Friday, September 23, 2016

Le Conte-ing To Two! - Calibirdication Day 6

After two tries of this desert fun
My face began to turn red
You see I've been through the desert
for a bird with weird name
It felt good to be out of the rain
...But this was just ridiculous

Wednesday August 24

The original plan was to do Mt Pinos again today, but seeing as we had gotten our target species, Lisa ~insisted~ we go to Petroleum Club Road in Maricopa; a place we had earmarked in case we had dipped on the two previous Thrasher locations. She wanted a photo.

So getting a photo of an elusive species wasn’t the worst of goals, yet I thought how happy am I with our previous success? We headed out to this remarkably unaesthetic location riddled with what else, oil pipelines and such.

When we neared our destination, I pulled over to quickly review the instructions. Sitting there, what do we hear? A Le Conte’s Thrasher singing! We found the Thrasher sitting prominently on a fence, singing his heart (as well as several other internal organs) out.

Le Conte's Thrasher
Wow. It just goes to prove that universal birding law is true: Once you finally see a bird, they thereafter show up everywhere and become Robin like in numbers.

After sating ourselves with overly obliging views of this bird we ventured along the path we would have taken had the bird not been so accommodating as rapidly.

This again was desolate desert. There were more than enough Ravens, and a nice number of Loggerhead Shrikes. Walking the paths we kicked up a lot of Bell’s Sparrows and a Jack Rabbit.

Bell's Sparrow

Bell's Sparrow

Black-tailed Jack Rabbit

By far the nicest surprise was kicking up 4 Lesser Nighthawks who were resting under the sagebrush. They weakly flew a short distance away but I declined to chase after them in an attempt to get a photo.

The less nice but certainly much more surprising event was coming across a Western Rattlesnake in the center of the path. It made it clear that it did not appreciate his sunbathing being interrupted.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
We did not have much luck finding much else, and the temperatures started rising rapidly. Arlene, Lisa and I decided that an earlier start on our long ride out to Yosemite would give us more time there, while Jeff took leave of us for the coast on his quest for Yellow-billed Magpie.  

After three days we let Jeff run free
'Cause the desert had ceded its birdies.
In the desert you can remember your name
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain
La, la, well maybe Lisa

The three of us set off settled in to our long ride; the open country is a sight to behold and we enjoyed it. Eventually enough though, we neared the Yosemite region, and we stopped into a market in one of the last real towns before we got into the wilderness.

Shortly therafter we arrived at our lodging, curiously called the "Yosemite Bug". It was quirky, and I have an appreciation for quirky. However, when I inquired as to the name one would think that's a question fielded very often. The desk person did not know, and the person who did, seemed a bit blase explaining it. I guess by the billionth time gets a bit old; on the other hand it was our first time there. Were it me I would have on hand a prepared and exceptionally quirky response. Oh well...

The place was a sort of hotel / hostel / not sure. It was so oddly laid out that even with a map we drove around and had difficulty locating our room. They said our room was not ready when we arrived for some strange reason, but I suspect they just didn’t want to let us in even a bit early for some less good reason. Bizarre. We killed time walking the grounds and engaged a pleasant fellow guest from San Francisco in conversation about birds.  

The room thankfully was very nice and comfortable. After finally being able to drop off our stuff we headed to Yosemite. The original plan was to have arrived the following day and benefiting from the coincidental 100th National Parks Birthday with concomitant free admission. No matter, we were psyched to visit and more than happy to pay the admission which has now risen to $30.

The grande entry way was gorgeous and the scenery is worth the price of admission; the place is so full of eye candy.

This is what greets you upon entry

Spectacular scenery that should not be taken for granite

On the way we had Bald Eagle and California Scrub Jay. Adding them to the eburd checklist for Crane Flat Meadow caused a reviewer stir; sorry, but until they add live GPS to the app this will continue to occur; umpteen lists is just not practical and far too obsessive-compulsive to maintain the fun of birding. If you don’t think birding is or should be fun you are doing it wrong.

Also on the way we had White-throated Swifts as we drove by an updraft location. Some of the swifts swooped right by us and it looked like they would collide with passing cars. Thankfully they did not.

At the meadow we had a nice hike and looked for birds. Red-breasted Nuthatch, Downy, Hairy, and MODO were our first encounters, and then we also had Hermit Warbler. Arlene did not get the best of views, but I assured her we would see them again. We found another White-headed Woodpecker in the scorched woods; evidence of a recent fire was abundant.

We headed over to the meadow proper to try for another mix of birds and came upon a flock of warblers in the small willows. There were Orange-crowned and Wilson's Warblers, and a Western Wood Pewee.

Over by the roadway we spied commotion, and went to investigate. Lots of folks were stopping to photograph the Mule Deer that had come to exercise their crepuscularity. I took a photo too.

Mule Deer
We ended the day at the top of a hill where the rescue heliport is located, and caught yet another spectacular sunset in California.

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