Desert Marsh Birds?

A view of Capacho SRA in California.

    As I awoke on the small plane flying into Yuma, AZ I scanned the ground. Desert… rocks… arid.
    “Uh oh… I’m I on the wrong plane?” “How on earth is there a marsh bird workshop here?”
    The plane began to descend over a valley with a lake. A few large bodies of water radiate an oasis of green through the Imperial Valley. The plane followed the trail of green down the river as it turned into the All-American Canal. This bizarre, unnatural structure stands out with an odd, green tinge of the water and continues for miles until it reaches an abrupt halt in Yuma. There it is transformed to a mere trickle that stands in stark contrast to the wide river banks that were filled in the spring before it was dammed.
    This area was once the sea and estuarine. Impoundments now afford a remnant of permanent marsh, chalk full of marsh birds, that is why I’m here for a training workshop on surveying for rails and bitterns.
    Coming from a snow-covered midwest, this seemingly lunar-like landscape is surreal. Compounding the sense of novelty is the fact that every rock, shrub, tree and much of the fauna is completely new to me. By early evening, settled into the hotel, birdwatching plans become solidified. The following morning, I’m heading north out of Yuma to Capacho SRA just across the border into California.
    The workshop was to begin in the early afternoon… plenty of time to explore!

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