two days on Furnace Creek in the Whites

Observers: Chris McCreedy
Remote Name:
Date: 06/06/2006
Time: 06:37 PM -0400

I spent Sunday and Monday camped at Furnace Creek, to do a second round of surveys at point count stations initiated by Sacha Heath for Friends of the Inyo. It was lovely.  I sighted the Indigo Bunting male that Sacha and the Wilsons previously observed, he was singing like a champ. Unfortunately he was at the top of the transect, and I couldn’t go back to confirm that he has a mate. I suspect that he does, the spacing amongst the other Lazuli Bunting territories was right, and they have been known to hybridize in our neck of the woods. I found an unbanded Willow Flycatcher foraging silently, but I was surprised to not find Dusky Flycatchers or Gray Flycatchers as well. Lazuli Buntings and Lesser Goldfinches were everywhere, and I found each of them nesting on eggs. Silver cholla was flowering and both Spotted Towhees and House Finches were nesting in it. I want to grow up surrounded by cactus flowers and spines if I get reincarnated. Several nests were located less than ten feet from the old road, and I wondered if the birds would have placed their nests in such locations in the absence of the big gate at the canyon’s mouth. Warbling Vireos, Plumbeous Vireos, Western Wood-Pewees, and Black-headed Grosbeaks were singing in several places, and I wish I could have stayed another day to watch them. And one of my favorite things ever – two skinks (I guess they’re Gilbert’s Skinks but they didn’t quite match up with the reptile guide I have) were sumo wrestling, oblivious to my presence. I couldn’t tell if it was a fight to the death or some strange lizard foreplay, but it was eye-catching nonetheless.

Battling skinks
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher shading cowbird nestling
Costas Hummingbird incubating
Desert mallow
Sclerocactus polyancistrus, Pineapple Cactus
Lazuli Bunting nest
Lesser Goldfinch nest
Lorquins Admiral
Silver cholla and a beetle
Spotted Towhee nest in silver cholla