Sunday, January 25, 2015

South End of the Salton Sea: Day 2

Bobcat
Bobcat. Salton Sea NWR, Calipatria, California. December 27, 2014. Greg Gillson.
My report from Day 1 is here.

While Marlene slept in at the motel in Westmorland, I rose at dawn and drove to the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge again. The species at the Visitor Center were about the same as the previous afternoon--including Abert's Towhees, Common Ground-Doves, and a Verdin, along with lots of flyover waterfowl, gulls, and blackbirds.

From the parking lot at the Visitor Center the Rock Hill Trail leads out to the Salton Sea shoreline. It's probably a bit over a mile out-and-back.

Almost immediately I came upon a mother Bobcat and her two nearly fully grown cubs--the same size, just a bit thinner and paler colored. Mom didn't seem too concerned with me as she sat in the sun under a mesquite tree watching her young ones try to hide from me.

Bobcat

The trail led out past some fields where a flock of Snow Geese was resting. There were several smaller Ross's Geese in the flock, and Cattle Egrets were working some of the furrows. A Ross's Goose shows well in the photo below on the back left, facing left. Look for the tiny bill and little round head.

Snow Geese
Do you spot the Ross's Goose among these Snow Geese?
The wind was blowing pretty good, unlike the previous day. When I reached the shoreline there were a couple thousand birds in the shallows. Pintails, Shovelers, and Ring-billed Gulls were most abundant. In an adjoining compound were 1500 Double-crested Cormorants.

Salton Sea
Salton Sea NWR, Calipatria, California. December 27, 2014. Greg Gillson.
A few shorebirds were present, including American Avocets, a couple Black-bellied Plovers, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, and several Least Sandpipers and Long-billed Dowitchers, and about 20 Black-necked Stilts, including this one:

Black-necked Stilt
Black-necked Stilt. Salton Sea NWR, Calipatria, California. December 27, 2014. Greg Gillson.
It was soon time to retrieve Marlene from the motel and continue on our journey. One the way back I stopped along a newly plowed field near Brawley to see if I could get better looks at yesterday's life bird: Mountain Plover. However, just as I got ready to scan the field a raptor came screaming by. I managed to get this photo out the car window:

Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon. Brawley, California. December 27, 2014. Greg Gillson.
After this disruption passed by it wasn't long before the little white specks in the field started walking closer. A little patience, and some repositioning of the car I used as my portable blind and, yes!

Mountain Plover
Mountain Plover. Brawley, California. December 27, 2014. Greg Gillson.