Salton Sea 2012
Roger, Rich, Bill, and Lew's birding photography trip Diary to the Salton Sea Feb. 26 - Mar 2, 2012

02/26/12 We arrived at Rich's house at 11:00am with our gear. Got packed up into Rich's 38' diesel pusher RV and left around noon. Arrived at Wiest Lake around 2:30pm and got set up at a nice site over looking the lake. We had full hook ups and a concrete pad. After unloading all our gear we drove to Brawley to do some shopping at Vons. I barbecued a tri-tip roast from Costco for dinner which turned out very good. We had a Costco packed salad with the roast. Watched some satellite TV and retired early. The RV sofa was just long enough for me so I did not have any extensive setup. Bill Remlinger set up his sleeping pad on the floor in the living room with me. He snored very lightly so I was able to sleep well.

02/27/12 We had cereal, fruit, and coffee for breakfast. We decided to drive to Sonny Bono Salton Sea Wild Life Refuge Visitor Center from Google map directions which I brought along. It turned out that the directions I had were not for the Visitor Center and we ended up way south and got hopelessly lost. We almost came to blows finding our way to the Visitor Center, but finally worked out a way to get there, without the help of the gps as it did not have the visitor center in its data base. Got info about the area from the ranger. We next went to Obsidian Bluffs for some birding. Rich drove his jeep up one of the bluffs on a pathetic jeep road. It was so steep and rocky that I almost shit my pants from fright. The birding highlight was finding a nice pair of Burrowing Owls, the best looking of the trip. Returned to the campground and met Lew who had driven over from San Diego in his SUV. We all went out for dinner to a Mexican takeout restaurant called Johnny's Burritos in Brawley. The food was good and cheap. We all had Carne Asada. We had 40-60 mph severe wind this evening, but it mostly subsided by morning with no damage to the RV.

02/28/12 Got up at 6:00am and had Harvest Bread Bakery toast and coffee for breakfast. We drove to Sonny Bono Salton Sea Wildlife Refuge with 2 SUV's for birding. We walked on the trail along the sea approximately a mile one way. There were lots of birds on the sea and in the ponds on the trail. Lew and Bill photographed a coyote at close range that was trying to catch an American White Pelican. I was talked into attempting to photograph birds on the fly and actually met with some success. I was very skeptical that I would not be able to do it, but with practice it became easier and even addictive. After a couple hours we left and visited various birding sites on the Salton Sea. On our way back we stopped at Ramer Lake and was impressed by the number of birds present. Unfortunately the birds were very skittish and it was very difficult to get close to them. Returned to the RV about 4:30pm. Bill made spaghetti and meat balls with salad for dinner, which was good. I got stuck washing the dishes with some very nasty dirty pots and pans. Rich and Lew discussed politics after a couple glasses of wine. I mostly stayed out of it, as Lew was a very skillful debater and on the opposite side I was for. I decided that Lew would make a successful politician if he decided to enter the frey. Went to bed early.

02/29/12 Got up early for breakfast and headed to Unit 1 at the southern end of the Lake. Returned around 1:00pm via Ramer Lake to the RV. We all had lunch and the rest of them group took off again to do sunset shots at Obsidian Bluff. I was tired and stayed in camp to rest, shower, and down load my photos. They got back around 7:00pm. Rich barbecued chicken tonight which was very tasty. We had baked beans and potato salad with the chicken. We then enjoyed wine and looked at each other's photos on our laptops and ipads.

03/01/12 Lew returned to San Diego in the morning. Bill, Rich, and I toured some places we had not gone to and luckily found a huge blizzard of White-faced Ibis and Cattle Egrets at highway 111 and Sinclair road. I bought Brandt's Beef Carne Asada $12/pound (the best Carne anywhere in my opinion) from Ramey's Meats & Locker Service in Brawley for dinner. I also bought some fresh uncooked tortillas, tomatoes, lime, cilantro, and onions from Vons. Barbecued the meat which was just so excellent.

03/02/12 We left Wiest Lake around 11:00am for San Diego. The wind on the top of the mountain was was very severe and scary. Rich later discovered that his TV antenna rabbit ears were bent upright by the strong wind. Arrived at Rich's house around 1:00pm.


Final Bird List for the Salton Sea Trip

Common Name Scientific Name
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana
American Coot Fulica americana
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Barn Owl Tyto alba
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Brandt's Cormorant Phalacrocorax penicillatus
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
Burrowing Owl Athene cinicularia
Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus
California Quail Callipepla californica
California Towhee Pipilo crissalis
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Clark's Grebe Aechmophorus clarkii
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Common Raven Corvus corax
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Eared Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Field Sparrow Spizella pusilla
Gambel's Quail Callipepla gambelii
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Great Egret Ardea alba
Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus
Green Heron Butorides virescens
Harris's Sparrow Zonotrichia querula
Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Ross's Goose Chen rossii
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Sanderling Calidris alba
Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus
Snow Goose Chen caerulescens
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta
White Ibis Eudocimus albus
White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Total Species Count 55