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Yosemete birding (1 Viewer)

savi

Well-known member
Im going to spend a few days in Yosemete in the first week of May before heading off for a two and a bit week jaunt round California. Does anyone know if Glacier Point road will be clear for Blue Grouse and Townsends Solitaire ?
cheers
Savi
 

savi

Well-known member
Also, if Tioga Rd is closed because of snow then would Tuolumne Meadow be open from the Lee Vining end as I plan to drive round and stop off at Bodie and Lake Mono ?
thankyou
Savi
 

gvca1

Well-known member
Also, if Tioga Rd is closed because of snow then would Tuolumne Meadow be open from the Lee Vining end as I plan to drive round and stop off at Bodie and Lake Mono ?
thankyou
Savi

There is no 'if'. Tioga pass will be closed. Snow depth as of March 16 was 69 inches. I wouldn't count on Tioga being open before the 4th of July. They wouldn't open the gates from the Lee Vining side either, because when plowing is going on, there are no facilities, eg. petrol stations, rest rooms, or even any place to pull your car off the road. How are you planning on driving around to Mono Lake? Via one of the other passes? It's likely in early May that you'd have to go all the way up to Hwy 88 to get around. I would guess that Sonora and Ebbetts Passes will still be closed. Sounds like a long drive.

Probably a bit early up on Glacier Pt also, but I'm not sure about your target birds. The road might be plowed, but there will probably still be patches of snow on the ground, at least.

What are your other birding destinations in CA?

Have a great time in California,

Jim
 

savi

Well-known member
Hi Jim,
I was beginning to think there was no one out there!
We were going to take the 108 via Sonora Pass to Bodie so that is a bit of a blow if thats closed too. Then I want to spend a few days at Chevron Meadow,Tamarack Flat and anywhere else still open at Yosemete before going onto Bodie and Mono but it looks like I wont be able to get there.(At Glacier Point I was after the Tonwsends Solitaire and Peckers).
The rest of the trip? A few days in Kern,which I am really looking forward to, and then a few days in Salton Sea via Big Morengo back to the coast for Santa Cruz Island and then up along 101. But I will have to have a rethink.
Any tips would be really helpfull.

best wishes
Savi
 

gvca1

Well-known member
Hi, Savi-

Yes, we've had a very wet March. There's snow outside my office window right now, and we're only at about 2400 ft elevation. I would be astounded if Sonora Pass was open in early May. You might just stick to your plan, if you really would like to do Bodie, etc. Worst case would be driving to Sacramento, and going Hwy 50, then back down 395. You'd basically kill one day just driving around, but the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada is spectacular, and I really like the Bishop/Lone Pine/Big Pine area. This would mean you'd stay on the Eastern side all the way down to the desert.

Salton Sea and Big Morengo sounds great. With the wet winter, you might get the tail end of the wildflowers. Check out Anza Borrego, if you have time.

Lower elevations of Yosemite around May 1 should be excellent. Hiking trails from the valley will be clear most of the way to the rim, but you might find snow blocking the trail.

Let me know if I can answer any more questions,

Jim
 

savi

Well-known member
Hi Jim
dont think I could go the long way round to Bodie and L Mono- we have enough driving to do as it is! So I think I will have to delete that part of my plans. Its a pity, I was hoping to stop off at the White mountains. But I still want to stop at Yosemete for a couple of days on the way to Kern.We might not get up to Glacier Point but its still worth it for the lowland birds and the beauty of the place. Do you think it will be open as far as Bridalviel Falls? Also Jim any upto date info on where I might find Condor near Carmel ?
cheers
Savi
 

Chris D

Well-known member
donner pass (last weekend)

Tioga pass is higher.....
 

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gvca1

Well-known member
Yikes! I guess I'll put off my Donner Pass bike ride for a while!

