Thursday, August 2, 2018

Puffins and Auklets/San Juan Cruises

July 2018

San Juan Puffin watching cruises depart from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal / Alaska Ferry Terminal in Bellingham, WA.

The weather couldn't have been better. A high pressure system had stalled off the British Columbia and Washington coastline. Conditions were perfect for a boat trip, the ocean was calm and the sky cobalt blue.

Pelagic Cormorant "condo"

 Plenty of sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat were mandatory. On board the San Juan Cruise Puffin watching trip were a dozen members of the Langley Field Naturalists as well naturalists from White Rock and Delta. 

Double-crested Cormorants.
What surprised me most were the large numbers of Rhinoceros Auklets.

Most auklets were too far out of range for photography but as we neared Smith Island the boat slowed to view harbour seals making it easier to snap a few shots. 

Harbour Seal and pup.

 Rhinoceros Auklet

Most auklets were seen flying away from the boat which gave the photographers on board the opportunity to snag some flight shots, albeit from a distance. These images are highly cropped but does include a nice reflection in the water.

Heermann's Gulls out numbered Glaucous-winged and Ring-billed. During lulls in the action we looked for the odd  California Gulls that mingled with the other gull species

Heermann's Gull

         Two hours into the trip we reached Smith Island but not before viewing several colonies of         Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants. Also present albeit in lesser numbers were Brandt's Cormorant.

Double-crested Cormorant colony

Smith Island is one of few areas left that Tufted Puffins are regularly seen in the San Juan Islands. Historically, these birds had many nesting colonies throughout the islands. However, due to population declines they have become rare and are listed as a “species of concern”.
(Courtesy San Juan Cruise website)

At Smith Island the tide was low and the Tufted Puffins were feeding in and around the kelp beds. Some young puffins were present but they stayed well away from the boat, at least it speaks of a successful breeding season. The skipper cut the motor and we drifted while we were served a delicious pasta meal.

Common Murre
The crew then decided to look for a lone male Killer Whale that had been spotted nearby. Shortly we came across a whale watching boat and from a good distance were able to observe a single male Orca  sending spray skyward. What better way to spend a day.

5 Harlequin Duck 
1 Common Loon 
5 Brandt's Cormorant 
30 Pelagic Cormorant 
50 Double-crested Cormorant 
5 Turkey Vulture 
3 Black Oystercatcher 
6 peep sp.
4 Common Murre 
30 Pigeon Guillemot 
6 Marbled Murrelet 
60 Rhinoceros Auklet 
8Tufted Puffin

More info
Puffin and Auklet watching

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon
BC Canada

                                                                 Bird watching cruise

Monday, July 16, 2018

Life Continues After the World Cup

Now that the World Cup is over I am back in the land of birds. Recently I was asked to supply a few minutes of video to accompany an online article advertising the IOC Congress for the Vancouver Sun.

Here is the video featuring my video of a Black Oystercatcher from Blackie Spit, Anna's Hummingbird and Green Heron fishing at Brydon Lagoon and Sandhill Cranes from Langley. There are also a raft of ducks from Tsawwassen.

AUGUST 19-26, 2018

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Manning Park Bird Blitz 2018

June 15-17 Manning Park BC

The annual Manning Park Bird Blitz is an event to look forward to. The chance to bird where coastal rainforest and dry interior overlap is a special treat and being only three hours from Metro Vancouver  is a relatively short drive. There is plenty to see. Two hundred plus bird species have been recorded in the park as well as wide variety of flora and fauna.
The weekend was organized by the
Please visit their site for other events.
Hermit Thrush

The bird blitz began Friday evening with an orientation and slide presentation. Friday night's speaker was Melissa Hafting (AKA Birder Girl) and Saturday Vaseaux Lake Bird Observatory (VLBO) director Sharon Mansiere. Hafting spoke about the importance of protecting the boreal forest and the many species which rely on it while Mansiere spoke about everything from climate change to bird collisions eventually bringing us all up to date on the many activities undertaken by VIBO 
Saturday attendees included many families with children along with a fair smattering of intermediate and experienced birders. It was heartening to see so many youngsters engaged in outdoor activities.
 Despite the occasional thunderstorm throughout the weekend the event went off like clockwork.


