Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 5, 2011

Buttermilks, Flats, Locked Gates and Heat

Buttermilks:Today’s original plan was to drive up the road along Bishop Creek with a detour to the

Canyon Wren by Sandy Steinman

Buttermilks. Buttermilk road is a right turn off highway 168 (the main road along Bishop Creek) 7.3 miles west of 395. We drove out Buttermilk Road as far as the four-wheel drive section and also did

some side roads including an area popular with rock climbers.  As the elevation was in the 6000’s it was late for most flowers.  The habitat was mainly high desert with the dominant shrubs Sagebrush, White-stemmed Goldenbush, and Mt. Mahogany. We did find Sulphur Buckwheat, Prickly Poppy, Wire Lettuce, a small yellow Evening Primrose, Narrow-leaved Milkweed and a Horkiella sp.

Animals included Black-tailed Jack Rabbit, Canyon Wren, Raven, Northern Harrier and Antelope Ground Squirrel. Unlike most rodents the Antelope Ground Squirrel is active during the day in hot areas.  It does this by allowing its body temperature to rise to 109 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is easy to identify because it runs with its tail over its head displaying a distinctive white underside.

Narrow-leafed Milkweed by Sandy Steinman

Flat: As we pulled onto the paved road the front right tire was making a strange noise.  It was flat.  After some initial confusion the spare was put on. It was decided to head back to Bishop and not continue on without a spare. After a relatively quick repair, a new tire was needed and it was time for a change of plans.

Locked Gate: The new destination was Crowley Lake.  Unfortunately the road was closed and had a locked gate blocking the way.

Heat: The next plan was to try Pleasant Valley Reservoir for birding.  It was very hot and the birds except for a pair of cormorants were nowhere to be seen.  Finally, a drive along Chalk Bluff Road, which is east of Bishop through a riparian area, would be the final activity of the day.

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