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Ecology: Desert Wildlife
Watchable Wildlife Areas
Harper Lake WildlifeDescription
Most of Harper Lake is a dry lake bed that lies under the flight area of Edwards Air Force Base. But in its southwest corner, water runoff from nearby farms has created what is probably the largest marsh in the Mojave Desert. This oasis attracts resident wildlife and thousands of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds, making this a prime birdwatching spot.
The wildlife viewing area also offers sweeping vistas of Fremont Peak, Black Mountain, gravel hills and fossil beds, as well as Harper Dry Lake.
The Bureau of Land Management is currently working with a local solar power company to ensure a future source of the water for Harper lakes plants and wildlife, independent of farm runoff. The BLM is also working with Edwards Air Force Base to consolidate public lands in the area, to keep future development safely away from wildlife habitat and from the flight area.
Animals you may see here
Birds: Wildlife watching at Harper Lake most often means bird watching. More than 250 types of birds have been reported in this area. They include any short-eared owls that roost on the ground in open fields near the marsh, plus long-eared owls that prefer brushy areas. Other birds of prey include bald eagles, golden eagles, Swainson's hawks and northern harrier - more than 16 birds of prey species have been spotted on a single day. Numerous wading birds including egrets and ibises can be seen year-round. Yuma clapper rails breed among the wetland vegetation.
Viewing tips for this area
From Interstate Highway 15 at Barstow, take State Highway 58 west about 18 miles. Turn north on Harper Road, travel about six miles. Turn east (right) on Lockhart Road and drive 2.2 miles to the southern edge of Harper Dry Lake. The last 0.2 mile is dirt road and not maintained.
Size: about 480 acres.