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Posts Tagged ‘Cibola National Wildlife Refuge’

I already forgot what we did Sunday so I guess it wasn’t much. We had a nice bacon-and-egg breakfast and then did stuff  (???) Oh yeah, the football game. Jim Melvin set up his TV outside and we ranged our chairs in front of it. We missed the ribs that went with the first game and arrived a little before dark to watch. There’s quite a few Bay Area fans but not so many Seahawk fans. Well, the Niners lost but it was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

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Monday was our day to visit the big tent and shop for all kinds of things: surge protectors, luminarias, tow pigtails, gold earrings, LED lights, socks. We did better on the LD stuff than my ephemera. Lunch time rolled around and we had Indian-Mex – pretty good. Then more walking around until we were hot and tired. So we got in a very long line for Thrifty Ice Cream and I discovered one of the temporary new flavors was Cherry Amaretto Cordial. Originally introduced to us by a friend in Utah, Janet Curley, I’m addicted to the stuff. But this freshly made ice cream was tons better. Wow!!! We straggled back to camp and recuperated in time to go to Silly Al’s Pizza and meet Fred Haseley. Fred was out west from Virginia to supervise some training in Yuma. I worked with him intermittently for more than a decade and was pleased when he emailed to try to meet up with us. We had a nice get-together and Fred showed us pictures of his visit to Cibola National Wildlife Refuge that day. They showed loads of Canadian Geese and Snow Geese. Dave and I decided we had to go there.

The next day, a bunch of us had decided to go hike Palm Canyon, the only site with native California Fan Palms in Arizona. About 5 cars went south about 18 miles and turned east to enter the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.  The trail up to the viewpoint is only a half-mile but it is rocky and uphill. The viewpoint is identified by a sign pointing upwards towards the palms, descending a very steep side canyon. Jim Cummings tried to bushwhack his way over there but realized he wasn’t going to get up there. So instead, he and several of us clambered up the center of the rocky canyon another half-mile or so. Debbie spotted a small arch further up. We reached a stopping point for lunch and watched the bobbing heads of Jim and Rod Michaelson as they made their way further in two different directions. We returned down to the parking lot and as the brochure stated “The downhill pace will be faster as you return to your car.” Of course, they didn’t count on photographers, and Dave and I were the last ones back.

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On Wednesday, Dave and I got up and out early to drive the 50 miles to the Cibola NWR. But the sunrise delayed us. The clouds were spectacular.

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We began to drive and stopped by some irrigated fields south of Blythe. There seemed to be a mist behind the distant palm trees that made them stand out.

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The Cibola Visitor Center had an enthusiastic lady who laid out where all the birds were being sighted and there were a lot of birds! We couldn’t get very close to the Sandhill Cranes but sure could hear them. They have kind of a cackling noise that I wouldn’t want to hear day in and day out. But it seems to work for them.

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We went on the auto tour that first took us past a pond with lots of ducks doing their ducky things. We were told not to get out of our vehicle because while autos don’t bother the birds, people do.

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Then from a distance, we heard a noise of gathering excitement and a large flock of snow geese took to the air. They flew over us and began to circle the pond. With each round, we could see them in side profile, then head on, then side profile again. Each circuit had some geese landing in the pond until the preponderance of them all descended. What a sound! You could see their wings curling and hear them whirring to slow down and let them drop to the water. I was blown away.

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While all this was going on, the ducks were minding their own business in another area of the pond.

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That could have been enough for one day, but we moved on to spot the Burrowing Owls right by the side of the road. The Visitor Center had told us that the owls are habituated to cars and probably would be okay as long as we stayed in them. When they get nervous, they start to bob. They never bobbed so I guess they were okay with us being avian paparazzi.

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As we continued on the auto tour, we saw some men and dogs hiding in the middle of a small flock of Canadian geese. As we watched, we realized that none of the geese were moving. It was a fake flock. None of the men seemed to have long guns so I have no idea what they were doing out there. We returned to the pond to eat lunch and watch the waterfowl do their thing. They seemed to share the small pond equably, and relatively quietly. It was great.

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We returned to camp for our final evening with the Lazy Dazers. Roger had obtained some Trance Balloons that we had noticed on previous evenings. They are large colored lanterns that you light while others hold out the walls of the balloon. When enough heated air inflates it, you let go and off it floats into the sky, glowing warmly as it goes. Seems to last about 3 or 4 minutes, going higher and higher on a quiet night. See Dave’s blog for some images, although it hard to capture their charm visually.

On Thursday, we said our goodbyes and took off for Needles where we would dump and do laundry.

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