Salton Sea, Poe Road

For a brief background discussion on the Salton Sea, <Read This Post>.

Least Sandpiper - Calidris minutilla
Poe Road. Salton Sea NWR and Vicinity. Imperial County, California.

When I travel from my San Diego County digs to visit the Salton Sea, there are several locations where I like to make stops. I seldom take the time to visit the northern shores. I find the south and southeast regions provide my best encounters. Because it is the closest to San Diego, Poe Road is the first location I usually explore.

As the water levels at the sea continue to fall, the encounters here are harder to predict. The beaches here are very shallow, and small drop in water level results in a large retreat laterally. The present day shoreline is nearly 400 feet from where it was a few years ago.

Agricultural water drains the surrounding fields and trickles its way into the sea, but the marsh at the delta is no longer 50-60 feet from the shore, but over 100 yards. This retreat continues to this day, yet there are still worthwhile encounters to be had. Where once was a higher shoreline, there now is a driveable (when dry) route out to a spit where cormorants and pelicans frequent, and depending on the time of year, an array of shorebirds, waterfowl, and egrets might be met. The scenery might pass as bleak, but the birds seem to find it very attractive.

The wetlands supported by the agricultural runoff have provided me with some memorable encounters. On one early morning I met Clapper Rails, Virginia Rails, and Sora feeding together. I’ve had my best meeting with a Least Bittern here. I’ve met shorebirds such as Snowy Plovers in the mudflats between the marsh and the old shoreline. Passerines such as Verdin, warblers, kingbirds, towhees, sparrows, gnatcatchers and Common Ground Doves might be encountered any time of the year, though most humans prefer to visit in winter. Summer temperatures in the Imperial Valley can be oppressive.

I will offer one caution: stay away from this location if there have been recent rains. The mud sticks like glue, and worse, a vehicle could easily fall victim to its clutches.

I’ve visited this place many times over the years. Some of the stories I’ve posted in the past about previous visits can be reviewed by following these links: 2014-10-21, 2014-11-30, 2015-04-28, and 2015-10-15.

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