Friday, March 8, 2013

An excellent day for campsite birds

I woke up to rain on the roof this morning.  I love being in The Palms when it's raining.  Flocks of Black-Throated Sparrows filled the site for a while, then flew off to more seedy pastures. It will be cooler today.

Wednesday Katie and I went into Holtville to do some laundry.  I totally stripped the bed, mattress covers and all, and turned and flipped my little memory foam mattress that is in the bunk we sleep in.

After hearing terrible things all the time from full timers about laundromats, I finally encountered a bad one.  I put my clothes into two of the working washers.  About half were broken, unplugged, had dirty water sitting in the bottom, gross! (which I realized after my laundry had already started) and then put my mattress pad in another larger one.   All the washers in the front row except this one larger one were not working.  I was using the back row, along with two other customers, for my clothes.  Everything was fine until the wash was done, ready to dry. The clothes were fine, but the mattress pad, bright white when it went in, was now covered with dirty patches.  It was disgusting.  I took it out, put in another washer, added a bunch of Clorox, which thankfully I had in The Palms, and washed it again.  It came out almost white again, but hopefully the Clorox did it's job.  Yuk.

This is the only laundromat in Holtville, but I talked to a local who was also using the machines, and he said most of the town goes into El Centro, 11 miles away, or Brawley, 20 miles from Holtville.  Next time I'm in town to dump and get water/propane, I think I'll continue on to El Centro to the Walmart to do my shopping and any laundry I need to do.  So, use the Holtville laundromat, there's only one, at your own risk.

Anyway, I was there longer than I should have been, then I picked up a few things at the local grocery, dumped the tanks and got water, and came home right before dark.  I was pooped.  And I still had to do all the bed stuff.  There's a cover that zips on the mattress, very hard to get back on, then I put a large, thick mattress pad on that to give us more height and softness, then the sheet.  It's impossible to do that on the bed, so I always have to pull out my couch for a larger surface and do it on the couch.  God, what a pain!  Then heft the mattress back up on the overhead and position it.  Then put the duvet cover on the down comforter, again on the pulled out couch.  Finally the bed was done. :)  But I was exhausted.  Just changing the bottom sheet and washing the duvet isn't a big deal; thankfully I don't wash all the bed linens very often.

Yesterday was a day of total rest and enjoying the view out the windows.  It was overcast all day, looked like rain, but it never came.  Still warm and breezy.

This jackrabbit comes through the campsite from time to time, usually Katie sees him before I do and she barks like crazy.  The rabbit runs into the bushes.  Today I saw him first and got some pics.  He was loping down a little trail right under the branch upon which was sitting a Cooper's Hawk.  I was watching the hawk and here comes the rabbit.  Later I wondered why the hawk didn't try to get him.  Maybe the rabbit was too big?

I think he is so cute.  He doesn't stop,  just hops along through the site.

The fat little bunnies stop in our site, looking for seeds and they stay around a while.  The jack rabbit just continues on through.

Below is the hawk.  Isn't he beautiful?  And stern looking?  He sat on this branch for quite a while, just turning his head back and forth.  Then it suddenly he took off, must have found something for dinner.

Thank you, Judy, for your comment.  I love it when you guys give me corrections and/or new information on birds.  According to Judy, this is a juvenile Cooper's Hawk, and one way of telling is because of his eyes.  They are yellow.  I totally missed that.

Cooper's Hawk

I got out my field guides to identify the birds.  One of the things it said is that Cooper's Hawks eat small birds, and I realized this is the first time there were NONE of the little birds around that are usually chirping up a storm.  They are either on the ground searching for food, or in the surrounding trees.  I can almost always hear them.  But I guess they saw the hawk before I did, and scrammed!

Earlier I saw this female Costa's Hummingbird sitting on another tree branch, right by the humming bird feeder.  

Costa's Hummingbird

Then a bit later I noticed this bird. When I looked him up, I thought he was one bird, but Judy suggested another.  These Birders with a capital B see things I miss. He does have a pink/salmon cast to his upper chest and under feathers that I missed, and I think Judy is correct that he is an Albert's Towhee.

