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High Desert’s Vultures Return on Icy Winds

Some traditional events are founded on the return of animals and birds to their home range after a cold winter. This year we didn’t really have Winter in the winter months of December of January. It was disappointing to people hoping for a snow-ski season as well as plants and trees ready to replenish their stores of water for a summer that’s sure to be a scorcher.

Lucerne Valley Sunrise

Lucerne Valley Sunrise

Today came the first signs of the first returns of a bird that no one really pays much attention to. They don’t flash a colorful wing, or come down to frolic around the bird feeders; in fact, most folks ignore them.

The California Vulture sets his timer to return about mid-March after the worst of the weather is over.

Then why are they showing up a month early? We can only speculate  that they felt it was time to return. The short rain season, snow season, cold snap, then followed by a crazy warming trend, would confuse any of us. The vultures are just now returning from Mexico because they think it’s time.

California Vulture

California Vulture

 

We surely can’t shoo them back south and tell them their timing is off. We can only enjoy watching them soar and wheel in the cold skies, enjoy their awkward hop-jump and limp when they attempt to be ground birds, and revel in their displays as the first rays of sun warm their cold backs. Many can be seen roosting on ranches around the valley, perched on teetering treetops, fences or rock ledges, hoping that any kind of warmth will soak into their black backs.

They’re no swallows like those returning to Mission Capistrano. Just buzzards back from the barranca.

 Rusty LaGrange

If you like what you see here, you can find more stories at www.myRustyBucketRanch.BlogSpot.com . Rusty is a freelance writer, poet, editor, and spends her days staring at the skies when the buzzards return.

 

Pumpkin Patch and Family Time

As we come closer to Halloween and enjoy cooler nights, you just can’t help thinking about carving a pumpkin, hay rides, and remembering the hours spent planning what your costume would be like for the big night.

The change in the weather brings the migration of birds we haven’t seen for awhile. I saw a larger than normal flock of geese go by. Their leaders couldn’t keep the flock on v-pattern so several leaders emerged and wove overlapping Vs in the cloudless sky. The vultures, too, have returned to the high desert from their summer territories spent in cooler updrafts. We can’t boast about swallows returning to Capistrano … but we do know the vultures’ heavy bodies crowded in the tallest trees. It’s a sure sign that we’ve got autumn days ahead. Always the late-migrating blue birds will be here for the first chilly storm of the season. They’ll stay just long enough to rest and move on to Mexico then South America for sheltered valleys.

So, our families, ready to enjoy autumn, met at the Pumpkin Patch on Bear Valley Road near Lowe’s. We wandered through the acres of corn mazes, tromped through more vast acres of pumpkins on the vine, and sat in the shade of the grove. Children focused on finding the perfect pumpkin while adults lolled in the shade. Soon the air stirred and we could smell the heavy scent of decaying vines, the muskiness of brown leaves, and that last sweet smell of summer.

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