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Idyllwild trip

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  • geoff.rogers@juno.com
    Did a quick dash up to the Idyllwild area of Riverside County today with the intrepid Mary Beth Stowe. Our objective was to scope out Forest Service Road 4S01
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2002
      Did a quick dash up to the Idyllwild area of Riverside County today with
      the intrepid Mary Beth Stowe. Our objective was to scope out Forest
      Service Road 4S01 which is the route up to Black Mountain Campground and
      location of historic Flammulated Owl sightings. Chaparral understory here
      seems better developed than in many forests further south in the
      peninsular ranges. This may be a preference of smaller owls like
      Flammulated. Noted were several species of Ceanothus, at least one of
      Manzanita, California Scrub Oak, and Canyon Live Oak.

      On our way through Garner Valley we saw several Great-tailed Grackles
      around an old corral near Highway 74. I guess they're moving up in
      elevation. Past Idyllwild and Pine Cove we broke through the cloud deck
      around 6000 feet and turned up 4S01 only to find it gated and locked. We
      walked past it a few hundred feet and shortly had Dark-eyed Junco,
      Steller's Jay, Western Bluebird, Oak Titmouse, Mountain Quail, Acorn
      Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Black-headed Grosbeak, Band-tailed Pigeon,
      Purple Finch, Cassin's Vireo, several Wilson's Warblers, and a singing
      Black-throated Gray Warbler. As we returned to our vehicle a Forest
      Service truck pulled up. We asked if they were here to open the gate.
      They said they were only going up for road repairs and that the road
      would not be open until around the 15th.
      We headed down and turned west on 4S02 which ends in a small primative
      campsite. On our way over we passed a fairly wet drainage that had a
      single California-Bay (Umbellularia californica) growing among the
      understory. Nearby we heard a Pygmy Nuthatch and another Black-throated
      Gray. We returned to 4S01 and headed over to Road 4S02 and Stone Creek
      Campground. On the theory that forests with multiple species of pine are
      more attractive to White-headed Woodpeckers than single pine species
      forests (see Birds of North America series) we hoped for the best. We
      noted that Sugar, Jeffrey, and Coulter pines all grow here. Just below
      the gate to Fern Basin Campground we heard the distinctive call of this
      species repeated several times. Shortly, a Hermit Warbler flew in and
      produced a rather weak song while still another Black-throated Gray was
      seen singing nearby. Their songs were, at this stage, easy to separate.

      We dropped back down through Idyllwild to Garner Valley and made a final
      stop at Hurkey Creek County Park. We saw none of the Pinyon Jays
      historically reported from here but did well with local species and
      migrant warblers. Many Yellow-rumped, up to eight Wilson's, several
      Townsend's, and at least three Hermit were seen. Notable were around ten
      Tricolored Blackbirds and an equal number of Brown-headed Cowbirds at the
      feeders and on the ground next to the camp host's trailer. I'm not sure
      where they're from--I don't remember if there is marsh habitat at nearby
      Lake Hemet. One Tricolored male was nearly 20 feet up in a pine rendering
      his somewhat less than melodic song. Several Lesser and two Lawrence's
      goldfinches were also seen nearby. A brief but satisfying trip with
      weather conditions better than expected.

      Geoff Rogers
      San Diego, CA
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