Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Salton Sea and area

Beth and I stayed 5 days at Salton Sea State Recreation Area, a place popular with birders.
Many resident and migrating birds can be found here.
The moon rises behind the Chocolate Mountains to the east.
Our sites beside the Salton Sea at Salt Creek Beach campground. There are 4 campgrounds along the shore, as well as wildlife viewing areas.
We walked the beach to view a few of the 400 species that travel through here.
The beach is not sand, but the remains of tiny crustaceans that provide food for the birdlife. You won't want to walk barefoot on it.
The Salton Sea, California's largest lake is 332 feet below sea level. It was once part of the Gulf of California that became landlocked. It is 40% saltier than the sea itself, having limited freshwater inflow, and no outflow. Agricultural runoff has contributed to the increasing runoff, causing all but the hardy tilapia and desert pupfish to stop reproducing. The beach is littered with tilapia that die off periodically due to lack of oxygen. Officials are working to try to stabilize/save the sea.
We did some birdwatching. We enjoyed watching the black-necked stilts exhibiting their pop-corn behavior.
Beth was able to load a video of this anti-aggressive behavior on her blog.
In addition to the stilts, there were white pelicans, grebes, willets, and a gazillion gulls  near our beach.
And a few coots.
White Pelicans and Northern Shovelers...and a few others.
The White Pelicans riding the thermals.
Serious birders came with their serious cameras.
And the nightly sunsets were gorgeous.

Across the road and over the railroad tracks was a hike to the top of Bat Cave Bluffs.
There is no marked trail, but we found where ATVs had ridden there and followed that track. This is Beth coming over the top of the bluff. 
The view from the top, looking back toward the Salton Sea. 
Zoomed in on our campground. 
There were a lot of potential bat caves up there, but you'd have to wait until dusk to see where they come out. 
Following our tracks back. There are deep trenches that have been eroded, so you can't just walk straight across that area to the campground. We found that out the hard way.
 Many freight trains pass by.
Back over the railroad tracks...very carefully. 
One day we rove to the Wister Waterfowl Management area. This area also has Mud Pots and Mud Volcanoes.
Caused by carbon dioxide gas rising. 
One of the mud pots. 
There are many dirt tracks running along pond and marshes to look for birds. We walked a little ways and saw Northern Shovelers, 
Cinnamon Teals, 
Coots, and Cormorants... 
There were several more washboard roads we could have taken, but my RV doesn't like them, and we didn't have the car yet. 
Another day we went looking for some hikes. Beth took her RV, but hers doesn't like washboard roads either, so we decided not to try Painted Canyon, although it sounded like a great hike. 

Instead we headed up the paved Box Canyon Road to look for other hiking opportunities. 
There are several side canyons where ATVs or 4-wheel drive vehicles can explore .
This sign had a list of designated routes. 
We stopped to hike up the Little Box Canyon Trail. 
Thistle and I tried to stay in the shade. His tongue was hanging out. 
Some of the erosion on the canyon walls. 

Our next hike was on the Sheep Hole Trail. The rocks across the entrance means this is a foot trail ATVs. 
A pair of Rock Pigeons perched on the canyon wall. 
Starting on the trail. 
It goes up to the top of the hill. 
Beth has found the awesome view! 
You can see all the way to the Salton Sea.
The trail continues down to Sheep Hole Oasis and Hidden Springs. 
Do you see the message made of rocks down there. Neither Beth and I were willing to do that, so we turned around. 
At the top....great hike! 
Coming down we met other hikers. We were lucky to have the trail to ourselves. 
On the way back we stopped to see Dos Palmas Oasis. 
This old adobe ranch house was once a stagecoach stop, then a resort, and now a protected wildlife area. 
The brushy trunks of the palm trees were interesting. They have never been trimmed. 
Small ponds in this palm oasis attract birds and birders. 

I wonder if the oxygen levels are low in this pond. The fish were all at the surface. 

So now we are back at Sharon's and having a nice visit. I got to meet forum friend Evie, after "knowing" her for years on the women RV forum. Evie, Sharon, me. Beth took the picture. Beth, Sharon and I all got haircuts today. I also got the RV serviced and ordered a full-size spare tire for the car. Beth and I plan to head back to Arizona on Friday, where we'll do some exploring.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Due to recent spam in comments, new comments will now await approval before publishing.