The Salton Sea
RV_at_Salton_Sea_2015_1My RV parked in the campground at sunset at the Salton Sea, California About 170 miles east of Los Angeles is a vast body of water where millions of birds spend the winter. October marks the beginning of their arrival, and thus my interest in visiting this oasis in the California desert for the first time.
I had never heard of the Salton Sea until I read a blog post from a fellow female photographer and full-time RVer (Annie McKinnell, who travels with her husband) showcasing her dancing egret photo. What was this place with dancing birds? Where was it? What was the best time of year? What animals like the area? How do I get there?
I came to California this month to photograph my cousin's wedding. (Beautiful wedding, couple, and day by the way.) I had initially planned to head to Tennessee immediately after the wedding to photograph black bears in fall colors - that is until reality set in about how much gas an RV consumes and how slow an RV travels.
So I decided it would be better to stay in California before heading back to Colorado in mid November, and explore what this third-largest state in the U.S. has to offer in regards to wildlife photography.
Salton Sea, which was almost directly east of where the wedding was located and is the largest lake in California, became my first stop on my tour of California.
I knew I only had one night/two days to visit since I had plans to meet a friend in Malibu.
Since October is on the front end of the bird season at Salton Sea I decided to make this more of a scouting trip rather than a trip to photograph everything. I have to say that for a scouting trip, where I just picked up information and checked out what was near the campground, I was very pleased with what I found. I will definitely be back this winter to spend more time with the birds.
So here is a short photo essay of the birds I saw within walking distance of the campground. Without even counting or doing a serious bird search I saw 16 species: American white pelicans, brown pelicans, snowy egrets, great egrets, green heron, black-necked stilts, great blue heron, great horned owl, roadrunner, eared grebe, coots, killdeer, California gull, western grebes, Caspian tern, and the new bird for me, the black-bellied plover.Bird_Salton_Sea_2015_2A black-bellied plover walks along a rocky ridge of salt along the shores of the Salton Sea, California.
Tern_Salton_Sea_2015_4A Caspian tern flys against the distant mountains at sunrise to hunt for fish in the Salton Sea, California Caspian tern
Green_heron_Salton_Sea_2015_1A green heron sits on the dock near a fishing hole at the Salton Sea, California Not the best of photos as I was shooting into the sun to prevent scaring off the bird - green heron
Great_egret_Salton_Sea_2015_1A great egret (Ardea alba) stands in the morning sun as he fishes along the edge of the Salton Sea, California Great egret
Brown_pelican_Salton_Sea_2015_2A brown pelican flys against a sky full of whte, fluffy clouds at Salton Sea, California Brown pelican
Brown_pelicans_Salton_Sea_2015_1A group of brown pelicans fly low across the water as the colors of sunset light up the sky above the Santa Rosa Mountains at the Salton Sea, California Brown pelicans at sunset
California_gull_Salton_Sea_2015_1A California gull flys through the air in the morning sunlight at the Salton Sea, California California gull
Black-necked_stilt_2015_Salton_Sea_4A black-necked stilt wades in the shallow water along the shore of the Salton Sea in California. Black-necked stilt
American_white_pelican_Salton_Sea_2015_1An American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) swims through the blue water on a sunny morning at the Salton Sea, California. American white pelican
Great_egret_Salton_Sea_2015_2A great egret (Ardea alba) chases off another egret at a fishing hold at the Salton Sea, California Great egrets
Snowy_egret_Salton_Sea_2015_1A snowy egret lands in the water along the edge of some rocks in a fishing hole at the Salton Sea, California. Snowy egret
Dead_Fish_Salton_Sea_2015_2Areas of the beach at the Salton Sea can be covered with piles of dead fish. The salt content of the water increases each year as more and more run-off enters the lake with little fresh water inflow and no outlet for the water to escape. This high salinity level - the Salton Sea is 40 percent saltier than the ocean - causes the water to be unsustainable for many species of fish. As a result, hundreds of dead fish wash up on the shores each summer.
Salton_Sea_Beach_2015_1The beach on the Salton Sea is made up of salt crystals and broken shells - rough on the feet but a beautiful white beach. The beach is covered in rough salt deposits and broken shells; wear shoes.