Saturday morning the seventy plus attendees broke into groups with the idea of covering as much of the Manning Park as possible. The organizers had chosen a dozen or more trails to explore. Each group was led by an expert or intermediate birder to aide newcomers with identification. I chose to bird Strawberry Flats with naturalist Bill Kinkaid. An all-round naturalist Bill knows his flora and fauna. Whenever the bird activity died-off he would point out plants and critters, the most striking being the four impossible to photograph Snowshoe Hares that were hopping around in a forest glade. The hares were a lifer for me.
Along the trail we began to find Canada Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Sapsucker and the most common bird, the Hermit Thrush. At this higher elevation the Swainson's Thrushes were for once out numbered by their close cousin. It took awhile to tell the songs and calls apart when both birds were present.
As we made our way along the trail one of our party spotted a Spruce Grouse not more than a few metres away. Prior to the sighting we had been listening to another grouse drumming in the forest. The grouse rather than melt away into the understory drew closer to check us out. It was an awesome being so close, an experience that will be etched in my bird brain for some time to come.

Spruce Grouse
 The grouse was fearless, at one point the bird actually pecked one of the group. After spending a good ten minutes watching the bird we began to leave, only to be stopped in our tracks. The grouse was barring our way obviously upset by our intrusion. Eventually one by one we skirted around the bird, even then it continued to chase us for another twenty metres.

Spruce Grouse

We continued to find some good species, a nesting Rufous Hummingbird, a Northern Pygmy Owl, a Red-tailed Hawk and really good views of an Olive-sided Flycatcher.
Overhead were 5 Black Swifts and as we reached the ski hill we spotted both Tree and Barn Swallows. This was best place to photograph the Hermit Warblers which were perched on short pine trees next to the ski run. In the forest they were very vocal but almost impossible to see let alone photograph. A list of species seen on the three hour walk can be seen at the bottom of the blog.

After a leisurely lunch I joined another group and we birded Boyd's Meadow where the mosquitos were thick in the air. After about two kms we came to an open area where we heard a woodpecker. Soon we spotted a Three-toed Woodpecker peeling off bark and after a few minutes it briefly showed itself long enough to get the image below. We walked a little longer but the mozzies were biting through our clothing so back to the car ASAP seemed the best idea. On the way back we picked up an Osprey, a Hairy Woodpecker and a Spotted Sandpiper.

Three-toed Woodpecker.
Strawberry Flats/Manning Park
Three hours and six Kms

Dusky/Sooty Grouse 
Heard on several occasions
Cooper's Hawk 
Red-tailed Hawk 
Northern Pygmy-Owl 
Heard only
Barred Owl 
Heard Only
Black Swift 
5 birds
Rufous Hummingbird 
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Northern Flicker 
Olive-sided Flycatcher 
Willow Flycatcher 
Warbling Vireo 
Steller's Jay 
Common Raven 
Tree Swallow 
Black-capped Chickadee]
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Golden-crowned Kinglet 
Swainson's Thrush 
Hermit Thrush 
American Robin 
Varied Thrush 
Townsend's Warbler 
Wilson's Warbler 
Dark-eyed Junco 
White-crowned Sparrow 
Song Sparrow 
Spotted Towhee 

 Clarke's Nutcracker comes in for peanuts at the Lodge

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon
BC Canada

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Flower Photography Workshop

Catkins/setting Sun

                                                    Workshop Description

Broaden your creative approach to photographing flowers and
the landscape they inhabit. Learn about camera techniques,
lighting, exposure settings, and how to make your photos stand
out. Bring a camera or smart phone, a 12”x12” sheet of aluminium
foil, and something to lay on. A tripod would also be helpful.

Free - RSVP required by June 20
Maple Leaves (Interpretive)

Flower and Garden Photography with John Gordon
Wed, June 27, 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Langley Demonstration Garden, Fraser Hwy, Langley Twp, BC V3A, Canada 
Close to the Langley Airport

Monday, June 18, 2018

Late Arrivals and Misc Rumblings

 2018 Various Locations Lower Mainland BC Canada 

Campbell Valley Park the forest was alive with bird song. I quickly noted half a dozen species by sight but there were many sounds I just couldn't make out. My target bird for the day was the Red-eyed Vireo and not being familiar I played a variety of calls and songs on my iPhone to familiarize myself. Finally after a few hours in the forest I heard the call I was hoping for, then I heard it again but as much as I tried I couldn't get on the bird. Despite that I spent a relaxing morning forest bathing and listening to bird song.

