Monday, March 21, 2016

Cow Heaven Canyon--the crest

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Bird lists:

Cow Heaven Canyon
Freeman Canyon

After birding a local canyon numerous times it can become a bit routine. We decided to break out of the mold in Cow Heaven Canyon today and head up a "closed" road. 

Right out of the car we had numerous Sage Thrashers, Loggerhead Shrikes, and the usual Sparrow suspects White crowned, Bell's and Black throated. In fact I was excited to have 11 species. Then we headed up my chosen road and didn't have a bird for the next mile. Not one bird. 

At the crest we ran into a variety of species including a migrant Orange crowned Warbler and a singing Brewer's Sparrow. We also had nice views of Robber's Roost. 

Flower diversity and displays were better than expected. I do so enjoy a hillside of yellow. 


Charlotte's Phacilia
Tidy tips and phacilia

I guess I fell into the fairly average American geographical knowledge group today. I was expecting to see Horse or Sage Canyon when we hit the crest. Instead, it was Freeman Canyon. I was 180 degrees out on where I thought those other canyons lay. Guess I learned something new today. Now if I can just remember it. 

While enjoying our lunch and admiring views of Red and White Kaweah on one side and Mt Baldy and Baden Powell on the other we were buzzed by White throated Swifts. Mixed in with them were Cliff Swallows, new for both Freeman and Cow Heaven Canyons. Next came Violet green Swallows and then a flock of Turkey Vultures. Bob carefully scanned the flock and pulled a Swainsons's Hawk out.   Very nice. Another new bird for both canyons. We had witnessed south bound migration last fall from Jenkins' Peak and now we saw a small part of spring migration which surprisingly includes birds heading to the west. 

We ended the day with 30 species in Cow Heaven Canyon. The crest made up for the dearth of birds on the road up. Even better was the six new species for Cow Heaven Canyon. In addition to the two swallows and hawk mentioned above we had Lincoln's Sparrow, Mountain Bluebird, and Black Phoebe. 

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