A couple of weekends ago (March 21-22), Beth was out of town so I decided to drive farther than normal from my usual O.C. stomping grounds. In particular, I decided to take a spin around the Salton Sea. It’s about 300 miles there, around, and back again, and seemed like a good fit for a weekend. I didn’t get as many life birds as I hoped but I did add two, plus one new species for my California list.
The first bird came almost as soon as I arrived Saturday morning. I drove down Lincoln Street to the Whitewater River delta. However all the gates were closed, and marked off with no trespassing signs. Bummer. However on the way back, I watched an Abert’s Towhee scurry off to the side of the road. This wasn’t a great look, and I might not even count it, except that I saw another one at my last stop of the day at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea Visitor Center, and two more the next morning in a vacant lot in Brawley. More often than not, the first bird is a “Is that what I think it was?” and you have to find a few more to be sure. That was the case for #465.
#466 though, left no room for doubt. I’ve looked for Common Ground-doves, without success at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine where they breed; but I found them all over the ground at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea Visitor Center where they were attracted to the feeders. Basically this is a sparrow-sized Mourning Dove. I even got pictures:
Although, just now as I look at the photos I notice this bird was banded. Hmm… That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not countable; and I did see more than one individual, at least one of which flew. Still if this is not really a wild bird, it doesn’t really count. Fortunately, I found another one the next morning at the Riverview Cemetery in Brawley, and that one counts even if this one doesn’t.
Another birder also showed me a Barn Owl roosting right next to the center. Not a lifer but rare and special nonetheless. I also had a maybe on a Yellow-footed Gull after walking the path out to the Sea, but I couldn’t be quite sure.