- Salton Sea
by Henry Detwiler
I led Peter, John & Lud on a search for Black Rails, Pheasants,
& Yellow-footed Gulls around Yuma and the Imperial Valley
thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.
John, Peter, & Lud
I met Peter Salomon and his friends John & Lud
at 6:00a.m. at the Comfort Inn, so we could get a head start on the
rails. On the way north to Mittry Lake we were sidetracked by
a wet alfalfa field with a couple of Whimbrel.
Then we pressed on to a moist area on the west side of Mittry Lake,
down from the Gila Gravity Canal. As we piled out of the bird
mobile, a Black Rail was already calling its Kee-kee-derr song. We
milled about the area for a while, listening to two other Black
Rails and a few Virginia's. The morning was starting off
Our next stop was southwest of Yuma in search of Ring-necked
Pheasants. We hit pay dirt on the first farm road we
tried. A pheasant flew across the road from one wheat field to
the next, and later trumpeted, too. It wasn't even 9:00 a.m.
and we were ready to drive on to the Imperial Valley.
A quick stop at Ramer Lake provided lots of nice
birds, but the recently-discovered Anhinga was nowhere to be
found. So we moved on to the Salton Sea, and started our
search for the Yellow-footed Gull.
Bonaparte's Gulls & Black-necked Stilt
At the corner of Lack & Lindsey we found lots
of birds in breeding plumage, including Eared Grebe, Bonaparte's
Gull, Cinnamon Teal, Ruddy Duck, and many shore birds.
Cinnamon Teal at Salton Sea
|A loop around Obsidian Butte failed to turn up any
gulls, so we dashed in to Niland for some sandwiches. After
lunching at the headquarters, we resumed our search for the
Yellow-footed Gull around Red Hill Marina.
Snowy Plover at the end of
Semipalmated Plover on Garst
|At the end of Garst Road we observed a
fine selection of shore birds, including both Snowy &
Semipalmated Plovers. The Snowys were in fine breeding colors, as
opposed to their ghostly muted winter coat. And there were
California & Ring-billed Gulls around, but not our target.
Yellow-footed Gull surveying
|So we returned
to Obsidian Butte, and were rewarded with what may well be the
only adult Yellow-footed Gull in the U.S.A at this time.
After watching it for a few minutes it flew off to the east.
|Back again at Red Hill Marina we watched our friend
wash (?) and swallow this fish in one big gulp. After it
flew off a second time we drove north for a final stop at
Wister. What a fine day of birding!
Washing the fish off?