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Modoc Co. Part 11: Modoc NF West

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  • MiriamEagl@aol.com
    Hi, all! I honestly didn t think this last day wandering around the national forest would be too exciting based on yesterday s trip, but boy was I wrong! I
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 28, 2006
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      Hi, all!

      I honestly didn't think this last day wandering around the national forest
      would be too exciting based on yesterday's trip, but boy was I wrong! I
      decided to explore some good dirt roads in the western part of the forest, so
      plotted out a route last night and headed pre-dawn this morning to road 42N60,
      northwest of Canby. Started the drive-a-mile bit about a half mile in, seeing
      as a truck was idling at the intersection, and finally heard what I felt
      comfortable calling a Pygmy Owl (as opposed to a squirrel or a solitaire...)!
      More of those funky-sounding Gray Flycatchers were calling--GOSH, they sound
      harsh! I would love for someone who really knows these empids to do a thorough
      survey sometime on these back roads! There's a part of me that still thinks
      I'm hearing Hammond's!

      For the most part, this section of the forest reminded me more of our San
      Diego mountains (and in some cases the San Bernardinos), as the birdlife was
      similar: a lot of Spotted Towhees, Pygmy Nuthatches, and Steller's Jays compared
      to other parts of the NF, and in some cases particular birds (such as the
      Green-tailed Towhee) seemed to be missing altogether! I had a LOT of
      nighthawks along this particular stretch as well. In between forests were patches of
      open sage/grassland and lava rocks with the expected Rock Wrens and Mountain
      Bluebirds.

      At county road 91 I crossed over onto what I THOUGHT was county road 56 (at
      least that was the plan), but I found myself on a road that was certainly
      passable compared to some roads I've taken my poor car on, but it wasn't the
      best: lots of soft dirt and portions that were very rocky, I assume to give the
      logging trucks some traction on the inclines. And a good portion of THAT
      road did go through logging territory, but they had planted several pine trees
      that were at the stage of growth that almost made me expect a Kirtland's
      Warbler to pop up any moment (those of you who have visited the Jack Pine forests
      will know what I'm talking about)! The Chipping Sparrows and Juncos seemed to
      like this area, and in spots that were a little more "devastated" I ran into
      small "finch flocks" that, in addition to the Chippies and Juncos, often had
      Brewer's, Vesper, and Cassin's Finches thrown in!

      I then came upon a totally new habitat: what looked like high-altitude
      chaparral, and sure enough, a couple of Fox Sparrows song-battled! I assumed it
      was the Fat-billed type, and thankfully one of them started its California
      Towhee-like "teep" to confirm it! Another interesting sighting was a pair of
      Harriers cruising the area!

      Before long I came upon an intersection with several directional signs
      (which I was very glad to see), but according to said signs I was WAY off course!
      I would never dare wander around a National Forest without their official
      National Forest map, but even WITH the map, you can obviously get turned
      around! According to the signs I was south of Lava Campground when I thought I was
      well north of it, so I headed in that direction on a MUCH better road! At
      the turnoff I stopped to listen, heard tapping, and found a female Willy Sap
      looking for lunch; it was like seeing a whole new bird! Found the campground
      and took a walk around the loop, with the best bird being a Cassin's Vireo
      that came in to investigate.

      Headed up towards Long Bell Station after that, and hadn't gone far before a
      dark woodpecker flew over; got enough of a bin look to confirm Lewis'! That
      was totally unexpected and a special treat, although I DID have them at Lava
      Beds years ago, which isn't too far away. Nearby a Mountain Quail did its
      "flicker" call, and at another stop down the road, a familiar gurgling
      overhead revealed a female Purple Martin sailing past! Also had a small flock of
      three Red Crossbills, an Olive-sided Flycatcher posing on a dead tree (and who
      took off just before I could digiscope him, naturally), and a lone Pygmy
      Nuthatch actually came down to investigate!

