We watched this osprey carrying a large fish as it flew alongside our car for several seconds before it landed on this power post. We stopped under the post to watch it with the fish - which was still flopping around and seemed quite large in proportion to the osprey. Finally, when the fish stopped flopping around, the dining commenced and went on for a long time. Very entertaining!
Puerto Penasco is a small fishing village. The village life revolves around fishing and the sea. The fishermen have small boats with outboard motors and this is sufficient because the water is usually quite calm here. Most often they fish with nets.
For dinner, we would go shopping at the Old Port area - where the fish vendors have coolers full of freshly caught fish for sale. This time of year they are selling flounder, octopus, shrimp, pinto, rock bass, and what they called grouper (but which I do not think is what I would call grouper). According to what I have read, there were huge fish in this area back in the 1950's and it became a very popular sport fishing area - in fact - the sport fishing is what attracted the Americans, primarily.
The big fish (I am not sure what species) were fished out - the population is essentially extinct. After that, they started bringing shrimp boats in, and their nets destroy the shallow sea floor in this area so the big fish cannot regenerate because their breeding habitat is constantly being disturbed by the nets. (or so I have read).
The shrimp they catch in these waters are really special - they are huge - jumbo shrimp. Most of the jumbo's go to the processing plant and are flash frozen for commercial use. We ate a lot of shrimp, though - this time of year the vendors had lots of them in their coolers and they are the best shrimp ever!
We spent about 3 weeks at the beach house in Mexico and we walked the beach every day. Sometimes twice a day. We so enjoyed the birds, the sea shells, the waves. The constant changes. Sunset, sunrise, dusk and dawn. All breathtakingly beautiful. Las Conchas is the name of the beach where my sister's house is located.
There are a lot of birds that spend the winter in this part of Mexico. We saw pelicans, egrets, osprey, and many other types of birds every day. It was always interesting to watch the shoreline and beach walks at low tide were especially interesting for the birds that showed up to hunt in the tide pools. These Snowy Egrets caught my attention for their graceful form.
This egret has caught something, but we are not certain what they were eating - probably small fish.
I found this scorpion hiding in a pair of jeans I had tossed onto the floor of the laundry room after they got wet on the beach. They were there for a day or two before I did laundry and I searched all the pockets (as I would at home in Montana) before putting the jeans into the washing machine. After I putting them down, the scorpion came out from a fold in the pants leg. We have some pretty benign, sort of similar looking scorpions in Montana, so I was not very concerned. I took him outside to get a photo before releasing him. Later, when I looked him up - I discovered this is the most venomous scorpion in North America!
This is reportedly the largest continuous sand dune area in North America. Apparently, the dunes are continually moving over the highway. We saw various instances of this, but the road was always passable.
The Gran Desierto is best known for its magnificent Star Dunes, many in
excess of 100 metres (330 ft) high. More than two-thirds of the Gran
Desierto is covered by sand sheets and sand streaks. The remaining area
is split equally between a western population of star dunes and an eastern set of transverse or crescentic dunes. Some of the larger crescentic dunes in the northeastern sand sea exhibit reversing crests, a transitional morphologic feature associated with star dunes.
We spent a day driving from Puerto Penasco to Golfo de Santa Clara (and back) - a very small fishing village on the coast of the Sea of Cortez. The town is much smaller than Puerto Penasco with a lot less American influence. We drove over on Highway 3 on a Monday and some of the vendors were still taking down their displays on the beach. Apparently, there is some sort of vendor mall on the weekends. Had we known this - we probably would have gone on a weekend, instead. We talked about going again another weekend, but it was about 130 km each way. We will go again another year.
We did not see a lot of wildlife in the desert. This beetle raced across our path when we were stopped once and got out of the car to take pictures. I have tried to identify it online, but to no avail. I am really proud of these pictures - this insect was moving FAST! I had to run after it to get these pictures! I'd say the body is at least an inch long.
The top image is of a legume of some kind - I recognize it by the leaf and flower. We have something similar growing at home in Montana. The other wildflowers, I have not been able to identify. The pale lavender cluster looks a lot like a verbena, except the leaf isn't right for that.
This yellow one just looks kind of weed like, but it was color and life in the desert!
We stopped several times to view the sand dunes and the Sea of Cortez off in the distance. Beyond the Sea, we could see the hazy outline of the mountains on the Baja peninsula. There had been a couple of heavy rains in December and January, then warmer temperatures - so the desert wildflowers were in bloom.
I have been going to Puerto Penasco since 2005, and I have always been curious about this region of Mexico. This trip, there was enough time to do a bit of exploring. Highway 3 was completed in 2009 as an attempt to make it easier for Californians to visit Puerto Penasco. The highway passes through the largest sand dune area in North America and essentially follows the coast of the Sea of Cortez.