Posted by: Sandy Steinman | June 22, 2011

Northern Sierra Nevada Birding and Wildflower Report – Updated 6/22/11

Updated 6/22/11
(with links to a complete bird list and more photo sites)

Northern Sierra And Sierra Valley Trip Report June 9 to 12, 2011

This is a much more detailed report of the trip mentioned in my earlier post: Northern Sierra Nevada Wildflower Reports

Last Thursday thru Sunday I did a Birding Class in the Sierra Nevada that was sponsored by Golden Gate Audubon and the Albany Adult School. It was led by two excellent and knowledgeable birders Bob Lewis and Rusty Scalf.  It was a great group of people with a wide range of knowledge and interests.  I even got to do some botanizing and became the default “Plant Expert” of the group.  Below are some of the highlights.  I have also included a photo slideshow and under read more a list of all species that I remember seeing.

Before meeting the group I stopped at Sagehen Creek, which is about 7 and a half miles north of Truckee on Highway 89. Like much of the rest of California the flowers seem to be late.  There were still patches of snow and  boggy areas that were very wet.  The highlight plants were Woolen Breeches (Hydrophyllum capitatum var. alpinum), Western Peony, and Marsh Marigold.

I then met the class at Yuba Pass, which had much snow.  Most of the meadow and campground were covered with snow, but there were still birds out. We saw lots of Pine Siskins and Cassin’s Finch.   We than drove to a stone wall (“Stone Wall Road”) that was half a mile east of the visitors center and drove a dirt road about .6 mile. Early AM or late PM it is reported to be one to the top spots to see warblers

At night we drove through Sierra Valley, which included highlights seeing a Short-eared Owl and hearing quite a few Bittern booming.   If you have never hear Bittern doing their calls it is a treat.  Go to this link and check it out for yourself:  Bittern’ Booming Call

Friday (June 10, 2011)  we went to Sierra Valley, which was my favorite birding of the trip.  My personal favorite was the Yellow-headed blackbird.  We got to see a group of avocets chasing gulls.  Here I got to see Wilson’s Snipe. Willet, Cinnamon Teal, Vesper Sparrow, Sandhill Crane, Brewers Sparrow, White-fronted Ibis, Swainson’s Hawk, Osprey, Redhead, Horned Lark and Wilson’s Phalarope.

After lunch in Loyalton we went to a near-by sewage pond and had great views of a Swainson’s Hawk.

The afternoon was spent birding Smithneck Road where among others we saw Lewis’s Woodpecker and Lazuli Bunting.  After a brief stop at Yuba Pass, we went to the S.F. State Sierra Nevada Field Campus,  where we saw American Dippers flying up and down the water under the bridge.  The last two times I was at the field campus it was hot and dusty.  This time most of it was covered in snow.  They had even created a toboggan run.

On Saturday (June 11,2011) we spent the morning in Carmen Valley where we saw a restored meadow thanks to efforts of Jim Steele, the former director of the SF State field campus.  There many flowers as  well as birds.  I focused mainly on the flowers which included Quamash Camas Lily, Nuttall’s Larkspur, Spreading Phlox, Snow Plant, Mahala Mat, Mules Ear and Pussy Paws. A few of the birds I saw were  White Crowned Sparrow (Sierra Race), Lincoln Sparrow, White-headed Woodpecker and Western Tanager.  At a second stop where we walked out to a small lake we saw Woolen Breeches, Western Peony and at least four species of violets.  A few of the birds were Spotted Sandpipers, Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow and Gray Flycatcher.

In the afternoon we went to Madona Lake where birds included Calliope Hummingbird, Hermit Warbler, Northern Flicker, Dusky Flycatcher and Red Breasted Sapsucker.  Flowers included Serviceberry, Scarlet Fritillary, Sierra Gooseberry and more violets.

We ended the day at Plumas Eureka State Park (which is partly closed due to toxics being dug up and slated to be closed by the California due to a lack of funds next year).   Birds that I saw included Warbling Vireo, Dipper, White-headed Woodpecker and Belted Kingfisher.  I also noticed Greenleaf Manzanita, Pine Violets, Sticky Currant, Fremont’s Silk Tassel, Dwarf Mistletoe and Orange Peel Fungus.

