October is officially the start of desert season, and to kick it off this year we're heading to Coyote Canyon in the north end of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with a bunch of friends. Sharing the adventure with friends will be a first for us since I usually prefer to travel solo so I can set my own schedule and agenda, but although this may limit my photography a bit we're really looking forward to exploring a new area of the park and having a great time.
Coyote Canyon is closed every year from May until the end of September because it is a breeding ground for the Peninsular Desert Bighorn sheep (ovis candensis).
The peninsular (desert) bighorn sheep has been listed under the California State Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1971 and the Federal Endangered Species Act since 1998, but their numbers continue to decline rapidly due to urban expansion and mountain lion predation. Current estimates are that less than 600 remain in the US, with some estimates as low as 335.
Approximately 200 of the remaining sheep are located in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. On December 30, 2005 I was extremely fortunate to happen upon a herd of 20 sheep, complete with a button buck and a little suckling calf who made his (her?) very first public appearance that day while we were hiking the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail near the visitor center.
Since that day the sheep have remained elusive, so I am very excited about the possibility of seeing them in Coyote Canyon this weekend. Although I'll be spending most of the day putting my four wheel drive skills to the test, I'm also looking forward to playing around with some star trail photography (Anza-Borrego is a certified Dark Sky Site), light painting and night photography.
So with all of this action starting up, I realized I really needed to work on processing my older ABDSP photos before taking more (my work flow needs major improvement), so my Desert Bighorn Sheep gallery is now update and can be viewed here.
By the end of the week I hope to have all of my images from Font's Point and some other locations in ABDSP processed and uploaded to the galleries.