July 19, 2013

Basin and Range Country

Over the last week of June, I (Marcel) had the great privilege of attending a Western Field Ornithologists' field trip to the Northeastern Counties of California, thanks to an extremely generous WFO scholarship. Led by Ken Able, Jon Dunn, Lena Hayashi, and Dave Quady, we explored the varied habitats of the Sierra Valley, Modoc Plateau, and the Warner Mountains. There was great avian diversity to be found in the sagebrush, alkali flats, pine forests, oak woodland, and spruce highlands, as the group tallied over 170 species in eight days. Thanks again to WFO for providing me with the opportunity to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Surprise Valley

Following is a series of my best photos from the trip, including birds, landscapes, people, and other things.

A young member of a family of Western Scrub-Jays (coastal subspecies californicus) at the eastern extremity of its range in Reno, NV.

A male Williamson's Sapsucker at a nest (just out of the photo).

Lemon Valley Road, where there were Barn Owls to be found.

Snow Plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) was an abundant species at the higher elevations.

Sierra Valley, with storm clouds brewing.

American Bittern in the Sierra Valley.

Smithneck Creek County Park

Lewis's Woodpecker, with nest located at top of photo, at Smithneck Creek County Park.

Carmen Valley (there was a Hairy Woodpecker nesting in one of the fence posts).

Mountain Quail Road (though I have heard that its namesake is almost unheard of at this location).

Lifer Rubber Boa!!!

We heard a Mountain Quail calling from down this slope.

Birding Yuba Pass

Fox Sparrow, Thick-billed subspecies group (megarhyncha), on Yuba Pass.

Red Rocks Road, which burned a few days after we visited in search of Gray Flycatcher (successful) and Juniper Titmouse (unsuccessful).

Common Branded Skipper

Male Western Pondhawk

The Red Rocks Fire, en route back to Reno.

Papoose Meadows, just south of Eagle Lake, held a couple of Yellow Rails.

Acorn Woodpeckers, playing on high voltage lines in Janesville.

Lewis's Woodpecker being mobbed by a feisty Western Kingbird.

Pacific Wren in the Warner Mountains.

Blue Lake

One of California's only nesting Eastern Kingbirds, at Blue Lake.

 Eastern Kingbird Nest

Singing male MacGillivray's Warbler, at Blue Lake.

Nesting Tree Swallow, at Blue Lake.

Brewer's Sparrow, at Blue Lake.

Variable Checkerspot, at Blue Lake.

Eight-spotted Skimmer, at Blue Lake

Female Western Pondhawk

Cordilleran Flycatcher, in the Warner Mountains, the only regular location for this species in California.

Sworinger Reservoir, in the foothills of the Warner Mountains.

North American Pronghorn

Warbling Vireo taking flight in Oregon, en route to California, on the other side of the road.

Birding near the almost dry lakebed of Goose Lake.

We encountered a flock of Bushtits on Fandango Pass which appear to show intermediate characteristics between the more western Brown-crowned subspecies californicus and the more eastern Gray-crowned subspecies plumbeus.

This Northern Pygmy-Owl flew in to check out Dave Quady's tooting, while we photographed the flock of Bushtits.

Jon Dunn and Dave Quady search for Sagebrush Sparrows.

Osprey at Stough Reservoir.

Boisduval's Blue at Stough Reservoir.

Female Bufflehead, likely nesting, at Stough Reservoir.

Scanning the gull and tern colony at Dorris Lake.

 Cassin's Vireo on Day Road.

A silhouetted Ash-throated Flycatcher on Day Road.

A view of Mount Shasta from near the town of Day.

Birding near Day.


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Marcel! You caught the spirit of the trip with your wonderful photos.

Logan Kahle said...

Great post, Marcel! I was wondering which lucky young birder got the sholorship...looks like it went into good hands! Anyway, I just wanted to mention that though the Warner Mountains are the easiest place to find Cordilleran Flycatchers in the state, they are reliable as several other locations, such as Lundy Canyon in Mono county. It looks like you had an awesome time, and the scholorship couldn't have gone to a more deserving young birder...Oh, by the way, did you end up finding Sagebrush Sparrow? You might have yet another bird on me in California ;)

Marcel Such said...

Hey Logan,

Thanks, it was a great opportunity! Yes, we did find a couple of Sagebrush Sparrows. :) What else would I have on you? Maybe the Blackburnian Warbler?

Logan Kahle said...

Hi Marcel,
Blackburnians show up a couple times a year on the coast, and I was at the right place at the right time last year (SF in fall lol). Bendire's Thrashers, on the other hand, are a little less common ;) Not to mention, you have seen my arch nemisis bird on my home turf...Sooty Grouse! Well, if you ever swing by SF again, I'm sure I can get you some parakeets (they'll be countable in a few years!) and Tattler or whatever else you need