11/1/10: Kern River Valley
Spent yesterday morning, 11/1/11, birding the Kern River Valley
before an afternoon of meetings with the hopefulness of filling
several all time (1900-2010) eBird gaps for the first week in
November. The success rate was very high with eight gaps filled:
Mountain Quail, Western/Clark's Grebe, Ferruginous Hawk, Pinyon Jay,
Canyon Wren, American Dipper, Wrentit, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and
Black-throated Sparrow. Success may have been due to the wonderfully
bright, clear, and warm weather after a few days of unsettled
weather. Birds were calling, fussing, hopping, and singing seemingly
at each birding stop. It was one of the most memorable of days spent
out-of-doors and birding.
Canebrake Ecological Reserve was visited at first light with Western
Screech-Owl bring missed, but replaced by two Great Horned Owls.
Sierra Way just off CA Hwy 178 had a PFOF (Personal First of Fall)
Ferruginous Hawk perched on a telephone pole and Slippery Rock Launch
site produced an American Dipper exuberantly frolicking in shallow,
rushing water of the Kern River below Isabella's Main Dam.
The next stops were two informal point counts (Stationary Counts in
eBird parlance) along Sawmill Road c. 0.6 and 0.7 miles west and
above CA Hwy.155. Two Rufous-crowned Sparrows at the first stop
adopted a "Look at us! Look at us!" attitude along with a
Golden-crowned Sparrow (observed at other locations during the
morning). Another Rufous-crowned Sparrow was around a steep hillside
flank corner as was a singing Canyon Wren and vocal Wrentit. The
portion of Sawmill Rd. from c. 0.4 miles to 0.75 miles above Hwy 155
is particularly reliable for both Canyon Wren and Rufous-crowned Sparrow.
The area around the metal and wooden gate at the upper end of an
especially large pull-off on the left side of CA Hwy. 155 above
Wofford Heights was alive with birds in chaparral habitat. Four
Mountain Quail from four different directions spent considerable time
giving what might be considered contact calls. One even gave a
variation of the "quark" call in the form of a relatively quiet,
stumbling series of three to four syllables. Wrentits are abundant
here and Purple Finches are fairly reliable as both were yesterday
morning. Phainopeplas were about, too.
The Joshua tree woodland in the vicinity where Kelso Valley Road and
Kelso Creek Road meet is often a good place to find Black-throated
Sparrows in non-breeding/nesting season. Six individuals (in groups
of 2 and 4) were found this day, along with a Ladder-backed
Woodpecker, Pinyon Jay, and numerous and very active Cactus Wrens
including one seemingly battling a Loggerhead shrike atop a Joshua tree.
In ag. fields farther north on Kelso Creek Road a flock of 400
blackbirds was made up of Red-winged, Tricolored, and Brewer's
Blackbirds. Visits to Scodie Park in Onyx (woodpecker magnet) and
Isabella Reservoir added Clark's Grebe, American White Pelican,
Osprey, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Nuttall's Woodpecker, Hairy
Woodpecker, and Red-breasted Nuthatch to the morning's mix of 70 or
so total species.
A happy and productive morning of birding in the Kern River Valley.
Continued Happy & Productive Birding,
Bob Barnes, Ridgecrest, Kern County, California