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Kern River Valley CBC

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  • Ali Sheehey
    Birders, Thanks to 23 hardy birders, the Kern River Valley CBC enjoyed one of the more successful counts in the 28 years of this count. Count Day species
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 9, 2006
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      Birders,



      Thanks to 23 hardy birders, the Kern River Valley CBC enjoyed one of the
      more successful counts in the 28 years of this count. Count Day species
      numbered 129 plus 3 added during count week, with a total of 23,239
      individuals seen/heard.



      The day started out quite lovely, while it was cool and overcast, there was
      no wind to speak of and the morning was really pleasant to bird. The
      afternoon started out nice but the sky opened up with rains that began in
      earnest by around 1:30. The rest of the afternoon was either a wash (more so
      for some. pun intended) or done by car.



      While this has been my CBC season for owls, I tried for Spotted Owl on
      Greenhorn Mountain, but had no luck as the mountains were a dry hole where
      all hoots went unanswered. Although I didn't intend to stop as the mountains
      were my owling goal, it was fortuitous that I stopped on my way up the hill
      at the Kern River Preserve/South Fork Wildlife area just in case the other
      owling team wasn't able to get out in time. I had not even shut the engine
      off before I heard the ping pongee toot of a Western Screech owl, three more
      answered back from deep inside the forest. The day before I had heard and
      seen a Northern Saw-whet while owling with Denise LaBerteaux on her count,
      so I imitated the saw-whet and to my absolute surprise one answered from
      near the South Fork Kern Bridge. Then although it was pitch black. a slow
      monotonous toot began from an area right in front of my beaming headlights.
      a Northern Pygmy Owl! As I stepped out of the car a Barn Owl swooped over my
      head as 6 Great-horned Owls began hooting their symphony.



      Two species were brand new to the count: Ross's Goose and Green Heron.
      Several species were unusual: American Crow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Pygmy
      Nuthatch, and Great-tailed Grackle. There were multiple species that were
      seen in higher numbers than ever: Hooded Merganser, Eared Grebe, Great
      Egret, Osprey, California Gull, Mourning Dove, Western Screech-Owl, Oak
      Titmouse, American Dipper, Phainopepla and House Finch.



      I am surprised that after 28 years no other Green Heron had been detected, I
      think this bird should be around as there is plenty of good habitat for it,
      thanks to Bruce and Denise for finally finding this elusive bird. The Ross's
      Geese that my team found were both juveniles, and most likely part of the
      great fallout that China Lake experienced this year. My pre-count birding
      yielded 2 American Crows up near Shirley Meadows, so when John Schmitt
      reported 3 crows, I expected that these were the same birds. I called for
      details and found this not to be the case. apparently he has been observing
      nesting crows at Tillie Creek campground and said he assumed these were the
      pair with one of the eight young that hatched this year. I didn't know the
      CBC could also help with BBS data as well. Terri Gallion reported a
      Blue-gray Gnatcatcher calling at Goat Ranch in her area, and then John
      reported another one at Tillie Creek yesterday. The Pygmy Nuthatches, I
      found these during count week just south of Shirley Meadows upper ski lift.
      A flock of up to 9 came through with many mountain chickadees and brown
      creepers. It is fortunate that Denise and Bruce passed through the Weldon
      South Lake territory on their way to their territory as they picked up 2
      Great-tailed Grackles in the process. These birds should no longer be listed
      as rare but the South Lake/Weldon/Mtn. Mesa territory needs one more team to
      help cover the area. Actually this count would benefit from several more
      birders to help coordinate territories and really beat the bushes.



      High numbers were helped by the glasslike sheen on the early morning
      reservoir. Bob Barnes and Frank Gibson diligently scoped every blip on the
      lake and then added names and numbers to the thousands of birds enjoying the
      still waters. Every team provided so many wonderful sightings and details.
      It is a joy to compile this count, I thank you all, Ellen, Marya, Darrell,
      Radley, Terri G., Sandra, Bob B., Frank, Ashley, Steve, John, Diana, Bob S.,
      Susan S., Terri M., Sam, Pete, Susan M., Bruce, Denise, Reed, and Chana.



      Although, we did have some big misses for the count: Ring-necked Duck,
      White-throated Swift, Vesper Sparrow, Northern Pintail, Tricolored
      Blackbird, Ruddy Duck, Spotted Sandpiper, Lesser Scaup and Least Sandpiper.
      It was overall one of the most productive counts, even without nice weather
      in the afternoon. What a strange CBC season, flooded N. Cal counts and
      temperatures in the 80's in S. Cal. I expected depressed montane species
      numbers in most counts, and lots of rarities, it seems at least from my
      participation that this was mostly the case.



      I really appreciate the final coup d' grace for our New Year's Day count,
      dinner at Ron Gillentine's, for the past two years Ron has graciously
      prepared the meal for team members. While I suggested last year that we
      should have a simple spaghetti feed after the count, he took up the
      challenge. No simple spaghetti for our crew. pasta Bolognese, spinach
      lasagna, mixed green salad, corn bread, and fresh raspberry tiramisu. Plus
      wine, coffee, tea, and hot cocoa. What a treat! Thank you, Ron and Rob.



