I neglected to say yesterday, so I’d better get it in quick now, that yesterday’s soundtrack was The Eagles, and Hotel California was playing as I crossed the State line. Today I played another CD for the first time and it was, of course, the Beach Boys.
I did some coastal mooching and then headed inland and got a bit lost – it happens. But I did find my way to the Joshua Tree National Park by 5pm which is just when the desert is cooling down.
I was hoping to see at least a Wile E Coyote but preferably a Roadrunner – but no luck so far, trying again tomorrow.
I looked at a lot of cactus before I found a Cactus Wren and this is quite a wren. When UK folk think of wrens they think of one of the smaller of the wrens living in the US – our ‘wren’ is the US Winter Wren.
The Winter Wren is a titchy 4″, whereas the House Wren (a commoner species) is 4.75″. The Carolina Wren, whose song (tea-kettle, tea-kettle tea) I miss (partly because I learned it more easily than many others) is 5.5″ – but all of these species, though very wrennish are just wrens. The species I have been keen to see, but haven’t, yet?, is the Canyon Wren, at 5.75″. I can’t understand why I haven’t seen one – I’ve seen lots of canyons, and very nice canyons too. At Marble Canyon a few days ago there was a wren singing from the canyon edge. But was it a Canyon Wren? It was not – it was the slightly larger Rock Wren measuring 6″.
Now size isn’t everything in wrens, and slightly larger though the Rock Wren is, and a perfectly nice wren too, although we’ll come back to that, I would have preferred a Canyon Wren because Canyon Wrens are rufous and I like rufous.
My first Rock Wren was in the Badlands of South Dakota. It took me ages to identify it as it didn’t look that wren-like to me and I didn’t see the buff tail tips for ages. So I harbour a bit of a grudge against Rock Wrens for being difficult and for not being Canyon Wrens.
But if you want to see the wren of wrens, look no further than the Cactus Wren. Indeed, it is difficult to look past a Cactus Wren as it is the mightiest of wrens at 8.5″. And it has streaks, stripes and spots. So that is a wren worth seeing.
I’m staying tonight in 29 Palms and I ate in Denny’s Diner at the recommendation of the French Motel owner. We had a little chat in my version of her language and she was sweet enough to say I spoke it well (I don’t – but I try). Her insistence that I spoke French well suggested to me that she had been in the US for quite a while and she has – 17 years – so she has probably heard little passable French for quite a while.
She said Denny’s was typically American and I guess it is – the waiting staff are cheerful, your soda gets a free refill, the choice of food was burgers, chicken, steaks and suchlike. I had a cranberry and apple salad (which is an adventurous chicken salad) and then apple pie a la mode (ie with ice-cream). All that came to $17 with tax which is about a tenner and that isn’t bad really. And I didn’t have lunch today, but tomorrow I probably won’t have breakfast just in case Road Runners get up early – and who knows when the wrens will be about?