Savi-- Bridalveil falls is no problem. (I assume you mean the BASE of Bridalveil falls). I would expect the Glacier Point road would be plowed as far as Badger Pass (the little ski area) and you'd be on cross-country skis from there, but conditions would be wet. I'll defer to others on the CA Condor in Carmel. The ebird charts for Condors at Pinnacles National Monument look pretty promising for May. I don't know if that would be along your path.

You might start another thread with CA Condor in the subject line...

Jim
 
Last edited:

wings

Well-known member
Jim, don't be discouraged because there is a way around the heavily snowed-in Sierra Nevada (record snowfall this year by the way). Why not drive Interstate 80 from the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe and then take the Minden exit to Nevada? This will take you to the east side of the Sierra Nevada. Or, if the Minden grade is also closed due to heavy snow, you can go a little further along I-80 to just west of Reno and then take I-395 all the way south to Bodie and Mono Lake. Bodie is at 8800 ft elevation so that gravel road may also not be snow ploughed by mid-May. But I-395 is cleared all year round.

Tioga Pass definitely won't be open until around July, and you will not be able to access the other side of Yosemite from Lee Vining either. Glacier Point should be open and there is a bus that can take you up there for some glorious views of Yosemite Valley. I doubt if you'll see any grouse.

For birding this time of year I would recommend the coast of California. I could make some recommendations if I know more about your itinerary and how much time you have and what kind of birds you would like to see (e.g., shorebirds, raptors, passerines).

Dennis
 

wings

Well-known member
Condor viewing at Big Sur

By the way, there has been a very serious landslide on Coast Highway 1 right in the middle of condor country, and people are being made to do a multi-hour detour inland. The road repair work is expected to last several weeks to several months. I would avoid the Big Sur area but you have the possibility of viewing condors at Pinnacles National Monument, which is northeast of Carmel (an hours drive at most).
 

savi

Well-known member
Thanks for all your help guys but blimey- they say a picture is worth a thousand words! We had a tiny bit of snow here at christmas and they closed the airports (causing me to miss my Florida trip!!) so I was expecting something along these lines. Silly me. I've done some daft things birwatching but I have never skied to a bird.Yet. Now theres a landslide too. And the last time I was there a few years ago the park was on fire and closed ! We go in just a month so I will mail you for an update nearer the time if thats ok Wings. Great news that I might be able to get to the top of Glacier Point.
We now plan to start off at Point Reyes, as its the closest and then Yosemete before going down to Kern and Jawbone - a bit late for spring passage but with Salton Sea,our main destination. From there its Ventura via Mt Pinos and then a meander up the coast ending up at Monterey and Pinnacles for Condor. Im trying to cover as many different habitats as poss so my target birds will be montane, desert, coastal, grassland and pelagic.But you cant do everything in two and a bit weeks.
Cheers
Savi
 

peachfront

Well-known member
I have some Yosemite questions as well if this thread is still live.

First question, the National Park website says it's a crime (!) to post the locations of certain Yosemite species on the internet, including Great Gray Owl, Peregrine Falcon, and Northern Goshawk. So...I can find Peregrine Falcons perfectly well on my own, but are there any tips anyone can share (without disclosing a location) of how you would search for the owl or the goshawk? I have a very shaky idea of when birds breed in the west, and for all I know, the birds could still be at the nest -- perhaps easy to find with the right clues. What is the search image, as it were? Also, I would be delighted to hear any recommendations for a guide.

Oh, I don't use any kind of playback/recording to find birds. Nothing wrong if you do, but I personally do not, because there are too many gadgets in my life already. So if it's important to use playback to get the owl, let me know. I still won't use the recording, but I'll manage my expectations. Heh.

Also, if anyone wants to suggest a good 6 night driving tour from Sacramento, I would love to hear it. I don't mind paying for guides/tours but I am also perfectly happy strolling around on various trails just to see what I can see. I am not out to get a big list, we just happen to be there for hubby's business and we have tacked on a few days. I've already found out that it's waterfall season and hotels/motels are quite pricey...if you want to suggest a good B&B or another birdy place to stay that isn't insanely priced, I'm listening.

:)
 

savi

Well-known member
If you want to plan a trip I can recommend Schrams Guide to Southern California and
Kempers Guide to Northen California.They are both excellent. They also give tips on where to find Owls so its in the public domain but I dont know how current it is. Not publishing the sites for rare birds is just common sense. I would beware tape luring a bird as others might take offence as well as disturbing a bird that might be nesting now.
You say "nothing wrong in that " but I dont know. What do others think?
Also If do you miss out on anything it gives you an opportunity to come back.
best wishes
Savi
 

peachfront

Well-known member
Thanks for the suggestions on guides. I really just didn't know where to begin. Have you already returned from your trip? I was looking at the suggestion to go to Lake Tahoe and then sort of down and around to get to Yosemite while avoiding the snow...what did you end up doing or did you not go yet?

Yes, I've already decided for myself that I don't use recordings. I think maybe in some areas, rarely birded, it would be OK, but there are presumably a great many people in California and if all of them used recordings to call in birds, the poor birds would never catch a break!

I have a great idea of what Peregrine territory looks like, not so good an idea of what the Owl territory may look like.


If you want to plan a trip I can recommend Schrams Guide to Southern California and
Kempers Guide to Northen California.They are both excellent. They also give tips on where to find Owls so its in the public domain but I dont know how current it is. Not publishing the sites for rare birds is just common sense. I would beware tape luring a bird as others might take offence as well as disturbing a bird that might be nesting now.
You say "nothing wrong in that " but I dont know. What do others think?
Also If do you miss out on anything it gives you an opportunity to come back.
best wishes
Savi
 

DavidP

Well-known member
Big Morongo should be good I assume you have their website
http://www.bigmorongo.org/

Make sure you hit the next door local park Covington which usually has a pair of Vermillion flycatchers and often better birds than the reserve itself.

I was there a few weeks ago and there's loads of nice wildflowers with all the rain we've had this year.

Salton Sea could potentially be hot we were up to 96 this past week and its usually about 15-20 degrees warmer down there than here nearer the coast, luckily its cooler now. Just take a cooler with ice and water and fill up as its quite a drive if you want to go round the lake. Prepare for the smell and heat and you should be fine, gettig there early in the day would be good too. The local audubon trip in the summer starts at 5.30 and by noon everyone has pretty much had enough.

I hope you enjoy the Kern audubon reserve, its a lovely place although you migh want to check as I think they were closed recently as they were flooded due to the runoff from the sierras. Check their site http://kern.audubon.org/

Let us know how you get on, you're seeing it at one of the best times of year
 

savi

Well-known member
Hi Peachfront
no we havent left yet.We go on Wednesday.When do you leave? The owls would like openings or meadows in forested areas so Yosemete seems a good bet - thats where Im hoping to see them.Early morning or dusk appears best. Peregrine you might find in Point Reyes or down the coast a bit at Moro Rock. Thats where we are headed..Point Reyes, Yosemete and down to Kern. Just hoping the flood waters go down by the time we arrive.
Good Birding and good luck. Maybe I will see you on the trail !
Savi
 

wings

Well-known member
Hi Peachfront
Thats where we are headed..Point Reyes, Yosemete and down to Kern. Just hoping the flood waters go down by the time we arrive.
Good Birding and good luck. Maybe I will see you on the trail !
Savi
________________

No flood in California, but the Mississippi has flooded the midwest. If you're in Pt Reyes also go visit Bodega Bay, a great birding place for shorebirds (Warning: many migratory birds there have headed back north). The east side of the Sierra (east of Yosemite) has great possibilities in Mono Lake this time of year. Definitely worth a visit, but remember, Tioga Pass probably won't be snowplowed until Memorial Day (May 30) or later, so you will not be able to access Yosemite Valley from the east, i.e.m Tioga Pass road.
 

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