Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finally…the SEA!

1. the sea-kab West Bowles Road 11-23-12

It was long after dark when we returned to the motel on Thanksgiving night. Gus settled in to watch the last bit of football while I got out my laptop and settled in at the desk to do research. I made up my mind that tomorrow I would get to the sea…no matters what! I pulled up the official websites for the Salton Sea but none offered me any info on how to access it! So, I tried something else. I remembered when I was in Yuma that I had consulted a website sent to me by a friend called Southwest Birders. I recalled seeing a link to the Salton Sea on their webpage. Since I found their site so useful for finding birding locations in Yuma I hoped it would be equally helpful in finding places to bird along the Salton Sea. Bingo! It had the most useful information of all. I also consulted eBird and wrote down a few of their birding hotspots as well. Then, after submitting my counts for the night to eBird, I climbed into bed and tried to sleep.

3. yellowlegs-kab Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer in fields

We hit the road early the next morning and this time we headed up the east side of the sea. Our first stop was a location mentioned on the Southwest Birders website called Bowles Road-west end. Gus threw caution to the wind and we drove down the dirt road searching for birds and counting as we went. Finally the sea opened before us and we stopped.

4. marshland-kab There were flooded fields and marshland to the south


5. coots-kab To the north we saw hundreds of coots!


6. gus-kab Gus set up the spotting scope and we took turns looking at the birds.


7. keep out-kab We couldn’t go as far as we wanted as we found our way blocked.


8. the sea-kab This is just a small fraction of the birds on the mud flats but most were coots.


9. more coots-kab Coots and dowitchers feeding.


10. rookery-kab At the moment this rookery was abandoned but I imagine it was full of birds in the spring and summer! It lay beyond the “No Trespassing” sign.


11. avocet-kab I found this lone American Avocet feeding in a little pool of water visible only through a break in the bushes along a steep bank. There was some kind of small bird in the bushes twittering up a storm but no ever made an appearance and I did not recognize their songs or calls so I don’t know what they were.


12. coots-kab So, I went back to counting coots!


13. headed east-kab Then, we got in the car and headed east back towards Gentry Road which is the main paved road up the southeast side. I now knew it would finally lead us to the  Salton Sea Visitor’s Center. But first we had a couple other stops to make! Yes, there will be more birds!


2. bur owl-kab Not just rocks…there’s a Burrowing owl down there!

(Seen along the embankment of West Bowles Road)

Birds Seen along 1.5 miles of West Bowles Road:

  1. Great Egret 1
  2. Snowy Egret 2
  3. Northern Harrier 1
  4. Sora 1
  5. American Coots 220
  6. Killdeer 6
  7. Black-necked Stilt 6
  8. American Avocet 1
  9. Greater Yellowlegs 1
  10. Lesser Yellowlegs 1
  11. Long-billed Dowitcher 12
  12. Wilson’s Snipe 2
  13. Rock Pigeon 6
  14. Mourning dove 18
  15. Burrowing Owl 1
  16. American Kestrel 2
  17. Black Phoebe 1
  18. Say’s Phoebe 1
  19. Loggerhead Shrike 1
  20. Vesper Sparrow 6
  21. Red-winged Blackbird 25
  22. Western Meadowlark 6
  23. Great-tailed Grackle 6

I also saw hundreds of unidentified gulls and some unidentified peep species. There were many more birds too far out to count but I knew I would be getting a closer look in a different area, so I did not worry about it but just did my best and moved on.



  1. Great post and sightings, Kathie! Love the Avocet photo and cool sighting of the burrowing owl. Happy Birding and have a great weekend!

  2. What a lot of birds! You guys really find some neat places. Great photos by the way.

    I just read up on the Sea. Didn't know about it at all.

    1. Sadny, I had only heard of it before I ever went there and it was much different than I expected!

  3. I love that Gus blew caution to the wind on the gravel roads with his beautiful car. Great sightings so far and We haven't even gotten to the Sea.

    Has to be at least 30 sparrows along with 9 quail in a feeding frenzy on the snow. Plus the finches, towhees and cardinals. OMG, you've got me counting. ;)

    1. Gaelyn, so much adventure for such a short period of time!

      Great that you are counting! Stay warm!

  4. yay, the SEA!!
    great sightings!!

    have a happy birding sunday!

  5. Hi Kathie

    Glad you found the Salton Sea Helen and I tried for the Beaverhill Lake lookout in Alberta and while we found the lake we never found the lookout despite several different maps. It can be a bit frustrating.


    1. Guy, sometimes it can be a real challenge but that's part of the fun (or frustration)!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.