Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Time for a day trip

I’ve pretty much been veg'ing out for the last month since I arrived here, so yesterday I finally got my keister in gear.


I packed a lunch, and Emma and I headed a little over a hundred miles southeast of Jojoba to Sonny Bono Salton Sea Nat’l Wildlife Refuge.  I remember doing this drive in reverse last April when I left Imperial NWR.  I can safely say that it’s a much less nerve wracking drive in a car.

I was expecting to see a huge salty lake perhaps surrounded by farm fields.  Since it is in the Imperial Valley, there are a lot of crops grown, but I had several surprises when I got to the area.


As you approach the refuge there are quite a few of these plants surrounding it.  I had no clue as to what kind of plants they were.


The volunteer in the Visitors Center told me they were geothermal plants.  Who would have guessed?  She said they were kind of ugly in the daylight, but at night they’re all lit up and rather pretty.

Another surprise came when she told me mud pots (like in Yellowstone) could be seen on the refuge.  She told me where to find them, but try as I might I never did get to see them.  She was kind of surprised that I wanted to see them, as most visitors just want to see birds.


So off I went to see the Salton Sea.  Saw a sign for a boat launch, so that’s where I headed next.  Turned out to be dry as a bone.  No water what so ever.  I think maybe that dark strip just below the distant mountains might be the sea.


Kind of a shame.  There’s a real nice picnic area that I would guess doesn’t get used anymore because the water is so darn far away.


There is no auto tour route on this refuge.  You just have to wander around on farm roads to see small parts of the refuge.  Most of the refuge is part of the sea itself.  Emma and I went to the top of a tower and found this praying mantis.  I always thought they were green, but I guess in a desert environment tan is a better color.


                          The view from the tower did reveal a path through the marsh with an overlook.


It took us quite some time to walk this short path.  Seems Emma had to investigate every piece of goose poop along the way.  Smile with tongue out  I suppose sniffing each dropping is like humans reading a novel.  Who knows what secrets lie in the aromas.  Emma wouldn’t tell me.


Our arrival at the overlook disturbed several egrets who were leaving their own messages on the railings.  Finally saw some water, and all those white things in the distance are snow geese.


I’m thinking this is now just a pond in a marshy area as the sea itself has receded far away.  If this keeps up, I’m not sure what impact this will make on the migrating waterfowl each winter.


By this time, we had to start heading for home in order to get there before dark.  I don’t drive after dark any more.  Found about fifty sandhill cranes feeding in one of the refuge fields.


I’d be hard pressed to choose my favorite bird, but sandhill cranes would certainly rank near the top of my list if I had one.  That fuzzy white blur in the background is thousands of snow geese that were also gleaning a late lunch in the field.


Something set them off, and I was happy to just watch and listen to the ruckus they made.  The cranes just went about their business and didn’t bat an eye.

Now that I know the lay of the land, so to speak, of the refuge, I’m sure I’ll make a return trip when the days get a little longer.  There are also a couple of trails that we didn’t have time to do.  I’ll leave you tonight with a ‘snow’ storm of geese.  (The only kind of snowstorm I enjoy.)  Care to guess how many geese are in the photo??


Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy


  1. The drought surely has taken a toll on the wet lands in the area. Maybe the El Nino winter will bring back the rains a help fill some of the marshes and lakes. The snow geese are like a huge white cloud

  2. Wow, those geese and cranes look like the view from my RV window today! It seems our geese like to all blast into the air around noon each day-- whether the bald eagle is chasing them or not! Glad you've got such a nice Refuge relatively nearby to go and get your bird fix every now and then!

  3. Such a wonderful view with all the birds.
    We have been around the Salton Sea a few times such a shame that it is going away and the high Salt content.

  4. Do those geothermal plants generate electricity? Like you, I'd want to see the mudpots.

  5. I know you taught us one time to count in a specific area and then multiple it by something to find the number, but I am old an can't remember the formula. My guess is...a lot.

  6. Aptly named wildlife refuge, I always thought Sonny's signing was for the birds... :cD

  7. Oh Judy, you knew I would love the snow geese. And the sandhill cranes are wonderful too. Of course, I love the great blue herons, and the little blue herons...oh yeah...those spoonbills are pretty cool too.....I guess it is a bit like flowers. Dahlias, roses, iris, sunflowers, tall phlox, peonies....who can pick a favorite?! Not me, for sure.

  8. Oh Judy, you knew I would love the snow geese. And the sandhill cranes are wonderful too. Of course, I love the great blue herons, and the little blue herons...oh yeah...those spoonbills are pretty cool too.....I guess it is a bit like flowers. Dahlias, roses, iris, sunflowers, tall phlox, peonies....who can pick a favorite?! Not me, for sure.

  9. Beautiful photos of all those birds in flight...I have only seen the Salton Sea from Al's blog.. Looks like a great spot!

  10. Ummm...500+ It looks like a whole lot to me. Most impressive!

  11. Salton Sea is in terrible shape ... it's shrunk to a smidgeon of what it used to be, and is so saline now that few fish can live in it. Looks like the snow geese don't mind. Sure is great to see them! Up in NorCal, the snow geese have also arrived, and we hope to spend a day down in the rice fields watching! Last time we were at the Salton Sea, the stench from a fish kill nearly knocked us over. We couldn't stay. I didn't know about mud pots there. Hope you find them.

  12. This is the kind of thing I'd like to do...go explore all the interesting things near me. Then move on to a new place. I love the sandhill cranes, as you know. Take good care of them so they head on back up here to me next spring! Love the snow geese too...agree that's the only kind of snow storm that I want to see, but unfortunately I think I'll see plenty of the old fashioned kind this winter.

  13. LOL at "what secrets lie in the aromas". Love your walking stick and the skies full of birds. I've only seen that once in my life. I guess I need to spend more time in National Wildlife Refuges. It's not for lack of trying believe me.

  14. I almost missed this post - good thing I found it because I've been wondering what you are up to. I have never been to the Salton Sea, and doubt I'll ever get there now, so I appreciate your taking us on a tour.

  15. This outing seems a bit like a truck driver driving cross country on his vacation:)

  16. I have been following your travels for several years. It is somehow refreshing to see you just park and enjoy, and somewhat disconcerting too. Wishing you well, and when my gal is doing Olympic sniffing, I call it " Reading the newspaper."

  17. we didn't make it out the NWR while exploring the Salton Sea, but did enjoy the "beach" full of fish skeletons we found at the State Park there. . .it was an unusual and interesting day. . .


  18. I wish you wouldn't quit. Those of us who travel by reading blogs will miss you all very much!


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