Southern California

29th April - 7th May 2006

Joshua Tree National Park

Cottonwood Springs

Cottonwood Springs, located only about 7 miles from the southern entrance, is one of the best areas in the park for birdwatching.

California Fan Palms (Washingtonia filifera)

The spring is the result of earthquake activity and is dominated by a stand of tall Callifornia Palm trees. High in one of the palms, shaded by the dense palm fronds, a Raven was busy raising its family...

Common Raven (Corvus corax) feeding chicks

Common birds, such as House Finch and European Starlings were using the dense cover provided by the shaggy covering surrounding the trunk for nesting sites.

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)

Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)

Other residents busy with nesting activities around the palms and the surrounding Cottonwood trees included numerous Western Kingbirds and Phainopeplas, and a couple of pairs of gorgeous Western Tanagers.

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)

Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)

Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)

Summer visitors to the oasis include...

female Scott's Oriole (Icterus parisorum)

Costa's Hummingbird (Calypte costae) feeding on nectar from Desert Canterbury Bell (Phacelia campanularia)

Grey Flycatcher (Empidonax wrightii)

In the early morning, before other people start arriving, Black-tailed Jackrabbits and Desert Cottontail are common around the parking area.

Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus)

As the temperature rises, reptile activity increases and numerous Side-blotched Lizards, some resplendant in their breeding colours, were seen.

Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana)

The desert surrounding the oasis is at a much lower altitude than the western portion of the park and the typical vegetation is indicative of the Colorado (Sonoran) Desert ecosystem. Two particularly spectacular plants are the Teddy Bear Chollas and the 20ft (6m) high Ocotillos, whose red flowers attract numerous nectar feeding birds such as hummingbirds and warblers.

Teddy Bear Cholla (Opuntia bigelovii)

Ocotillo (Fouqueiria splendens)

Sunset from Keys View

Joshua Tree (pt.1) California map Big Morongo Canyon