Southwest Birders
Read about our adventures and thoughts on birding in Arizona, California, and other locales. Check back weekly for updates!

April 2013
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Denton and Seal
Filed under: California
Posted by: Bob @ 3:03 pm

Hi all,

The full set of pictures from this day can be viewed by clicking HERE

Bill and Nancy Denton, Jim Seal, and I spent the weekend of February 9 -10 birding the Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea.

Horned Lark.

One of the best birds we had over the weekend was the one did NOT even see! We had stopped near Brandt Cattle Company on Brandt Road to view a large flock of Cattle Egrets that were taking a morning break. While viewing our photographs on Monday we noticed this “blue” bird in the mix!! Our best images are not definitive enough to say it is positively a Little Blue Heron but unless it is a Cattle Egret that some comedian dyed blue…… As odd as that sounds, someone had dyed a Cattle Egret bright pink near Ramona, CA a few years ago?!

Cattle Egret and probable Little Blue Heron.

Tens of thousands of Northern Pintail, over 700 Sandhill Crane, numerous Mallard and American Wigeon and a few Canada Goose were gathering in the area near Keystone and Dogwood Roads for most of the winter. 

Northern Pintail, Sandhill Crane, Canada Goose.

Near Dogwood and Schartz Roads, many Mountain Plover were in this Bermuda grass field that was already coming on strong after being burned off.

Viewing Mountain Plover.

Mountain Plover, the Prairie Ghost.

Burrowing Owl pair.

We watched this Greater Roadrunner eat a lizard and then sing for us before we moved on!

Greater Roadrunner

Cattle Call Park in Brawley.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow.

There were two males and a female Vermilion Flycatcher on Pound Road east of Davis Road.

Male Vermilion Flycatcher.

Among the critters at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR were this Desert Cottontail and a singing male Gambel’s Quail.

Desert Cottontail rabbit.

Male Gambel’s Quail.

See ya at the sea……………………………………

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California Adventure, Apr 2-8, 2013
Filed under: General, California
Posted by: Henry @ 10:22 pm

Göran, Lena, and I had a fine week-long birding adventure starting just south of San Francisco.  We visited the redwoods, Big Sur, the San Jacinto Mts., the Salton Sea, Anza Borrego, the Laguna Mts., and San Diego, ending up with 214 species.  Some of our highlights are here; a day-by-day account with more photos will be up on our website soon!

At Monterey we listened to crying Pigeon Guillemots.

Big Sur was foggy, but we perservered and got a Spotted Owl the first night and two California Condors the next afternoon.  At Piedras Blancas we saw a huge Elephant Seal nursery.

The San Jacintos provided a wealth of montane birds, including White-headed Woodpecker.  At the Salton Sea we got Snowy Plover, many Ospreys, and five charasmatic Burrowing Owls.

Anza Borrego afforded us views of a spectacular desert bighorn.  In the Laguna Mts. we watched a flock of Tricolored Blackbirds at Jacumba, Pine Siskins at the Julian Birdwatcher, and then both heard and spied the elusive Mountain Quail along Kitchen Creek Road.

Our final day was spent birding San Diego in the wind and rain; a dozen Surfbirds on the Imperial Beach jetty were loving it.

The days flew by, and ended with a Red-crowned Parrot screeching his goodbyes as I left Göran and Lena at Fisherman’s Landing–where they caught a pelagic trip to Baja!

Good birding!

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Alma Canyon
Filed under: California
Posted by: Bob @ 2:28 pm

Hi all,

It has been a very busy and fun winter so I will have many more adventures to share when I can!

Steve Ritt was interested in hiking up Alma Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert SP in search of Gray Vireo and asked if I would like to go along. Well YEAH!! I had never been up that canyon so we met at sunrise on February 3, in the Elephant Tree Discovery Trail parking area several miles south of Ocotillo Wells on Split Mountain Road. The morning started out overcast, which is my favorite in the desert, and the sun was out by mid morning. We never did find Gray vireo but had a grand day of exploration. I ran out of gas about a mile short of Starfish Cove so Steve pressed on and we met up back at the mouth of the canyon on the way down. I hiked about 10.3 miles and Steve did another two miles on top of that!

The full set of pictures from this day can be viewed on my flikr page at this LINK

The sun reaches Split Mountain to the south.

Halfway to the mouth of Alma Canyon in the distance.

A most unusual Fish-hook or Nipple Cactus (Mammillaria dioica)

Side-blotched lizard genus Uta are abundant but a complicated family and this is probably Common side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana)

Male Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)

Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata)

Steve at an Elephant Tree.

Paper-like bark on the trunk of the Elephant Tree or Torote (Bursera microphylla)

Wright’s Metalmark (Calephelis wrighti) on its host plant Sweetbush (Bebbia juncea).

Looking east across the Salton Sea, Imperial Valley, Algodones Dunes and the Chocolate Mountains.

Below is my eBird report for the day.

See ya at the sea………………………………….

Anza-Borrego Desert SP–Elephant Tree Forest, San Diego, US-CA
Feb 3, 2013 6:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
10.34 mile(s)
Comments:     With Steve Ritt
19 species

Red-tailed Hawk  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Great Horned Owl  1
Costa’s Hummingbird  10
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
Say’s Phoebe  5
Loggerhead Shrike  3
Common Raven  4
Verdin  5
Rock Wren  10
Canyon Wren  6
Cactus Wren  2
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher  4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  3
Phainopepla  15
Orange-crowned Warbler  2
Black-throated Sparrow  15
House Finch  5
Lesser Goldfinch  5

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

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Cibola NWR
Filed under: General, California
Posted by: Henry @ 7:36 pm

Greetings Birders,

This morning (Apr 1, 2013) I spent about 2 1/2 hours at Cibola NWR and came up with a list of 50 species.  Best birds were 2 NEOTROPICAL CORMORANTS at the farmer’s pond in Palo Verde and a MASKED DUCK at the Hart Mine Marsh.

A CRISSAL THRASHER was close to the new Colorado River bridge. A BELL’S VIREO was singing on the Cornfield Nature Trail, but otherwise the trail was pretty quiet.  As expected, the geese, waterfowl, and cranes have all departed.  Three BURROWING OWLS were visible along the Goose Loop.

At the Hart Mine Marsh a KILLDEER was incubating four eggs and the YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS were drowning out everything but the MARSH WRENS.  Didn’t hear one rail.  The best bird of the day (the MASKED DUCK) showed briefly, and then disappeared in the reeds.  A poor photos follows:

Masked Duck at Cibola NWR

Directions to these areas are in my new La Paz County bird-finding guide:

Good hunting!