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California RFI

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Old Thursday 24th April 2014, 20:38   #1
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California RFI

My 3 week trip to Arizona and California has crept up on me and is now just over a week away(!), and I still have a few gaps in my itinery/things i'm unsure on, that i am hoping someone will be able to help me with! My basic itinery is:
Phoenix-Flagstaff(2 nights)-Ridgecrest(2 nights)-Mammoth Lakes(1 night)-Oakhurst(1 night)-Watsonville(2 nights + 1 extra night undecided)-Ventura(1 night)-Long Beach(2 nights + pos 1 more in area)-1 unbooked night indio/brawley-tucson(2 nights)-Green Valley(1)-Sierra Vista(1) and 2 unbooked nights in SEAZ, and perhaps use the extra day put aside for long beach/san diego area in SEAZ also. Flying back from phoenix
I have the ABA guides to southern CA and SEAZ, and the Flagstaff guide, but planning the other areas has been solely off the internet, and not always easy to find!
The areas i could most use some help with are:-

Eastern Sierra Nevadas
I have a full day and a morning here. On the full day im hoping to get up to aspendell for the rosy-finches, and after go looking for woodpeckers and mountain bluebirds(owens river road and june lake burn are 2 sites that look good for these on ebird), but would like to start the day at a wetland site near bishop(around or south of) to get the daylist off to a good start if there is one? Owens lake sounds promising but cant find any access details. The following morning i am planning on visiting the sage-grouse lek at lake crowley, does anyone know directions to here? Otherwise i will go to where the marker is on ebird but have found out that these are not always accurate! Afterwards i will be visiting mono lake, maybe have time for 2 stops around here? Main targets i guess would be sagebrush sparrow and sage thrasher

Wawona Meadow
Hopefully will arrive in time for dusk from the long drive over/around the sierra nevadas to search for great grey owl, and will also look from before dawn the following day. Do they have a favoured area to help narrow down the search? Also presume its best to park at the hotel?

Monterey Bay Area
Have 2 full days and a morning here. The 1st day i was planning on doing the northern half, perhaps starting at big basin redwoods, then hitting the coast, main targets marbled murrelet, the rocky coast waders(b.oystercatcher/surfbird/tattler/b.turnstone) and GW gull. Anyone know any good spots for any of these? The closer to santa cruz the better!
THe second day i am booked on to a whale watching trip from monterey in the morning, then in the afternoon will most likely go searching locally for any of the species missed from the previous day, but havn't yet completely ruled out heading north into varied thrush territory! Does anyone know of a reliable spot (way)south of eureka? Don't really fancy travelling all that way for 1 bird, and have a long enough drive the following day!

Recommended stops along the coast road(1) between monterey and morro bay? Heard big sur is good but it looks big a wouldn't know where to begin!

Santa Cruz Island
Where do i need to go from prisoner's for the scrub-jay? Also be interested to see the island race of pacific-slope flycatcher and island fox

Salton Sea
I know yellow-footed gull is scarce at this time of year, but can anyone recommend a likley spot to start searching? Red hill marina perhaps?

And any good spots for any of the following along/near my route
Mountain Quail
Prairie Falcon
Calliope Hummingbird
American Dipper
Black-chinned sparrow
Pine grosbeak

Know there's a lot there but any help with even just a bit of it would be most appreciated!
Thanks in anticipation,
John R
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Old Friday 25th April 2014, 11:10   #2
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John -
My wife and I walked the Wawona golf course in September of 2011. We parked at the end of Chowchilla Mountain Road which bisects the course. We saw the Great Gray at these coordinates (37.537308,-119.659481) after having walked most of the course and were close to giving up as light was nearly gone. The attached picture is terrible but it given the light and quality of camera, it is all we got.
According to my range map, this would be the extreme southern edge of its range. We were very surprised and lucky to find it.

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Old Sunday 27th April 2014, 11:18   #3
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John, in the absence of other replies, a few (probably outdated!) notes/alternative sites for some of your target species from a trip that my wife and I made in Sep 2003...

Sage Grouse (20+) easy at Bodie State Historic Park early morning. Also Mountain Bluebirds. Sage Thrasher along Bodie Road (near Murphy Spring).

Sagebrush Sparrow at Watterson Canyon (E of Lake Crowley).

Mountain Quails and Pine Grosbeaks (7) along Westfall Meadows Trail (near Bridalveil Creek Campground), Yosemite.

American Dipper at Pohono Bridge on Merced River, Yosemite.

Black Oystercatcher and Black Turnstone in many places, incl along West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. Surfbird at Santa Cruz Harbor. Wandering Tattler at Point Año Nuevo, San Mateo. All four at Ventura Harbor...

Scrub Jays were readily found in the immediate vicinity of Prisoners Harbor, Santa Cruz Island.

Yellow-footed Gulls at Niland Marina and Bombay Beach, Salton Sea.
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Old Sunday 27th April 2014, 12:49   #4
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Thankyou both for your replies
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Old Monday 28th April 2014, 20:06   #5
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There is a trail that you can hike starting at Prisoner's Harbor with a good shot at Island Fox (they are rather fearless) and Pacific-slope Flycatchers, as well as the Island Scrub Jay if they do not immediately greet you at the harbor.
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Old Tuesday 29th April 2014, 19:28   #6
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Thankyou ovenbird43!
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Old Thursday 1st May 2014, 13:21   #7
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Hi John,

A few bits of info from my trips to the area last year and San Diego/Salton Sea last month:
* woodpeckers very common throughout the SN, the loop around June Lakes is very pretty but quite built-up: you'd probably be better off stopping along the Tioga Rd. Have heard (but not seen!) Pileated Woodpecker at the big pines at Tuolumne Grove which you'll pass right by.
* Quick and easy spot for Dipper and Red-breasted Sapsucker is Big Bend campground: head towards Tioga Pass on the {120} from Lee Vining and turn left onto a small forest road after 3.5 miles. Follow the road to the second campground (2.5 miles): Dipper is in the river and woodpecker breeds at the far end of the loop.
* Was pleasantly surprised by the birding in San Diego city itself: La Jolla, Mission Bay and Tijuana River area excellent for shorebirds.
* Cuyamaca Ranch SP just off the {I8} is worth a quick detour for birds like Titmouse, Wrentit, Red-shouldered Hawk, lots of sparrows.
* If you need California Thrasher, they're very common at Inaja Memorial Park picknick ground {78}/{79} intersection.
* Finney and Ramer Lake just southeast of Salton Sea are highly recommended: lots of Abert's Towhee and Phainopepla at the former.
* For Burrowing Owl, there's several pairs along the northern few 100 m of Kalin Rd, east of the Salton Sea visitor center. They're on the eastern side - took me 3 super-slow drive-by's to find them!
* The whole drive along the Salton Sea shore from Red Hill Marina to the New River is worth it but very slippery if you get some rain :) Snowy Plover west of Garst Road.

Good websites:

Hope this helps, have a great trip!

IOC Life list: 1351 (latest: Least Bittern @ McKee Beshers WMA, MD, USA)

Last edited by Nohatch : Thursday 1st May 2014 at 13:34.
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Old Friday 2nd May 2014, 18:55   #8
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Many thanks nohatch!
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