David McDonald Photography
June 22, 2008
Bulletin #43 –Sierra Mountains, California #1
I did a birding/photography trip to the Sierras between Reno NV and Sacramento CA last weekend. Once more I used a guide to find the birds for me so that I could photograph them.
My guide here was, once again, Rick Fournier of Monterey Birding Adventures. This is another area of California where he leads tours. His web site is Monterey Birding Adventures.
There were 2 entirely different habitats we birded. The first was Sierra Valley – a dry valley with sage brush and some marsh at about 4500 feet elevation. This was along Hwy 89/49 at Sierraville, CA. The other was Yuba Pass, a 6700 foot pass on Hwy 49 (between Sierraville and Sierra City) with montane species and huge stands of Lodgepole Pines. The whole area was surrounded by mountains to about 8500 feet, some of which still had snow on the peaks. It was a beautiful place to visit as well as bird.
There were 5 species of woodpeckers.
The first is Lewis’s Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis). This is the only green-backed woodpecker in ABA area. It also has a red face, pink belly and gray collar. Here are a couple of photos. He tends to prefer burned over areas and perches prominently on a snag to flycatch. This was a life bird for me.
http://www.pbase.com/image/99055957 click ‘next’ once
The next is the White-headed Woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus). This is also a uniquely colored bird and impossible not to ID correctly. It has a black body, white head and white wing patch. The male has a red occipital patch. It nests in dead tree trunks 10 – 15 feet off the ground as can be seen in the third photo. This was also a lifer for me.
So here are the male, female and a female in nest hole.
http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/99056066 click ‘next’ twice
The third woodpecker is the Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus). This is similar to, but larger than, the common Downy Woodpecker. Here is the male.
The next is the Willaimson’s Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus). The male is mostly black with white wing patch, rump and 2 stripes on face. His red patch is on the throat.
The Red-breasted Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) has an entirely red head and breast – unmistakable. The sexes are similar coloration.
http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/99056122 click ‘next’ once
There were 2 species of thrush.
The first is the beautiful Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) The male is all blue and the female is grayish with blue on the wings and tail.
http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/99056145 click ‘next’ once
The other is Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi). This is a gray bird with black and buffy wing markings and white eye-ring. The sexes are similar. Here are 2 photos of this bird.
http://www.pbase.com/davidmcd/image/99056168 click ‘next’ once
The last bird for this bulletin is the Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli). This is a typical looking chickadee – gray with black cap and throat. But he has a white stripe above the eye through the black cap.
All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.
Happy birding and photography,
photos copyright 2006 - 2008 David McDonald