Kern County Birders, Central Valley Birders, County Birders:
Sorry for the slight delay in this posting.
2-3 February I birded Kern County looking for new county ticks while
taking part in the state-wide Mountain Plover Survey.
Beginning at 5 AM local Michael McQuerrey of Bakersfield and I set out
looking for owls at the Cottonwood Creek Bridge on State Highway 178
(DeLorme 63, A7). The temperature was a crisp 29 degrees; moon was
bright. No owls were calling.
From here we drove up south on Comanche Drive (just west of the
Cottonwood Creek Bridge) and then made a left on Breckenridge Road.
Some small patches of snow were still along the side of the road.
Finally at MP 15.68 we had a calling Great Horned Owl and a short time
later a Western Screech-Owl.
From here we drove back down to Lake Ming and parked at the east end of
the lake. Now in early daylight, we hiked along the Kern River along
the north side of the lake. Sparrows, avoiding the cold, were nowhere
to be found until sometime later. Among the flock of White-crowned
Sparrows we counted at most 5 Golden-crowned Sparrows. An American
Bittern was calling from the side of the Kern River. A couple Common
Mergansers were in the river. An adult Bald Eagle, which had a slight
brownish smear on its supercilium was perched in a tree along the north
side of the Kern River, later took to flight to the south-east. A mere
4 American Goldfinches which I needed for the county picked over the
seed cones in one of the sycamores.
Later I headed out alone to Lake Isabella Dam to the east. I traveled
north on State Route 155 from State Route 178 in the town of Lake
Isabella. I parked at the entrance to the campground just below the
dam since the campground is currently closed. There had been reports of
Red-breasted Sapsucker here. All the pines here had sapsucker evidence
with plenty of sapsucker drilling, but not a single sapsucker was
present. In the river below the dam were 5 Common Mergansers, and
midway between the highway and the base of the dam I found a single
The next morning I drove north on Corcoran Road from State Route 46
(just east of I-5) toward the entrance to Kern NWR. A light-morphe
Rough-legged Hawk was perched on a telephone pole just before the
entrance to the wildlife refuge entrance.
At the refuge entrance I made a right on Garces Highway making frequent
stops to scan for potential flocks of Mountain Plovers. Horned Larks,
Killdeer, and Western Meadowlarks were easy finds. Mountain Plovers
were nowhere to be found. At 10 AM II spotted some movement in the field
along the north side of the road where cattle were grazing 1.4 miles
west of Scofield Road. Sure enough...at this location there was a flock
of 58 Mountain Plovers. From here I drove to State Route 99 and then
returned. When I returned to the plover spot a half hour later, the
flock was gone.
From here I drove south on Corcoran Road to State Route 46 and then east
on State Route 46 and then north on Gun Club Road. The Southern
California DeLorme Atlas (48, C1) shows some duck ponds in this area.
Sorry to say, all were bone-dry. The road winds around and later
becomes Bell Road and then eventually Rowlee Road which crosses the
Garces Highway. The only birds worth mentioning along this route were
the four Cattle Egrets I found along the west side of Bell Road.
Mike Feighner, Livermore, CA, Alameda County