Salton Sea, Nov 20, 2000
0615 - 1630, Sunny, 60 - 75

Central and Western Imperial Valley, Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR 

Barbara Ross and family: Claudia, Maria, Monica, Beth.  Bob Miller
83 species total

Approximately 400 Sandhill Cranes taking to the air, silhouetted by the breaking dawn were to be our first treat for the day.  Barbara Ross came all the way from Indiana to spend Thanksgiving with her family in El Cajon, CA.  Being her first visit to the Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea, she wanted to make it special and share the wonders of birding with her daughter Claudia, daughter-in-law Maria and grandkids Monica and Beth!  Having started a little late from El Cajon for the drive to the Imperial Valley, we missed the main flight of Sandhills, but still caught the last few flying out. Such is the nature of wild birds!

We then went to the location where the Ruff was seen the day before. Stake out!  Great viewing of lots of Yellowlegs, Egrets, Ibis, Gulls, Kestrels and a White-tailed Kite.  About seventeen species were seen from this one spot.  Alas, the Ruff proved to be the needle in the wet fields. Such is the nature of wild birds!

Breakfast burritos at Johnnie’s in Brawley.  Now this is good livin’. Such is the nature of good food!

Heading West out of Brawley, we are going to a little-known place that some consider to be one of the only true riparian areas in the Imperial Valley.  Carter and Fites Roads.  As we pull on to Carter Road the fields are full of Mountain Bluebirds.  Many of them are hovering, what a treat!  Claudia picks out a Western Bluebird and with closer inspection there are quite a few; the first I have seen here in several years.  At the Fites Road area, we step out of the van to watch a family of Gambel's Quail re-establishing their pecking order!  A Rock Wren pops up nearby and is so busy being harassed by a Northern Mockingbird that we are the last thing on its mind.  Kinglets, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Yellow-rumped Warblers throughout the Mesquite and Cottonwoods.  A lone Black-tailed Gnatcatcher works through the Mesquite over our heads and the Verdins talking all around us are playing a winning game of hide-n-seek.  Such is the nature of wild birds!

Onward for Mountain Plover where I had seen over 300 the day before. Stake out!  Even had a Prairie Falcon make a pass at them and the several thousand Killdeer that were in the same area.  Not a single Mountain Plover and less than a dozen Killdeer to be found in any direction in the whole area?! A s we were leaving to explore the Salton Sea the Prairie Falcon buzzes over us and we all pile out.  We watched it hunting for several minutes and then it began to soar higher and higher!  Barbara had been on the trail of the Prairie Falcon for many years.  Such is the nature of wild birds!

A visit to the  S.B. Salton Sea NWR visitor center with great looks at Ground-Doves, Towhees, Roadrunner and the tamest rabbits you will find. A pair of Peregrine Falcons shoot by in a fuss.  From the end of Garst Road we see the resident Chilean Flamingos.  A few Greater Scaup mixed in with the numerous Lessers and lots of waterfowl.  Such is the nature of wild birds!

A visit to the bubbling, splattering mud pots at Schrimpf and Davis always brings out the oohs and ahhs. Such is the nature of nature!

Finished up the afternoon with dinner at Su Casa and then my newest friends were on their way to Thanksgiving Holiday. Such is the nature of life!



1 Eared Grebe
2 Western Grebe
3 American White Pelican
4 Brown Pelican
5 Double-crested Cormorant
6 Great Blue Heron
7 Great Egret
8 Snowy Egret
9 Cattle Egret
10 White-faced Ibis
11 Snow Goose
12 Canada Goose
13 Green-Winged Teal
14 Northern Pintail
15 Northern Shoveler
16 Canvasback
17 Redhead
18 Greater Scaup
19 Lesser Scaup
20 Bufflehead
21 Ruddy Duck
22 Turkey Vulture
23 Osprey
24 White-tailed Kite
25 Northern Harrier
26 Red-tailed Hawk
27 Ferruginous Hawk
28 American Kestrel
29 Peregrine Falcon
30 Prairie Falcon
31 Gambel's Quail
32 American Coot
33 Sandhill Crane
34 Black-bellied Plover
35 Killdeer
36 Black-necked Stilt
37 American Avocet
38 Greater Yellowlegs
39 Willet
40 Spotted Sandpiper
41 Long-billed Curlew
42 Marbled Godwit


43 Western Sandpiper
44 Least Sandpiper
45 Long-billed Dowitcher
46 Common Snipe
47 Ring-billed Gull
48 California Gull
49 Herring Gull
50 Forster's Tern
51 Rock Dove
52 Mourning Dove
53 Common Ground-Dove
54 Greater Roadrunner
55 Burrowing Owl
56 Belted Kingfisher
57 Northern Flicker
58 Black Phoebe
59 Say's Phoebe
60 Verdin
61 Rock Wren
62 Cactus Wren
63 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
64 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
65 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
66 Western Bluebird
67 Mountain Bluebird
68 American Robin
96 Northern Mockingbird
70 American Pipit
71 Phainopepla
72 Loggerhead Shrike
73 European Starling
74 Orange-crowned Warbler
75 Yellow-rumped Warbler
76 Abert's Towhee
77 Savannah Sparrow
78 Song Sparrow
79 Red-Winged Blackbird
80 Western Meadowlark
81 Great-Tailed Grackle
82 House Finch
83 House Sparrow



Photos © Henry D. Detwiler