Over the past week I visited the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge to do some birding, and of course when I go birding I bring my camera. Although I have visited this refuge a number of times in the winter, it’s been a long time since I did any birding there during the summer, and for good reason. You will find during the summer months that for most days the temperature is generally over 100, with 107+ not being unusual. My passion for birding and photography decreases proportionately to a temperature increase over 95! I was fortunate, though, because one day while I was there thunderstorms covered the area and a record(according to their news accounts) amount of rain fell, ½ inch! During that particular day the temperature didn’t get past 90 and I enjoyed some good birding and took some decent pictures. For a short while, though, with the gray clouds and rain, it was reminiscent of the Northwest and I missed home and the Ridgefield NWR.
It’s always good to get back home to the NW and to our home refuge. Speaking of the home refuge, I’m sure most of you are aware that the River “S” Unit has been closed since September 12 and will remain closed till the end of the month. This closure is for road repairs and the construction of new turnouts and a new section of road. The Carty Unit will still be open. Since most of my time volunteering, birding, and taking pictures is done at the River “S” Unit, I will miss not being there. I will also miss not being able to contribute to the Weekly Bird Sightings Page on the Friends website.
This Weekly Bird Sightings Page is pretty much self-automated now. Of course, the sightings from about 25 birders who contribute to the database is still needed. This database automatically puts the birds in taxonomical order and keeps record of the sightings for each week. This will provide a valuable resource for the refuge as they look at the abundance or rarity of particular species for any given time period. You will notice that there are three links on this Sightings Page for 1) a Compilation of Sightings List since January 1 of the current year, 2) the Archives of Weekly Bird Sightings since we started recording them (2007), and 3) the Target List, a list of birds that were seen the previous week but not yet seen for the current week. All of this is done automatically, thanks to my son Todd, who donated his time a couple of months ago to make this page much more efficient and also to make it a much more valuable resource.
Some of the unusual and rare birds that have been sighted at the refuge since August 12 have been: Greater White-fronted Goose, Redhead, Black-crowned Night Heron, Snowy Egret, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs, Sanderling, Solitary Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Eurasian Collared Dove, Rufous and Anna’s Hummingbirds, Eurasian Collared Dove, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Pacific-slope flycatcher, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and Chipping Sparrow.