CB’ers, Sharon & I took a trip to far NorCal, starting on the 7 th
& ending yesterday (11 th ).
Actually, the goal of the trip was to scout out a viewing location for
the August total solar eclipse in central Oregon, but we took the opportunity
of being in Siskiyou and Trinity Counties to see if we could add some birds. Siskiyou County,
05/08/17 Grass Lake, on SR-97, was full of water, as expected. The past several years it has been dry or
nearly so. With the abundant water, we
were hoping for BLACK TERN, which Bruce Mast got here on 05/30/16 (despite the
low water level), and Jim Greaves got on 06/09/07. No luck.
Perhaps we were a couple of weeks early.
At the Rest Stop here, we did get a couple of singing Purple Finches
(both female), and a Pygmy Nuthatch.
Near Macdoel, along SR-97, we had a Rough-legged Hawk & a Swainson’s
Hawk. With 250 miles still to go to get to Madras, OR, we took only
a short time to bird along SR-161 (a.k.a. Stateline Road), but it was
productive in giving us our first NCB of the trip, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER. Several Redhead pairs were enjoyable. There were also about 100 WHITE-FACED IBIS,
which turned out to be a surprising previous county miss. Siskiyou County,
05/09/17 Having stayed overnight in Madras, we didn’t get back down to
California until noon. This time, we
more intensively birded the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake NWR’s. Along SR-161, at the junction of Lower
Klamath Lake Road, we found a mixed Icterid flock that included Tricolored
Blackbirds & Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
We took Lower Klamath Lake Rd south for a few miles, getting a
Ferruginous Hawk near the junction with SR-161, and a SAGE THRASHER perhaps
3-miles in. After returning to Stateline Road, we turned south on Hill
Road to get to the auto tour route south of the refuge headquarters. At Tour Stop #1 (which is actually still on
Hill Road), we got a CLARK’S GREBE amongst the more populous Western
Grebes. Near where the auto tour route
turns east out into the refuge, we discovered a PEREGRINE FALCON perched on top
of the rocky wall west of the road.
Scanning the cave entrances in the rock wall, focusing on the
guano-covered openings, we found a Great Horned Owl. Caspian Terns squawked overhead. Siskiyou County,
05/10/17 We stayed in Yreka last night to get an early start on the way
to Weaverville along SR-3. The town of
Etna, in Scotts Valley, was searched for Great-tailed Grackles &
White-tailed Kites, both of which have been seen here, albeit in the dead of
winter. We didn’t get either of these,
but at the Etna City Park we did carefully sort through a flock of CEDAR
WAXWINGs for its congener (no luck). A
Lewis’s Woodpecker and Townsend’s Solitaire were both seen along SR-3 downhill
from the summit. At the summit of SR-3, where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses
the highway, I have always had trouble deciding where the Siskiyou/Trinity
county line is. Arbitrarily, I’ve chosen
the PCT as the line; birds on the south side are in Trinity, birds on the north
are in Siskiyou, and birds flying across the trail are counted in both
counties. So it was, for instance, that
a Brown Creeper on a tree just off the PCT to the south was a Trinity bird –
regrettably, I needed it for Siskiyou but not Trinity. Other interesting birds seen here were
Green-tailed Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Cassin’s Finch … never in a “needed”
county. Trinity County, 05/10/17 The Lewiston Fish Hatchery had an Osprey driving off an adult
Bald Eagle – usually, it is the opposite.
Along Lewiston Road on the way to the Fish Hatchery from Weaverville, we
got a WILSON’S WARBLER. At the Mary
Smith Campground along Trinity Dam Road, we encountered an assemblage of
coniferous forest birds, including: Warbling Vireo, Black-throated Gray
Warbler, Western Tanager, Cassin’s Vireo & Hairy Woodpecker. Trinity County, 05/11/17 First stop for the day was Summit Creek Road off of SR-3 north
of Hayfork. This road passes through
some good xeric sage habitat, and has been a go-to spot for county birders
since “discovered” by Steve Glover in August, 2005. Here, we added BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, but
failed to pish up either a Bell’s Sparrow or Rufous-crowned Sparrow. Of course if one is driving on SR-3 to Hayfork, THE
destination is the Hayfork Water Treatment Plant. This is accessed from Tule Creek Road, which
is just a few feet south of the bridge over Hayfork Creek. I usually blow past the entry road to the
WTP, which is not marked in any way.
About a ½-mile from SR-3, the road makes a gentle 90° turn to the left
(south). Within 500’, a road goes off to
the left – this is the entrance road.
Sometimes the gate is closed, compelling one to walk in. There are signs indicating “Authorized
Personnel Only,” but birders are welcomed.
Wood Ducks were herding their chicks.
Lots of swallows including BARN SWALLOW, my 57 th county for
this bird, were flying around.
Shorebirds were the target here, but we only got Spotted Sandpiper &
Short-billed Dowitcher (it called).
However, a flock of BAND-TAILED PIGEONs flew over. A female & 1 st -year male
Bullock’s Oriole put in an appearance – the 1 st -year male always
gets heart beating faster as I contemplate Hooded Oriole (which would be a
county record for Trinity). At the
entrance gate, Salt Creek is very near the road, and a number YELLOW-BREASTED
CHATs were heard, and a male Lazuli Bunting was singing from an exposed perch. We went back through Hayfork to take Wildwood Road over to
SR-36. Along this road are many
opportunities to pull off and bird.
Along this road, we saw a beautiful HERMIT WARBLER. All in all, a good trip with 7 NCB’s for each county, bringing
me to within 2 for color change in each county.
Guess I’ll have to return. Good birding, Stephen Long Oakland, CA diomedea (dot) Stephen (at) gmail (dot) com