Central and Western Imperial Valley, Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR
Barbara Ross and family:
Claudia, Maria, Monica, Beth. Bob Miller
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!