Saturday, September 02, 2006

Salton Sea 9-1-06

Alex Thomas and I went to the Salton Sea yesterday. I got some great landscape photos that I put on a seperate post. We got to the Whitewater River Delta at about 7am. We heard gunshots all around us, as it was the first day of hunting season, eek! We saw a coyote run through the brush at one point, probably spooked by the sound of gunfire. We saw her life Clark's Grebe... dead -one of the first of many dead things we saw during our day there - but managed to find a live one in the river to count. There were more Western and Clark's Grebes there in the water than I have ever seen in one place in my life. Alex spotted a Red-breasted Merganser in with the flock of Grebes. It was too far off to get a good picture of, but I snapped a few anyway just for docmentation and I.D. purposes.
We then turned our attention towards the sea. We scanned the water line, and immediately recognised the shape we had come to find. A sub-adult Blue-footed Booby sat on a pile of dead branches, posing for us. The booby seemed utterly uninterested in our presence as we slowly moved closer and closer. At that point we were joined by David VanderPluym, Oscar Johnson, and Colin Wilkinson. We all got great photos of the booby, and eventually even lost interest in it, choosing instead to check out the rest of the plentiful birds at that location, like a Large-billed Savannah Sparrow.
Following them we worked our way down the sea toward the south end. The temperature climbed and at the hottest point reached a toasty 114 degrees. We stopped and walked around in the tamerisk at one spot, where we saw a plethora of species, including Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Wilson's and Yellow Warblers, a Hooded Oriole, a Loggerhead Shrike, Inca Doves, and most exciting of all for me - Lesser Nighthawks flying around in broad daylight! They were too fast to get photos of in flight, but I did manage to get a photo of one perched on a tree trunk. That was probably one the the highlights of the day for me. =)
You can tell you're getting hot and tired when you start making really stupid mistakes, like getting your car stuck in mud at the Salton Sea. Luckily Dave knew what to do, and with his knowledge, the boys combined strength, and a lot of luck, they got my car out of the mud. My heros!
We moved on to Red Hill Marina where we had no luck trying for the Piping Plover. By this point everyone agreed it would be wise to get out of the sun for a while and take a break. We headed into Brawley, and ate some good mexican food, drank cold beverages, and discussed various environmental topics.We started again, birding various tributaries away from the sea itself. We picked up a few more species here, and then parted ways with the boys to head for home.
About an hour after leaving them we got a call from Dave. They had found a Roseate Spoonbill and a Tricolored Heron. Alex and I almost cried. We talked it over, and decided that we just couldn't handle driving all the way there and back. We were already exhausted, and had a few more hours drive ahead of us to get home. We would have had to spend the night somewhere in the sea if we turned back. So we drove home, feeling slighted and tired. All in all however it was an amazing trip. Alex got over 12 life birds, I got at least one, and a good time was had by all!
Here are the rest of the photos from the trip:

(Can anyone ID the butterlies, they seemed like they could be skippers, and that dragonfly?)


Doug Aguillard said...

Eufala Skipper and male Mexican Amberwing.

Leigh said...

Thank you!!! So another Amberwing, after looking at your ID of the last one and comparing them I thought that's what it might be. Same coloration and arch to he body... What field guides do you use/recommend for dragons, damsels, and butterflies btw?


Doug Aguillard said...

Kaufmann's Butterflies of North America, Manolis's Dragonflies of California, and Bigg's Dragonflies of the Southwestern United States (I have 2 pictures in the last one.), plus years in the field. Isee your already on my SDBirds and probably my Calbirds. Are you aware of CalOdes and SoWestLep Yahoo groups?

Leigh said...

I'll have to join those, I am on one Leps group but I don't believe it's that one. Thanks for the book recs!