Gray Catbird.

The Gray Catbird is very localized in the Lower Mainland, Catbird Slough and Grant Narrows in Pitt       Meadows is the best place to spot them where in a few hours I saw six. They usually arrive around mid-May.

One of my favourite walks is the Brydon Lagoon forested area. Most days during the winter months an Anna's Hummingbird can often be found on a single bare branch hanging over one of the pathways. During the colder months some thoughtful person takes the trouble to replenish a feeder close to where the bird patrols. I'm pretty sure this is the same bird but this time he's in full display mode, no doubt trying to attract the female of the species.
Anna's Hummingbird.
The Brydon Green Heron was so pre-occupied stalking prey it took little notice of me. It was just by the car park where a small creek flows into the retention pond. I've seen it there a number of times along with small numbers of Common Snipe.

Green Heron.

Every year a pair of Ospreys nest at the Grant Narrows. During the winter storms their regular nesting platform collapsed. The new one was erected by volunteers but has not been utilized. They're now trying to raise a brood next to a very busy boat launch. 
If that wasn't bad enough a number of photographers have been coming every day. Most have been behaving responsibly by standing back a respectable distance, others not. Those who stand back are rewarded with a shots of the male bringing food for the sitting female. Unfortunately quite a number stand way too close, forcing the male away from the nest. It is the male who brings food to the female so she can stay at the nest and incubate the eggs.
Eventually I lost patience and asked two female photographers to back off and sure enough they did and within a few minutes the male had returned with a fish. 

House Wrens have never been common in the Lower Mainland except for a few known regular haunts. This year there have been many more reports including several locations in Langley and White Rock. That's great news for the wrens but not so good for the swallows whose boxes are becoming increasingly populated by the wrens. A single wren will use as many as eight nesting sites to attract a suitor.

House Wren.
Richmond Park East is a seldom visited park. A breeding colony of Orange-crowned Warblers is the main draw. The Richmond Nature Park consists of 200 acres of raised peat bog habitat that once covered large portions of Lulu Island. Thankfully no dogs are allowed so one can walk without being putting your foot in you know what.

Orange-crowned Warbler.

A stop off at Colony Farm turned up a pair of very confiding Eastern Kingbirds. They were first observed bathing in a ditch. If that wasn't close enough they turned up again at the duck pond but this time they flew incredibly close, an awesome experience.

Eastern Kingbird.

A few shots from under the power lines at the base of Mount Seymour. 

MacGillivray's Warbler

I spotted this Townsend's Warbler collecting what looks like dog hairs from the trail near the Mount Seymour parking lot. Birders crave good views of birds doing what birds do and this was a most satisfying look.
Townsend's Warbler
These two images of the Willow Flycatcher are the best I have ever managed of the species. I can now delete all the others so so files and free up some much needed space on my hard drives.  These images have a nice catchlight, the plumage is well defined and the background is far enough away as not to distract.

Willow Flycatcher.

All images handheld Nikon D500 and 200mm-500mm F5.6

*Since I started on this blogs weeks ago the Osprey have at least one offspring perhaps two so if you do go keep a little distance, no photo can be that important.

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon
BC Canada

Sunday, May 27, 2018

"The Darling Birds of May"

May Birding in the Lower Mainland

Springtime was a long time coming to the Lower Mainland. Many of the winter species were still hanging on and new arrivals were slow to show up. Many remarked on how quiet it was in the forests and foreshore. Eventually warmer weather prevailed and a change of season was underway. First were the yellow-rumped Warblers and the Townsend's Solitaires. Then in May there was some real movement including some really good birds and a few surprises.

Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club

Here are some of the birds of early May including the location and dates as recorded by eBird.

Iona south Jetty.

I was drawn female Canvasback and the calm water, I thought it created an interesting reflection. This bird was a distant speck but enlarged nicely. 
To keep a record of sightings I have been using eBird. The app allows you from the comfort of your chair to plan what where and when to bird.

The #154 denotes the 154th Metro Vancouver species I have spotted in 2018 and so on. Last year I hobbled together 217 species in Metro Vancouver and hope to surpass that number this season. Ticking birds isn't for everyone but if a person has the time, why not.

