Sage Sparrows in Coal Canyon
- I spent the morning (Mar 30) birding in the Coal Canyon section of Chino Hills State Park, the clear highlight of which was seeing a pair of Bell's Sage Sparrows about two miles up the Coal Canyon Trail (see detailed directions below). Other notable sightings included a Loggerhead Shrike, flocks of migrant Hooded Orioles and Black-headed Grosbeaks dropping out of the clouds and into the chaparral, and a Ringneck Snake sunning itself in the trail. The strangest sighting of the day was along the Santa Ana River trail on the way back to my car, where I saw a Cactus Wren (with a metal US Fish and Wildlife Service band on its right leg) on the rocky lining of the river bed opposite the Green River Golf Course. There was only sparse mulefat and tree tobacco here, and no cactus for probably about a mile in any direction.
San Bernardino, CA
Coal Canyon eBird checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S13574906
Directions: Take the 91 Freeway to Green River Road, drive toward the golf course and park in the lot for the Santa Ana River Trail on the right side of the road. Walk down the bike trail (~1.2 miles) and then go left underneath the freeway into Coal Canyon. After passing through the entrance, stay on the asphalt road and follow Coal Canyon Trail (3S04) as it ascends the ridgeline on your right. Follow this trail for almost two miles until you see large rock (granite?) outcroppings below on your right (paste these coordinates into Google Maps: 33.856177,-117.688924). This is the area where the Sage Sparrows were singing and foraging. This is about a 6.5-mile round trip hike from the parking area, with an approximately 800-foot elevation gain.
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