female Western Bluebird


Salton Sea & San Jacintos
Aug 18-19, 2002 - 66-106 degrees
- led by Henry Detwiler

Ben Griffith came down from New Hampshire to find some targets in Southern California, so we birded the hot & humid Salton Sea, and then moved up to the very pleasant San Jacinto Mountains.  
species (list follows at end of page)

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.


Ben & Don

At 6:00 I met Ben, an expert 17-year-old birder, and his father Don at their hotel.  We piled in the rental and drove straight down to Johnson Road.  Terns, gulls, and shorebirds greeted us in abundance. 

Caspian Tern

Laughing Gull

Our next stop along the Sea provided Ben with his first lifer of the trip, a Yellow-footed Gull.  At Pound Road we added two more lifers: Snowy Plover and Red-necked Phalarope.

Yellow-footed Gull


Ben & Don at Bubbling Mud Pots

We stopped to look at the bubbling mud pots, evidence of the geothermal activity in the area.  At Obsidian Butte we saw the Reddish Egret, and south of there we flushed this large flock of pelicans.

White Pelicans & Snowy Egrets

Late Sunday afternoon we drove up to the San Jacinto Mountains for more of Ben's targets.  California Towhees proved easy, and the neighborhood feeders at Pathfinder Ranch yielded Lawrence's Goldfinches.  Ben's sixth lifer for the day turned out to be a Nuttal's Woodpecker he spotted in a pine tree in the same neighborhood.  We searched in vain for Pinyon Jays--but fortunately we still had Monday.

View from the top of Black Mt.

The next morning I picked up Ben at 6:00 and we drove up to the mountains in my Acura.  Oak Titmouse was our first target, and it proved very accommodating.  Tri-colored Blackbirds were a little tougher, but we found a flock at Hemet Lake.  The Pinyon Jays continued to elude us.
On the way up to Black Mountain we got good views of a California Thrasher.  Then it was up a 6-mile dirt road up the 7800' mountain.  We walked around quite a bit before we were rewarded with nice looks at a small covey of Mountain Quail.  We also saw many other mountain birds like Stellar's Jays and female Purple Finches.  Another target was White-headed Woodpecker. We heard its call, but it remained elusive. Finally we tracked it down, and even got fine eye-level looks!

female Purple Finch

Steller's Jay

White-headed Woodpecker
feeding furiously at Black Mountain

White-headed Woodpecker

After a quick lunch at Idyllwild we made one last effort for the Pinyon Jay.  Again no luck at Hemet Lake or Hurkey Creek.  But we scored with a whole tree full in the Pathfinder Ranch neighborhood!  A fine ending to a great trip--Good Job Ben!

Pinyon Jay, San Jacinto Mts.

Salton Sea & San Jacinto Mts., 18-19 Aug 2002
# Species
1 Western Grebe
2 Eared Grebe
3 Pied-billed Grebe
4 Clark's Grebe
5 Brown Pelican
6 White Pelican
7 Double-crested Cormorant
8 Black-crowned Night Heron
9 Snowy Egret
10 Reddish Egret
11 Green Heron
12 Great Blue Heron
13 Cattle Egret
14 Great Egret
15 White-faced Ibis
16 Northern Shoveler
17 Cinnamon Teal
18 Ross' Goose
19 Mallard
20 Ruddy Duck
21 Virginia Rail
22 Common Moorhen
23 American Coot
24 American Avocet
25 Black-necked Stilt
26 Black-bellied Plover
27 Snowy Plover
28 Killdeer
29 Semipalmated Plover
30 Lesser Yellowlegs
31 Spotted Sandpiper
32 Red-necked Phalarope
33 Wilson's Phalarope
34 Willet
35 Stilt Sandpiper
36 Western Sandpiper
37 Long-billed Dowitcher
38 Marbled Godwit
39 Least Sandpiper
40 Greater Yellowlegs
41 Ruddy Turnstone
42 Common Tern
43 California Gull
44 Laughing Gull
45 Ring-billed Gull
46 Yellow-footed Gull
47 Caspian Tern
48 Forster's Tern
49 Black Skimmer
50 Black Tern
51 Turkey Vulture
52 Osprey
53 Red-tailed Hawk
54 Cooper's Hawk
55 American Kestrel
56 California Quail
57 Mountain Quail
58 Inca Dove
59 White-winged Dove
60 Rock Dove
61 Mourning Dove
62 Band-tailed Pigeon
63 Common Ground-Dove
64 Greater Roadrunner
65 Great Horned Owl
66 Burrowing Owl
# Species
67 Barn Owl
68 Lesser Nighthawk
69 White-throated Swift
70 Anna's Hummingbird
71 Costa's Hummingbird
72 Belted Kingfisher
73 Hairy Woodpecker
74 Northern Flicker
75 Acorn Woodpecker
76 Nuttal's Woodpecker
77 White-headed Woodpecker
78 Willow Flycatcher
79 Ash-throated Flycatcher
80 Black Phoebe
81 W. Wood Pewee
82 Western Kingbird
83 Tree Swallow
84 Violet-green Swallow
85 Cliff Swallow
86 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
87 Stellar's Jay
88 Pinyon Jay
89 Scrub Jay
90 Common Crow
91 Common Raven
92 Wrentit
93 Oak Titmouse
94 Verdin
95 Brown Creeper
96 Pygmy Nuthatch
97 White-breasted Nuthatch
98 Marsh Wren
99 House Wren
100 Cactus Wren
101 American Robin
102 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
103 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
104 Western Bluebird
105 Loggerhead Shrike
106 California Thrasher
107 Northern Mockingbird
108 Phainopepla
109 European Starling
110 Orange-crowned Warbler
111 Yellow-rumped Warbler
112 Common Yellowthroat
113 Hermit Warbler
114 Brewer's Blackbird
115 Tricolored Blackbird
116 Red-winged Blackbird
117 Bullock's Oriole
118 Great-tailed Grackle
119 Western Tanager
120 Yellow-headed Blackbird
121 House Sparrow
122 Chipping Sparrow
123 Lark Sparrow
124 Sage Sparrow
125 Spotted Towhee
126 Abert's Towhee
127 California Towhee
128 Purple Finch
129 House Finch
130 Lawrence's Goldfinch
131 Black-headed Grosbeak
132 Lesser Goldfinch
133 Lazuli Bunting

Photos Henry Detwiler, Aug 2002