Rough-legged Hawks in the Sierra Valley (10/28/06)

Rough-legged Hawk

Txell Genesca, Jon Katz and I decided to check out the Sierra Valley raptors for ourselves this morning. Thanks to Deren Ross for his detailed reports!

A plowed field just 0.5mi north of 49 on Heriot was particulary plastered with Ferruginous Hawks. Across the street from this field, we found our first Rough-legged Hawk of the trip. It was an interesting looking bird with clean white chest/belly. Most of the other Rough-legged Hawks were had between 1-4mi north of 49 on Beckwith/Sierra Valley Rd.

Rough-legged Hawk (7)
Ferruginous Hawk (~15)
Bald Eagle (1)
Prairie Falcon (1)
Northern Harrier (2)
Red-tailed Hawk (many)
American Kestrel (2)

A lazy detour to Yuba Pass in the early afternoon yielded a flock of about 20 very active Red Crossbills, and single Evening Grosbeak and Pine Siskin.

Rough-legged Hawk (both pictures are showing Rough-legged Hawks)


Where is your dog, sir?

Here a short report about a trip to the Eastern Sierra, not really involving a lot of birds. My original goal was to climb White Mtn on Sunday and then do a 1-night/2-day backpack near Bridgeport.

As I was trying to find my way along the dirt roads to the shore of Crowley Lake, I hit a razor blade. This is redneck country after all! After changing the busted tire, I rolled into Bishop late Saturday evening. No White Mountains after all. As luck would have it, there is a Bridgestone/Firestone tire place in town, open on Sundays. So, I stayed overnight at Millpond county park in Bishop drinking beer with the locals. Next morning, I stopped by the tire place and was told they were out of tires for such an uncommon car such as mine – a Corolla isn’t exactly what the locals drive in Bishop. Also, the tire could not be repaired. Touch luck!

So, off I was, headed north towards Bridgeport, going 50mph on my donut. At the ranger station in Bridgeport, I was hooked up with a great itinerary for a 2-night backpack out of Virginia Lakes in the Hoover Wilderness. I spent most of the 2.5 days above 10,000ft. Apart from the slurred speach, coughed up blood and impaired vision, I had a great time. Just kidding – but I did have headaches through-out. Also, I lost a contact lens (which is still a puzzle to me), so there was some impaired vision after all. Wearing regular glasses (which I had) is not good idea at that elevation because of the brightness of the sun. The highlight was a four-hour scramble up and down Camaica Peak with the prize being Rosy-Finches on top. Interesting is that dogs are allowed in all CA wildernesses and almost all parties had at least one dog with them. I felt strangely out of place, reminded of an old Gary Larson cartoon (where you see an auditorium of folks every one with a – duck – sitting on their laps, well except for one person and the spotlight is on him. The caption says: Where is your duck, sir? or something like that). After returning back to the parking lot, I rolled north into NV. The stress that I inflicted on about 20 drivers within those 3 hours, going 50mph on a 65mph highway with only few passing lanes, is beyond good and evil. I saw the proverbial finger a few times …When I finally arrived at the outskirts of civilization near Gardnerville and pulled into the tire shop (Les Schwab), I was beat myself. The tire was replaced for free and people were actually nice (ahh, almost forgot, this was no longer CA). They sent me off with the words “May the lord be with you! These tires there [referring to the remaining 3 and one that had blown out] are the worst that were ever on the market. They were only out there for a month. An absolute lemon!” – I guess I missed the recall of the great Formoza …

Here a short list of birds I encounted throughout the weekend:

– Prairie Falcon nabbing a blackbird (I think) early morning at Millpond County Park near Bishop
– 8 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches on the summit of Camaica Peak
– 2 Marbled Godwits on the south end of Topaz Lake (uncommon on Mono Co)
– About 40 Pinyon Jays just north of the CA-NV state line along US395.
– 1 juvenile Black-throated Sparrow at Talloc Point near South Lake Tahoe (good bird for the area)
Gilman Lake

This is Gilman Lake (el 9400) at sunset.


Summit Lake from Camiaca Peak (el 11700) at midday.


And, yeah, it was quite a scramble …

Quick weekend trip to AZ (07/29-30)

  • Highlights from my weekend trip to SE Arizona:

-White-eared Hummingbird (Beatty’s at Miller Canyon)
-Violet-crowned Hummingbird (TNC at Ramsey Canyon)
-Berylline Hummingbird (TNC at Ramsey Canyon)
-Lucifer Hummingbird (1 at Beatty’s; 3 at Ash Canyon B&B)
-Aztec Thrush (2 at Madera Canyon in Choke Cheery tree along Vault Mine Trail)
-Rufous-capped Warbler (Sycamore Canyon near Hank & Yank ruins)
-Flame-colored Tanager (Kubo at Madera Canyon)
-Five-striped Sparrow (~5 singing birds in California Gulch)

  • Other more common birds:

-Cassin’s Sparrow, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Bronzed Cowbirds along Ruby Rd
-Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Dusky-capped Flycatcher and Elegant Trogon at Madera Canyon
-Brown-crested Flycatcher at Sycamore Canyon

  • Misses:

-Black-capped Gnatcatcher
-Montezuma Quail
¬†(also known as “de dam quail”)
-Buff-collared Nightjar (got rained out)

An Eastern Sierra trip (Alpine, Mono and Inyo Co) 07/22-23

Here the highlights of last weekend’s trip with Jon Katz:Mono Co:-Pinyon Jay (flock of ~200 (!) birds off CA120 east of Lee Vining; this spot was 0.3mi into the first Jeffrey Pines when you head east from the South Tufa turnoff)
-Lewis’s Woodpecker (1; same spot as above)
-Red Crossbill (1 imm. at Virginia Lakes store feeders)
-No Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches any more at Virginia Lakes (what a contrast to two weeks ago when they were virtually everywhere!)
-Sage Thrasher, Brewer’s Sparrow and Sage Sparrow along access road to South Tufa and along Test Station Rd (Mono Lake area)
-Williamson’s Sapsucker (1 male at 0.4mi west of 395 on Obsidian Dome Rd)

Inyo Co:

-Chukar (50+ mostly young ones at Tollhouse Springs, White Mountains along CA168)
-Black-throated Sparrow (1 imm. at Tollhouse Springs)
-Black-throated Gray Warbler, Juniper Titmouse, Gray Flycatcher (several at unmanned entrance station and at Grandview CG, White Mountains)
-Dark-eyed Junco (Gray-headed subspecies at Schulman Grove)
-probable Northern Goshawk (Grandview CG)
-Bank Swallow (near ponds where Five Bridges Rd turns into Jean Blanc Rd north of Bishop)
-Lawrence’s Goldfinch (3 birds remaining at Glacier Lodge store/cabin 14)

Alpine Co:

Common Nighthawk (~30 birds actively hunting at sunset on Monitor Pass)
Pinyon Jay (flock of ~50 along CA89 about 0.7mi east of the intersection with CA4)

Bird on!