were blown from a palm. They feed ravens and hummingbirds and my mom can identify and rattle off names (mostly with correct pronunciations) of pretty much every bird species native and migratory that lands in the Coachella Valley. So I either inherited an innate love of feathered friends from my folks (nature) or there was no way to escape loving them (nurture).
With that out of the way we dive head first into more bird info. than you may have ever wanted from a blog. The first peak of daylight is their cue. The early bird, always gets the worm. And for those who relish in his every move, well they’ll get the first glimpse. Passing time looking for feathers…birding is a love for many, an earthy hobby that has captivated tens of millions of people eager to spy one of nature’s chattiest critters.
In the Southern California desert, the bird watch is beyond compare.
The area is part of the Pacific Flyway, a major migration route. Between native and migratory birds, there are easily 1000 different species to be found in and around Greater Palm Springs.
Varying habitats from palms to pines provide perfection for birdies and for those who love them. The Salton Sea is particularly important in our area. No matter the season you can find thousands of birds and more than 100 different species on any given day. The sea is 380 square miles with varying habitats the number and variety of birds can be overwhelming.
In the high desert, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is a birders paradise. Nature trails weave through 31-thousand acres. From cottonwoods, to chaparral, the landscape is home to 250 bird species, making it one of many spots to track tweeters.
College of the Desert Natural Resources professor Kurt Leuschner moved to the Coachella Valley because of the birding potential. “As soon as I got here I was amazed at how many places you could go to find interesting birds within a short drive. In fact I don’t know any other place that has great birding potential in one concentrated area, surrounded by natural protected areas.”
One of the prime areas is Sunnylands, where US presidents seek peace and so do more than a few of our feathered friends. Leuschner leads weekly bird walks through the lush thicket of native plants.
I wandered along with a surprisingly LARGE group of birders and spotted a couple of our most popular desert residents, a pair of hummingbirds and several delicately darling hummingbirds.
If you want to talk birds, Leuschner is your man. One of the best tidbits from our chat was in regards to the Blue-Footed Boobie, a bird that is known mostly to frequent the Galapagos Islands far, far from the Coachella Valley. Pairs shuffle around on their fabulous blue feet and meet on the Galopagos shoreline. The Blue-footed Booby also nests as far north as western Mexico. But in some years, small numbers stray north into the southwestern United States, and take up residence at the Salton Sea. That’s pretty AMAZING!
For a closer peek right into the eyes of birds, the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center is the place.
Nestled in an unlikely spot in Indio with a view of Interstate 10, it’s the center of Lind York’s world. “You know how people like cats, some like dogs, I like birds.”
York’s mission is to care for and rehab orphaned, sick and injured native birds and get them back into the wild. She’s been at it a lifetime with unwavering commitment and countless accolades. Her humble facility is open to birds of a feather or anyone curious to take peek.
Grab the handwritten birders list, walk the grounds and meet the residents.
Most of the birds eventually fly free, those that can’t be released, are used for education.
There’s Butler a talkative American Kestrel, Corazon, the shy Barn Owl and Mr. WOO (it stands for Wise Old Owl) the Great Horned Owl, he’s blind but has fostered countless owlets. Uulee a female has done the same. There are red tail hawks, silly quail and even an elusive Burrowing Owl. York’s goal is to teach people how to both appreciate and coexist with nature’s creatures.
York says, “it’s amazing what critters can teach us about tolerance and caring.
Kind of what humans can do if we allow it.”
A different take on ‘a bird’s eye view’, or maybe that was the meaning all along…Perhaps that’s why so many are enamored and inspired by what they see when they take the time to look.
If you’re looking for a birding adventure in this area you’re in luck. The Desert Cities Bird Club is a great resource for information and for where to go for the latest guided bird walks.
To learn more about the countless other amazing adventures in Greater Palm Springs click HERE!