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Abert’s Towhees in Travertine Palms Wash aka “the far corner”

9:38 am

A few years ago while waiting for seabirds on a pelagic at “the corner” Matt Sadowski and Gary Nunn were discussing the probability that Abert’s Towhees would cross into San Diego County given their immediate adjacency in Imperial and Riverside counties at the far corner of the county. I then figured that the birds would likely disperse into the county to forage if there was a sufficiently strong wildflower bloom. I filed this information away and I figured I would try for them myself at a later date. Well, that time came yesterday when Mark Stratton and I found a family of Abert’s Towhees right along the corner of the county at this exact location. This included a singing male, a mate, and a juvenile plumaged bird. The birds were actively foraging (primarily inside San Diego County) and would constantly stay in contact via a loud chink call. 

Location within Anza Borrego State Park:
33.4260015, -116.0860719

Directions from the  Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association website :
Getting to Travertine Palms Wash. From Borrego Springs, drive east on County Road S-22 to Highway 86 in Salton City and turn north. Make a left turn at Avenue 86 at the Riverside County line, just past Travertine Rock. Avenue 86 is an unpaved dirt road. After about a quarter of a mile, there is a gate which can be locked. Be sure to park outside.

This area is also the best place in the county to find Gambel’s Quail, since you are 1) outside of the hybrid zone within Borrego Springs and 2) the Quail are currently quite abundant in this general area.

If you make the long drive out there be sure to check out the wildflowers in Borrego Springs on your return trip. There are currently good blooms at Henderson Canyon Road Wildflower Area, the Anza-Borrego Wildflower spring blooming fields, Coyote Canyon Wildflower Viewing Area, and likely at Glorietta Canyon. Lots of butterflies at Plum Canyon too. Spring migrants are also starting to filter through Tamarisk Grove Campground, Scissor’s Crossing, and Shelter Valley.

All the best,

Tom Ford-Hutchinson
San Diego, CA