North County Rare Birds: Painted Bunting, Magnificent Hummingbird
- 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.
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
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
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
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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