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RUFF and other sightings at Salton Sea - 2 and 3 Aug 2007

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  • Justin Bosler
    Hello CALBIRDS, Brent Campos, Devin Bosler and I birded the Salton Sea vicinity, Imperial and Riverside Counties, on Wednesday and Thursday, 2 and 3 August
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 6, 2007
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      Hello CALBIRDS,

      Brent Campos, Devin Bosler and I birded the Salton Sea vicinity, Imperial and Riverside Counties, on Wednesday and Thursday, 2 and 3 August 2007. Howard King kindly posted Brent’s and Devin’s sightings from earlier on Wednesday (Inland County), so this post pertains mostly to the RUFF found on Wednesday afternoon and sightings from Thursday. As luck would have it, my first stop after being picked up at the Greyhound station in El Centro was at the flooded ag field on the east side of Garst Road. It was here where Devin spotted the basic adult male RUFF within a minute of stepping out of the car. We quickly threw our scopes up to get a better look at this dazzling shorebird. Several features suggested that this was a basic adult male. First, he was a drab (for a Ruff) two-toned gray above and white below. Its larger size, bi-colored bill, and yellow-orange legs were indicative of an adult male. We watched the Ruff actively feed and preen from 1545h until 1730h when it
      took flight with five Long-billed Dowitchers and headed west over the sea. During his brief afternoon visit, the Ruff was one of the most active shorebirds in the field. He appeared almost desperate in his attempt to forage. The clumps of emergent vegetation were the favored hunting patches as he sprinted from clump to clump snatching prey from stems and blades, high and low. Oftentimes he would extend his neck and lunge forward to snag prey from the higher reaches. Photographs and further description of the Ruff can be found on my Picasa web album at the following link.


      Another shorebird which was not present in the morning along Garst Road was WHIMBREL, 140 individuals in total, which seemed to be resting more between flights rather than foraging. Nearly all of the Whimbrels were gone by 1730h when the dowitchers and Ruff took flight. In addition to the large numbers of Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, and Marbled Godwit, were thousands of Dunlins and Western Sandpipers. Black Tern numbers were also quite impressive, especially near the terminus of Garst Road. The adult HEERMAN’S GULL seen by Brent and Devin on Thursday was not relocated on Friday. Below are highlights from Friday, 3 August 2007.

      FRIDAY, 3 AUGUST 2007:
      ==Wood Stork- 11 (7 ads, 4 juvs.; terminus of McDonald Rd.)
      ==Roseate Spoonbill- 3 (ads.; corner of Davis/McDonald Rd.)
      ==Stilt Sandpiper- 2 (Hazard Rd.; down from 12 on 8/2)
      ==Ruddy Turnstone- 1 (ad. breeding; terminus of Garst Rd.)
      ==Common Tern- 1 (ad. breeding; Red Hill Marina)
      ==ELEGANT TERN- 1 (ad. non-breeding; Red Hill Marina)
      ==Franklin’s Gull- 1 (ad. non-breeding; Red Hill Marina)
      ==Yellow-footed Gull- 250+ (terminus of Garst Rd. and Red Hill Marina)
      ==Peregrine Falcon- 2 (ad. and juv. along CA-111)

      Our last stop of the day was at the Whitewater River Delta, on the north end of Salton Sea. Several hours here were relatively uneventful despite the large concentration of pelicans, waders, gulls and terns, especially near the river mouth. A walk to the mouth of the Whitewater River produced only the expected species, which included hundreds of American White Pelicans, Brown Pelicans, California Gulls, Caspian Terns, Forster’s Terns, and both Aechmophorus grebes. We tallied approximately 30 Yellow-footed Gulls (nearly all adults) near the river mouth. The flooded fields off of Lincoln Street were fairly productive with numerous Western Sandpipers, and smaller numbers of Long-billed Dowitcher, Dunlin, Wilson’s Phalarope, Least Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, and both stilts and avocets. All of the following highlights pertain to sightings along Johnson Street unless otherwise mentioned.

      ==Bonaparte’s Gull- 2 (ad. non-breeding)
      ==Herring Gull- 1 (3rd-summer)
      ==Reddish Egret- 1 (juv.; ad. seen by BC on 8/2)
      ==Little Blue Heron- 6 (6 imm.; all seen together beneath or perched on snag)

      Sorry for the belated post. We’ve had a difficult time accessing the internet over the past few days.

      Good birding,
      Justin Bosler
      LSU-Baton Rouge

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