In the summer of 2003 Willie
and I were exploring one of Patton's old training camps
in the nearby desert. Looking south, I saw what looked
like water. Hoping it wasn't a mirage, we headed in that
direction and found a mecca for birds and dragonflies. So
far we've recorded over 120 birds there!
Beginning in late spring (in 2005
it was May), Tark
Rush fills up and stocks these ten large, multi-acre ponds with
shrimp fry. As the shrimp mature all manner of birds (see
lists below) descend upon the ponds to feast, until Tark harvests the shrimp
in October and the ponds dry out. (In 2004 there were
still a few puddles with ducks & shorebirds on Nov 5th.)
Winter is slow at the dried-out
ponds, with Horned Larks and the occasional Savannah Sparrow.
Use care when driving around the
ponds; the dikes are narrow and powdery dirt, and parts may be
eroded. If you see the feeding hopper, give it a wide
berth, and please don't block any of the dike roads. You
can always park south of the drainage canal, or along Ave 64E, and walk in. If
you are planning a visit, you might wish to call Tark as a
courtesy to find
out the status of visiting these private ponds: 928-246-1877
If you come in mid to late summer, keep in mind that you're in the
heart of the
desert, where afternoon temps often exceed 110 degrees
Fahrenheit. Fortunately, water, food, and gas are
available at Dateland, immediately south of the I-8 exit.
And in the date palm grove immediately south of Dateland, you
may find a Barn Owl and an assortment of flycatchers, warblers,
and sparrows at the appropriate times of year.
Western and Baird's
Great Egret eating a shrimp
any of the thumbnail
pictures to see full-sized photos.