Monday, April 29, 2013

The Salton Sea

      Today marks the end of the Salton Sea adventures.  I think the pic above captures the image of humanity and birds living together.  Is it as beautiful as the Egret suggests?  Probably not.  But I think what I loved most about the whole experience was that it was different from other birding adventures I've recently taken. Some places recharge the birding battery and this was one of them.  
Lesser Nighthawk
We never know who to expect at each of these places.  I prayed to the bird gods and they answered by sending me a Lesser Nighthawk perched!  Never in my life had I expected such a clear and wonderful shot of this bird during daytime hours.  And the trickiest part?  Spotting the bird on the branch.  Look at how camouflage plays an important role.
American Kestrel
An American Kestrel flies from the phone lines as we walk back to our cars at the Sonny Bono center.
American Avocet
We find all kinds of sea birds feeding from the water along the shore.  I have to watch my salt intake, but apparently, they do not:)
Eared Grebe
Eared Grebes numbered in the hundreds here on this day.  I finally got to see one in full regalia!!!!  Exciting!
California Gull
California Gulls, Long-billed Dowitchers.......easy views with great observation time for each of these birds.
Long-billed Dowitcher
Terns were such a nice change of scenery for me.  I love my desert/mountain birds, but it's nice to switch it up every now and again.
Caspian Terns
Willets stood calmly along the water edge.
The whole experience is something I'd recommend for the adventurous birder not minding a little dirt with some fish bones in their shoes.
There is a documentary out there called "Bombay Beach" that addressed many of our questions while we birded there like......"Who lives here?"  We were interested in discovering what it's like living along the Salton Sea as the movie follows 3 individuals and their lives.  It is on our Netflix account and we were fascinated by it all. All I will say is that California is a diverse state that offers MANY varieties of landscape.
Caspian Tern
Apparently there is a horror flick out there with Val Kilmer called, "The Salton Sea."  We did not watch that one:)

Long-billed Curlew

The best part about exploring is understanding the culture and people surrounding the birds.  I walked into a nearby gas station for some drinks.  The lady behind the counter asked if she could help me.  It took me a second to respond because the people were so strange and interesting.  One man purchased, in Spanish, two gallons of milk with a pack of Marlboros. The Saltonian clerk responded flawlessly with a tad bit of a gringo accent in Spanish.  NOW that made me absolutely happy! Spanish teacher moment:)  But I kept my secret powers hidden and didn't let on that I could understand a single word.  The woman then turned to me and said that I looked lost.  She followed up with, "What brings you out here?" 
"Birds",  I responded.
"Are you one of them orni...ornitheologists?"
Not quite but I said, "Yes." without a blink.  I wasn't lying because I do believe in the power of birds and how they will change a person's life. Instead of a church, synagogue, temple or mosque, I worship the Audubon Society.  A secret society of bird nerds dedicated to saving our birds.
Her tone changed to a formal register and told me, "God bless you." I didn't know how to respond to that but the Cheesehead in me responded with, "Thank you.  Enjoy your day."  I'm not into the religious stuff at all but I understood her intent.
Her positive thoughts were lovely and she sent me with a smile as I left the building into the wave of heat.   I'm just hoping that that guy doesn't smoke while drinking his whole milk. That's not healthy. 
More from Las Aventuras soon. 


  1. the avocet is so pretty. and congrats on the nighthawk!

  2. AH! Now I am feeling a tad bit envious! Sounds like you had a wonderful adventure. I would love to see an eared grebe. Apparently we do occasionally see them here...but they are rare.

  3. Chris, I had to laugh about the worship the Audubon Society. I do too! I love this post especially the Lesser Nighthawk. Cool bird!

    Happy Birding!

  4. That's pretty interesting, all of it.
    Your photography is getting even better. That first shot kind of sparks the imagination.

  5. All of your shots are beautiful, Chris but the first one is absolutely delightful.

  6. The Nighthawk shot is fabulous! It looks like it blends so well into the tree. I always enjoy reading about your interesting experiences, especially how you give a glimpse into the whole setting that surrounds it. Whole milk & smokes...yuck!

  7. Oh My Gosh... You saw so many great birds. I'm so jealous!!!! The Nighthawk is a great find... Love the Grebe and the Avocet.... WOW WOW WOW!!!! Congrats.

  8. Beautiful post, Chris. Love the eared grebe and images.

  9. So it turned out that the people were as interesting as the birds....hmmm.


  10. The shots are all beautiful Chris!

  11. I am more fascinated with the way the Salton Sea was when it was far more massive Lake Cahuilla and it's influence on the surrounding regional climates. With the News last your in Geology circles where it was revealed that the Salton Buttes volcano last Erupted around 1000 CE, which is also BTW almost exactly when Sunset Crater blew it's top northeast of Flagstaff and also coincides with the gradual decline of Lake Cahuilla from that time forward. There are indicators of vegetation anomalies in the San Jacintos that this giant Lake may have influenced milder climate and most rainfall, even to the west, not just Arizona.


    1. That is absolutely cool! I had no idea but there is a definite change in habitat from Yuma to the sea area. It's fascinating. When do you come to Arizona?

  12. A great series of photos and beautiful birds. I am always amazed at the habitats where birds thrive as long as they are left undisturbed.

  13. Amen to Audubon. That whole are is, unusual. But you sure got some great shots there.

  14. dear, dear Chris, coming back to your blog after a while is a real tonic. This is a comment on the last few posts. First, the one about finding your purpose in life, to tell the bird stories while they are there. It's quite horrifying, the way the earth's resources are vanishing, species becoming extinct before they have even been discovered, let alone studied. But your posts about the Salton Sea, which I'd never heard of, and the role of Sonny Bono, restored my sense of hope somewhat. I love the sea, and looking at and hearing the sea birds, and I thoroughly enjoyed the vicarious hike.

  15. I simply love your adventures and how this one seems to have cheered you up more than the last ones... :-)
    The first shot of course reminds me of impressionism and Monet. Plus a bird on top of it adding to the dimension the link to mankind. With Audubon's help there is hope for a better future.

  16. The Nighthawk is the best, fancy bagging that, lovely.

  17. Love the first photo Chris and well done on getting one of the Lesser Nighthawk. Its always great to bird in new habitats and so glad you had such a good time.

  18. Great set of pictures.

    Glad you liked the post on my wordy blog - as you may have guessed I do put a bit of time into it!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  19. Finally, we have a bird in common - Caspian Tern!!! And it's SO cool that you kept your powers hidden ...

  20. It's now confirmed - your post has convinced me to put the Salton Sea on my bucket list. What a fabulous array of birds - and those Burrowing Owls are calling me!!

  21. Chris, I am so glad you took this trip and didn't wait for me! It was fun to see it through your eyes!

  22. Super series of bird shots Chris, some pretty unusual folk too :)Birding seems to be growing in popularity so much, I guess in a way that'll be a bit of a pain for you, too many people on the tracks yeh!


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