NWR, Blythe, Salton
Sea & Imperial Valley
Guide: Bob Miller
A whirlwind, day long trip, from Yuma, AZ. up the AZ. side of the
Colorado River to Blythe, CA. down the CA. side to the Imperial Valley
and the Salton Sea.
87 species total (list follows at end of page)
thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.
|I picked up
Paul in the Yuma foothills area about 0600.We headed North to the
Palm Canyon area of the Kofa NWR where the weather was beautiful
and the birding was great. Red-tailed Hawk, Ladder- backed
Woodpecker and American Kestrel were well seen. We had great
looks at a large flock of Black-throated Sparrows,
Loggerhead Shrike, Cactus Wrens and other desert birds.
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher gave us fleeting glimpses as we followed
it up the wash.
were very surprised to have a Western Scrub Jay come out of
the desert wash at our feet. We scanned the stark, jagged peaks
for Big Horned Sheep and although you could feel them starring at
you they were not seen in return. There are a LOT of birders I
look up to, but being 6"4" myself, there are few that I
literally look up to as well. We had a distinct advantage when we
began peering over hedges for the Ruddy-Ground Doves in
Paul and Bob
already a few birders at "the spot" in Blythe where a
number of RGDO had been introducing the local residents to
the world of bird watching. There had been a Rufous-backed Robin
at this spot a few weeks earlier too! A few of the brighter
colored Common-Ground Doves really grab your attention when
they come flitting by and do keep the adrenaline up!
We finally got on to
one of the female Ruddies, (our first CBRC review species for the
day) mixed in with napping Inca Doves in heavy foliage but it was
not quite the "great" look you want to get of a life
bird! We kept after it when most of the others moved on and Paul
got us on to a beautiful male Ruddy.
|We were able to get that great look but I just
couldn't quite get that great photo to mark the occasion! The neat
thing about digital is that you can easily delete the bad stuff.
Let me tell you....it is not easy to delete a bunch of bad
pictures of a very rare bird!!
in Blythe, Riverside County,
we headed South through the Palo Verde Valley where we spotted
Sandhill Crane and Rock Wren. We grabbed a fine junk food lunch
and zipped across the Chocolate Mountains and into the Imperial
Valley where we were treated to a pair of White-tailed Kites
and about 375 Mountain Plover within minutes of crossing into the
A quick spin through Finney Lake gave us the two Lesser Nighthawks
that have wintered here for several years now. Our first stop at
the Salton Sea gave us great looks at our second California Bird
Records Committee review species, Tricolored Heron.
Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR
|At Obsidian Butte we had Stilt Sandpiper, Ruddy
Turnstone and a very late or wintering, lone Wilson's Phalarope.
Sundown caught up to us at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR. I kept
watching the light cloud cover and telling Paul he was in for a
We were not disappointed as it is hard to imagine the colors that
nature can paint the sky. There never seems to be enough time in a
day when you are birding in good company. So out of light we headed
back to Yuma..... "help, I'm birding and I can't
stop".....so we did stop.......for the Barn Owls that is. ;-Þ
Imperial Valley sunset
We pulled up to "the stack" and I swung the headlights around just
enough to light up an entrance, actually, just a space between hay bales. It
took a few minutes for Paul to realize what he was seeing. A Barn Owl
standing to the side and rear of a dark opening with its head cocked
sideways can be hard to visualize!! We climbed out and waited in the dark as
they all began to start their "day". We soon had several
owls silhouetted against the stars and one swooping down at us for a real
I then introduced Paul to a Carne Asada burrito from Johnnie's and we were
on our way back to Yuma where we parted ways, 400+ miles, four counties, two
time zones and 14.5 hours into a new friendship.
Should you decide to go bird watching during your Tenerife holidays or elsewhere in the world, it is imperative that you bring a companion or family so you can all enjoy viewing at fantastic birds and scenes.