Want to know more about what birders get up to read this

The difference between bird watching and birding

Sightings cont.

154. Red-breasted Sapsucker Burnaby Mountain CA-BC 01 May 2018
155. Townsend's Warbler Burnaby Mountain CA-BC 01 May 2018
156. Western Tanager Burnaby Mountain CA-BC 01 May 2018
157. Semipalmated Plover Boundary Bay - 104th St., Delta CA-BC 02 May 2018
158. Western Sandpiper Boundary Bay - 104th St., Delta CA-BC 02 May 2018
159. Pacific-slope Flycatcher Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club CA-BC 02 May 2018
160. Sage Thrasher (Below) 21471–21599 Koener Rd, Pitt Meadows CA-BC (49.3154,-122.6214) CA-BC 03 May 2018

Sage Thrasher
Pitt Meadows

This one of the easiest twitches I have ever been on. I drove out to Pitt Meadows exited my car walked up onto the dyke and the thrasher was right there posing on a branch. I fired off seven shots before it hopped down into a tangle long grass. I never saw it again. A wonderful moment.
 Nikon D500 Nikon 200-500 Handheld.
I am happy to say the  resulting image made the cover of BC Birding.

161. Blue-winged Teal Iona Island inner ponds CA-BC 07 May 2018
162. Least Sandpiper Iona Island inner ponds CA-BC 07 May 2018
163. Spotted Sandpiper Iona Island inner ponds CA-BC 07 May 2018
164. Hudsonian Godwit Reifel Bird Sanctuary CA-BC 07 May 2018
165. Barred Owl Reifel Bird Sanctuary CA-BC 07 May 2018
166. Black-throated Gray Warbler Riding ring Brown Park CA-BC 07 May 2018
167. Lark Sparrow Riding ring Brown Park CA-BC 07 May 2018

Lark Sparrow
Brown Park Surrey
168. Black-headed Grosbeak Brydon Lagoon Langley CA-BC 08 May 2018
169. Solitary Sandpiper Riverside Dr, Port Coquitlam CA-BC (49.2657,-122.7373) CA-BC 09 May 2018

Wester-wood Pee-Wee
Colony Farm

170. Western Wood-Pewee Colony Farm CA-BC 09 May 2018
171. Yellow Warbler Colony Farm CA-BC 09 May 2018
172. Lesser Yellowlegs Blackie Spit (Incl. Dunsmuir Farm & Nicomekl estuary) CA-BC 11 May 2018
173. Caspian Tern Blackie Spit (Incl. Dunsmuir Farm & Nicomekl estuary) CA-BC 11 May 2018

         Finding good birds is a mixture of many factors. The more I bird the more I realize how little I  actually really know and how much I have to learn. Birding is a great excuse to get out and exercise, travel and socialize with other like minded individuals. One afternoon I walked a few kms with a birding expert and had the best conversation about our grand children and of course such trivial things the meaning of life.

                                                                   Birds/Meaning of Life

Lapland Longspur
 Iona South Jetty

Being aware of the tides and suitable habitat helps find birds. Try plugging into news groups like vanbcbirds or BC Bird Alert..see blog sidebar 
Some birds, like the Sage Thrasher are easier than others. The Lapland Longspur above was an eight kms trudge along the Iona South Jetty and back. I walked out early in the morning hoping to photograph the bird in the "sweet light" of morning but couldn't find so I returned and birded two kms around the Inner Ponds for a total of ten kms. As I was leaving Iona a birder mentioned the longspur was feeding at marker 192 about three kms along the jetty, a six km round hike. A grand total of sixteen kms and two nasty blisters later I had my shot.

On my way home I stopped off and photographed the Pacific-Golden Plover just metres from the dyke.

Pacific-golden Plover
Boundary Bay

I don't normally photograph birds in the heat of the day but birds have their own schedule so even a technically poor image like the one above can serve as a good ID shot, especially in the case of a rarity. 


