SOCAL Trip (Long)
- Did a little trip around socal with a friend of mine Ryan Shaw from
Washington last weekend. Mostly had the regular birds (so I am only really
going to say the highlights for each place) with the rarest bird we had
probably was American Pipits in the Antelope Valley. If anybody is
interested in the details feel free to e-mail me. Sorry for the late report
Los Angles County Antelope Valley-
The first Le Contes Thrasher site mentioned in A Birder's Guide To So Cal off
of Ave O. No Thrashers but surprisingly we did have a couple of American
Pipits (how many summer records are there for this area?). Coasta's
Hummingbird, Verdin, Cal Quail, Catcus Wren (lifer for Ryan) and Brewer's
Sparrow were the other highlights here. Also in the non bird category we had
White-tailed Antelope Squirrel, and Ryan had a Desert Horned Lizard
We then stopped at the second thrasher site mentioned in A Birders Guide to
So Cal on Ave Q. Highlights here were 10-15 juv Sage Sparrows in a flock
with no definite sightings of an adult. Other non birds were Zebra-tailed and
San Bernardino County-
Mojave Narrows Regional Park - getting towards late morning so we didn't
really do a lot of birding here but we did see Western Bluebird, coots with
babies grackles, Summer Tanager Nuttall's Woodpecker, and Ash-throated
Our plans of heading up into the San Bernardino Mountains were foiled by an
extremely heavy downpour and thunderstorm when we reached Bladwin Lake.
Convington Park in Morango Valley was birdy. The highlights that we had were
Summer Tanager family (one fledgling only had half of its adult feathers), a
female Western Tanager (an early fall migrant I would guess), a yellow
canary, heard a C. Peafowl, Lazuli Bunting, Vermillion FLycatcher, Ryan heard
a selasphorous hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummer, Nuttall's Wood, and a
Gambell's Quail family unfortunetly we also had a cowbird. Over at Big
Morongo Canyon Preserve (which was far less birdy then the park) we had
Coasta's Hummer, Verdin, several Chats, Blue Grosbeak, Ash-throated
Flycatcher, Turkey Vulture. We met a birder who told us that he had
Brown-crested Flycatcher (lifer for Ryan state bird for me) just a couple
minutes before in the park so we went back and found two of them in the
residential next to the park. They then flew over into the park and then
back into the residential.
Joshua Tree NP
Along the drive into the park from the West Entrance Station we had a Coyote
begging for food next to the road. We stopped at Ryan Campground where we
planned on camping that night because A Birders Guide to So Cal mentioned
that Bendire's Thrashers can be seen around the campground. While this may
be true we didn't see any around but there is a lot of habiat around the
campground where they may be. The campground was really nice despite no
facilities. That evening we had Black-throated Sparrow, White-throated
Swift, Loggerhead Shrike, and Catcus Wren right around the campground itself.
Also Desert Cottontail and Desert Spiny Lizard. Also two other species of
lizard which I was unable to indentify If anbody knows anything about lizards
and wouldn't mind looking at digital pic I have of it please e-mail me. Also
as we were sitting around the campsite we heard a thrasher calling in the
distance. We immediately walked out into the desert after it. There
appeared to be several calling in the area southeast of the campground. We
were able to track down one of the birds singing and discovered to our
surprasied that it was a Le Contes Thrasher (lifer for both) and not the
expected Bendire's Thrasher. There seemed to be at least 5 birds singing in
this area and we managed to see at least two of them (it was hard to get an
accurate count as they seemed to stay in one bush for only a short period
before moving on to a new bush to sing). We also heard Scott's Oriole in
this area. After it got dark we were able to find many calling Merriam's
Kangroo Rats, Desert Woodrat less then two feet away chewing on a yucca in
the darkness, Western Pipistrelle (bat) and a probable Big Brown Bat, heard a
Barn Owl and Ryan heard a Great Horned Owl.
Joshua Tree NP Ryan's Campground
Heard a Thrasher very near the campground just to the west of it. All the
same birds as last night except seeing the Thrasher and we had Scott's
Orioles (lifer for Ryan) and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers (lifer for Ryan) just
west of the campground. The Scott's Oriole always seemed to be flying. They
would only stay in one tree or bush for a few seconds before flying away from
us (not that they were ever close). When we got back to the campground I
went out in search among the huge rock pile in the campground in search of
lizards and instead discovered a Mojave Rattlesnack (luckily from a good
After we go back onto the parks road we had good looks at a couple of Scott's
orioles just after we past White Tank Campground also a White-tailed Antelope
Squirrel. A Quick note on the weather. It was great as long as we stayed in
the Mojave Desert not to hot but once we dropped down into the Colorado
Desert the temp began to rise. We then stopped at Cottonwood Spring and
hiked to Mastadon Mountain I believe is the name nothing more along the trail
then at the spring itself except for Cayon Wrens around the peak. At the
spring we had Black-tailed Gntcatcher (state bird), Verdin, Hooded Oriole,
Phainopepla, also Western Whiptail and Zebra-tailed Lizard Red-spotted Toad
baby and a Coachwhip went across the road to the spring. Also had a
Roadrunner (lifer for Ryan) on the road on our way out of the spring.
