Re: please, I beg you, don't play recordings for Mitchell Canyon poorwills
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As this topic seems to have gone public I feel like there are a few points that should be added.
For a long time the Mitchell Canyon Poorwills were a bit of a loosely-kept secret, as access to the site was, and still is, tricky before and after park hours. The best way to gain access is to go with a field trip of some sort (Denise Wight leads poorwill trips here on a regularish basis...apparently there are trips running this year in June, July, and August. Sign up if you want quality, ethical time with poorwills!) and contact the park well in advance to ask if they can let you in before or after hours. The trick is that they can open the gate. The other legal way is to camp somewhere on the mountain (juniper campground works well for this...it is about a 4.5 mile hike down from there to white canyon, if I recall correctly). Its somewhat steep but also loaded with screech owls and more poorwills, so well worth it IMHO.
As for the birds themselves, there are a few notes that should be added:
1) If you’re at the right place, at the right time, **you do not even need to use playback** to hear or even see these birds. My most dependable bird is up white canyon about midpoint between where the canopy opens into clear sky and where you leave the chaparral (approximately here 37.9060709,-121.9554127, in essence). All of my experience is from the morning (predawn), and if you come hear about an hour to an hour and a half before sunrise, at least from April-October, the bird’s (the one you can see) routine is to call from up canyon then work its way down towards the road and eventually sit on the road. I have done this maybe 6 or 7 times and it has always resulted in quality time with this (presumably the same?) individual. There are often a few other poorwills calling here, too. The other place to hear many if you’re alright with heard-only is red road. Its closer to the gate and there are often more of them. I havent spent as long up that canyon but i suppose a well-timed visit could result in views as well.
2) *Timing Matters*. Try at predawn or postdusk. I once slept up white canyon to see if the bird would call all night. It didnt. In fact, I only first heard it at about 2 hours presunrise, and then it was nonstop for a while. But anyway, if you wander down here or elsewhere at midnight hoping to hear one, even on a warm night, you may well be skunked. Please don’t use playback to compensate for poor timing. Work off the bird’s schedule, not yours!
2) These birds are all over this mountain!! Having owled a decent amount in the coast ranges and sierra, I have never found another spot in the diablo ranges or elsewhere as densely-packed with poorwills as diablo. If you just want to hear or experience the bird alone and undisturbed, just hike any of the trails around the mountain at night on a warm summer evening.
Finally, I am giving you all this information in hopes that, through good conduct, these birds will **not be harassed** but even just a few bad eggs who decide to push this bird a liiiittle too far for that 5 star photo or extra-close views or what have you can ruin this bird for all others. Please be conscientious. These birds are not shy. You do not need to harass them to get within feet of them.
Hope you all can get out there at some point this summer and experience one of the mountain’s many hidden treasures.
San Francisco/Richmond, CA
On Apr 25, 2018, at 9:23 AM, Maureen Lahiff MLahiff@... [EBB_Sightings] <EBB_Sightings-noreply@...> wrote: