Kern Birding Update
ROADS - All roads are now open throughout the Kern River Valley and
southern Sierra Nevada. Sherman Pass Road was the last paved road to
open (last Tuesday, June 28). Virtually every Forest Service dirt
road is now open, too.
FIRE - Friday, May 27 much of the cottonwood and willow riparian
forest on the south side of the South Fork Wildlife Area (NOTE:
borders the Kern River Preserve on the west and includes the high
water levels of Isabella Reservoir in that area.) burned in a 1000+
acre fire. From the KOA and South Fork Wildlife Area-South access
points (#s 1 & 2 in ABA's "A Birder's Guide to Souther California,"
p. 135) one now has to walk a considerable distance through burned
cottonwood and willows to reach live trees - where considerable water
from a high South Fork Kern River and high Isabella Reservoir, plus
the most impressive mosquito outbreak in several years.
KERN NWR - ponding units have been drying up over time leading to
changing birding conditions and quality.
GREATER WHITE FRONTED GOOSE - Look for a lingering individual at Tom
Sawyer Lake in Tehachapi
ROSS'S GOOSE and CACKLING GOOSE - California City Central Park
(although the 4th of July fireworks show may have scared them away
for a few days).
MOUNTAIN QUAIL - Being heard making contact calls in foothill and
mountain areas. Recent visuals have been at Butterbredt Spring, Kelso
Creek Sanctuary, and from along Piute Mountain Road - all locations
where habitat offers more open viewing.
SOOTY GROUSE - Susan Steele had one from along the Kern Co. portion
of Sunday Peak Trail on 6/11/11. The Sunday Peak region is currently
the only known location for this species in Kern Co. (and SoCal).
TUNDRA SWAN - Last reported to eBird 5/10/11.
CHUKAR - Check the first few miles of Jawbone Canyon Road.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE - Long lingering individuals in Inyokern and
Ridgecrest (as of today, 7/5/11).
YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO - Susan Steele is the only non-researcher to
have found one this year. She used the KOA access to go through the
burn area, wade through water, and fight off mosquitos galore to
fulfill her quest. It might be better to wait for more cuckoos to
arrive and be detected by Willow Flycatcher researchers with the hope
that one or more locations more hospitable to birders be found.
PILEATED WOODPECKER - Individuals are being hear and seen in the
Greenhorn Mountains in the first mile in all directions from 6102'
Greenhorn Summit - from along FS 24S15 heading north from the summit
from along FS 25S17 behind the fire station, from along Old State Rd,
from along Rancheria Rd. One individual was detected from the parking
area of the Greenhorn Grill in Alta Sierra the afternoon of 6/25/11.
This species seems to be even more reliable in the Giant Sequoia
National Monument in Tulare Co. north from Kernville at Holey Meadow
(calling every ten minutes as recently as this past Sunday, July 3)
and along the Trail of 100 Giants (make an early visit to avoid
moderate to excessive crowds of human visitors).
HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER - The Trail of 100 Giants in the Giant Sequoia
National Monument is the farthest south to reliably find this species
during nesting season in the area.
GRAY FLYCATCHER - Chimney Creek Campground
VERMILION FLYCATCHER - No consistent location this nesting season.
Time to time reports from Fay Ranch Road in the vicinity of the bridge.
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER - Kelso Creek Sanctuary.
PLUMBEOUS VIREO - Although seemingly harder to detect this summer
than many years, individuals have recently been readily detected at
the end of the road into Chimney Park Campground - around camp sites 33-36.
PACIFIC WREN - Alta Sierra.
SUMMER TANAGER - The pair in the Kern River Preserve Headquarters may
have reached pet status as the male in particular has been hard to
miss in a visit of several minutes or more.
INDIGO BUNTING - This appears to be a banner spring/summer for this
species. Four individuals migrated through Butterbredt Spring one
morning on Memorial Day Weekend. Four individuals were reported by
Lori and Mark Conrad from along Sherman Pass Rd (Tulare Co., but best
accessed north from Kernville) this past Sunday, July 3rd with the
first at the beehives o the left near the Rincon Trail and the last
below where signed Alder Creek (6700') crosses. One adult male was
observed in the live trees as accessed through the burn area from the
South Fork Wildlife Area-South parking area. Two adult males have
already been reported on the Kern River Preserve - one consistent
individual in the field alongside the old ranch road (AKA Colt Field
Trail) leading west from the Headquarters parking area; another was
reported in the vicinity of the bridge along Fay Ranch Road.
LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH - seemingly "everywhere" this nesting season -
at least up to 6000'-8000'. Who knows when specific area will be
abandon over the next several days to weeks. This species is often
hard to detect in the region in August. As of yesterday morning July
4 individuals were frequently descending to the ground of the parking
area at Kern River Preserve Headquarters.
Bob Barnes, Ridgecrest, Kern Co., CA
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