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Desert Birding: Punta Arenas, Baja California
At dawn I rise from my tented cocoon, reluctant, skinny into my clothes, pour herb tea at the cook’s tent to take on my way out into the cardon forest. It is still cool. I hear the Gambel’s quail clucking, then flush the covey. They fly away low, scattering, as the sun begins to light the sour pitaya and bush mesquite. I follow the song of the Gila woodpecker, then see two on the side of a cactus trunk, very busy. These cacti are old, by centuries. Now I see a three-pronged cardon, each top finialed with a shiny black bird, wings spread, as if hanging their coats to dry—turkey vultures, warming their backs in the rising sun.
salt taste of the sea
brought by a morning breeze
in my tea cup