174. Purple Martin Blackie Spit (Incl. Dunsmuir Farm & Nicomekl estuary) CA-BC 11 May 2018
175. Lapland Longspur Iona Island--South Jetty CA-BC 14 May 2018
176. Pectoral Sandpiper Iona Island inner ponds CA-BC 14 May 2018
177. Semipalmated Sandpiper Iona Island inner ponds CA-BC 14 May 2018
178. American Pipit Iona Island inner ponds CA-BC 14 May 2018
179. Pacific Golden-Plover Boundary Bay - 96th St., Delta CA-BC 14 May 2018
180. Wilson's Phalarope Boundary Bay 96-88 St. (mansion), Delta CA-BC 14 May 2018
181. Bullock's Oriole Brunswick Point, Delta CA-BC 15 May 2018

Male Bullock's Oriole
 Brunswick Point

As I watched the male female Bullock's flew in with nesting material. I visited a few days later and there was no sign of either birds.

Cassin's Vireo
This picture was taken on the Skajit Valley Bird Blitz in early May. I include it as the sighting below in West Van wasn't good enough for a photo. 

182. Hammond's Flycatcher West Vancouver-Eagle Lake Road CA-BC 16 May 2018
183. Cassin's Vireo West Vancouver-EagleLake Road CA-BC 16 May 2018

Hammond's Flycatcher
Cypress Mountain
Warbling Vireo
Cypress Mountain
184. Warbling Vireo West Vancouver-Eagle Lake Road CA-BC 16 May 2018
185. Sooty Grouse Cypress Provincial Park Road CA-BC 16 May 2018
186. MacGillivray's Warbler Cypress Provincial Park Road CA-BC 16 May 2018

Cinnamon Teal
 Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Horrible midday light again but a BC lifer so again a decent ID shot and record shot. The background is the Iona sewage ponds where many birders find themselves over and over again despite the odours.

Common Grackle
 Iona Inner Ponds
187. Evening Grosbeak Cypress Provincial Park CA-BC 16 May 2018
188. Common Grackle Iona Island inner ponds CA-BC 16 May 2018

Dark-eyed Junco fledgling begging for food
Crescent Park.
189. Swainson's Thrush Crescent Park, Surrey CA-BC 17 May 2018

Swainson's Thrush
 Crescent Park

California Scrub Jay
Maple Ridge
Another easy bird was the California Scrub Jay in Maple Ridge. I actually heard the bird(s) before I saw it. I exited  my car and before I could get a good view a neighbour came over and told me they may be nesting in her roof. She'll keep me updated if indeed there are young.

190. California Scrub-Jay Dover St Maple Ride CA-BC 18 May 2018
191. Lazuli Bunting Colony Farm CA-BC 18 May 2018
192 Western Kingbird Colony Farm CA-BC 20 May 2018
193 House Wren 1056 256 Ave Langley CA-BC 25 May 2018

House Wren

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Every Picture has a (little) Story

 March  2018
 California Road Trip

When Spring Break came around my wife and I decided to head for California, Joshua Tree National Park and warmer climes. It was to be an adventure, no schedule and hopefully time to see some birds.

The drive down took three days. To alleviate the tedium of driving we decided to keep an I5 seen while driving list (40 species) while listening to U2's Joshua Tree.

After the long journey down we hadn't bargained on the entire park being booked. A few kms from Joshua we found the next best thing, a meditation retreat with a rustic campground, hot showers and birds.
There were Joshua Trees everywhere as well as numerous other prickly looking plants. Exhausted from the drive it wasn't until next morning that I realized we were the only campers on 400 acre retreat.

I was woken up early by the dawn chorus. Nearby a pair of Cactus Wren had built a nest in an area set aside for meditation. They must have known it was a quiet little corner, clever birds!

Cactus Wren
The male was singing away posing for photos when the female came out of a nearby bush. I'm sure they had a nest in the shrubbery so I left them to follow a flock of Lesser Goldfinch that had just flown overhead.

The goldfinches were harder to approach leading me a merry path arounds the retreat. The grounds contained religious iconography of every kind, I recognized a few from my practice, most however held no meaning, each to their own I suppose. The buildings themselves were built by American architect Frank Lloyd-Wright, an altogether interesting place to camp and bird.

Lesser Goldfinch

One of my target birds was the Greater Runner, the protagonist of many a Saturday morning cartoon.
I didn't have to wait long when out of the corner of my eye I spotted not one but two.
Add caption
Joshua Tree National Park wasn't that birdy but what it lacked in birds it made up for with jaw dropping scenery. The first drive through took us all afternoon and evening. The next day we spent the whole day stopping in wonderment. Joshua Tree is 1000 metres above sea level and is surrounded by the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. To the south is the Salton Sea which we would visit later.

