Yesterday afternoon, while waiting for the arrival of our son Jason and his girlfriend Rita for a visit, I looked towards the plateau and immediately called Judy to come take a look. A smoke plume had just begun to rise above the La Cresta community which is adjacent to the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve. I knew it couldn’t have been a prescribed burn since the humidity was too low and the winds were substantial. The plume was rapidly becoming larger as sirens began to be heard in the distance coming from all directions. The ground fire equipment continued to  roll towards the plateau.

As the fire plume continued to grow, the first plane flew overhead from the east heading towards the fire. It apparently was the scout plane which flew high over the fire plume assessing the situation. Then a fire-retardant tanker flew overhead at a lower elevation heading towards the fire, followed shortly by another. A water-drop helicopter soon appeared on the scene as well. The scout plane, now the command plane, continued to circle the fire high overhead directing the plane drop aircraft below. The fire retardant tankers made several test approach runs before dropping down and releasing the retardant on the fire. After dropping all of  its load one of the tankers headed back east to refuel. I soon returned with a new load of retardant. The fire was under control only after an hour and a half. It consumed only 10 acres and there were no injuries or loss of structures. After the fire was completely extinguished by the ground crews the road closures were reopened within five hours.

Click on photo for larger image

I was very impressed watching the speed, efficency and effectiveness of the air support operation in addressing the emergency. This positive public servant response by the Riverside County and CALfire personnel was inspiring. In contrast this comes at a time when the world continues to watch the ineptness of  BP trying to react to an emergency for which they apparently had no viable plan to solve should it occur. BP is obivously motivated to capture as much oil as it can (=money) at any cost . . . . . . any cost . . . . any cost! On the other hand, the public servants that we entrust to protect us and our properties are motivated to just that, our protection. It was pretty obvious to me that the public servants also had a viable plan for the fire emergency and executed it successfully, as planned,  in a very short time.

Jason and Rita arrived after all the fire excitement had subsided. They had returned earlier this week from attending our niece Suzanne’s wedding in Puerto Vallarta and we were happy to see them and anxious to see their photos. They had a great time and saw some pretty cool birds. Magnificent Frigatebirds were apparently everywhere. They also saw the Great Kiskadee (I haven’t seen one) and a mystery Shroud bird of Puerto Vallarta. Jason described the funny bird as “running, strutting” across the beach with a light spot on it’s forehead. Jason captured a photograph of the bird although it was a night photograph. The enhanced photo didn’t provide much more evidence.

The only bird, one that I have not yet seen myself, that I could think it might possibly be was the Northern Jacana. I located a photo of the bird I thought it might be on Wipikedia and showed the photo to Jason, His response was, “that’s it!”

My brother Steve whose daughter Suzzane was being married, and the reason for the Puerto Vallarta gathering,  has become a birder in recent years. Steve sent me an email telling me that he had observed the Magnificent Frigatebirds as well as others. He told me that he had once seen a picture of the Great Kiskadee in a bird book and thought, “Wow, how great it would be to see a Great Kiskadee!” Well, he did!” Puerto Vallarta sounds like a travel place that perhaps we should consider.

PHOTO CREDITS:Magnificent Frigatebirds (Jason Lockyer), Northern Jacana (Wipikedia)

We had a geat visit and time with Jason and Rita before they had to head back north to LA this afternoon to fulfill other commitments.

Jim, Judy, and VELCRO  – the Adventure Continues!


  1. Molly Daly says:

    That’s a bird ID investigation the CSI team would be proud of!

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