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North County Rare Birds: Painted Bunting, Magnificent Hummingbird

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  • Robert Hewitt
    As well as active birding around Humboldt Bay, there is also a dedicated group located around Garberville. They have recently been conducting an array of
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7 1:01 PM
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      As well as active birding around Humboldt Bay, there is also a dedicated
      group located around Garberville. They have recently been conducting an
      array of trips based out of South County. Well, even further South County
      is Northern Mendocino County from which this report eminates.



      Yours Rob



      Ps. The Magnifecent Hummingbird was reported back on May 6th in the evening
      after being gone for a while.





      This message was forwarded to me by Bob Woods:



      Red Mountain Trip Report



      Unfortunately for the length of this report we also saw one

      Outrageous bird on Sunday. All of us saw and heard it

      at length. We saw and heard a singing male PAINTED BUNTING. Too bad it

      was not a fully adult bird, but this at least caused us all to study it

      much more closely. The bird was on top of the mountain singing over

      brush with open pine-cedar woodland and snags. The song was very

      similar to a sweetish Lazuli Bunting song and we heard it sing probably

      in excess of fifty times. Buntings of any species do not occur on the

      upper parts of this mountain, according to our substantial previous

      experience.





      This prominently exposed singing bird was the size and shape of a

      Lazuli. It clearly had a bunting bill, but this was prominently

      yellowish basally, noted especially when the bird would turn and face

      us directly. Then there was a strong contrast to the dark facial area.

      We never could determine whether this darkness might be blue in

      character. But the back of the neck certainly was not. Instead, it was

      the same bright yellowish-olive green as the upper back. The rump was

      stunningly bright red and we all saw this feature well. Red also

      extended onto the tail, but in flight the tail appeared rufous

      brownish. Wings also appeared brownish-reddish (perhaps from wear) and

      there were no wingbars at all, as we all saw and agreed. Below the bird

      was colored, but surprisingly not red. Instead, it was light below. The

      throat to the top of the breast area was a rather bright yellowish, and

      below that was essentially all yellowish, but not as strongly so. First

      year male Painted Bunting, May 2, 2004, Red Mt., Mendocino Co.

      Observers: Robert Sutherland, Zoe Chapman, Jeff Hedin, Denise. Before

      leaving the bird Sutherland read his field notes, from which this

      account is drawn, to Chapman and she agreed fully with every detail.

      Chapman is an experienced birder.





      When we first approached the bunting, we also were treated to the rich

      buzz of a brownish rattlesnake.



      Red Mountain is located in extreme northern Mendocino County northeast

      of

      Leggett. It is mostly managed by BLM. It is a Research Natural Area and

      is a candidate wilderness area. Present are the oldest soils in

      northern California on which occur many unusual plants, including at

      least four that are endemic to the mountain. We visited the peak on an

      overnight, May 1 and 2, 2004 via a vigorous hike. Highlights:





      BAD NEWS.In the north half of Section 20 there is an old

      marijuana garden raided years ago. No one cleaned it up. We found and

      photographed a stream there in which were located many mostly empty

      containers of poisons (rodenticides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.)

      Many had been bitten or chewed open by animals. All were directly in

      the water, tributary to the South Fork of the Eel River. The caution

      label for one of the numerous bitten-open containers of Ortho-Klor says

      "toxic to fish, birds and other wildlife. Do not apply directly to

      water. Do not contaminate water by � disposal of wastes", etc. We

      intend to ask the Water Board to issue an emergency cleanup order.

      These were probably thrown into the stream full, as many had their caps

      on, as a malicious response by busted growers. The cops that came here

      bear a huge share of responsibility for not alerting proper agencies.



      GOOD NEWS. We start with Saturday, where the bird

      highlight was seeing a Peregrine Falcon at her nest. Among unusual

      plants, we visited a flowering grove of Oracle Oaks, and also saw

      numerous McDonald's Rock Cresses in flower. We also saw Kellogg's

      Buckwheat, Red Mountain Catchfly (just emerging), and Miss Alice

      Eastwood's Stonecrop. These last four are endemics.





      On Sunday we encountered about 30 singing Dusky Flycatchers, Mountain

      Chickadees, two species of Nuthatch, and various other interesting

      birds. Most numerous on the lateritic soils are Audubon's and

      Black-throated Gray Warblers, of which we saw well many examples. An

      unseen bird sounded much like a Gray Jay. We also visited the stands of

      Sargeant Cypress.





      Earlier where we slept we also saw tracks of bear and lion. Red

      Mountain is well worth preservation and

      deserves your strong support. Please write Senators Barbara Boxer and

      Diane Feinstein and specify that Red Mountain must be preserved in the

      final California wilderness bill. Without strong support it will be

      sacrificed, a terrible loss.















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