Monday, November 20, 2006

First State Record: Ross's Gull

Well, this weeked did not quite play out as I had expected... it began in Stockton, at the CVBS. My Friday trip to the Bufferlands was very enjoyable. The birding was good, diverse, and the weather mild. I saw a rarity for Sacramento county, in fact most of California, an American Golden-Plover. After returning from the field trips, a very excited Keith Hanson was the first to tell me of the Ross's Gull, a first ever California record, that had been found at the Salton Sea by the reputable Guy McCaskie.
Saturday after our field trips, (the boys were trip leaders and chose to do the right thing and stay to lead their trips) we left Stockton for the sea. Nearly 8 hours later, and with one stop to see the Fulvous Whistling-Ducks at a dairy in Tulare county, we arrived at the sea. We had pizza and crashed on the floor of the Calipatria Inn, a birder-friendly Inn near the sea, in the suite, appropriately named for birders, the Quail Suite.
The next morning we drove up at about 6:15 am, to discover that mere minutes earlier the bird had taken wing and flown almost directly over our car... We stayed from sunrise to sunset, searching for the bird, and as an offshoot to there being so many birders there searching for the gull, doing the meet and greet circuit. Chasing a rare bird is like an informal gathering of the who's-who in California birding. It was a real treat to meet and bird next to some of the names I have heard time and again, and to make contacts for the future. People came from all over the state, even a few from out of state to try to get a glimpse of the gull.
Incase you're feeling sorry for me that I didn't see the gull, I am honestly consoled by the two other lifers I did managed to gain over the course of the day, Piping Plover and Lesser Black-backed Gull. I was lucky enough to get a ride home with some of my favorite birders, Janet and Art Cupples, who have taken me birding and generally taken care of me in the past, they really know how to show a young birder a good time, and this was no exception.
This is me, not seeing a Ross's Gull...
Birding essentials
The Salton Sea has an otherworldly beauty
We took a slight detour to a field containing Sprague's Pipits

an ode I found outside the Sony Bono visitor's center, I.D. anyone?

The sun dropped behind the hills and birders slowly trickled away for the evening, many planning to return the next day
Matt and Ryan, still scanning for the gull as the sun sets
*If you are pictured here, and do not want your photo posted, contact me and I will remove it immediately


Doug said...

Hey kiddo, sorry about the gull. I was lucky to see it on Saturday, and now the LA times is going to use my photos in a story that their doing on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
Your ode is a female Roseate Skimmer.

Leigh said...

Thanks Doug. I wish I'd gotten to see it, but I feel even worse for Matt and Ryan who really really wanted to see it. Thanks for the ID and congrats on the photo!