Ancestors of the desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) once roamed the mountains and valleys of Iran, Afghanistan, China, Mongolia, and Siberia before crossing on ice and land bridges during interglacial periods across what is now the Bering Sea into the Western Hemisphere, says Marc Jorgensen* in his comprehensive book, Desert Bighorn Sheep: Wilderness Icon. My first close-up encounter and photo shoot with the desert bighorn sheep occurred five years ago and is documented in my posts, “Peninsular Bighorn Sheep” and “Bighorn Sheep revisited.” My second close encounter occurred last month and is seen below and in a following post.
Coming out of the restroom in Agua Caliente Regional Park in the Anza-Borrego Desert region, I spotted desert bighorn sheep on a nearby hill just above the campsites. Their color and size blends in well with the landscape.
This herd consisted of 14 sheep that often positioned themselves in different positions to look for danger such as mountain lions, coyotes, and humans that have been seen here. I slowly and quietly hiked in their direction as they moved down the slope to the lush greenery around the campsites.
They first had a good look at me on the road just as they were about to cross into the campground and had to make a decision on proceeding to food or to safety.
I believe some recognized me from the previous encounter and others perceived I was not a threat, so they continued on toward their brunch.
They enjoyed their picnic by the campsites…
until oblivious and noisy campers cut through the sites on their way to soak in the nearby spa and pools.*
So the sheep crossed back to relax in their own “day use area”…
where they posed for me…
and then settled down to relax and sunbathe.
I shared in the warmth and happiness of the moment and heard “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy“.*
*This is a link to a YouTube video.