Monday, 19 January 2009

Salton Sea, California 17 Jan 09

This was mainly a travel day from Salton Sea to Los Angeles, but I decided to have a quick look at the successful Sprague’s Pipit field again and see if I could digi-scope some pipits. I headed straight for the shorter grass and within a few minutes I’d found my first Sprague’s Pipit. Unfortunately, the bird flushed before I saw it and it flew up calling (similar to a the liquid “shreeep” call of a Richard’s Pipit, but weaker and often given twice). It gained height and flew off east until it was a speck in the bins and then eventually disappeared without any sign it was going to land any time soon!

I hunted around for about 5 minutes more, when I flushed another bird. This time it only flew about 30 metres and landed back in the field. I walked around to get sun-side of it and soon found it wandering around in the grass with a second bird nearby. I spent the next 2 hours with the bird, slowly walking it to the end of the field, letting it stop and feed every few minutes until it seemed relatively happy with my presence. I stopped to digi-scope it at every opportunity, until the bird reached the end of the field, much of which was devoid of any vegetation. Although it hesitated to go out into the open, I finally coaxed it out and it showed really well, occasionally running up the sandy bank of a drainage channel wall which bordered the field.

After a while I left the bird and spent a short while walking another part of the field. 5 Chestnut-collared Longspurs where a nice surprise – a bird I haven’t seen for about 15 years, on the Canadian Prairies. Also a flock of 30 Horned Larks flew around the field, one of which landed quite close and provided a good photo opportunity.

And so my trip to Salton Sea came to an end. I drove back to the motel, packed up my stuff and headed off to LA.

The usual view of Sprague's Pipit

With some patience, some good views of Sprague's Pipits can be obtained

Horned Lark

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