Sunday, April 24, 2005

24th April - Goodbye Salton Sea

Our last morning in the Salton Sea area, much to Vitty's relief. A fairly early start for me at the Wister Unit while Vitty had a lie in. Here a good selection of passerines included 7 Audubon's Warblers (the western form of Yellow-rumped Warbler) and a male American Redstart. The latter is rare in California but this bird had over-wintered here.

I continued south along Davis Road seeing Peregrine, Wilson's Phalarope, 4 White-faced Ibises on the deck (I had seen 650 in previous days but all in flight) and 10 Snowy Plovers.

In the MacDonald Road area the place was teaming with birds: 800 Western Sandpipers, 126 Red-necked Phalaropes, 250 American Coots and 490 Northern Shovelers. There was also a Chilean Flamingo there which was part of a countable feral population.

It was now time to leave this hotspot behind, so we headed north towards Joshua Tree National Park. We cut across Box Canyon which provided nice scenery and a few birds, including a copulating pair of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers.

We arrived in Joshua Tree NP a bit earlier than planned which was fortunate as we had to drive all the way across to Twentynine Palms to get food. Along the way we stopped at the Cactus Gardens, a place Vitty had wanted to visit. The scenery throughout Joshua Tree NP was spectacular and the wildlife included Sidewinder snakes, Cactus Wren, Black-throated Sparrows, Phainopeplas and Loggerhead Shrikes.

We were camping at the Cottonwood Campsite but decided it would be more comfortable sleeping in the car than risking our marriage trying to put up the tent again! Last bird was my first Lawrence's Goldfinch beside the camping lot.