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

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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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Painted Bunting in Shoshone VIllage

Patrick Donnelly first reported this bird in his yard in Shoshone last week, it was subsequently photographed by John Sterling. I still have not seen it and I'm hoping it may still be around. Painted Buntings have been reported in this area only a few times.

Shoshone Days Birdwalk

Shoshone Village was full of birds for Shoshone Days. There were 17 participants for the bird walk! We simply walked up to the Pupfish Creek and back to the Crowbar Cafe, and over two hours, saw an excellent selection of birds. Everybody got a great look at the male Vermilion Flycatcher, which was putting on an excellent flycatching demonstration at the Shoshone Pond, and campground. Hopefully he's still around this week after a big wind! Thank you to Martin Powell for not only photographing, but spotting most of the good birds that day.( I was probably lecturing too much instead of birding!) Martin has kindly shared the following photos.
Vermillion Flycatcher photo by Martin Powell

White-throated Sparrow photo by Martin Powell

This White-throated Sparrow,rare in the west, was in with a bunch of common White-crowned Sparrows eating fallen dates below the date palms. Yellow-rumped Warblers were doing the same and Elena Esparza was able to get this awesome shot, as well as the great shot of the group. Thank you Elena for all your help and photos.
     Martin Powell spotted and photographed this sneaky little Brown Creeper,
Brown Creeper photos by Martin Powell

next to the Shoshone Pond, normally a dark woods tree trunk bird, they are occasionally found along the Amargosa in the winter. Martin also spotted and photographed this Marsh Wren, another winter visitor that is extremely difficult to get a good look at!
Marsh Wren photo by Martin Powell

A great aerial battle by Common Ravens, and a flyover by an Osprey were also highlights.