Box Canyon Road on the way to Mecca we had White-winged Doves (Lifer for Ryan
and a state bird for me [finally saw one in state]).
Whitewater River Delta Lincoln Street lots of birds around
Grackles, Western Grebes, both pelicans, Black Tern, Laughing Gull (state
bird) Snowy Plover, Skimmers, Whimbrel, Yellow-footed Gull, and two
Flamingos. We later learned that the Reddish Egret was seen about 10 mins
after we left.
Johnson Road Osprey, Clark's Grebe and Belted Kingfisher.
At the Salton Sea NRA headquarters campground Bullock's Oriole and Verdin
many Lesser Nighthawks (lifer for Ryan) where we camped that night,
White-winged Dove. Also heard a Kangroo Rat.
Davis Road at the south end of the Sea White-winged Dove, Verdin, 2 soaring
Wood Storks (lifer),
Scrimpf Road - Gull-billed Terns (lifer for Ryan state bird for me), Desert
Cottontail, Long-billed Curlew, Black Terns, Greater Yellowlegs, Gambell's
quail on Sinclair Road.
Salton Sea NRA Headquarters campground, Lesser Nighthawk.
Roadrunner along highway 111 just north of Niland.
around Ramer Lake Cottontail, lots of egrets, W Grebes, Fulvous Whistling
Duck, Roadrunner, Abert's Towhee, Marsh Wren, Moorhen, C Ground Dove,
Finney Lake- Verdin, cottontail, Lesser Nighhawks in the trees around the
campground, Abert's Towhee, Moorhen, Lark Sparrow, a great look at a Least
Bittern, Black-tailed Gntcatcher, Clark's Grebes, Spotted Sandpipers. We
tried to find the spot that is mentioned as a consistent spot for Crissal
Thrasher in A Birder's Guide to So Cal and were unable to find it. I'm not
sure if it was just to early for us to have followed the directions correctly
or if the situation has changed since the book was published. We had
Burrowing Owl on Titsworth Road where Smith Rd ends at it.
Rio Vista Ave in the residential we had an Inca Dove (lifer for Ryan, state
bird for me), Gila Woodpecker (state bird for me).
Cattle Call Park- C. Ground Dove (5 dove day), Bronzed Cowbird near the rodeo
grounds towards the river past the horse stabbles. Gila Woodpecker.
Sinclair Road-some flooded fields with egrets and ibis and shorebirds.
Garst Road - Brown Pelican, Yellow-footed Gull, 5 Wood Storks maybe more,
Red Hill Marina - Wood Stork, both pelicans, Yellow-footed Gulls, Green
Heron, Black Terns, Western Grebe.
Kalin Road - 20+ Burrowing Owls
Salton Sea NWR at the end of Vendell Road nothing out of the ordinary though
there were a lot of birds on ponds marked off limits to the public.
San Diego County
Kitchen Creek Road above the gate Oak Titmouse, good looks at a wrentit,
Steller's Jay, a lot of Lawernece's Goldfinches (seems to be a really good
year for them), Canyon Wren, I got a couple of brief glimpses of
Black-chinned Sparrow (would have been a lifer for Ryan if he had seen it),
Phainopepla, Lazuli Bunting, Ash-throated Flycatcher.
Otay Lakes - at the pull out along Otay Lakes Road Grasshopper Sparrow,
California Gntcatchers(lifer for Ryan), Western and Clark's Grebes. At the
boat lunch and picnic area Grackles being chased by Cassin's Kingbird,
Tricolored Blackbirds, Western Gull, a lot of swallows,
Camped at a county park campground near Sweetwater Res. had a roadrunner
Smuggler's Gulch no Black-backed Oriole but we did have two Bullock's
Orioles, Cal Gntcatcher, Phainopepla, Cal Quail, and a Pacific-slope
Tijuana Slough NWR from Seacoast Dr. - Elegant and Least Terns, Long-billed
Curlew, Violet-green Swallows, Snowy Plover, Black Skimmer, a White Pelican,
Western Grebe, Belding's Savannah Sparrow.
Took the train back to my home in Ventura from San Diego as Ryan who's car we
used was staying work on a research vessel off the shores of southern
California looking for pelagics. On the train right around San Clemente I
had a imm Glacous-winged Gull flying along the beach.
David Vander Pluym
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