Here's a summary of my trip to
Lassen Volcanic National Park on July 2, 2005.
SinceI didn't reach the park until 1 PM and only had half
the day left, I decided not to hike up Mt. Lassen to try for
Rosyfinches. Most people who have done it before were not
too encouraging any way.
From the trailhead, I could spot quite a few hikers at
the summit, and many more en route. Only the bottom third
of the trail still had snow and slush. The rest seemed dry.
But I headed back down to the lower elevations.
While I swam in Manzanita lake, an Osprey flew overhead.
A few Spotted Sandpipers were foraging at the water's edge.
Black-headed Grosbeaks could be seen in the trees.
Later I parked by the entrance station and
walked the trail around Manzanita lake.
The outflow creek from Manzanita lake is 100 yards
from the entrance station. There is a cute little
footbridge across it. Past the bridge is a bit of a
burnt area with several snags that seemed ideal for
woodpeckers. I lingered at this spot admiring the
reflection of Lassen Peak in the lake, and as the
afternoon wore on, bird activity picked up.
I spotted a White-headed Woodpecker nest with chicks.
Though I could not see the chicks, the parents were
constantly bringing food and I could
hear the begging calls coming from within.
Pretty soon a Hairy Woodpecker, and then a pair of
Red-breasted Sapsuckers were also working the same area.
Other birds that I observed at this spot include
a White-breasted Nuthatch, an unknown green Hummingbird,
and some unknown Finches.
When I got back to the car around 7 PM, activity had
picked up near the entrance station as well.
I had Brown Creeper and a pair of Western Wood Pewee
at very close range.
At 7:30 PM as I was packing the optics away, it started to
sound like the Pewees were getting louder and more numerous.
While I stood there wondering, I heard a booming noise overhead
like an aircraft had just passed. I looked up, and was
excited to see a pair of Common Nighthawks.
For the next 30 minutes, I stood entranced by the entrance
station watching the fireworks display put up by the nighthawks,
which were now out in force, flying over and around Manzanita lake.
They were calling, flying, diving, and booming just above the
tree-tops, and in such good light, that this was clearly the
highlight of the day for me.
Acting on a tip, I next headed back into the heart of the park
to Hat Lake looking for beavers at dusk.
When I got there at 8:45, a lone beaver was indeed foraging
on the surface near its lodge. After about 15 minutes,
it retreated into the lodge, and I made a hasty retreat
to the car to avoid the mosquitoes.
Thus ended a very pleasant first visit to Lassen National Park.
The lack of crowds or traffic make this park very enjoyable
even on a major holiday weekend.
Mountain View, CA