Hum, Hum, Hum, Hum, Hum, Hum

Hummingbirds…


Jeff and Harlan hike the Indian Palms Trail one morning…

and discover the purple blooms of the Fremont Box Thorn…

buzzing with bees…

courtesy of Tyler Goodearly 

and Costa’s Hummingbirds…

ebird.org (courtesy of Laura Ellis)

ebird.org (courtesy of Herb Elliott)


The next day Jeff escorts Elise, docent extraordinaire and birdwatcher, along the Indian Palms Trail to observe this phenomenon.  When she returns and reports this “charm of hummingbirds”, well it’s my turn to go see this for myself! I know exactly where the Fremont Box Thorn is located on the trail.

So, Harlan, Mary, Ginny and her friend Noel, and I head for the Fremont’s Box Thorn  to observe hummingbirds a day later…

Also known as Wolfberry, Lyceum Fremontii is a species of flowering plant in the nightshade family. Fremont Box Thorn is native to northwestern Mexico and the southern mountains and deserts of California and Arizona. It often grows in areas with alkaline soils, which are clay soils with a high acidic level, poor soil structure, and a low infiltration capacity. Alkaline soils contain a great deal of sodium, calcium, and magnesium. (gardeningknowhow.com /en.m.wikipedia.org)

The numerous native palm groves in the Coachella Valley Preserve are fed by water pushed to the surface by underground pressures from the San Andreas Fault. (Docent Don, our geology expert)


A minute later, after capturing these photos of Hummingbirds on my humble iPhone,  I look up and… wow! … I find this beautiful photo op I just can’t resist. The desert is filled with hidden wonders, subtle colors, and natural landscape architecture!


Meanwhile, back at the Fremont Box Thorn…

I am amazed that my iPhone can take such good pictures.

Costa’s Hummingbirds are small, short, and stocky- looking when perched or at rest. They are easily recognized by their vibrant iridescent blue or purple throat. Without appropriate lighting, they appear black and colorless. The female, of course, is quite bland. The Costa’s is a true desert-dweller and can be observed in the Coachella Valley throughout the entire year. (Anita K. Booth)

Desert Rains and Mountain Snow…

…Make the Wildflowers Bloom and Grow

Valentines Day 2019 brought rains and flash floods to the Coachella Valley.

  desertsun.com

desertsun.com

Cold temperatures dropped snow on the mountain tops… from San Jacinto to San Gorgonio to Joshua Tree…


February 21st

Harlan asks me to join him on a walk along the Indian Palms Trail. He is searching for an unknown wildflower he saw a few days ago and one that even stumped Ginny, our Preserve Manager. You betcha! Any walk with Harlan is a special treat.

We don’t find the whereabouts of the unknown wildflower, but I enjoy identifying the flowers I see with Harlan and capturing the threatening sky surrounding the valley.

California Evening Primrose…

Cheese Bush and something else I don’t know…

Pincushion…

Some type of Box Thorn? Not sure…

Indian Tobacco…


Later in the afternoon

Jeff and I walk along the McCallum Trail in search of Spectacle Pod. We spy with all 4 of our eyes…

Wild Heliotrope aka Phacelia Distans…

Also called Blue Phacelia, the flowers are a light lavender color.

Arrowweed blooming…

California Croton…

And a small patch of Spectacle Pod along the return loop from Moon Country back to the Visitor Center… It’s my new favorite wildflower!

Look at the leaves on the stem…

Sooooooo awesome and unusual!

I turn around and capture the field of wildflowers blooming on the Moon Country Trail.

On the way back we discover…

Lax-Flower…

Desert Velvet or “Turtle Back”…

And purple clouds over Simone Pond…

What’s Blooming on the Indian Palms Trail?

Sacred Datura or Jimson Weed…

Goosefoot, another invasive species… aka Pigweed and Amaranth…

California Evening Primrose…

Wishbone…

Notch-Leaved Phacelia and Rock Daisies…

Mt. San Jacinto blooms snow caps in the distance…

London Rocket and Rock Daisies…

Barrel Cactus…

A social trail…

More Barell Cactus…

Mt. San Jacinto again…

A hillside getting ready to bloom…

Jincus…

Another hillside ready to explode with color!

Indian Palms Trail

The 2nd Trail to Re-Open

The first trail to open is Squaw Hill, a short 300-foot ascent with a few gentle switchbacks leading to a great viewing area of the valley surrounded by mountains.

I help repair part of the 2-mile out and back Indian Palms Trail leading to 2 separate palm groves. (Who knew I’d be helping repair hiking trails when I retired? I mean, I read about volunteer working vacations opportunities and always thought, “How cool!” But now I am actually helping restore trails damaged by the flash flood of October 13th in the Coachella Valley Preserve.)

A few days later Jeff and I check it out.


The trail to Indian Palms begins in Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve’s parking lot.

We head out early in the day…

…and cross the street carefully to the east side of Thousand Palms Canyon Road.

The trail is well marked.

The mud in the wash is still wet and riddled with well-preserved bobcat tracks.

We take a left and hike toward the north palm grove first.

The water source is not visible but the California Fan Palms are evidence of its availability.

Barrel cactus, creosote bushes, and sandpaper plant stand watch among the rocks of the Indio Hills.

We follow the loop around the grove. Notice the younger palm trees with their frond petticoats. The taller palm tree looks like it has survived a fire with its blackened trunk and high skirt fronds. But it’s alive and well and even producing palm fruit dripping off its right side.

Here’s a great close-up of four-wing saltbush.

So much palm fruit, too high to pick…

Out of the loop, (hehe) we head to the south grove.

Water rises to the surface…

And lush palm fruit is within reach!

On our way back I finally get close up and personal with a barrel cactus.

With the McCallum Trail temporarily closed, the Indian Palms Trail receives lots of visitors.