Tricolored Heron at the Salton Sea


KOFA NWR, Blythe, Salton Sea & Imperial Valley
Nov 23, 2001 - 45-85 degrees
Paul Langendorfer
Guide: Bob Miller

A whirlwind, day long trip, from Yuma, AZ. up the AZ. side of the Colorado River to Blythe, CA. down the CA. side to the Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea.

87 species total (list follows at end of page)

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.

Paul Langendorfer
I picked up Paul in the Yuma foothills area about 0600.We headed North to the Palm Canyon area of the Kofa NWR where the weather was beautiful and the birding was great. Red-tailed Hawk, Ladder- backed Woodpecker and American Kestrel were well seen.  We had great looks at a large flock of Black-throated Sparrows,  Loggerhead Shrike, Cactus Wrens and other desert birds. Black-tailed Gnatcatcher gave us fleeting glimpses as we followed it up the wash.

 We were very surprised to have a Western Scrub Jay come out of  the desert wash at our feet. We scanned the stark, jagged peaks for Big Horned Sheep and although you could feel them starring at you they were not seen in return. There are a LOT of birders I look up to, but being 6"4" myself, there are few that I literally look up to as well. We had a distinct advantage when we began peering over hedges for the Ruddy-Ground Doves in Blythe! 

Paul and Bob

Common Ground-Dove

There were already a few birders at "the spot" in Blythe where a number of  RGDO had been introducing the local residents to the world of bird watching. There had been a Rufous-backed Robin at this spot a few weeks earlier too! A few of the brighter colored  Common-Ground Doves really grab your attention when they come flitting by and do keep the adrenaline up!  

We finally got on to one of the female Ruddies, (our first CBRC review species for the day) mixed in with napping Inca Doves in heavy foliage but it was not quite the "great" look you want to get of a life bird! We kept after it when most of the others moved on and Paul got us on to a beautiful male Ruddy. 

Inca Do

We were able to get that great look but I just couldn't quite get that great photo to mark the occasion! The neat thing about digital is that you can easily delete the bad stuff. Let me tell is not easy to delete a bunch of bad pictures of a very rare bird!!

Ruddy Ground-Dove 
in Blythe, Riverside County, CA.      


Lesser Nighthawk

From Blythe we headed South through the Palo Verde Valley where we spotted Sandhill Crane and Rock Wren. We grabbed a fine junk food lunch and zipped across the Chocolate Mountains and into the Imperial Valley where we  were treated to a pair of White-tailed Kites and about 375 Mountain Plover within minutes of crossing into the farmland.

A quick spin through Finney Lake gave us the two Lesser Nighthawks that have wintered here for several years now. Our first stop at the Salton Sea gave us great looks at our second California Bird Records Committee review species, Tricolored Heron.

Tricolored Heron

Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR
At Obsidian Butte we had Stilt Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone and a very late or wintering, lone Wilson's Phalarope. Sundown caught up to us at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR. I kept watching the light cloud cover and telling Paul he was in for a treat.
We were not disappointed as it is hard to imagine the colors that nature can paint the sky. There never seems to be enough time in a day when you are birding in good company. So out of light we headed back to Yuma..... "help, I'm birding and I can't stop" we did stop.......for the Barn Owls that is. ;-    

Imperial Valley sunset
We pulled up to "the stack" and I swung the headlights around just enough to light up an entrance, actually, just a space between hay bales. It took a few minutes for Paul to realize what he was seeing. A Barn Owl standing to the side and rear of a dark opening with its head cocked sideways can be hard to visualize!! We climbed out and waited in the dark as they all began to start their "day".  We soon had several owls silhouetted against the stars and one swooping down at us for a real thrill.
I then introduced Paul to a Carne Asada burrito from Johnnie's and we were on our way back to Yuma where we parted ways, 400+ miles, four counties, two time zones and 14.5 hours into a new friendship. Should you decide to go bird watching during your Tenerife holidays or elsewhere in the world, it is imperative that you bring a companion or family so you can all enjoy viewing at fantastic birds and scenes.

KOFA NWR, Blythe, Salton Sea & Imperial Valley
23 Nov 2001

Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Tricolored Heron
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
White-faced Ibis
American Wigeon
Northern Pintail
Green Winged Teal 
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Sandhill Crane
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Black-necked Stilt
Black-bellied Plover
Mountain Plover
Marbled Godwit 
Long-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Curlew
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Western Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Wilson's Phalarope
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Forster's Tern
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Inca Dove
Barn Owl
Lesser Nighthawk
Belted Kingfisher
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
American Pipit
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Cactus Wren
Rock Wren
Marsh Wren
Northern Mockingbird
American Robin
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
Loggerhead Shrike
Western Scrub-Jay
Common Raven
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Abert's Towhee
Black-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Great-tailed Grackle
House Finch
House Sparrow

Photos Henry D. Detwiler & Bob Miller