Anza Borrego, CA

Costa's Hummingbird Black-throated SparrowBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher Flowers Lesser Goldfinch Owens Lake

Link to Flickr images for all of California here!

March 17 - 21, 2010

Our Route, Planning

Hanno, two friends and I decided to go to the desert to see spring flowers.  We drove from San Francisco via Hwy 5 (about 10 hours) and stayed in Borrego Springs.  Our return trip was via Hwy 395, by Owens Lake, Mono Lake and Hwy 80. 


The State Park HQ was the best place for bird photography, and it's accessible early in the morning even though official opening time isn't until 9 AM.  I was there at 7 each morning.   Birds are somewhat used to people, and not as flighty as in other places.   It's also good for wildflowers and has a variety of good trails. 

Costa's Hummingbird males were singing from perches and females were sitting on nests.  Black-tailed Gnatcatcher was nesting, as was Greater Roadrunner.  Black-throated Sparrows were striking against brown backgrounds. 

The desert flowers were in bloom, especially the Ocatillo, and Palm Canyon Trail, near the park HQ, was especially beautiful.  But an invasive, the Saharan Mustard, has taken hold in many of the traditional viewing areas, smothering out the expected color.  Locals are very concerned.  Our return trip via Owens Lake was very interesting - it is being partly refilled by the LA Power and Water Department to combat dust pollution, and gulls and shorebirds have discovered it.  We saw lots of avocets on a short drive along Sulfate Road, reached from the back side of the lake near Bishop.


“A Birder's Guide to Southern California" by Harold Holt, American Birding Association, 1990 - there's probably a later version.

Places to stay and eat

The Palms at Indian Head is convenient, but expensive.  The hotel restaurant is not very good, and service was poor.
Pablito's, on Palm Canyon Drive was good for dinner and margaritas, and reasonably priced.
Kendall's was perfect for breakfast, located in the Mall on Palm Canyon Drive, near the XL Gas Station