Salton Sea
19 Jan 2009
 by Henry Detwiler

Half a day of awesome birding with Joan Roos around the southeast portion of the Salton Sea.

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joan roos
Joan Roos

I  met Joan in Calipatria at 9:00 and we headed north to the Sea. But we'd hardly gotten a mile out of town when I noticed some small pale-looking birds on a burned over field. We pulled off to find over 300 Mountain Plover scurrying about and snapping up breakfast from the charred grass.

As we drove along the border of the plover field, this fearless Burrowing Owl eyed us carefully.

burrowing owl
Burrowing Owl

Several miles farther north we found a Ferruginous Hawk along English Road. We watched it through the spotting scope and snapped a few photos, both with my long lens and by digiscoping.

ferruginous hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
ferruginous hawk

Along Davis Road, we wandered out to the mud pots and listened to the gurgling pools while we watched the liquid mud sputtering.

Bubbling Mud Pots

This White-faced Ibis was a the end of Garst Road, at the intake for the Bureau of Reclamation test ponds.

 white-faced ibis White-faced Ibis

Peregrine Falcon

In Morton Bay a distant Peregrine Falcon watched over the smorgasbord of waterfowl, Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, and scores of shorebirds. We ate our own lunch at the refuge headquarters, accompanied by White-crowned Sparrows, Abert's Towhees, Gambel's Quail, Verdins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a field of Snow & Ross's Geese.

snow geese
Snow Geese

bald eagle
Immature Bald Eagle

When the eagle took off, hundreds of the surrounding Snow Geese also took to the wing.

From here we made a beeline to Unit 1 on Vendel Road. A large flock of Sandhill Cranes way off in the distance--and a few stragglers next to the road were fun to watch. At the duck ponds on the west side of Vendel was a massive immature Bald Eagle cooling its talons.

snow geese
Snow Goose

The ponds also held teal, shovelers, Stilt Sandpipers, dowitchers, yellowlegs, and other shorebirds. Back towards the east, we made a quick stop at Willey Reservoir, where both Lesser and Greater Scaup mingled with hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls.

snow geese
Snow Geese

Surf Socters and Eared Grebe

North of Young Road, while driving along the Sea wall, we spotted three Surf Scoters steaming along. Other nice birds along the Sea included Herring and California Gulls, Eared Grebes, and our first Willets for the trip. Joan and I parted ways mid-afternoon, having seen some fine birds in the Imperial Valley.

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