When I'm flabergasted that my friend Hazel can tell which bird we're looking at just from the way it's flying, wing shape or span, or something like that, she says it's experience.  After a while you notice things, then more things, and after a while you automatically see things that a novice birder misses.
Dark-Eyed Junco (or probably Albert's Towhee, per Judy)

He is rather plain in comparison to the other birds around, and a little bigger.  I watched him for a bit, then he flew down to the ground where I had my little container of bird seed.  It used to have cashews in it, but I put some of the seed from my big bag into this container.  I can leave it out and throw a little seed around each morning.

Poor thing, he kept pecking at the container, walking around it, pecking again. He would jump back, cock his head, and jump back up to the container and try again. He couldn't understand what was going on.  He could see the seeds, but couldn't get to them.  He put on quite a show for me. :)

Later he, or one of his buddies, hopped around scratching and kicking up dust.  Look at the dust around his little feet!  I just read in my Field Guide about some birds taking dust baths.  It was in the Gambel's Quail section, and that is something the Quail do.  They make dirt depressions and kick the dust up over their bodies to get rid of small insects.  I saw the quail taking a dust bath on the other side of the site a few times, and after kicking up enough dust to make the depression in the dirt, they sat in it.  I wondered what they were doing.

Taking a dust bath?

Pretty eastern desert sky at sunset.  So soft looking.

All in all, a great day for bird watching and jack rabbit photos.  Still no Roadrunner, maybe today.

From me and Katie, have a great Friday, everyone!  :)


  1. I have yet to see a Roadrunner. John saw one when we dumped at the Anza Borrego St. Park, but out here boondocking, nada. Someday, our time will come.

  2. Glad the laundry is done and your bed made!

    What a cute story about the Dark-Eyed Junco pecking at the container. I always learn so much on these blogs....a birdie dirt bath? It's funny, I have seen our pups dig out a place to sit in the you think it could be for the same reason? I always thought the digging was for a cooler spot, but maybe they are "cleaning up" the spot. Oh well....

    Have a great week-end!


  3. Beautiful photos! I saw one roadrunner on my trip. Oddly enough, he was at the Arizona Welcome Center. I thought that was appropriate.

  4. Two comments from the bird nerd here... that Cooper's hawk is a young bird and not as experienced as an adult. (brown plumage and yellow eye)

    As for the dark-eyed junco, I think it is really an Abert's Towhee. Now that's a bird I've never seen in person, you lucky duck! :)

  5. We had birds in PA that loved to take dust baths. I know my Mom says that the birds outside her window here in CA do the same. So cute!

  6. that bed changing always got me.. it was so bulky and inconvenient and I had a walk around bed back there, don't know how you do it!!!

  7. Every once in a while we do need the rain. For one thing it keeps us inside instead of running around.

    We put out bird seed. The seed attracted all kinds of birds. They left poop all over our chairs ..... not sure we'll do that so close to the rig in the future.

  8. Our chickens and turkeys used to take dust baths. They would end up making depressions in the ground, like small ponds. They white turkeys looked so funny with all that dirt on them.
    I know the hawk has to eat too, but I'm glad the rabbit got away safely.

  9. Last summer I got a picture of our local Roadrunner taking a dust bath.

  10. This is the first year I didn't use the laundry in Holtville any more. It was OK years ago, but it has gone very much downhill. Now I use the one in El Centro. At the corner of North 12th St and Euclid Ave. Clean and lots of big machines. I have to do my bed stuff this week too, before we go home. Get rid of all the dust.
    Love your bird pictures! Last year I did some of a sparrow having a bath in a puddle after a rain storm. He head dived several times into the water. Very funny.

  11. Glad you're done with the major bed making for awhile. Sounds like a big job. I think you are doing very well with your bird identification. I am a lot more novice than you but it sure is fun to try. Sure glad we have Judy to keep us on the straight and narrow!!

  12. i was searching for hummingbird. i bumped into your post ;-) and be careful with your laundry next time ;-)


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