On Sunday (June 12, 2011) we walked up a four-wheel drive road to Upper Sardine Lake.  Gold Lake Road had only opened up completely about six days before.  Highlight birds included Wilson Warbler, Western Tanager, Red-breasted Merganser, Green-tailed Towhee, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, MacGillivray’s Warbler and Dusky Flycatcher.  There were great displays of Greenleaf Manzanita.

More photos by Sandy:  https://picasaweb.google.com/sandysteinman/SierraNevadaBirdingTrip6961211  

View Sandy’s Photos as slideshow:   https://picasaweb.google.com/sandysteinman/SierraNevadaBirdingTrip6961211#slideshow/5618514977513250338

The most complete Bird list for the Weekend from Bob Lewis:  http://www.wingbeats.org/classes/lists/birds_of_sierra_2011_1.htm

Bob Lewis’s Flickr photo website (includes some photos from the Sierra trip and many excellent bird photos)  http://www.flickr.com/photos/boblewis

More photos by Bob Stokstad:  http://www.jstokstad.com/Yuba_Pass_2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Click read more to see Sandy’s plant and bird lists

6/9/11

Sagenhen (west side of Road)

Flowers:

Woolen Breeches (Hydrophyllum capitatum var. alpinum)

Western Peony

Marsh Marigold

a yellow violet

Western Buttercup

Sagehen (east side trail)

Flowers:

Woolen Breeches (Hydrophyllum capitatum var. alpinum)

Western Peony

Marsh Marigold

a yellow violet

a buttercup

Quamash Camas Lily (towards end of trail)

Mahala Mat

Valerian

a suncup

a cinquefoil

Orange tip and a blue butterflies

Yuba Pass

Birds:

Cassin’s Finch

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Pine Siskin

Mt. Chickadee

Tree Swallow

Raven

Dark-eyed Junco

Dusky Flycatcher

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Western Wood Peewee

American Robin

“Stone Wall Road

We than drove to a stone wall that was half a mile east of the visitors center and drove down about .6 mile Early AM or late PM it is reported to be one to the top spots to see warblers

Birds:

Western Tanager

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Cassin’s Finch

Western Wood Peewee

Flowers:

Giant Red Paintbrush

Greenleaf Manzanita

Sierra Valley at night

Birds:

Short-eared owl

Bittern (heard)  Bittern’ Booming Call

Sora (heard)

Ruddy Duck

White-fronted Ibis

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Pintail

American Widgeon

Marsh Wren

Sandhill Crane

Double-crested Cormorant

 

6/10/11

Sierra Valley

Birds:

Barn Swallow

House Sparrow

Red-Winged Blackbird

Wilson’s Snipe

Willet

Raven

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Pintail

Vesper Sparrow

Sandhill Crane

Brewers Sparrow

Yellow-headed Blackbird

White-fronted Ibis

Swainson’s Hawk

American Coot

Osprey

Redhead

Northern Shoveler

Horned Lark

Wilson’s Phalarope

Bittern

Savannah Sparrow

Cliff Swallow

Marsh Wren

Turkey Vulture

Cowbird

Tree Swallow

Sage Thrasher

Avocet

Unidentified gulls

Killdeer

Black-necked Stilt

Flowers:

Northern Suncup

Fiddlenecks

Mountain Downingia

Long Stalked Clover

Western Buttercup

Quamash Camas Lily

Nuttall’s Larkspur

Yellow-pond Lily

a phacelia

California Hesperochiron

Seep-spring Monkeyflower

a low white clover

Paintbrush (white species)

Sewage Pond in Loyalton (near lunch stop)

Birds:

Swainson’s Hawk

Black-billed Magpie

Dark-eyed junco

Black-headed Grosbeak

Smithneck Road

Birds:

Lewis’s Woodpecker

Lazuli Bunting

Western Wood Peewee

Black-headed Grosbeak

Yellow Warbler

Nashville Warbler

(didn’t get to see Green Towhee)

Flowers:

Wooly Mule Ears

Bitterbrush

Western Choke Cherry

Lupine sp.

Mahala Mat

Good roads in area to consider for the future Antelope Rd. and Bear Rd.

