Birds 4/15

Karen Clarke <seachest@...>

Yesterday, Sat., I drove out to Elkhorn Road in the Temblor Range and the
California Valley. I had thought that between storms the weather would be
nice----cool and sunny. Wrong! The entire area from Hwy 101 to the Temblor
Range was socked in. The overcast skies cleared away around 10 AM to reveal
a higher cloud layer that became darker and uglier as the day went on. The
temperature may have reached 60. Anyway, I enjoyed the silence and
solitude. Other than 100s of White-crowned Sparrows, few birds were out and
about. Just to the east of the intersection of Elkhorn Road and Soda Lake
Road there were 2 active nests on the power poles----Common Raven and
Prairie Falcon (like last year). I saw a bird in each nest.

On the way home I stopped at Shell Creek to view the wild flowers. There
were several large patches of Tidy Tips, Goldfields, and Filaree with a
smattering of Owl's Clover, Brodiaea, and Blue-eyed Grass. The display is
not as large and varied as it was several years ago. I noticed 4 species of
lupine, from tiny to bush-sized. There may have been more. Very few Baby
Blue Eyes were present. Maybe it is too early. I found one cliff-side
patch of Scarlet Bugler whose flowers will be open in a day or two and
another spot under the pines where Parry's Larkspur was blooming. Here and
there were Sticky Phacelia, Fiddleneck, Indian Paintbrush, and bushes
covered with yellow composite flowers. Here I saw 2 handsome adult male
Bulluck's Orioles. To the north, where a dirt road leads eastward and a
gate sits on the left side of Shell Ck road, I saw what appear to be 4-6
plants of Desert Evening Primrose. They are not yet blooming.

At home, this morning, while reading the Sunday Times, an unusual chip in
the back yard attracted my attention. Near the bird feeder were an adult
male Hooded Oriole and a male Black-headed Grosbeak. they didn't stay long.
Each year I see one or two Hooded Orioles in my yard, but they have always
been immature specimens. Their presence caused me to think that maybe the
pull of subtropical air northward in the last two days has facilitated the
movement of migrants to the north?

Karen C.