Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another ABA Bird and a Toe in California

This morning the sunrise found us back at the ground-dove spot next to Beverly's house.  But after following the requisite directions and waiting a while, the ruddies hadn't shown up.  So we took a walkabout.  We met John, who has a bunch of pens surrounding his house that have turned the place into a petting zoo.  He had some doves and told us they came in by the tons in the evening.  Overhead were squads of starlings and Red-winged Blackbirds that were hoping to feed in the nearby croplands.  Explosive caps kept going off to try to keep them from doing so.  The ruddies weren't at John's either, so we walked back to Beverly's.  She was out in her yard refilling her feeders.  I took another look in the direction of where the ruddies should be and there, walking in the grass like any love-struck couple, was a pair of Ruddy Ground-Doves (web photo).  The male seemed paler than I had expected until I recalled that the western subspecies is in fact significantly paler than the eastern race, the one I'm used to seeing in Mexico.  Another ABA bird!  We talked a bit with Beverly, told her how much we appreciated being allowed to intrude, and hopped back in the car for a short drive to a Circle K for a celebratory cup of coffee.
Where do you go when you've hit on the target bird early in the day?  To California, of course!  We set a course for the Salton Sea in an attempt to score on the Yellow-footed Gull.  We have a much better chance in winter than later in the year, since the birds go back to Baja to breed.  We got there before noon, and once we got oriented, we drove to the headquarters of the Sonny Bono NWR, got a map, and headed out to Obsidian Butte, the location where the gulls had been seen recently.  There were a lot of California Gulls in all plumages, many Western, Eared, and a few Clark's Grebes.  Brown and White Pelicans, a huge variety of ducks, and more gulls.  At our third stop-and-scan, we climbed out of the car and up a pile of obsidian chunks.  From that vantage I picked out an adult Yellow-footed Gull with its dark mantle, clean white head, bright yellow legs, and large bill (web photo).  Following high fives, we were on our way to the south end of the sea, looking along the way unsuccessfully for Burrowing Owls.  At the overlook for Unit One of the refuge we had Soras and Clapper Rail call.  Saw many Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets.  Lots more ducks and a huge number of white geese.  As if someone unseen had fired a cannon, the geese began to take flight.  There were more Ross's Geese than Snows.  There must have been over ten thousand geese in the air.  Quite a spectacle. 
We gassed up the car, got a portable meal, and headed back toward Tucson arriving at our Motel 6 at about 8:00pm.  Nice meal in a Thai restaurant nearby.  Tomorrow we'll bird around town, try to ditch the car tomorrow afternoon, and stay at a motel with a shuttle service to the airport.  Our flight on Friday departs at 5:30am.  The species total is now 347.


  1. 2 days 2 ABA birds . . . not a bad run . . . congrats (again)! Renee

  2. Are you counting birds you hear or just see because your list doesn't show Clapper Rail as observed?

  3. Bob sounds like you had great trip.

  4. Congrats on another ABA bird! Really enjoying reading the blog. -Will McPhail