LA Audubon's Eastern Sierra Trip Report 4/6-7

From: LA Audubon via Mary Freeman (posted by Chris Howard)
Date: 4/16/02
Time: 11:34:20 AM
Remote Name:


LA Audubon's trip to Owens Valley, 4/6-7/02.

We began our trip at Glacier Lodge and up the ravine behind the Pack Station was the familiar male Blue Grouse booming from near the top of the cutoff pine tree. We heard about 3 booming grouse in the area. A Dipper was seen by a few participants in the stream. No snow at the Trout Pond, I've NEVER seen that in the 11 years I've led this trip. The pond behind the Bishop Elms Hotel yielded a pair of Wood Ducks and an Aleutian Canada Goose. (My friend saw it here back in November.)

We had two Swainson's Hawks in the ag field just north of Tinemaha Reservoir. At the reservoir we had on a telephone wire just before heading up the hill to the overlook, all species of expected swallows. About 2 Banks were in the flock. A single Caspian Tern was at the water. Brewer's Sparrows were foraging around the sagebrush. We visited Bob Wallace's home in Aspendell (he is in poor health) and saw a few Rosy Finches coming into the feeder in front of his house. There are currently a pair of Golden Eagles nesting on a cliff face up the canyon. We had both species of Scaup at Nik & Nik, including some Canvasbacks. Near the gravel pits we had a Yellow-headed Blackbird.

On Sunday morning at the Crowley Lake Sage Grouse Lek, we had about 205 Greater Sage Grouse. The males outnumbered the females. This was the highest number of grouse that I've seen in the 11 years I've led this trip. Back in '86 on a trip with David Gaines, we had about 250 birds. The birds were still booming till about 7am or so. At Crowley the NE arm of Crowley Lake, we had a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers. Least and Western Sandpipers were present too. Sage Thrashers were seen on the way out of the Crowley Lake grouse lek. Last year it was 8 degrees with about 12" of fresh snow on the ground. This year, no snow and it was in the mid-30s. On Benton Crossing Road heading east from 395 and near the curve, by the bridge and the ponds to the north side of the road, among the Cinnamon Teals, we saw a single male Blue-winged Teal.

We proceeded north to the burned out forest on eastbound hwy 120 about 8.5 miles east of 395. We had numerous drumming Hairy Woodpeckers but our prized bird, the Black-backed was finally found. We had a female high in a burned tree. We may have had more as we heard drumming and some weird squeaks. Red Crossbills were flying around as well as Pinyon Jays. In the Chalfant Valley ag fields, we had two Swainson's Hawks.

My friends were at the burned forest and had a pair of Pine Grosbeaks this past weekend and a male and female Black-backed Woodpecker.

As always the Owens Valley and points up north were beautiful as ever.