Salton Sea

Jim Rose - 20th/21st November 2003

The Salton Sea lies over 100 miles to the north east of San Diego.  The sea covers over 380 square miles and has 115 miles of shoreline, which is currently about 227 feet below sea level!  Despite it's size the maximum
depth is only about 51 feet leaving large areas of very shallow water suitable for dabbling ducks and waders.  The sea was formed in the early 1900s when the Colorado River was accidentally diverted into the Imperial Valley.  At that time water flowed from the Colorado River into the new formed Salton Sea for sixteen months.  It is now fed by agricultural drainage and runoff from the surrounding mountains.  Water leaves the valley only by evaporation.

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American White Pelicans were seen several times in and around the Salton sea.  This group flew into Finney Lake to rest and preen.


Finney Lake is a series of apparently man-made lakes to the NE of Brawley.  The lakes are open for recreation, which does include hunting at certain times of the year.  It is possible to either walk or drive around the lakes although a four wheel drive vehicle is recommended.

 

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White-faced Ibis were present in huge numbers, which were only really appreciated when they were seen flying into roost over Harris Road, just south of Brawley.  One of many such flocks is shown below.

10370-White-facedIbis-500.JPG (7281 bytes)

 

10459-AmWhitePelican-400.JPG (30469 bytes) American White Pelican   - Preening at Finney Lake.
Pied-billed Grebe - Also seen at Finney Lake. 10449-Pied-billedGrebe-350.JPG (10479 bytes)
10217-GreatBlueHeron400.JPG (61566 bytes) Great Blue Heron - A common species, particularly around the Salton sea.
 

Clark's Grebe - Seen at Finney Lake.  Thanks to Bob Power for correcting my ID on this bird!

10942-ClarksGrebe350.JPG (16296 bytes)
10279-400-BeltedKingfisher.JPG (13917 bytes) Belted Kingfisher - Not uncommon around the edge of the edge of the Salton sea where rivers/inlets were present along with suitable perches.
Great Egret - A fairly common species in the Salton Sea area. 10290-GreatEgret350.JPG (21266 bytes)
10354-BurrowingOwl-400.JPG (41688 bytes) This is one of several Burrowing Owls seen along Vendel Road, which leads to the southern NWR area on the Salton sea.   Artificial burrows had been placed at intervals.  This was the only site where I saw this species.
Ospreys were seen in the San Diego area, although this individual was perched on one of the dead trees on the edge of the Salton sea. 10631-Osprey-350.JPG (8839 bytes)
10252-WMeadowlark.JPG (26132 bytes)  

Western Meadowlark - Reasonable numbers seen on farmland near to the Salton sea.  A few also at Tijuana Slough.

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