Re: Agua Caliente / desert

Lisa Ruby


As a followup to Nancy's report, I camped with a few other birders at Agua Caliente from the evening of April 12th thru noon on April 15th. The best days were the 14th and 15th. The numbers of birds overall was way down from the same time last year, but last year seemed like an exceptional year out there.

On the 14th I saw three Western Tanagers, and I think one on the 15th. One Bullock's Oriole, I forget where that was now. Either the Nature Trail or the Marsh Trail. There were three or four vocal Bell's Vireos in the campground, one on the Nature Trail, one at the beginning of the Moonlight Trail, and a few along the last portions of the Marsh Trail. We saw quite a few Costa's Hummingbirds. They were scattered all around the campground and along the Nature Trail. Saw a few along the Marsh Trail. On the morning of the 15th there were a good number of Orange-crowned and Nashville Warblers around, and a small number of scattered Black-throated Greys. Wilson's were around the campground, and seemed to increase in numbers on the 14th and 15th. There were very small numbers of MacGillivray's Warblers. As usual, hard to actually see, but I did get decent looks at three. Some were in the campground, some on the Nature Trail. Didn't hear too many along the Marsh Trail.

We saw a few Pacific-slope Flycatchers. No Hammond's. This is the first time I haven't seen at least one Hammond's in that location during early to mid April.

On the 14th we heard one Scott's Oriole along the Marsh Trail. There were a good number of Hooded Orioles, scattered around pretty much everywhere there were trees. A few Black-headed Grosbeaks were around. There was a small number of Lazuli Buntings on the 14th and 15th.

On the evening of the 12th there was a very large flock of White-crowned Sparrows that gathered together in an area off the side of the Nature Trail close to the campsites. They were very vocal. I have a recording I still need to put on eBird. The sound was amazing.

Late morning at our campsite on the 15th, five Wilson's and one Yellow Warbler parked themselves in a blooming Tamarisk bush that was covered in some sort of smallish, black flying insects. The birds stayed all day feasting on the bugs.

If I don't see another Phainopepla for the rest of the year it won't bother me in the least.

Lisa Ruby
Sabre Springs

On 4/18/2019 2:34 PM, Nancy Christensen wrote:

Dear birders, I visited Agua Caliente again this morning. Most notable bird today was a White-throated Sparrow seen near the palms at the end of the Marsh Trail. There was also a Fox Sparrow in the same area. In the campground there were two Yellow-headed Blackbirds, who were very unpopular with the phainopeplas.

Overall, the number and variety of birds seems really low. This is the time period when I usually see peak numbers of many species there. I have yet to see a single Western Tanager on the desert. At Agua Caliente- no Bullock’s Orioles, no Warbling Vireos, no Mockingbirds, and only small numbers of warblers. Very small numbers of Costa’s Hummingbirds, although 2 weeks ago they were plentiful. Multiple Bell’s Vireos and Chats were present. The Palo Verde trees have not yet begun to bloom, though last year they were past their prime in the third week of April. The hillsides are covered with blooming brittlebush and there are acres of blooming ocotillo. It is possible that most of the birds have been attracted to blooming areas this year.

I checked a few spots around Borrego Springs as well. That area seems to have bloomed earlier than the more southern areas. The Palo Verde trees are about halfway in bloom, but the spots I checked had no WETA or LABU or warblers.


Nancy Christensen



Lisa Ruby
Sabre Springs

Join to automatically receive all group messages.