Santee Lakes is just ducky…groan, that’s bad isn’t it;)

I always feel like I never get enough time with my family when we are here, it never fails but it can’t be helped. They have lives here, they work, they are busy, they have kids, parents, all kinds of things that take up the day and night. I, on the other hand am a underworked sloth, moving slowly with a camera;) I’m worried about my brother, a move is being planned to Texas (…O_O…) and it can be stressful giving up everything you know, trust me, been there, done that, several times, but it’s my nature to worry and I love my brother. It could be a good change, it can be. I still worry:) My cousin has her parents to care for and worry about, among other things, maybe we are the worrier’s of our sides of the family. I loved every moment I got to spend with family, every moment. It was so wonderful, and so short…maybe next visit, they can come North…in the Summer, or Fall, I stress, not now, not winter…it is currently -32° without the windchill in Perth, Ontario.

When I’m not being an underworked sloth, or cat walking, yes I do have my camera. It’s not hard when you open your door, sit in a chair, and watch the ducks swim by;) Not too tough!

That’s not including the squabbling Coots. Every time you go to the back of the trailer means there might, just might be a snack for them…forever hopeful these ducks! Those feet get me every single day I see them!

Sometimes it is just waiting for that perfect reflection, it’s a photographer thing;) it might be windstill, or just a bit of a ruffle, or waiting for the reeds, or clouds or some shape or form to add something to the capture. Maybe it’s just that blue sky. Maybe it’s an obsessive thing, ha! Never really explored that, why;)

I did warn you there would be a lot of duck photos! Santee isn’t just ducks though, there are flocks of Cormorants, Double Crested Cormorants. Groot eyes them like they would make a good meal and meows when they swim away. Better than his neighbour cat, she just gets to sun bathe in the window of the A-class she lives on!

The colouration on these Double Crested Cormorants varies so much. Generally they work as a group, like synchronized swimmers, but there is always one in every crowd…that goes their own way when the entire flock is moving one way, they are going the other. Those eyes get me! Turquoise.

We had a rainy Monday, I needed to get out of the trailer, those walls felt like they were closing in. 340 square feet is big, but at times you just need to walk. I was feeling a bit down and needed to shake off the funk I was in. The herons and egrets didn’t seem to mind the rain. The pair of red shouldered hawks did NOT look impressed. I hid under a pine for a short burst of harder rain watching a Egret before moving around the last lake. A crazed photographer dressed completely in camouflage with a matching camouflaged lens and camera as long as his body was laying in the wet grass watching a bird. Now, I’m not that passionate about bird photography to be doing that, at least I’d have a yoga mat to lie on. I only have two pairs of jeans with me! Can’t get one covered in mud and bird crap! ha! It at least made me smile…I should have taken a picture of him but decided to look at what he was trying to photograph and there was another snowbird. A Hooded Merganser male was swimming about in the lake, I waved, maybe he spoke French I thought, he could be a Quebec bird! Bonjour!

The walk motivated me enough to get in the truck and drive over to Lakeside to visit a rock and landscape store and pick up a few more bags of Mexican beach pebbles, in tan and reddish colours to add to my pebble mosaics when we get back. I fear the truck bed could get quite full unless the driver complains! That is five large bags of Mexican beach pebbles! Mike just got his computer back after a week of being computerless…gasp! The video card died, possibly fried by the excessive current at the RV park in Valle de la Guadalupe, or it just died, who knows, he was finally a happy camper again, literally! Technology, can’t live without it nowadays it seems.

Seeing the Hooded Merganser, in that low gray light gave me inspiration to go back the next morning in the bright sun. One last goodbye to my fellow snowbird and a reason for a good walk, Ok, slow walk, looking for birds! I stopped and checked out some mushrooms popping up through the leaves. The shaggy parasol is popularly praised as an edible mushroom. However, it contains toxins which can cause gastric upsets and some individuals show a strong allergic response even after cooking…I’ll pass:) A flock of Cedar Waxwings were feeding on some tree seeds as well as some Yellow Rumped Warblers. Past the first lake a Pew bird, aka Cassin’s Kingbird, was perched so nicely. They have such a distinctive call and no I don’t know why all my birds are facing to the left!

I did a double take as I walked past one of the lakes, what were those Red Slider turtles doing? It was simply his reflection, nothing too kinky;) Ha! A sole American Widgeon graces the presence of hundreds of Coots and Ring Necked Ducks by the office. That green, wow. American Wigeons eat a higher proportion of plant matter than any other dabbling duck thanks to their short gooselike bill. The shortness of the bill helps exert more force at the tip so they can pluck vegetation from fields and lawns with ease. I love the pale blue bill and that green head!

I continued on to the next lake. The cinnamon teal is a species of duck found in western North and South America. It is a small dabbling duck, with bright reddish plumage on the male and duller brown plumage on the female. It lives in marshes and ponds, and feeds mostly on plants. They are so so beautiful! Unique among our northern dabbling ducks, this cinnamon teal also has nesting populations in South America. Habla él español? A close relative of Blue-winged Teal (and sometimes hybridizing with it), the Cinnamon Teal has a slightly larger bill, better developed for straining food items out of the water. A beautiful Gadwall rested by the lake edge. In a world where male ducks sport gleaming patches of green, red, or blue, the Gadwall’s understated elegance can make this common duck easy to overlook. Males are intricately patterned with gray, brown, and black; females resemble female Mallards, although with a thinner, darker bill. We don’t tend to think of ducks as pirates, but Gadwall often snatch food from diving ducks as they surface. A great Egret did a fly over as I rounded the end of the last lake before the bridge.

