Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Shoshone Pupfish Ponds... Come see for yourself !

After the formerly called "extinct" Shoshone pupfish was rediscovered in the 1980's the Shoshone Pupfish has gone through a remarkable recovery.

Tucked away in a private pupfish refugium for many years, the Shoshone Pupfish population grew. Now finally after countless hours of thoughtful work by many individuals, a series of streams and ponds provide the ideal habitat for this uniquely protected species to prosper. They are not shy and breed in sunny spots all along the new Shoshone Pupfish Ponds system.

The new ponds and streams are also perfect habitat for local and visiting people to enjoy nature and view wildlife. 
Ponds,streams, shady benches, and pathways are a rare find in the desert. Come to Shoshone Village,CA 92384 and see for yourself !

The Amargosa Vole project area in Shoshone, has recently been the "hot spot" for migrants.The new bulrush growth and removal of cattails has created a perfect little spot for birds to drink, bathe, preen and feed.

As soon as the sun hits this spot in the morning, warblers have been stacking up in the branches above. They carefully work their way down to pick insects from the surface,and  find a safe spot to drink and bathe. 

Audubon's Warblers

A Northern Waterthrush arrived yesterday and provided excellent close viewing, and some snappy one syllable chip-note calls.

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush

Savannah Sparrow

In Shoshone Village, CA this habitat project is designed to provide the best possible habitat for birds, including the Federally Endangered Least Bell's Vireo, fish the formerly called "extinct" Shoshone Pupfish, the Federally Endangered Amargosa Vole, and local and visiting  people.

Orchard Oriole

Orchard Oriole

 A Painted Lady drinking from the stream

Monarch on Goldenrod

Chipping Sparrow

Audubon's Warbler

Audubon's Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Shoshone is alive with birds . All of these pictures were take today!Then rain came again for the third time since summer. The river is full. The sun causes insect hatches when it warms the wet vegetation, and old wood, where the eggs of insects  are laid.
Finally A Ruby Crown!
Today, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet was flycatching and preening along the Shoshone Spring at it’s confluence with the Amargosa River. Kinglets have always been difficult to photograph because they never stay in one place very long, always flitting, mothing, and butterflying, around. They breed in the nearby Spring Mountains, in coniferous forest. Their presence there is amazingly dense. It seems that they have a territory in almost every other tree. There must be tens of thousands of them breeding around Mt. Charleston. From mid fall to early spring, Ruby-crowned Kinglets are present throughout the Amargosa River, in riparian bird habitat.
          At the same spot, a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher joined in on the flycatching.Black-tailed Gnatcatchers are permanent year round resident birds in Mesquite habitats throughout the Desert Southwest. They stay in pairs year round. The males lose their black cap in winter and to tell male from female, behavior, and sounds, must be observed.
Western Bluebird takeoff.
Female Phainopepla takes a hard right while chasing bluebirds.
Western Bluebirds are everywhere.They roam around mesquite-lands raiding clumps of Desert Mistletoe from Phainopeplas who territorially defend them from other Phainopepla as well as Northern Mockingbirds, American Robins, and Cedar Waxwings.
Song Sparrow
The rains seem to stimulate birds to sing. In October, on a warm sunny day after a major flood, like today,male  Song Sparrows, Bewick’s Wren, and Crissal Thrashers, were singing along the River. Today, Song Sparrows were “counter-singing” where males take turns singing against one another. Counter-singing is territorial and usually reserved for breeding season.
Crissal Thrasher males often begin to song in late December, and are very early breeders. I have found Crissal Thrasher nests in February.
       Another extremely early breeder is the Loggerhead Shrike. Shrikes are also year round permanent resident birds throughout their desert habitats. They can nest in early February. They often nest in a lone tree.
       Anna’s Hummingbirds nest locally as early as late January. The males claim the best territory that they can and mate with females that enter the territory. Females build a nest and raise the chicks elsewhere, without male assistance.
Northern Harrier
  On Tecopa Marsh, at least two Nothern Harriers (Marsh Hawks) patrol daily, for any type of small to medium prey. Their piercing high pitched one note call can usuall be heard when both birds are present. Most years, a pair of Northern Harriers nest at Tecopa Marsh. The sky-dancing Male courts the female while calling repeatedly the kek-kek-kekk-kek, call. If she accepts him, they perform a mutual soaring display over the entire territory. The twist and turn simultaneously as they ride the same piece of wind together, like surfers sharing a wave.
                  Common Ravens are already mutual soaring over their territories in Shoshone, and have instituted a no-fly zone for any other large birds.
             Gopher Mike told me he has seen a falcon taking American Coots at the Shoshone Bird pond. No wonder there are only two left.

