TALES: April 20, a day outdoors

April 11, 2002

The Imperial Valley Bird/Nature Festival is slated for April 20. A blend of the Imperial Valley Bird Festival and Earth Day, it is something the whole family can enjoy. The Earth Day theme is: "Recycling: It's good for all of us."

The festival will be headquartered in the Plaza de la Cultura at the Imperial Valley Expo and exhibits and booths will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Numerous activities are planned during the day to entertain kids and grownups alike, such as owl pellet dissecting and making birdhouses and feeders using recycled plastic bottles.

Nancy Wade, Imperial Valley's own version of Johnny Appleseed, from the University of California Desert Research Station, will demonstrate how to plant seeds for a home garden. Clark Bloom, retired manager of the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge, will be on hand to demonstrate decoy carving. Numerous other booths will provide information on recycling and energy conservation as well as food and items for sale.


Eight different bird and nature tours are planned for the morning and will return by noon, in time to enjoy the displays and demonstrations as well as the many children's activities. The price for all but tour five is only $5 each or $15 for the whole family.

Tour one is a trip to the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, where refuge experts will lead a nature walk, pointing out all the animals and plants that create the Imperial Valley's ecosystem. Experienced guides will be aboard the tour vans to explain the various birds, animals and crops while traveling to and from the refuge. The tour leaves from the fairgrounds at 6:30 a.m.

Tour two leaves the fairgrounds at 7 a.m. to visit Fig Lagoon as well as the New River wetlands. Participants will see a constructed wetland and learn how important they can be in cleaning up our environment while providing habitat for many different insects, plants, birds and other animals.

Tour three offers a two-hour tour into the past as visitors are led through a special part of the Pioneers' Museum, usually closed to the public, to view all the old farm equipment used by the early settlers to turn the desert into one of the richest agricultural areas in the world. Participants should meet at the Pioneers' Museum at 8 a.m.

I'm in charge of tour four, the fisherman special. My friends and I will spend the morning teaching you how to fish from shore to catch corvina, tilapia, sargo, and croaker. Participants should meet at the actual fishing spot at 7 a.m.

To reach the sight go to Westmorland and continue west on Highway 78/86 for 1.5 miles. Turn right on Lack Road and go north for 7 miles to Young Road. Turn left on Young Road and go west for 1 mile until you reach the Salton Sea dike. Turn right on the dike and go a half mile to the fishing spot. A free tackle pack will be donated to every participant.

Tour five is called the service club champagne brunch and will leave from Brunner's in El Centro at 7 a.m. for a trip to Fig Lagoon and New River wetlands to learn about our resident bird populations and how constructed wetlands benefit the ecosystem. A tasty Brunner's brunch will follow when the tour returns to El Centro. The cost of this tour is $25 per person.

Tour six is a wildflower and desert vegetation tour of our surrounding desert and starts from the fairgrounds at 7 a.m. With the lack of rain, wildflowers may not be as prevalent as they normally are but not to worry as the tour guide will explain how all the remarkable plants in our desert are able to adapt to our harsh climate and still survive.

Tour seven is a mini-tour for beginning bird watchers. This two-hour tour leaves at 9 a.m. and is perfect for the late risers.

Tour eight leaves the fairgrounds at 7 a.m. It's a photography tour with one of Imperial Valley's best known bird photographers, Jim Kuhn.

You can still sign up for the tours by calling 353-0465. See you all there!

Outdoor Tales writer Al Kalin can be reached on the Internet at

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