The slope ahead of us was very rocky with naked hackberry bushes jutting out here and there. We heard some bird call notes and noticed movement up on top of a outcropping. I put my binoculars on it and I immediately recognized the reddish body and white throat of a Canyon Wren. Suddenly, on the other side of the same rock outcropping another wren popped up, but this one was paler overall...a Rock Wren! Both wrens in pretty much one optic view and both first-of-year birds for me. Our hike was off to a great start!
(all photos from Google Image Search - thank you talented photogs!)
While having about a decade on me, Shon is still a lean and mean hikin' machine while I am portly and out of shape. Shon scales slopes with the ease of a pronghorn, but I'm more like a boulder that would more naturally roll down hill. Following deer and elk trails and with several stops to catch my breath and sip some water we eventually made it up the top of the draw and then decended back into Spring Valley Creek on the otherside. As we hiked down a beautiful little creek we had Horned Larks flitting across in front of us. My already strained heart almost went into full arrest when a couple dozen California Quail suddenly shot out of the brush almost under our feet with their load freakish wing-beats. Those things scare me to death every time they do that!
Back on Spring Valley Creek Trail, while watching a second Rock Wren my eye caught a glimpse of something moving in the sky above us. A large hawk-like bird soaring. It was a huge bird with dark overall color and white wing patches...a Golden Eagle! My father-in-law reported a Golden Eagle up here at Avimor in mid-December of 2008, so it was already on the official list, but this was the first I have seen here. It was pretty awe inspiring to watch. I was already out of breath from the hike, but that Golden Eagle took my breath away again.