Calaveras County Big Day - New Record
- Hello all. Yesterday, the 25th, Oliver James, Dan Maxwell and I attempted a Calaveras County big day. Starting at 2:15AM and ending at 10:15PM, we tallied 143 species, 2 more than the previous big day record of 141, set in 2002 by Jeff Davis, Steve Glover, John Luther and Steve Rovell. We started owling at Dan's house just outside of Angels Camp, then moved up into the hills to try for other species of owls, then returned to Dan's house for dawn chorus. We then moved down into the lowlands of western Calaveras County, making a counter-clockwise loop. Stops at Pardee Reservoir, Valley Springs, Lake Hogan Dam, Milton, Salt Springs Valley, Salt Springs Reservoir and Copperopolis netted us the bulk of our birds for the day, as the mountains, which we headed into at about 2PM were quite slow.
We did have a few highlights, including:
American White Pelicans, at Salt Springs Reservoir, were our 100th species.
Most of the expected ducks, though we missed Northern Shoveler.
A mountaineering Golden Eagle, at over 6000 feet.
A clean sweep of rails, including Virginia Rail at the Dogtown Pond, Sora at Dan's, and Common Moorhen both at Dan's and in Angels Camp.
Five species of Shorebirds (Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Dowitcher Sp. and Wilson's Snipe)
Four Caspian Terns in Angels Camp. Unfortunately, only Oliver saw these fly-bys.
Unexpected encounters with both Lesser Nighthawk and Common Poorwill; we didn't have sites for either of these species, so bumping into them was nice.
A calling Canyon Wren along Rock Creek Rd., on our way to Salt Springs Reservoir.
An American Pipit in Salt Springs Valley.
A clean sweep of the expected Blackbirds, including Great-tailed Grackles at four locations and a Yellow-headed Blackbird at the Dogtown Pond.
As is usual for big days, a number of our "stake-outs" had fled their spots, and a number of "regular" birds failed to show up. Birds seen the previous day while scouting, but not seen on the big day include:
Northern Shoveler; at Salt Springs Reservoir.
Black-necked Stilt; a pair at Salt Springs Reservoir probably has moved on.
Bonepart's Gulls; five at Salt Springs Reservoir
Gray Flycatcher; birds at Dan's house and below Lake Hogan dam
Say's Phoebe; at Copperopolis
Loggerhead Shrike; in the Salt Springs Valley
Hermit Thrush; none in the mountains, and migrants at Dan's house were not encountered
Cedar Waxwing; flocks were seen on Saturday, but were nowhere to be found on Sunday
Lincoln's Sparrow; a migrant at Dan's house was not present the next day
Pine Siskins; none could be found in the mountains.
We also missed a number of species on both days that I would have thought would have been relatively easy to find, including:
Black-crowned Night-Heron; Sharp-shinned Hawk; Prairie Falcon; Mountain Quail; Owls other than Western Screech-, Great Horned and Barn; Black-chinned and Rufous Hummingbirds; Williamson's Sapsucker and Pileated Woodpecker; Olive-sided Flycatcher and Western Wood-Pewee (which are just not back yet, I suppose); Chestnut-backed Chickadee; Rock Wren; American Dipper; Swainson's Thrush; California Thrasher; MacGillivray's Warbler; Green-tailed Towhee; Sage Sparrow; Finches, including Purple Finch, American Goldfinch and Evening Grosbeak.
I feel as though 143 is a good total, but given our misses, 150 is probably easily possible, and, with some luck, 160 may be obtainable. I'd be interested in hearing reports of other big days in Calaveras County. Thanks, and good birding,
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