Wednesday, May 04, 2005

4th May - Yosemite National Park

A very early start at the snow-covered Chevron Meadow with a view to finding Great Grey Owls but I never really held out much hope as I couldn’t find them the night before. A Golden-crowned Kinglet was slightly more obliging but only for a split second – just long enough to tick it! Also around this meadow were Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch (5 heard today, not all seen), 5 Audubon’s (Yellow-rumped) Warblers, 5 Chipping Sparrows and some of the 12 American Robins seen today.

A few silhouetted birds seen briefly in flight looked interesting. A bit later one of a pair showed very slightly better and the wing pattern can only have belonged to a female Evening Grosbeak, which is what I had initially suspected. However, views were rubbish, and my conscience won’t allow me to count these. Heading back to the valley I found a couple of Townsend’s Solitaires but unfortunately seeing them involved craning my neck at an impossible angle while parked on a dangerous bend.

So far, all 3 new birds seen today had shown appallingly badly, but the next one was more co-operative. I could here 3 birds calling from different points across the hillside and I knew we were dealing with the same species I had heard near Idyllwild but hadn’t been able to put a name to. One of them was quite close and with a bit of stalking I managed to locate it. By now I had suspected what it was anyway, but when I reached it, it continued to call at close range and in full view, a splendid Mountain Quail.

The scenery in Yosemite must always be amazing but at this time of year the waterfalls are full and there’s loads of snow still laying – really spectacular! A walk up to one of them produced the first of 5 Nashville Warblers but I didn’t have the stamina to get very far so we headed back along the valley floor where we found 4 Tricolored Blackbirds and a dozen Black-headed Grosbeaks.

Neither the Tioga Pass road to the north nor the south rim road were open yet, being blocked by snow. However a random stop along the road heading south from the valley produced a wealth of birds including Nashville and Yellow Warblers, Thick-billed Fox Sparrow, 2 White-headed Woodpeckers and 3 Red-breasted Sapsuckers.

The road closures meant we had time to get to Bass Lake. Here we soon found an Osprey in its nest and where we parked to look at this the bushes were alive with Western Tanagers. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was calling and the lake held Clark’s Grebe and Goosander (Common Merganser). A second Osprey was found and eventually the target bird, a Bald Eagle, flew over the lake.



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