Thursday, November 24, 2011

Salton Sea & the Desert

From sea to shining sea! Leaving the Pacific Ocean, we arrived 186 feet below sea level at the Salton Sea.  Our campsite at the Salton Sea Recreation Area overlooked the abundant bird life consisting of thousands of Am. White and Brown Pelicans, Gulls, Herons, Egrets, Grebes, and Cormorants.  Some of our favorite birds were the Black-necked Stilts, Am. Avocets, White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills and Wood Storks

This salt flat with the Red Hill in the background is part of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.  This barren landscape four years earlier was inundated with water and today is a stark contrast to the nearby lush refuge food plots and impoundments. We spent hours from the Red Hill vantage point watching thousands of overhead migrating Snow and Ross's Geese, Sandhill Cranes, and Cattle Egrets settle into the refuge.

On one of our early morning forays, we encountered this 'grounded' Western Grebe.  The bird strongly objected to the rescue attempt.  The bird no doubt mistook the heat waves on the blacktop highway for water and made a hard landing.  With it's rear 'mounted' legs it could not stand or run much less take flight, nor could it dodge the fast approaching trucks.  The episode ended well with it's safe release into a nearby wetlands.

A side trip took us to the Anza Borrego State Park, a desert badlands.  We hiked the three mile boulder strewn stream bed between steep canyon walls to Borrego Palm Canyon Oasis.  This water source, the life blood of the desert, provides homes and sustenance for California Palms, Desert Pup Fish, song birds, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Lions and Rattlesnakes.   We added White-winged Dove, Black-throated Sparrow, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Gambel's Quail and a low perched Long-eared Owl.  This takes our 'big year' bird list to 450 species.

We are thankful to our Creator on this Thanksgiving Day (and everyday) for His handiwork, His blessings and His unmerited favor.  May God richly bless you,    Ty & Ida

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