Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Indian Wells Canyon (author: Susan)

Indian Wells Canyon
Bob and I needed to get a bit of exercise, but due to all the flooding and road closures, didn’t want to head to far afield.  So, we decided to fill an ebird gap and headed to Indian Wells Canyon.  Indian Wells is a well worked location, for an east side canyon that is, with 135 species on its list.  It has a diversity of habitats ranging from the valley floor creosote, into Joshua trees, pinyon and gray pines.

Canyon ridge below Owens Peak
Clouds obscure the Sierra Crest
We started our hike in the Joshua trees and headed up to the BLM mining interpretive area.  Along the way we found Ladder-backed Woodpecker, but could not come up with the other regular of the Joshua trees, Cactus Wren.

BLM interpretive site

We passed springs along the way, but it was cold and dark there and we could only turn up Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Spotted Towhees, and White-crowned Sparrows.  At the Nadeau-Magnolia Mine we had high hopes for Oak Titmouse, but the wind was up and the clouds were turning the peaks into a fog bank.  So, we decided to save the cross-county route to the PCT for another day, and headed back down one of the washes.  Our one highlight in that area of the canyon was a couple of Pine Siskins, which had been unrecorded on the Indian Wells Canyon eBird list.  The clear lowlight was the number of dead pinyon pines, up to 80% have died in the last few years from too little rain and too many bark beetles.
Eventually the sun found us again, and we found the birds - mainly White-crowned Sparrows - but we did locate a pair of Le Conte’s Thrashers at 4000’, and Purple Finch, new for the canyon.

Pinyon Pine forest
Low elevation juniper holding on in wash.

Our eBirding efforts put the Indian Wells Canyon list to 137.

6.5 miles

Map Track

Bird List

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