It seems that the Vermillion Flycatcher has left town. No one has seen him for over a week. I really will miss that guy and hope another will take a territory around Shoshone Village. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Shoshone bird pond has been filled for a few months now.  A former commercial catfish pond, dry for years, now has been refilled. Eventually, native trees, shrubs and water plants will line the banks. Maybe even a bird photography blind or two will be placed. For now my car has been serving as an excellent photography blind.
       This female Hooded Merganser is just an example of the array of birds that have been using the pond.

A small flock of Ring-necked Ducks have been diving, feeding, preening, and resting on the pond. There are now 4 females and 3 males. They spin in the wind as they preen on the pond, their feathers act as a small sail that catches the wind, while one foot is used in preening, the other for a keel or rudder so that when the wind blows against the feather direction, and lifts the feathers enough to move the bird, it spins in the wind, maintaining a relatively stable position on the pond, thus preening while resting. VIDEO OF RING NECKED DUCKS.
Grebes are not ducks. Their feet are not webbed, their toes are lobed, for ease in paddling. Their legs are mounted so far back on their bodies that they cannot walk, and occasionally

land and become stranded on a lawn of parking lot, mistaking the flat surface for water, probably in the dark.  They can dive, or partially submerge, head or eyes only above the surface. The Pied-billed Grebe has been on the bird pond now for around three months.
   Smaller Eared Grebes stopped briefly after the recent flood.

At nearby Salton Sea, and Mono Lake, Eared Grebes can sometimes be counted in the hundreds of thousands! Even a larger Western Grebe made a brief post mid flood appearance.
Local   Birding has been great for those with patience. An Evening Grosbeak
, Red Crossbills, a Painted Bunting, Vermilion Flycatcher,
Brown Creeper, and a pond full of wild ducks, have kept it exciting. Year round permanent resident Loggerhead Shrikes,

Loggerhead Shrike
Preening Shrike
Male Ring-necked Duck
American Pipit

Add caption

Verdin a  year round resident.

Year round resident Crissal Thrasher

Verdins, Crissal Thrashers, Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, and Bewick’s Wrens can always be found with due diligence. Phainopeplas are now saturating Shoshone Wetlands and other Amargosa mesquite with mistletoe valleys, like Chicago Valley, China Ranch, and Resting Springs.
Brown Creeper
    The streets around Shoshone Village are filled with birds.  Northern Flickers are common but nervous, and difficult to get close to. The lawns harbor Western Meadowlarks, American Pipits, Western Bluebirds, and stacks of sparrows, mostly White-Crowned Sparrows but look through them carefully for Golden Crowned Sparrow or a White-throated Sparrow, both are very close looking to White-crowns. The Brown Creeper continues to appear on mesquite tree trunks around the pond, the Death Valley Academy, and the Shoshone Campground. Common Ravens provide endless entertainment with aerial battles and territorial displays, and sounds.  The Hummingbirds are returning. Both Anna’s Hummingbird and Costa’s Hummingbird are in the Area and can be seen on mesquite perches as well as local feeders.

  On Tecopa Marsh, a juvenile male Northern Harrier in regularly escorted out of the area by a much larger adult female. A few Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher,
and Killdeer can be found here and there on the flats. Several Great Blue Herons, and a year-round pair of American Bitterns and a nice selection of ducks have been around all week.