Blythe, CA and Burrowing Owls


Sunset on Colorado River

We arrived in Blythe just as the sun was setting.

The camp host gave us a list of all the birds in the area as well as the tidbit that there were some burrowing owls in a field about 1/2 mile away.

After we set up camp I went over and asked her directions on how to find the owls.

And basically, they went like this.

Go behind campsite 50 and go down a path.

You will see a trail and you need to duck under a fence.

From there the directions were a little obscure.

It’s sort of like turn right at the burned down church, you know… the one that burned down 7 years ago and there are no longer any visible remains.

From there walk 50 paces and turn left at the large tree and you will come to a Y and take the trail to the left.

Look for little bumps on the bank.

But, I was willing to give it a try.

So, we got up at 5:30 as she said they would be visible between 6-7 am and off we went.

Found campsite 50 and the trail behind it.

Ducked under the fence and started across the field.

And then from there, it went a little sideways.

We ended up walking 2 sides of a ditch. Me on one side and Rob on the other.

Rob found some burrows that could have been dug by the owls, but there was no evidence that they had ever been there.

Drats…

Need more instructions.

Going back to camp Rob fired up the thunder range and we made a couple of hot chocolates and watched the sun come up over the river.

Now, getting up that early has its benefits.

We could hear the sandhill cranes long before we saw them fly over as they made their way to breakfast in a cornfield some distance away.

Next came the herons and egrets flying in the morning light and some sandpipers dipped down onto a sandbar in the middle of the river.

After a hot drink, we needed gas and some groceries so headed back into town and found that we had gone by 2 grocery stores yesterday as we hadn’t recognized the names.

This morning it was fried chicken for breakfast and I have to say it was better than KFC.

But, we did pick up some oatmeal for the next morning.

Driving back we went upriver from the campsite to see if there was any access to the river but the road took a turn away from the water so we headed back to the campsite.

The wind picked up at this time and was howling.

Birds were standing still in flight and trees were bending in the wind.

Turns out this is normal weather for the area at this time of year and I spent the rest of the day reading and Rob puttered around cleaning up the van and all the assorted items we had brought or acquired along the way.

Later that evening as I came out of the washrooms I saw something fly overhead.

Following it to a tree it landed in,  turns out to be a great horned owl. Such a perfect ending to the day.

Got up early the next morning with a new set of instructions for finding the burrowing owls.

Set up across the field and by chance ran into a gentleman walking his dog.

He was 84 and had been coming to this campsite for 15 years.

I explained to him what I was doing and he said “I know exactly where they are and I’m walking that way to I’ll show you where to find them.”

Thank heavens as my new instructions were nowhere near where the owls actually were.

He pointed to a section of the bank where they normally were and walked on.

Pretty soon I saw this little bump on the hill and sure enough, it was a little owl peeking over the top.

Burrowing owl popping its head over the bank
Burrowing owl popping its head over the bank

Further down we could see a couple of other heads just cresting the brim.

If you got too close they would fly into the alfalfa field and hide. Then they would stand up and look around them to see where you were at.

 

Burrowing owl in alfalfa
Burrowing owl in alfalfa
Burrowing owl standing
Burrowing owl standing

Pretty soon they would fly back to the top of the bank and it was then we realized that their burrows were directly under them.

The burrows actually had quite big openings and looked like a larger animal could have lived there. No good pictures of the burrows as they were in the shade.

It was the highlight of the trip so far and I’m so glad I brought my camera.

I had never seen burrowing owls before and was amazed at how small they were (about the size of a robin but rounder)  and it didn’t look like they could turn their heads all around like the barred or great horned owl.

Finally, after taking an untold amount of pictures we headed back to the campsite and decided to pack up as the wind had come up again and showed no signs of letting up.

Back on the road and headed west for the coast.

3 thoughts on “Blythe, CA and Burrowing Owls

  1. what a great experience and they are only as large as a robin? They llooked much larger in the photos. Can’t wait to see where youll end up next. It is stilll raining here and the number one highway is again closed to all traffic. Lucky you in the sun.

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