      With a great start for the Kern River Valley birding year, I am conducting
      my own personal Kern Valley/County big year. If others want to join we can
      make it a cooperative big year. I look forward to another great birding
      year.



      Ali



      Alison Sheehey - Kern River Valley CBC compiler




      Species

      KRV CBC 2005/06 Tally


      Ross's Goose

      2


      Canada Goose

      17


      Wood Duck

      5


      Gadwall

      33


      American Wigeon

      10


      Mallard

      200


      Cinnamon Teal

      2


      Northern Shoveler

      4


      American Green-winged Teal

      3


      Bufflehead

      9


      Common Goldeneye

      113


      Hooded Merganser

      26


      Common Merganser

      1717


      Mountain Quail

      4


      California Quail

      950


      Common Loon

      3


      Pied-billed Grebe

      69


      Eared Grebe

      2930


      Western Grebe

      308


      Clark's Grebe

      60


      Aechmophorus sp.

      1105


      American White Pelican

      53


      Double-crested Cormorant

      284


      Great Blue Heron

      28


      Great Egret

      16


      Green Heron

      1


      Turkey Vulture

      cw


      Osprey

      10


      White-tailed Kite

      3


      Bald Eagle

      1


      Northern Harrier

      1


      Sharp-shinned Hawk

      5


      Cooper's Hawk

      13


      Accipiter sp.

      1


      Red-shouldered Hawk

      4


      Red-tailed Hawk

      51


      Ferruginous Hawk

      2


      Golden Eagle

      1


      American Kestrel

      13


      Merlin

      2


      Prairie Falcon

      1


      Virginia Rail

      4


      Sora

      6


      American Coot

      639


      Killdeer

      72


      Greater Yellowlegs

      1


      Wilson's Snipe

      1


      Bonaparte's Gull

      1


      Ring-billed Gull

      67


      California Gull

      1746


      Herring Gull

      3


      gull sp.

      914


      Rock Pigeon

      7


      Band-tailed Pigeon

      7


      Mourning Dove

      481


      Greater Roadrunner

      2


      Barn Owl

      2


      Western Screech-Owl

      4


      Great Horned Owl

      8


      Northern Pygmy-Owl

      1


      Long-eared Owl

      cw


      Northern Saw-whet Owl

      1


      Anna's Hummingbird

      49


      Belted Kingfisher

      5


      Acorn Woodpecker

      155


      Red-naped Sapsucker

      2


      Red-breasted Sapsucker

      10


      sapsucker sp.

      1


      Nuttall's Woodpecker

      24


      Downy Woodpecker

      5


      Hairy Woodpecker

      11


      White-headed Woodpecker

      6


      Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker

      45


      Pileated Woodpecker

      2


      Black Phoebe

      57


      Say's Phoebe

      18


      Loggerhead Shrike

      5


      Steller's Jay

      11


      Western Scrub-Jay

      302


      American Crow

      3


      Common Raven

      435


      Horned Lark

      66


      Mountain Chickadee

      26


      Oak Titmouse

      228


      Bushtit

      235


      Red-breasted Nuthatch

      16


      White-breasted Nuthatch

      26


      Pygmy Nuthatch

      cw


      Brown Creeper

      2


      Cactus Wren

      1


      Rock Wren

      16


      Canyon Wren

      16


      Bewick's Wren

      70


      House Wren

      1


      Marsh Wren

      16


      American Dipper

      24


      Golden-crowned Kinglet

      4


      Ruby-crowned Kinglet

      158


      Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

      1


      Western Bluebird

      237


      Mountain Bluebird

      79


      Townsend's Solitaire

      2


      Hermit Thrush

      10


      American Robin

      52


      Varied Thrush

      1


      Wrentit

      25


      Northern Mockingbird

      41


      California Thrasher

      16


      European Starling

      621


      American Pipit

      23


      Cedar Waxwing

      153


      Phainopepla

      70


      Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler

      125


      Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler

      1


      Spotted Towhee

      67


      California Towhee

      129


      Rufous-crowned Sparrow

      6


      Lark Sparrow

      40


      Savannah Sparrow

      28


      Fox Sparrow

      7


      Song Sparrow

      64


      Lincoln's Sparrow

      7


      White-crowned Sparrow

      1608


      Golden-crowned Sparrow

      96


      Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco

      834


      Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco

      1


      Red-winged Blackbird

      913


      Western Meadowlark

      51


      Brewer's Blackbird

      1684


      Great-tailed Grackle

      2


      Brown-headed Cowbird

      2


      blackbird sp.

      266


      Purple Finch

      16


      Cassin's Finch

      1


      House Finch

      1131


      Pine Siskin

      27


      Lesser Goldfinch

      82


      American Goldfinch

      cw


      House Sparrow

      642


      TOTAL INDIVIDUALS

      23237





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