November 24, 2018
Cibola National Wildlife Refuge

Looking around Blythe for highlights of the area this one caught my eye… Cibola National Wildlife Refuge.

Again this meant we have to backtrack about half an hour. It is just south of Palo Verde but on the other side of the Columbia River in Arizona.

You notice a lot more in daylight than travelling at night and the cotton fields were ripe for the picking.

cotton fields ready for picking

And pick they did.

There were huge machines harvesting the cotton and rolling them into bales like they do with hay.

cotton bale

Depositing them by the roadside they would head down another row to do the same again.

The red-winged blackbirds were following along behind the machines and there were huge flocks of them.

Crossing the Columbia River we stopped on the bridge. The water looked fairly shallow but was running really fast.

There was a nice row of houses along the river with docks and in looking at them later I think they were summer cottages.

I saw a brown sign pointing to the left (brown signs mean parks) and so we turned an went down a few miles on a gravel road.

It was a wrong turn but it was very cool what was back there.

It is something that is called the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) that owns the land and basically, you can camp for free or $5 on most of their land.

This was free and there were large motorhomes parked with ATVs.

That seems to be a common theme around this area.

You wouldn’t go here for quiet and solitude but for the fun of racing down the road and going over hill and dale.

It wasn’t long before we turned back to the main road but not until after we had walked down to the river and put our toes in.

Colorado River

Back on the right road to Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, we were surrounded by farms growing mainly alfalfa and making hay.

At the refuge, there was an auto route that you could drive and they asked that you stay in your car so as not to scare the wildlife.

In the distance, you could see snow geese, sandhill cranes and lots of Canada geese who think they are snowbirds. 🙂

Snow geese

Snow geese

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes eating in the corn field

There was a spot that you could get out and walk on a trail, which was lovely and cool with willow, cottonwood and mesquite trees.

Saw a few small birds but couldn’t get any ID as they were well hidden in the foliage which was spectacular in their fall colours.

autumn colours on the Colorado River

Getting back on the road you did a full loop, around and along the way there was a Say’s Phoebe sitting on some corn tops.

Say's Phoebe

Say’s Phoebe

A little further along a kestrel was sitting on a pole surveying its domain for its next meal.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

And then came the best of all.

A flock of western bluebirds.

I took my first picture through the car window just in case they all flew off.

Western bluebirds on fence line

Western bluebirds on the fence line

Which was a good thing it turned out as everytime we inched the car ahead off they would fly further down the fence.

I was really hoping to get a nice shot of the male in all its blue glory, but instead, I got this great picture of a female bluebird sitting on the fence. I’m good with that.

Western bluebird (female)

Western bluebird (female)

We went around the auto route one more time just in case the bluebirds showed up again, but we only saw them in the distance eating in the fields.

Rob was finally birded out for the day so we headed out only to come upon a cardboard sign saying “For Sale – Organic Dates” written in a sharpie.

So, we followed the sign.

Down a few back roads, a few houses, a dead end street and finally asked some boys playing in a yard if they knew who sold the dates.

Turned out we were at the right place at the right time.

The season for date picking is Sept to Dec and they had just picked.

Outside the yard was a fancy looking semi truck that was waiting to be loaded and apparently it was the uncles the boys said.

Now… imagine the dates you buy in the store.

The dried ones are usually hard and dry.

And if you buy fresh ones they usually look like a raisin on the outside.

But these looked like plums with just a little bit of a wrinkle on them.

They were full, ripe and almost juicy and are one of the tastiest fruits I’ve ever had.

So sweet, you can only eat one or two at a time, and thank heavens Rob only got one container full as I’m not sure if we will get them finished before we leave.

Not too much excitement after leaving and heading onto Parker for the night where we saw a fabulous sunset.

I have to say that sunsets over the desert need to be experienced as the mountains get deep shadows on them and turn many shades of blue and gray.

Then the sun descends towards their peaks and goldeness fills the sky.

Sunset over Parker, AZ

There was a big regatta on in Parker at the local casino, so all the hotels were booked and prices were through the roof.

Asking around we found a motel that was back on native land and they had a few rooms at a decent price.

Good thing we got there when we did as about half an hour later the office was empty.

There was a sign on the door that said, “Motel is full and the office is closed from 6 pm to 8 am”.

I don’t know about full as there were only a few cars in the parking lot, but the office was definitely closed.

Heading up north tomorrow. Following the sun and warmer temperatures.

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