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Central CA Part 10: Yosemite NP

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  • MiriamEagl@aol.com
    23 OCT 02 Today was definitely one of those, Had I to do it again I d stay overnight in the park sort of excursions, but as it was, picked up a couple of
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2002
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      23 OCT 02

      Today was definitely one of those, "Had I to do it again I'd stay overnight
      in the park" sort of excursions, but as it was, picked up a couple of trip
      birds and a whole slough of county birds for Mariposa, so I certainly can't
      complain! But I DID want to bird Glacier Point Road mile by mile (or as
      closely as I could) just to see what would pop up by the road. I got there
      earlier than anticipated, so the first couple of stops were actually before
      daybreak, allowing me to pick up Great Horned Owl for the day. No other
      nightbirds, though: the moon was full and there was actually quite a bit of
      light; somewhere I think I heard that nightbirds tend NOT to vocalize on
      moonlit nights in order not to draw attention to themselves, but I'm not sure
      if that's true or not.

      As the day got lighter, more high mountain stuff vocalized, including Pine
      Crosbeak and Varied Thrush (they must move into the Sierras during the
      winter, because I certainly wouldn't expect them there in the summer).
      Red-breasted Nuthatch seemed to be the most ubiquitous thing all day! I was
      hoping I might run into a Blue Grouse, as I had my life bird at my feet at
      one of the scenic pullouts (someone had been feeding it), but no such luck
      this time. But I had Glacier Point all to myself that early (aside from some
      employees), and the early morning sun was energizing a flock of Juncos and
      Mountain Chickadees, one of the latter coming close for point-blank views! A
      Golden-crowned Sparrow was in with the junco flock, and a nice male Cassin's
      Finch fed at the base of a tree that a Brown Creeper was also flitting around
      on. Pine Siskins called overhead, which was good for the trip. Several
      Western Bluebirds were around, including one individual who posed on top of
      an eye-level pine tree for a great shot along with North Dome! And of
      course, nothing could beat the stupendous views of both North and Half Domes
      and that entire panorama! On the way out a gorgeous male Pine Grosbeak sat
      in the sun, and at one of the stops a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers called,
      which was also new for the trip.

      My plan was to stop every mile or so until noon, figuring that by that time
      the birds would be quieting down and traffic would be picking up. Well,
      traffic picked up a lot earlier than that (including three tour busses in a
      row coming up Glacier Point Road; glad I left when I did), and I really
      shoulda started hiking some trails, but I guess I was lazy and wanted to see
      how far down Tioga Road I could get before having to head for Mariposa (which
      is why I decided that next time I'm gonna stay in the park; unless any of you
      have any tips as to where the absolute best birding stops are, trying to do
      Yosemite in one day is an impossible task!). I stopped several places in the
      Valley, and DID end up hiking a little bit of the Bridalveil Falls Trail,
      which yielded a "beeping" Canyon Wren and a talkative Steller's Jay that
      posed for pictures. Several stops, while quiet for birds, begged for
      photography (including the meadow next to El Capitan), but a few low altitude
      things like Black Phoebe and Anna's Hummer were nice for the day. On that
      ten-mile stretch between the Valley and Crane Flats had a productive turnout
      along the old burned area that yielded Hermit Thrush, plus Lincoln's,
      Chipping, and Fox Sparrow (that sure looked like a Sooty but I'm not sure
      that race occurs here). Unfortunately, even with all those burned-out trees
      I could not pick out a Black-backed Woodpecker, although the Acorns were
      having a ball...

      Made a quick stop at Crane Flats to scan for Great Gray Owl (which woulda
      been a miracle that time of day, but stranger things have happened), then
      continued on; they were doing prescribed burns so the air was very smoky.
      Added Hutton's Vireo at one stop, plus a big flock of Band-tailed Pigeons.
      At another stop a sapsucker drummed, which I would have loved to have called
      a Williamson's but since I couldn't rule out Red-breasted I had to let that
      one go. Soft tapping at several other stops allowed me to practice the
      aggravating "Find the Woodpecker" game; most of them turned out to be
      Hairies. White-headeds were pretty common, too, but they were all calling
      from a distance.

      At 2:30 it was time to turn around, so I headed down beautiful highway 140 to
      Maricopa along the Merced River; I would have loved to stop and take
      pictures, but I had already passed two slowpokes (and since I'M usually the
      slowpoke, that's really saying something) and I didn't wanna risk getting
      behind them again...you know how that goes... Bird List:

      Band-tailed Pigeon Columba fasciata
      Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus
      Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna
      Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
      Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
      White-headed Woodpecker Picoides albolarvatus
      Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
      PILEATED WOODPECKER Dryocopus pileatus
      Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans
      Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
      Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
      Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus
      Western Bluebird Sialia mexicana
      Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
      American Robin Turdus migratorius
      Varied Thrush Ixoreus naevius
      Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli
      Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis
      Brown Creeper Certhia americana
      Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri
      Western Scrub-Jay Aphelocoma californica
      Common Raven Corvus corax
      Hutton's Vireo Vireo huttoni
      Pine Grosbeak Pinicola enucleator
      Cassin's Finch Carpodacus cassinii
      House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus
      PINE SISKIN Carduelis pinus
      Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata
      Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
      Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
      Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii
      Golden-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia atricapilla
      Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis

      33 SPECIES
      So Far: 152 SPECIES

      Mary Beth Stowe
      San Diego, CA
      MiriamEagl@...
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