2014-11-30 Birds At Vendel Road

Snow Geese

No trip to the Salton Sea is complete without paying a visit to Unit #1 of the Sonny Bono NWR at Vendel Road. In winter, it is an exceptional birding destination. Snow Geese and Sandhill Crane numbers are at their peak.

Fifteen years ago my visits here might turn up the occasional two or four cranes. In subsequent years, there seemed to be more of these great birds present. On my most recent visits, I’ve encountered several hundred cranes grazing in the fields here at Unit #1. I never tire of hearing their calls. They remind me of a low budget 1950s Sci Fi film’s sound effects.

Snow Geese are the main players on this stage. By the tens of thousands, they frequent the grain fields along Vendel Road. As they feed from the ground it is difficult to get a sense of their numbers. It’s only when they rise to the air en masse and fill the sky, you recognize how many of these birds are here. I’ve travelled to Bosque del Apache (New Mexico) in winter, and there the numbers are scaled up from those here. Still, this is pretty darn good.

Geese and cranes may be the stars, but they aren’t the only birds to found here. On this day I met Savannah Sparrow, Greater Yellowlegs, Turkey Vulture, American White Pelican, Sandhill Crane, Ross’s Goose, Snow Goose.

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