Articles written by Ernie Cowan
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Nature Watch: "Vermilion flycatcher"
When you spot one of these occasional visitors to Borrego Springs, you will quickly understand why some bird lovers refer to them as "The Christmas Bird." The vermilion flycatcher, with males sporting brilliant red and jet black... — Updated 11/21/2023
Nature Watch: "Salton Sea, Winter Birding Paradise"
As the triple-digit heat of summer fades to more comfortable temperatures, migrating birds will begin to arrive at nearby Salton Sea, transforming this great inland saltwater lake into a birding paradise. Until spring, hundreds of... — Updated 11/21/2023
Visitor's View: Pumpkin Patch
Halloween may be over for this year, but that's no reason to stop looking for the Great Pumpkin tucked away in the eastern fringes of the Borrego Badlands. After all, desert season is here and it's time to explore some of the more... — Updated 11/21/2023
Visitor's View: Hawk Canyon
It doesn't take much imagination to let your mind travel back in time as you first enter this mystery canyon with growing expectations of stumbling upon some wild west hideout of a bygone era. And why not? You are traveling into a... — Updated 11/9/2023
Visitor's View: Light Pollution
Residents and frequent visitors to Borrego Springs understand the thrill of being able to see a night sky emblazoned by a sparkling overhead view of the Milky Way. It's not that way in many places, and the bad news is that... — Updated 11/9/2023
Nature Watch: "Ocotillo"
Those iconic desert plants known as ocotillo are usually something written about in the spring when their spindly coachwhips are tipped with fiery red wildflowers. But if you have been out and about, you may have noticed the... — Updated 11/9/2023
Visitor's View: Coyote Canyon – Miles of Adventure, Beauty
For visitors who enjoy one of the more remote areas of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, October 1 is somewhat like New Year's Day as "Desert Season" arrives, and the summer closure of this area is lifted. Coyote Canyon is closed to... — Updated 11/9/2023
Nature Watch: "Sphinx Moth Caterpillars"
Those rare summer visitors to The Slot last week discovered they were not alone. In the deep shadows of this narrow, eroded canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park were thousands of colorful caterpillars that are the larval phase... — Updated 11/9/2023
Visitor's View: Metal sculptures
It's that time of the year when temperatures have been well into the triple digits, but that's no reason to stay away from some of the interesting and unique things Borrego Springs has to offer. One of those attractions is a... — Updated 11/9/2023
Nature Watch: "American Kestrel"
While more common to coastal and inland areas of San Diego, the American kestrel is a small, but colorful raptor found in Anza-Borrego. Lacking oak woodlands or stands of sycamore trees, the kestrel nests in eroded alcoves of... — Updated 11/9/2023
Annual Bighorn Sheep Count Results Tallied
Mild summer temperatures and an abundance of natural food for bighorn sheep resulted in a unique year for volunteers who participated in the annual Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Bighorn Sheep Count. Results of the count were... — Updated 11/9/2023
Celestial Events Bring Visitors to Borrego
It looked more like mid-winter on the dark-sky weekend of mid-August as eager sky watchers flocked to Borrego's famous dark skies to get a good look at the annual Perseid Meteor shower. There were mini-traffic jams in town, hotels... — Updated 11/9/2023
Nature Watch: "Tarantula Wasp"
Fall is tarantula season in Southern California and desert travelers may see more of the large, hairy spiders out looking for a mate this time of the year. That also means you might encounter a large, colorful wasp that is one of... — Updated 11/9/2023
Nature Watch: "Scaly-breasted Munia"
If you spot one of these little birds at your seed feeder, your first reaction might be, "oh, someone's pet has escaped from its cage." You would be partially correct. The scaly-breasted munia has long been a popular cage bird. It... — Updated 9/14/2023
Visitor's View – Desert Survival Handbook
An old desert sourdough once warned me, "everything you encounter out here either pokes, bites, scratches or stings." With more than 50 years of sand in my boots, I can truthfully say that's an accurate statement. From the... — Updated 9/14/2023
Nature Watch: "Snake ID"
Summer in the desert often means you might encounter snakes, especially at night when they are more active while trying to avoid high daytime temperatures that can be life threatening for them. Unlike mammals, snakes are unable to... — Updated 9/14/2023
Visitor's View – Inspiration Wash
The days may be sizzling right now, but it's not too soon to begin planning those fall desert adventures when mild weather and the vast open spaces of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park welcome your exploration. A good way to launch... — Updated 9/14/2023
Nature Watch: "Indigobush"
For most of the year, this common plant to the Colorado Desert attracts little attention. It's pale, gray-green leaves tend to blend with the surrounding drab colors of the desert, but that all changes during a few glorious weeks... — Updated 9/14/2023
Visitor's View – Palm Groves
A word of caution. The Borrego Sun presents Visitor’s View as a guide for those discovering the wonders of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Many of the destinations are dangerous places to visit in the peak of summer heat, and we urge readers to simply save these articles until... — Updated 9/14/2023
Visitor's View – Blair Valley
Summer can be a challenging time to visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park as searing daytime temperatures create dangerous and unpleasant conditions. But evenings are often mild and comfortable and the desert's dark sky away from ur... — Updated 9/14/2023
Nature Watch: "Great Horned Owl"
There is something quite comforting about the monotoned hooting of a great horned owl on a dark desert night. It's a sound you will often hear in November or December, marking the start of courtship for this large, powerful bird.... — Updated 9/14/2023
Nature Watch: "Parish's Poppy"
It was like being greeted by the spring wildflowers that lined the rocky sides of the sandy desert wash as I approached. The cluster of happy little Parish's poppies seemed to act that way as their bright yellow flowers danced... — Updated 7/18/2023
Visitor's View – Night Sky
Shhh...don't tell anyone, it's one of those best kept secrets. Summer in Borrego Springs can be a spectacular time for visitors looking to explore the heavenly show of clear night skies, escape vacation crowds or encounter unique... — Updated 7/18/2023
Visitor's View – Summer Heat
Summer can be a special time in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It can also be deadly. The lack of crowds, comfortable nighttime temperatures, spectacular summer night sky with a glittering Milky Way or dazzling meteor shower can... — Updated 6/21/2023
Nature Watch: "California Rose-winged grasshopper"
It was a record year in Borrego Springs for the number of migrating Swainson's hawks arriving here, and part of that success was a healthy crop of grasshoppers. And it's even more interesting than that. It began with a strong... — Updated 6/15/2023