A Common Gallinule swam about by him/herself. They are medium-sized marsh birds with long legs and toes. Swimming birds frequently hold their wings up, such that the wingtips stick up on the back. They seem almost clown like with their bright colours! The Common Gallinule swims like a duck and walks atop floating vegetation like a rail with its long and slender toes. Further along it looked like I’d stumbled across a board meeting for Snowy Egrets;) There was some heated discussion going on! Must work for Tesla;) ha! Still no Merganser…but wait, the crazed camouflaged photographer was parked beside the lake, his huge camouflage coloured camera lens resting on the windowsill of his car…what was he looking at today? Ok, he’s not crazed, or is he, the weird thing is I’ve never seen his face!

I spied the paparazzi across the lake as well…is it wrong to get more excited about the cool reflections than the rock star bird? Ha! He has quite the “do” this Hooded Merganser. I was trying to explain to one guy that he might want to wait until he came out into the sun but that’s life. Glad he did swim out of the shade! I guess this guy being here is not a common occurrence and his wife was tagging along as well! According to All about birds: “Hooded” is something of an understatement for this extravagantly crested little duck. Adult males are a sight to behold, with sharp black-and-white patterns set off by chestnut flanks. Females get their own distinctive elegance from their cinnamon crest. Hooded Mergansers are fairly common on small ponds and rivers, where they dive for fish, crayfish, and other food, seizing it in their thin, serrated bills. They nest in tree cavities; the ducklings depart with a bold leap to the forest floor when only one day old. Hooded Mergansers find their prey underwater by sight. They can actually change the refractive properties of their eyes to improve their underwater vision. In addition, they have an extra eyelid, called a “nictitating membrane,” which is transparent and helps protect the eye during swimming, like a pair of goggles.” and yes, they extremely uncommon here in San Diego county. First time, one photographer said they had seen them here:) I left the paparazzi and headed back, Mike would have the trailer hooked up and ready to leave I was thinking if I strayed out here too long, or he might just be gone! Ha!

While I was walking back towards the trailer I caught a flicker of red out of the corner of my eye! He was still here, The Lewis’s Woodpecker! I came across a nice lady looking around with binoculars and camera and asked her if she’d seen him as I walked along, the Lewis’s woodpecker! “No!” She exclaimed, she’d been looking…”Follow me! I told her as we made our way from the lake edge over to the center portion and out onto the small island you can access by a floating bridge..and he wasn’t there, only a red winged blackbird. Had I been mistaken? I was feeling bad having drug this lady all the way around when he appeared from the other side and perched in the tree for us:) It’s nice to be nice!

Mike was chomping at the bit when I got back…OK, we’re outta here! Enough ducks! The jump to Anza Borrego was not long, 75 miles but we were in for some smaller winding roads, you know, the ones that say “not recommended for vehicles over 40′ in length or 25′ from Kingpin to axle” yeah, those roads. As we headed out of Santee and onto the 52 eastbound we could see Mt Laguna covered in snow! You are very much in a valley at the campground and can’t see the surrounding hills!

From the 52 Eastbound we headed North on the 67, this is so California talking about roads and freeways with just their number! Before Ramona, I waved at the turn off to my brother’s and we headed through Ramona and the line of ole eucalyptus trees that line the highway through town. From there we headed to the turn off at Santa Ysabel. The cats were not looking well, in fact green. Rocket lost his breakfast, good thing I’m the fastest paper towel retriever in the West, caught it before it cascaded over the center divider and onto my feet…whew…it was windy, poor guys, bad first day out but not any way around here that didn’t take hours, or take us right over the snow capped Mount Laguna.

It straightened out after the turn at Santa Ysabel for a bit until we started the descent into the Anza Borrego desert. Lot’s of 30 and 35 mph turns, the road was quiet thankfully except for a CHP highway patrol that followed us for a very long ways before passing, either reading our bumper stickers or shaking his head why we decided to go this way with a big trailer;) The sign didn’t say NO 40′ trailers, it just said it was not recommended;) ha! besides, we’re 36′ long!

The sight of the campground was a relief to the cats as we slowed down at the entrance booth, following another camper. Anza Borrego is a Groot, Gamora and Rocket approved walking and sniffing park! While our site was incredibly downhill and we couldn’t really get quite level, #17, it was the only one available so we were thankful for that. We tried to check in at 1:45 pm and got a very cranky park host at the entrance “I could LOSE my job for letting you check in 15 minutes early! she proclaimed, “OK, we were not arguing, where do we turn around to wait?” we asked? Another camper had blocked the turn around area, “Oh, just go to your spot!” she then said. Someone was having a bad day…the next day, a guy checked into his site at 1pm so I guess the 2 pm check in time is not hard and fast… Life of a cranky camp host;) We were glad to be stopped finally and happy, so happy, to be out of the city and noise and military helicopters and jets…just the quiet! But we’ll get to that soon! Saludos amigos from the Anza Borrego desert!

Desert sunset and lenticular clouds

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: