RSS

Tag Archives: salton sea

Yellow-footed Gulls, Salton Sea and Earthquakes

Osprey
Osprey

Whilst photographing this Osprey, a 3.8 earthquake in Brawley hit. I first thought someone had rear-ended my car. Checked my mirror, nope wasn’t that. Maybe a gust of wind? Looked at nearby trees, just a slight breeze. Finally concluded it must have been an earthquake. I shrugged it off and went back to photographing the Osprey…nevermind, he took off flying. Guess they aren’t ones for earthquakes either!

On the way home my wife called to tell me that everyone was talking about all the earthquakes in Brawley! I checked on my earthquake app and realized there was an earthquake swarm happening the entire day I was there. I only felt the 3.8 earthquake and must have been driving when the others struck. There were over 300+ earthquakes that day ranging from 5.5, 5.3, 5.0, 4.8 and below.

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

One of the many joys of visiting the Salton Sea, are the over abundance of Burrowing Owls…everywhere! Lots of juvenile birds this time of year as well.

I finally achieved my gull of photographing different cycle/year Yellow-footed Gulls. Each summer I visit the sea in hopes of getting better 1st, 2nd and 3rd cycle birds but usually only find close adult birds. Today I managed to get very close to a 1st cycle and 3rd cycle Yellow-footed Gull, along with the ubiquitous adult birds all around the southern end of the Salton Sea.

Yellow-footed Gull
Yellow-footed Gull

Yellow-footed Gull (3rd cycle)
Yellow-footed Gull (2nd cycle)

Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle)
Yellow-footed Gull (1st cycle)

 

Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Photography Adventures

Leave a comment

Tags: , , , , ,

Thanksgiving Road Trip

Just returned from a ~2,000 mile road trip that took us from the Salton Sea in California to Sedona, Arizona and up to Page, Arizona to visit the infamous Upper Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

Trip Route
Trip Route

We started off at the Sea searching again for the Bean Goose in vain. I did get some more nice photos of Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese as their numbers continue to increase exponentially each day as more and more of them are coming in to winter in the fields.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

Snow Goose
Snow Goose

We also found numerous (1st cycle) Glaucous-winged Gulls around the sea. Didn’t find any Lesser Black-backed Gulls so I’d say the GWGU was probably the most interesting Gull in the area.

Glaucous-winged Gull
Glaucous-winged Gull

We left and continued our way toward Sedona in the early afternoon and arrived just before dusk. The following morning we woke up at 3AM to make the 200 mile trek north to Page, Arizona to photograph the world renowned Horseshoe Bend. This canyon was formed by the Colorado River and marks the start of The Grand Canyon. When we arrived it was just over 30F and starting to snow. I was hoping the skies would part just slightly to allow for a nice sunrise shot but it stayed overcast all morning.

Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend

We headed back into town (Page, Arizona) to warm up and have some breakfast while we waited for our 10AM tour of Upper Antelope Canyon. Since Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon all reside on the Navajo Reservation, they require that you make reservations to visit this sacred land with a guide. The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” Lower Antelope Canyon is called, Hazdistazí. Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways are eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic ‘flowing’ shapes in the rock.

Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon

Although this wasn’t the best time to photograph the canyon – summertime is the best when the sun reaches it’s peak and a “ray of light” can be photographed as it shines through the fissures above – it was still a beautiful and remarkable place. It’s no surprise that this was a place of spiritual enlightenment to the Navajo.

On the way back to Sedona we stopped at Wupatki National Monument to try and find some Abert’s Squirrels. We didn’t find any but a playful Steller’s Jay came to visit.

Steller's Jay
Steller’s Jay

A scenic drive around the Lake Mary and Mormon Loop, just southeast of Flagstaff, yielded a flock of over 75 Pinyon Jays!

Pinyon Jay
Pinyon Jay

We spent Thanksgiving Day with Sara’s family in Sedona – they own a condo unit there – and did some sightseeing in the area. Temperatures dipped into the low 30’s while we were there. It lightly snowed but didn’t stick on the ground for long. On our drive home we took an alternate route down the I-8 through Gila Bend and stopped in Yuma County along the way to find a juvenile Streak-backed Oriole that Paul Lehman had discovered the day before.

Streak-backed Oriole
Streak-backed Oriole

It had found it’s way up from Sonora, Mexico to just about the only yard in the entire Yuma County that had lush trees and vegetation. We waited over two hours before the Oriole finally presented itself to feed- most likely due to the high winds.

While we were waiting I was able to get smashing photos of Crissal and Curve-billed Thrasher that were actively foraging on the ground. The car works as such a great blind!

Crissal Thrasher
Crissal Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher
Curve-billed Thrasher

We stopped at the Salton Sea one more time on the way home and missed the Bean Goose once again! I’m one for three now…I am just thankful I was able to obtain good photos and documentation the day after it was discovered, earlier this month.

Again, I was able to get some MORE photos of Snow and Ross’ Geese – along with Sandhill Cranes – as if I didn’t have enough already! The afternoon sunset was beautiful though and the cranes against the yellow sky of the setting sky turned out nicely.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

Snow Goose
Snow Goose

Ross's Goose
Ross’s Goose

A very cooperative male Belted Kingfisher allowed for close approach and some nice photos. I was hoping it would fly over and land on a more “natural” setting – like a tree branch? But it seemed to prefer the telephone line!

Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher

That’s all for now. We are off to Portland, Oregon on Friday!

 

Posted by on November 30, 2010 in Photography Adventures

1 Comment

Tags: , , , , , ,

Taiga Bean-Goose – Success!

UPDATE: Experts are saying this is the even rarer “Anser fabalis middendorffii” subspecies and based on latest estimates, only 5,000 individuals exist in Eastern Siberia. Quote from Lee G R Evans, British Birding Association:

“This really looks great – a real mega – MIDDENDORFF’S BEAN GOOSE is a very rare bird now with perhaps no more than 5,000 birds now surviving in eastern Siberia.

This bird looks to be a considerable ‘Taiga’ Bean Goose in all proportions with a particularly striking bill, very long and deep at the base with a restricted amount of yellow-orange towards the tip of the upper mandible. It also has the characteristic large-headed appearance of Middendorff’s and a pale breast and heavily defined mantle and wing markings.

Middendorff’s Bean Goose is worthy of full species status using the PSC concept and is markedly different in a number of structural ways to the Western Bean Goose (fabalis). However, it is very similar to Johansen’s Bean Goose (johanseni), which breeds on the taiga of west Siberia from the Urals to Lake Baikal and winters in western China and west as far as Iran and most likely intergardes on occasions like most wildfowl.

Superb find.”

News spread rapidly when a Taiga Bean-Goose was seen and photographed late Tuesday afternoon at Unit 1 of the Salton Sea NWR. Considering this is the first time one has ever been found in California, I decided to wake up at 3:30AM Wednesday morning to drive to the Sea from LA.

The 3 hour drive was well worth the trip as the bird was being viewed by 30+ birders as I pulled up. Unfortunately it was over 200 yards away! However, I’d take a 3 hour drive and 200 yard scope views over having to fly to Europe/Russia/Asia where they are normally found. Check out the range map here:


Bean-Goose Range Map
Bean-Goose Range Map

I tried my best to get decent photographs but the contributing factors of distance and heat waves were working against me. I managed to get one decent photograph while it was sitting on the ground but the flight shots were by far the best since there weren’t as many heat waves as when it was sitting on the ground.


Taiga Bean-Goose
Taiga Bean-Goose

Taiga Bean-Goose
Taiga Bean-Goose

Taiga Bean-Goose
Taiga Bean-Goose

 

Posted by on November 11, 2010 in Photography Adventures

Leave a comment

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Bean Goose “Taiga” @ Salton Sea

There is now a reported Bean Goose at Unit One of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR on Vendel Road. Paul Lehman adds this note:

“To add to what Bob Miller posted, a single photo of this bird was sent to Guy McCaskie this afternoon around 3PM, and then forwarded to me and many others. It appears to be a Bean Goose, and based on the bill shape I would say it likely a Taiga Bean-Goose (“Middendorff’s”) rather than a Tundra Bean-Goose. Both species (recently split just a couple years ago) have occurred in Alaska, and at least Middendorff’s has also occurred in southern Canada and the Lower 48 states several times.”

Here is the photo that Al Kalin took of the bird:

Bean Goose
“Taiga” Bean Goose @ Salton Sea

 

Posted by on November 9, 2010 in Photography Adventures

1 Comment

Tags: , , , , , ,

Salton Sea – Aug 15

Salton Sea
Salton Sea

I spent a lovely Saturday at the Salton Sea with temperatures barely peaking over 100F. I had anticipated much warmer temperatures and was surprised to find it not only being cooler than your typical mid-August day but the pleasant aroma of decaying fish seemed to be missing as well.

Salton Sea
Salton Sea

I also noticed the water levels were a bit higher then usual contributing to less beach being exposed which significantly cut down the amount of flies that usually swarm your car whenever you roll down your window or open the door!

Salton Sea
Salton Sea

I began the day at Unit 1 located at the extreme SW corner of the sea. Along the dirt road to Unit 1 there were many Burrowing Owls catching some early morning sun including several juvenile Owls as well.

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl (juvenile)

At the ponds, there were many of the usual suspects including American Avocet, Black-necked Stilts, Western Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitcher and a good number of Stilt Sandpipers!

Stilt Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper

American Avocet
American Avocet

There were a lot of juvenile Black-necked Stilts around that didn’t seem to have learned to be weary of people yet!

Black-necked Stilt
Black-necked Stilt

Among the hundreds of Wilson’s Phalaropes I found a lone Red-necked Phalarope couple. The only two I saw all day at the Sea.

Red-necked Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope

After leaving Unit 1 I headed north/north east along the coast toward Obsidian Butte. I spotted an Osprey feeding on a fish up in a tree and an adult Peregrine Falcon perched just a couple yards from it not seeming to mind the presence of the Osprey at all.

Osprey
Osprey

Continuing along the road, I spooked up a Wood Stork that was feeding in a ditch beside the road just South of Obsidian Butte. It flew off into the distance and just as I was losing hope it would come back it circled around and flew into a tree a little ways down the road.

Wood Stork
Wood Stork

Wood Stork
Wood Stork

See if you can spot the Wood Stork perched up in the trees in the photo below:

Salton Sea
Salton Sea

Later on in the afternoon, I met up with some friends at the Red Hill Marina. We started scoping the sandpiper/gull flocks along the old boat ramps. After not finding anything interesting, three peeps flew right by us and landed just a few yards away in the water below. I quickly exclaimed it’s a Semipalmated Sandpiper and not just one, there’s three of them!

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper

A quick stop at the north-end of Garst Road didn’t yield much although we did find at least two Large-billed Savannah Sparrows. They were being ultra secretive so I wasn’t able to get any photos of them. Instead I took a picture of the car!

Salton Sea
Salton Sea

We decided to head back toward Unit 1 to double check all the areas I covered earlier in the day. We first stopped at the Wood Stork location and found him feeding along the ditch. He quickly spooked and flew back into the same trees I photographed him earlier in.

We continued South to the intersection of Lack/Lindsey Rd. to again scan the Gull and Tern flocks there. Just as we were about to leave I spotted a Common Tern sitting on an old piece of rusted pipe laying in the water.

Common Tern
Common Tern

Not much more that day. Although at the extreme West end of Young Rd. we found a group of about 19 Brant feeding along a irrigation drainage stream. There were also a couple of young birds in the group.

Brant
Brant

There were also lots of White-faced Ibis and Cattle Egrets feeding along all the agricultural fields that surround the southern end of the Salton Sea.

White-faced Ibis
White-faced Ibis

Click the image below to see the GPS track logs of where I traveled:

 

Posted by on August 18, 2009 in Photography Adventures

2 Comments

Tags: , , , , ,

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline