Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cow Heaven Canyon (author: Susan)

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10.5 miles

Entrance to Cow Heaven Canyon
Bob and I did a local hike for all the right reasons – we needed the exercise, we wanted to fill an eBird location gap, and driving a long ways just didn’t seem like fun.  So, we headed to Cow Heaven Canyon.  This is south of the Highway 178 leading to Walker’s Pass and north of Jawbone Canyon. 

Cow Heaven is a long stretch of creosote and burr sage, then some nice Joshua tree woodland, and finally steep hill sides with pinyon and gray pines.  In terms of a major birding destination, it isn’t, as it is mighty short on riparian habitat.

We started our walk down in the creosote and had Bell’s and Sagebrush Sparrows.  And then wandered into the land of cow watering tanks and cow pies.  Yep, it can be picturesque.  Fortunately, the cow watering troughs have bird ramps, so things like House Finches can get water and get out alive. 

Next up are the Ladder-backed Woodpeckers and Cactus Wrens of the Joshuas.  In the spring this is a wonderful area for Scott’s Orioles.  Finally, in the gray pines there are things like White-breasted Nuthatch and Bushtits.  All the expected species.

This trip we were very lucky to find a Townsend’s Solitaire.  Species #94 for the canyon.  Very nice.  I might live long enough to help get the list to 100.

On the way out two adults and a juvenile Golden Eagle went over.  This is a species I’ve come to associate with this canyon having seen them there many times over the years.

One of the several wildlife (and cows) water stations in the canyon, maintained by Kerncrest Audubon and Quail Forever

Most of Cow Heaven Canyon is inside the Kiavah Wilderness Area

Water in a dry land.  Water for these wildlife stations is piped from a spring far up the canyon

Wildlife ramp

Upper reaches of the canyon

Gray Pines and oaks mix with the Pinyon and Joshua in the upper and wetter part of the canyon

View back toward the lowlands

Cow Heaven Canyon from a day many years ago...

Bird List

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