The first bird I heard was this Black-throated Sparrow, I finally tracked it down few hundred metres from the car. I had only seen one before and that was a vagrant at Grant Narrows in Pitt Meadows. At least this time I could include it perched on a cactus.
Black-throated Sparrow

One of the most common birds at Joshua Tree was the Sage Thrasher. I really like the bokeh or background in this image. 
Sage Thrasher

Sage Thrasher

Chollo Desert Garden /Joshua Tree National Park

Close-up Cholla Cactus

Cholla Cactus Garden
I found this hummer feeding in the garden but i'm not too sure which species it is.

Hummer sp?

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

Before I left for California I asked BirderGirl Mel to give me some suggestions about where to bird and one was Big Morongo. I wish I could have birded in the cool of the morning but when traveling it's not always possible.

California Scrub Jay

I met Surrey birder Gareth Pugh at Big Morongo. The women left us to bird and took off shopping. We walked the lush canyon trails. A creek fed by a perennial spring is a great attractant for wildlife in an otherwise arid landscape. Hundreds of species of birds have been recored at the reserve. A casual walk in the heat of the day turned up a number of good species and a few lifers including a Verdin.

This towhee below was a difficult capture, it's a skulker, a species that darts into the undergrowth at the first sense of danger. Most of my shots were obscured by branches and twigs but finally it popped out for a portrait, another Lifer.
California Towhee

Now and then a little luck plays a part in any birding finding trip. Big Morongo has a couple of feeder stations and at one I was lucky enough to get two frames of an Oak Titmouse, another lifer and one of the target birds Mel had told me about. I waited and waited for another shot but it never returned.

Oak Titmouse

Next up was a real tongue twister, I proved incredibly difficult to pronounce and to even more  difficult to photograph. The male Phainopepla proved impossible although they were commonplace. I settled for the female below.

Phainopepla (female)

At the feeder was a Hooded Oriole, a species I had only seen in Mexico and now one I can add to my ABA list.
Hooded Oriole

Imperial Wildlife Area

 Salton Sea

Next stop was a campground at the north portion of the Salton Sea. My wife had imagined swimming,  sandy beaches and cocktails, she wasn't that impressed especially the stench of dead Talapia that had been washing up after a recent algae bloom. The lake is shrinking every year and the amount of fertilizers washing into the lake is changing the ecosystem. 
Say's Phoebe
I shot this through a chain link fence wide open at F5.6

There first bird I heard was a Northern Mocking bird then a Bullock's Oriole and then a small wave of Yellow-rumped Warblers. A pair of American Kestrels and a Barred Owl were in the campground palm trees. Say's Phoebe were everywhere.

Northern Mockingbird

Driving down the east side of the Salton Sea we stopped off at Imperial Wildlife Area. It seems the roadbeds and channels are set up for hunting more that birding but in the parking lot were a mixed flock of warblers and among them was this Black-tailed Gnatcatcher.

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

                Also presentt were White-faced Ibis and a large flock of American White Pelicans. 

American Pelicans

Sonny Bono Salton Sea
National Wildlife Refuge

We arrived at Sonny Bono late afternoon and storm clouds made for some interesting light and I think that is why the colours on this Ground Cove looks so vibrant. 
Common Ground Dove

Another target bird was Gambal's Quail. I came across one flock but couldn't get near them, they seemed so skittish but at Sonny Bono hunting is banned and I eventually found a flock that had more trust in humans. I took me fifteen minutes but eventually I managed to get off a few shots before it was time to look for a campground for the night.
Gambal's Quail

Gambal's Quail (female) was at a feeder.

The whole area around the Salton Sea is farmed intensely and Cattle Egrets find plenty of pockets of water in which to hunt. 
Cattle Egrets on a silage bale.
Flocks of Black-necked Stilt could be found almost anywhere on the sea feeding alongside ducks, geese and gulls.
Black-necked Stilt
American Coots
American Avocet

White-fronted Geese

The trip was a great introduction to California and for a boy from the Newport Wales, the scenery, the flora and fauna was simply stunning, i'll be returning for sure.

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon