Monday, July 29, 2013


Following Google maps, Lassen is 444 miles from home to park entrance.  Arrived at our no frills motel, got our key and then headed into the park.  Every inch of the way, spectacular scenery - rushing falls, gurgling creeks, vibrant pines, fantastic firs, and huge patches of colorful wildflowers.  At 10,457 feet, Lassen Peak (photo), one of the largest plug dome volcano in the world,  dominates the landscape.
At 8:00 the next morning fellow traveler, Phoebe and I were on the trail to Bumpass Hell, Lassen's largest hydrothermal area.  Much to my delight we sighted a Female Sooty Grouse; they breed in the Park.  She stood still and looked at us for at least a minute, which allowed me the time to get a photo - my second sighting of a Grouse.  Yeah!

 As we progressed along the trail, I must admit my focus went from birds to surviving the hike.  At 8,220 feet, going up and down hill in the sun for 3 rocky miles, took a bit of an effort, but we survived and were mighty proud of our accomplishment.  
The next morning, after a great night's sleep, we took off for Manzanita Lake (5,890 ft.), known for great birding.  Immediately saw a Bufflehead family, several teenage American Coot, and 2 Canada Goose.  Met a friendly birder from Redding who led me to a Red-breasted Sapsucker and a White-headed Woodpecker.  Steller's Jay, Mountain Chickadee were everywhere.  Heard many Brown Creeper and Flicker.  Was hoping to see a Pileated Woodpecker, but no luck.  Did hear one though. 

After lunch, walked along Manzanita Creek looking for an American Dipper.  They are one of my very favorite birds, as they frequent icy streams and walk under water to feed.  They are equipped with an extra eyelid called a nictitating membrane that allows them to see underwater.  When I heard a sweet tweet I knew one was near and sure enough there was the little darling standing on a rock.  In a moment it disappeared under the water.  A most amazing bird.

Our last sighting was of three Osprey, a fussing adolescent, and 2 adults soaring over the lake.  A fitting close to a wonderful day.  

Friday, July 5, 2013


 Wanting to avoid the crush of the 4th of July tourist traffic I birded close to home.  Migrants are returning to the bay (photo - Morro Bay at low tide). About 90 White Pelicans have arrived from their inland breeding areas.  Soaring on a 9 foot wing span, a flock of White Pelicans is an impressive sight.  Large flocks of assorted shore birds are now feeding in the mud flats.  In and around Baywood yesterday observed 26 species.  Best sighting was a Black-bellied Plover in partial breeding plumage (always a treat) and 3 Greater Yellowlegs.  My favorite sighting was of a Long-billed Curlew probing in the mud for little crustaceans.  Before swallowing the crustacean the Curlew rinsed it off - a behavior I had never observed before.

 This morning checked out Turri Road.  High Tides had brought water into the ponds by South Bay Blvd - moist mud brings the shorebirds, and sure enough, seeking breakfast were 4 Killdeer and a female Wilson's Phalarope.  Unlike the other Phalaropes, the Wilson's seldom swims and is often easier to observe.  Up the road in the area of the old pea field and the windmill, sighted Blue Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Lark Sparrow, and a family of Western Bluebird.  Total mileage for 2 mornings of birding, 6 miles.

In my last post I mentioned that I would include in this post the video on Montana de Oro's "Reservoir Flats Trail."  Enjoy!!