      The REAL CR 56 picks up at the guard station, so I took that back, and since
      it was mid-day I packed in the drive-a-mile bit and decided to reservoir-hop
      the rest of the day. Passed through a LOT more of that chaparral habitat,
      so had I found the RIGHT road, undoubtedly the Fox Sparrows would have been in
      there, too. But once I got back out to CR 91 I pulled the map out and
      figured out where I had gone wrong: the map shows the original forest road I was
      on going STRAIGHT, which it didn't, and I ended up on a logging road that
      transected private land on a diagonal (the map still showed it was a "good" dirt
      road--if they say so) that took me straight to that intersection south of
      Lava! No WONDER I was turned around!

      Anyway, now that I knew where I was :-) I headed over to Duncan Reservoir.
      I've noticed that most of these "reservoirs" have a lot of wetland habitat
      around them, so they aren't like the barren-sided reservoirs I'm used to in
      southern California! Here picked up a small flock of female-type Bufflehead and
      a Belted Kingfisher for the day. Then headed to "Reservoir F", which was
      quite a bit larger but had a family of Pied-billed Grebes and a lone
      Violet-green Swallow flying around.

      From there headed towards "Reservoir C", but was in for a lovely surprise:
      the main road (part of the "Back Country Discovery Trail") takes you through
      Fairchild Swamp, which was just like taking an auto tour through a wildlife
      refuge: there was marvelous wetland habitat on both sides of the road!
      Unfortunately it was rather quiet, but did pick up Coots, White-faced Ibis, Canada
      Geese, Ring-billed Gulls, and Avocet for the day. Rounding the corner was
      another surprise: a pair of Sandhill Cranes! There were also these little
      "mountains" of what I assume are volcanic deposits, and yet another trip bird, a
      Canyon Wren, decided to call from one!

      Once back into sage land I happened upon a real cowboy and his herd (along
      with the Border Collies), who was very amiable and sent me on through, as the
      herd was basically hogging the road--took awhile for them to scoot out of the
      way! Just past that area was a little wetland called Joe Sweet Pond with
      more Buffleheads real close to the road. Reservoir C was rather tiny and
      quiet, so headed on to the main drag I was on yesterday and down to Big Sage
      Reservoir, which was kind of a disappointment: it's huge according to the map, but
      the access point is a little arm (that DID look like our SoCal reservoirs),
      but I snuck down another road that was actually the dam, and had a great view
      of the rather scuzzy-looking Rattlesnake Creek and a Great Blue Heron for the
      day.

      Headed down to Alturas after that; there are still so many dirt roads I'd
      love to explore, but alas, I have to leave for San Diego tomorrow... :-( Bird
      list:

      Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
      Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
      White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi
      Canada Goose Branta canadensis
      Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
      BUFFLEHEAD Bucephala albeola
      Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
      Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
      Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
      American Kestrel Falco sparverius
      Mountain Quail Oreortyx pictus
      Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis
      American Coot Fulica americana
      American Avocet Recurvirostra americana
      Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia
      Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
      Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
      NORTHERN PYGMY OWL Glaucidium californicum
      Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor
      Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon
      LEWIS’ WOODPECKER Melanerpes lewis
      Williamson's Sapsucker Sphyrapicus thyroideus
      Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
      Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
      Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi
      Western Wood-Pewee Contopus sordidulus
      Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii
      Dusky Flycatcher Empidonax oberholseri
      Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
      PURPLE MARTIN Progne subis
      Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina
      Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
      Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
      Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
      Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus
      CANYON WREN Catherpes mexicanus
      House Wren Troglodytes aedon
      Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides
      Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
      American Robin Turdus migratorius
      Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
      Bushtit Psaltriparus minimus
      Mountain Chickadee Poecile gambeli
      Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmaea
      Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis
      White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
      Brown Creeper Certhia americana
      Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri
      Common Raven Corvus corax
      House Sparrow Passer domesticus
      Cassin's Vireo Vireo cassinii
      Cassin's Finch Carpodacus cassinii
      Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
      Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria
      Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata
      Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana
      Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus
      Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
      Brewer's Sparrow Spizella breweri
      Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus
      “Fat-billed” Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
      Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
      Black-headed Grosbeak Pheucticus melanocephalus
      Lazuli Bunting Passerina amoena
      Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta
      Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus

      66 SPECIES
      So far: 173 SPECIES

      Mary Beth Stowe
      San Diego, CA
      MiriamEagl@...
      _www.miriameaglemon.com_ (http://www.miriameaglemon.com)




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