Thursday, 17 November 2016

White-faced Ibis, Sandhill Cranes, Peregrine Falcon(20161022) An initial trip to the Salton Sea.

Well, I have been wanting to go to the Salton Sea for about 4 years now and this was expected to be a great day. Little did we know at the time that this was the opening day for duck hunting season in California. We headed to the SE corner and arrived just as the light was getting to a point of being usable. We went to the look out and could just hear the Sandhill Cranes with their chortle.As we walked into the park Sandy's and other birds were just "lifting off" and heading to the fields to feed for the day. I took too many shots that just weren't going to be usuable in my enthusiasm. Here is a shot of a portion of a flock of White-faced Ibis' in the morning sky.
This next image is more of a behavioural shot. We had spotted this Red-tailed Hawk on the top of the pole when we walked in. The next thing we know it is being attacked and driven off by a Peregrin Falcon.
Here just a short time later is the aggressor successful in attaining the best seat in the house from which to spot its next meal.
The morning was full of birds flying about and providing super views. I am happy with Ibis "fly-by" showing mud on its feet and the colouration in the feathers.
As in Bolsa Chica this wetland had its fair share of Godwits about. I always loved to shoot them in Alberta when I was able to find them.
As we got back to the car this Great Blue Heron was very accomodating and at ease with our presence.
We decided to just sort of stroll around the roads a bit to see what we might be able to spot. This pair of Sandhill Cranes were in a flock of about 100 birds.
Here is another pair. It was just super to see these large birds at a reasonably close range. We probably saw between 1000 and 1500 of these beauties this morning.
I'll just add one more shot of a quartet of these graceful birds to this post. When i lived in the Yukon the appearance of these birds in the skies really signalled that Spring was here.
As mentioned before where ever there are birds in these kinds of concetrations the predators are here too. This was a very cooperative Red-Tailed, not something I am used to with these birds.
We had spotted some small birds in the bottom of some shrubbery that turned out to be White-crowned Sparrows, California seems to be full of them, and on the top of the shrubs was this smaller predator bird. Here is my best shot to-date of a  Loggerhead Shrike.
Soon we were zooming down paved roads heading from one hotspot to another. I think I shocked Neil when I spotted this little fella just off the side of the shoulder of the road. I had been hoping to find some Burrowing Owls, this was our first of the day. Yet another predator bird taking advantage of the bounty.
We were able to re-position the car and get a little closer to this beauty. I chose this shot to share to show the eye and how far they bulge out in front of the pupil.
Here it is with both eyes looking at the camera. What a treat to be able to spot and shoot such a fierce hunter in the broad daylight.
Just a little further up the road I spotted this second Owl. I love how I was able to catch it with it eyes closed. The eyebrows look like one of my great-uncles. I also like that you can see so much of the beak.
Sorry for all the shots of the Owls, but they are one of my favourite birds. Here is the same bird with its eyes open.
I'll wrap the morning session of our day up here. What a super spot to stop. With environments like this available, California is an easy spot to put a little "wild" in your life every day!

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