Big loop desert birding
- Sorry for the cross posting and long post but this covers quite an area.
Just back from quite a trip to the desert and attempting birding in Yosemite.
Austin Booth, Jeremy "Jez" Bird, and I headed for Yosemite Thursday afternoon.
We arrived after dark at Cheveron Meadows and we attempted to walk around and
find Great Gray Owls. No luck though we did tree some young Black Bears. We
went to bed for a couple hours hoping to wake up early and try again.
Unfortunetly at about 3:30 it started to rain, though we hoped it woud clear. It
didn't. At about 6:30 we decided to try and cross the pass figuring the we
might as well try birding the east slope instead. As we climbed it started
snowing and continued to snow hard, we were hoping to cross the pass before it got
to icy, but after a while the rangers turned us back saying the pass was closed
though not after we had a dispaying male BLUE GROUSE alongside the road. We
got back to Chevoron Meadows where the rain had stopped and learned that the
pass was unikely to open then much that evening at best. We made the most of
it and birded the meadows having most of the montane species. Lots of Dusky
Flys around. We were told that Sonora Pass was open so we tried our luck there.
Taking Ward Ferry's Rd mistakenly thinking it was a short cut (this road is
not for the faint of heart. About halfway along this narrow winding road our
car broke down. While waiting many hours for a tow truck we managed to have a
couple BLACK SWIFTS fly over the valley. We got to Sonora learning that the
car wasnt even going to be looked at till Tuesday, which just would not do!
We had to get to Death Valley for birding! We managed to find a place that
would actually rent to us. Taking our new nice rental car we crossed Sonora Pass
without any probems having a GRAY-CROWNED ROSY FINCH along a snow bank near
the top as it was getting dark. We arrived at about 2 AM ready for that 5 AM
wake up call for birding. Saturday morning we meet up with Matt Brady, Scott,
Linda, and Ryan Terrill, and Andrew and Vernon Howe. The highlight was the
singing YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER I found in the tams near the north pond. We
heard the bird a number of times as we birded the area. We ran into some
unfriendly golfers and some friendly ones aso the people working there were friendly.
Vernon had an Indigo Bunting and others had an Ovenbird at the Inn. Also a
male Ring-necked Duck and Eurasian Collared Doves were present. We later
headed up valley and into Nevada finding nothing unusal. At Oasis Mono County Jez
found a nice adult male AMERICAN REDSTART and others had a NORTHERN PARULA
and a possible Red-eyed Vireo. Also apprently Eurasian Collared Doves were
present here as well. At Deep Springs College Matt, Andrew and I found a female
HOODED WARBLER (wow after last weekend in Kern its almost become a ho hum bird,
well amost they are stil cool). At Westergard Pass Inyo we had Juniper
Titmice. The next day at Butterbredt we aong with neary every other birder in
Califonia (or so it seemed with 24 cars there at one point!) had the
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO found the day before. Also AM REDSTART. On monday Jez we had the
VIREO (sounding a lot like a Cassin's) again, 2 PARULAS and 2 AM REDSTARTS and
Jez came through again with a drab female CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER. Taking off
for Tulare County and the GRACE's WARBLER in the afternoon we managed to get
out of the car and have Todd Easterla point it out for our group of John
Luther, Jeff Seay, Rob Fowler, and the others present in Death Valley minus the
Howes. We managed to get great looks at it singing also had Dusky and Gray
Flycatchers and a Solitary type vireos singing. I believe that is about it. Good
David Vander Pluym
UC Santa Cruz
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