Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Greater Roadrunner in Borrego Springs takes me back to 1976

Back in January I obtained three decent photos of Greater Roadrunner in Borrego Springs. I got two photos along the road at the Borrego Springs Resort and Country Club, and another photo in a residential yard at the Roadrunner Club(!). I present them here.

Great Roadruner
Greater Roadrunner. Borrego Springs, California. January 7, 2018.
Great Roadruner

Great Roadruner

All these photos were obtained from inside my car as I drove slowly along back roads and residential areas. In fact, these were the only Roadrunners seen this day.

I have recorded over 70 sightings of Greater Roadrunner according to my eBird records. My first record came from Death Valley, California during the week of March 20-27, 1976. It was during spring break from high school, and my family drove south from Oregon to meet up with my grandparents who were camped there at Furnace Creek Ranch. They spent every winter in the desert from as early as I can remember (early 1960's). When we lived in Minnesota (until August 1967) my grandparents wintered in Texas. A couple of years after we moved to Oregon, so did they. And then they wintered primarily at Crystal Hill, near Quartzsite, Arizona. The camp at Furnace Creek Ranch was, I believe, a week or two stop on the way back north for my grandparents. That was my single visit to Death Valley. I've never been back.

My grandfather had always told me that a Roadrunner at Furnace Creek Ranch would rise at dawn each day and go fight with his reflection in the kick-plate of the outhouse door! While I didn't witness this ritual, I do remember one Roadrunner at Death Valley begging hotdogs from a café there.

While birding on the golf course I met David Fix, another High Schooler vacationing during spring break from Oregon. After meeting again in December of that year at a Corvallis, Oregon birding event, we formed a friendship. We would write a couple of letters monthly back-and-forth about birds we had seen. We kept that up for several years afterward, and would occasionally meet for birding trips. David even joined us on a family camping trip one summer. [Accessing the golf course at Furnace Creek Ranch for birding has not been allowed for many decades. See a photo of birders camped on the golf course in late May during the years surrounding my visit. Thanks to Don Roberson's "California Birding History" webpage.]