Posted by: Sandy Steinman | June 30, 2018

Lakes Basin and Sierra Valley Report

submitted by Ter Solomon on 6/30/18

Although our natural history group completed this week-long trip a week ago, I will include evidence explaining why I think readers who may want to visit this area in the coming week will be richly rewarded. Our first few days were spent concentrating on birds with close-up viewing in Sierra Valley marsh of a pair of sandhill cranes foraging in the grasslands, various ibis taking off and landing, a peregrine falcon consuming a female mallard, and a three-foot (!) aquatic garter snake “submarine” stalking American coot fledglings. Up at Yuba Pass a few birds were just starting to set up nests, and only the earliest meadow flowers started to bloom, including elephant snouts, mules ears, blue camas and meadow penstemon. The first snow plants were sprouting fresh along with budding spring king boletes, so spring will be at least two more weeks in development.
We concentrated on spring flowers the rest of the week, and the earliest species were out in force, including single stem butterwort, western columbine, small checkerbloom, mountain pride, and wavyleaf paintbrush. Not a single flower of these mid to late spring flowers were seen: triangle-leaf butterwort, corn lily, leopard lily, monkshood, and stream orchid. This coming week should offer nice sightings of more nesting birds and mid-spring flower displays. By the way, several in our group recommend staying at the River Pines Lodge in Graeagle for a reasonable price and a nice restaurant on site.


  1. After reading your summary I have a few ? for you. You noted seeing elephant snouts & triangle-leaf butterwort, would those names refer to pedicularis & pinguicula/? Also did you know that sandhill cranes are probably breeding in Quincy (?) area as I saw 1 young bird with 1 adult downtown last June! Plumas has so much to offer, thanks.



    • Although I didn’t write this summary myself I am confident that you are correct in that Ter Sullivan is referring to a species of Pedicularis and also a species of Pinguicula. Thanks for mentioning the Sandhill cranes that are breeding in the Quincy area.



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