W Terry Hunefeld
Today was a lovely migration day in the desert. A four-mile sunrise hike around Rams Hill Country Club golf course included a right-on-time Western Wood-Peewee, a male Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Spotted Sandpipers, 25 Yellow-headed Blackbirds, 11 Hooded Orioles, a Warbling Vireo and more than 50 warblers: 31 Wilson’s, 2 Black-throated Gray, 5 Yellow, 2 MacGillivray’s, 4 Nashville, 1 Orange-crowned, and 7 Yellowthroats.
Right at sunrise five Lesser Nighthawks foraged effortlessly over the golf course ponds while throughout the morning 7 adult Verdin were observed busily feeding 8 persistently begging juveniles.
12 Eared Grebes were seen, 10 in breeding plumage. On April 17 I recorded 8 here. Previously, the high eBird count in the Borrego Valley was 3. Will they breed here?
The Rams Hill residential neighborhood is gated (thus listed on eBird as restricted) but the public golf course and its restaurant are open to the public daily with a big parking lot. Birders & walkers are welcome to walk the concrete golf cart paths, many of which lead into the residential neighborhood while others meander through the golf course. We’re simply asked to be respectful of golfers and to step aside for golf carts and maintenance vehicles.
Yesterday two Least Bell’s Vireos were singing at the water treatment plant settling ponds. This is the first year they’ve been recorded at the settling ponds per eBird. Bestselling author, musician, vireo census-taker and retired park ranger Bob Theriault confirms they’ve never been recorded breeding at this location. Will they breed here this year? The mesquite is green and lush. Ranger Bob will keep a close eye on them as he conducts his vireo census.
Yesterday when hiking the pictograph trail in Blair Valley we saw a migrating Western Tanager a Warbling Vireo. 3-5 Scott’s Orioles were singing lustily from the tops of Ocotillos. Three Wild Turkeys (uncommon east of the mountains) were seen crossing Highway S-2 between Scissor’s Crossing and Shelter Valley raising the question: Why did the turkeys cross the road?