Yuba Pass (Brief stop on way to dinner)

Northern Flicker

Pine Siskin

American Robin

Cassin’s Finch

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Mt. Chickadee

(some of group stopped a little later and saw a White-headed woodpecker)

SF State Sierra Nevada Field Campus

Dippers in creek

a yellow violet with heart shaped leaves

6/11/11

Carmen Valley  (we did two stops in areas where there was sufficient parking for several cars)

First stop  (was by a meadow that had been restored due to efforts by Jim Steele of SF State)

Birds:

Meadowlark

Western Wood Peewee

White Crowned Sparrow (Sierra Race)

American Robin

Lincoln Sparrow

White-headed Woodpecker

Western Tanager

Flowers:

Western Buttercup

California Hespirochiron

Quamash Camas Lily

Bistort

Nuttall’s Larkspur

Long Stalked Clover

Spreading Phlox

Snow Plant

Mahala Mat

Mules Ear

Pussy Paws

Single Stemmed Groundsel
Second Stop (walked out to towards small lake)

Birds:

Spotted Sandpipers

Tree Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

American Robin (on nest)

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Gray Flycatcher

Wildflowers:

Lomatium sp.

Blue-eyed Mary

Woolen Breeches

Western Peony

Pine Violet

a tiny Silene

Wooly Mule Ears

MacCloskey’s Violet (white)

Lupine sp.

Pussy Paws

Dog Violet (blue)

Madona Lake

Birds:

Western Tanager

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Calliope Hummingbird

American Coot

Mallard (babies)

Hermit Warbler

Flicker

Dusky flycatcher

Red-winged Blackbird

Red Breasted Sapsucker

Flowers:

Sierra Gooseberry

Violet sp. (yellow)

Dog Violet (blue)

Mahala Mat

Serviceberry

Scarlet Fritillary

also a Dragonfly that appeared to be injured

Plumas Eureka State Park

Birds:

Stellar Jay

Wilson’s Warbler

Fox Sparrow

Cassin’s Finch

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Western Wood Peewee

Warbling Vireo

Dipper

White-headed Woodpecker

Belted Kingfisher

Flowers:

Greenleaf Manzanita

Pine Violet

Sticky Currant

Fremont’s Silk Tassel

also

Dwarf Mistletoe

Orange Peel Fungus

6/12/11

Bassetts

Birds:

Stellar Jay

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Canada Goose and goslings

MacGillivray’s Warbler

Northern Flicker

Evening Grosbeak

Flowers:

Sierra Gooseberry

Spreading Phlox

Sardine Lake

Birds:

Wilson Warbler

Western Tanager

Fox Sparrow

Red-breasted Merganser

Green-tailed Towhee

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Yellow Warbler

American Robin

MacGillivray’s Warbler

Dusky Flycatcher

Flowers:
Greenleaf Manzanita

Paintbrush sp. (Red)

Sierra Gooseberry

Sticky Current

Serviceberry

Dwarf Mistletoe


Responses

  1. Does anyone know of nature hikes going on in general Lake Tahoe area in early August, 2011? We are staying in S. Lake Tahoe for 12 days and would like to go on hikes with folks who know the birds/flowers of the area.
    Thank you very much for your advice.
    Lynn Bossone

    Like

    • You might try contacting the Tahoe Audubon http://www.nevadaaudubon.org/index.html They do have a field trip in mid August Saturday, August 20th, 2011 – Spooner Lake State Park. They would likely know other resources.
      For flowers try the Tahoe Area Audubon. They don’t have a website but do have the following contact: The Tahoe Chapter services the Tahoe Basin. Contact presdient Michael Hogan at mhoganierstahoe.com or 530.525.4366.

      Like

  2. Alice and Jenifer,

    Thanks for the compliments. Alice ,you did just fine on the comment and email. Jenifer you can go to Photo Galleries at the top of the page to more photos.

    Like

  3. Great photos, Sandy! I would like to see more.

    Like

  4. Thank you, Sandy, for sharing your text and especially your very excellent photos. I particularly liked the birds “in flight” and the close-ups of the flora. You are a great chronicler of events! Alice Abbott (I sat across the table from you at the Iron Door restaurant in Johnsville (where my house is located). I do not know how to send this on (I am very much a novice with email, but here goes).

    Like


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