Soledad Cyn. - Summer Tanager, etc.
- Dave Bell and I spent the morning (July 1) birding Soledad Canyon (east of Santa Clarita), between Crown Valley Rd. and Agua Dulce Rd. This area has some of the best riparian habitat in the county, but is almost entirely privately-owned (and fairly threatened). Access is tricky - we had good luck asking permission to bird at various RV parks but were yelled at at one un-posted stretch (near the "Rio Store") and denied entry into Thousand Trails RV Park altogether (members only). Still, this exciting area has many areas to bird, and exceptional biodiversity.
Highlights included a singing SUMMER TANAGER and perhaps another individual about a mile downstream of the USFS campground/kiosk. The bird was far from the road, and singing weakly, so we almost missed it. Fortunately, it gave a few "k-puk" calls too. I heard from Kimball Garrett that he hasn't had any in the Vallyermo area - is this the only summering bird in the county?
We had two RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKERs which appeared to be an adult and brown-headed juvenile, right along Soledad Cyn. Rd. near the Rio store. There may have been more individuals since they were flying around, calling, and interacting quite a bit. Also heard that distinctive "slow down" drumming they give on territory. This is an extremely low elevation for this species in the county, with only a few planted (non-native) conifers here and there. We found the whole stretch was just loaded with woodpeckers in general.
LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH was one of the most common species, seen in numbers at every stop. For out-of-town birders in L.A., send them here! Lots of singing birds, juveniles, etc.
Other expected riparian species included just one singing Warbling Vireo, multiple Western Wood-pewees, single Hairy Woodpecker and White-breasted Nuthatch, and just a single pair of Northern Flicker, at "Robin's Nest RV Park". Yellow Warblers were scattered around, but the only ones I saw feeding young were tending a cowbird. No chats, Bell's Vireos, or anything rarer.