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2017-01-17: A Great Day At The Salton Sea

It was a great day at the Salton Sea yesterday. I arrived too late Monday for any work photographically, but it allowed me to be there at first light, which was wonderful. I spent the night sleeping in my van near “Unit 1” on Vendel Road. Debbie Merrill drove there Tuesday morning, and we were able to connect at dawn. Arguably the best few minutes we witnessed did not get recorded with the camera. The morning lift of the snow geese. They exploded off waters 400 yards to our west and flew en mass over our heads. Perhaps a wide angle lens might have captured the magic of that scene, but I doubt it. It was quite a spectacle, nearly as impressive as at Bosque del Apache in years past. Debbie had never been to the Salton Sea before and I enjoyed how much she enjoyed her first visit there. After the early morning session, Debbie left Unit 1 to explore other area locations I’d told her about, and to have lunch with her dad, who was snow birding nearby in Niland.

I used the next several hours to move counterclockwise around the sea, revisiting old favorite places and finding some new ones. With the recent rains, mud was a preventative to some of my exploratory impulses. As I drove past the vast agricultural fields, I kept a vigilant watch for Burrowing Owls. Debbie mentioned that she hoped to get pictures of them. I found a pair posing in a natural burrow and spent time getting their portraits. Then I sent the location instructions to Debbie, and later she was able to find them too (mission accomplished).

My middle of the day stops were not very productive, but just being ‘out’ was worthwhile. At about 2pm I headed back to Unit 1 to enjoy an afternoon session with cranes and geese. Eventually Debbie showed up too we each pleaded unsuccessfully with the cranes to graze nearer to us. Near day’s end a trio from near Pamona (Mom, Dad & grown daughter) that I’d met in the early morning, showed up and we all shared stories well into the darkness of early evening.

Debbie and I have been working together for six months on the San Diego County Mammal Atlas project, but this was our first face-to-face meeting. I’ve been spending too much time of late, letting projects prevent me from chasing subjects for my camera to catch. It was a pretty good day in my opinion.

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