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Articles from The Sierra Wave for March/April, 1999

Volume 17, Number 4

Trumpeter Swan 8VO, a.k.a. Queenie, visits the Eastern Sierra, seen here at Pleasant Valley Reservoir Feb. 9. (T & J Heindel photo)

Also see Meeting Programs and Field Trips for these months.

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Chapter Notes


Eastern Sierra Audubon welcomes the following new, returning and transfer members:

Eddy and Sylvia Bouzaglou

Sherry Grob

Jess W. Hughes

Susan L. Lutz

Richard N. Scott

Bobbie Turner

Lynna Walker

Sandra Whitehouse, Membership Chair


Golden Trout Natural History Workshop Scholarship
High school students from Inyo and Mono Counties are encouraged to apply for the Eastern Sierra Audubon Golden Trout Natural History Workshop this summer. Audubon will sponsor one student for the week of June 27-July 3rd at the wilderness camp, where participants will learn the natural history of the Sierra Nevada by taking day hikes from the camp throughout the Cottonwood Lakes drainage above Lone Pine. Students and families can obtain applications for the scholarship by writing to Golden Trout Natural History Workshop, Drawer D, Lone Pine, CA 93545. Website:

1999 Bird-A-Thon
Once again please support our yearly Bird-A-Thon by pledging a small amount per species seen by our team of birders on April 24th. Your chapter uses this money for many of the valuable projects that you read about in the WAVE such as the Golden Trout Natural History Scholarship, binoculars for school classroom use, sponsorship of three Christmas Bird Counts and our work on the Lower Owens River Project and Owens Lake. PLEASE mail your pledge to Bird-A-Thon, Drawer D, Lone Pine, CA 93545. You will receive a list of the birds that we find and a narrative of the days action.

Raptor Workshop
The Inyo Office of Education, Adult Education Program, will present a two day workshop entitled "Hawks, Eagles and Falcons of the Sierra", on March 20 and 21, 1999, at White Mountain Research Station. There will be no fee for the workshop, but pre-registration is a must. Floyd and Sandra Bero, who have been conducting raptor research in the Eastern Sierra for the past several years, will teach a basic raptor biology and identification course geared for novices, experienced birders and biologists alike. Registration will be limited to 20 participants. Previous classes have filled early, so to reserve a seat, or for additional information, call June at the Inyo County Office of Education, 760-878-2426.

Grays Harbor, WA, Shorebird Festival
Held April 30-May 2, 1999, this annual festival "promises you a great nature experience. Witness migrating shorebirds at Grays Harbor NWR and other great birding spots on the Grays Harbor estuary." Field trips, workshops, and other activities are on tap. Call for a brochure (1-800-303-8498) or visit the Grays Harbor AS website:

1999 Sequoia and Kings Canyon Field Seminar Catalog Available
The catalog covers 25 adventurous and educational seminars occurring in our local national parks. These programs are sponsored by the non-profit Sequoia Natural History Association (SNHA).

Mono Lake Doings
Following is a letter from Bartshe Miller, Education Director at the Mono Lake Committee, dated February 6, 1999.

Twenty years ago this year California Audubon and Mono Lake Committee filed suit against Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on behalf of the Public Trust value of Mono Lake. Today Monos creeks are full of water, the lake is at its highest point in over twenty years, and the City of Los Angeles has one of the lowest per capita water use levels in the State. Birds were a rallying point for Monos protection. With the rising lake come new challenges and responsibilities. Below are a few of the birding and bird conservation opportunities that we have ahead of us in the coming year.

California Gull research will continue this summer. The 1998 California Gull study reported the lowest nesting and fourth lowest fledgling rates since monitoring began in 1983. Since 1996, Mono Lake has been in a meromictic or chemically stratified condition due to large inflows of fresh water into a relatively low and densely saline lake. It is not precisely known when the meromictic condition will end, or how it will affect brine shrimp availability to California Gulls over the next decade. More research is necessary to better understand its affect on nesting California Gulls. Paying volunteers are needed to help make this research continue! The research takes place on Monos volcanic islands among the hue and din of 40,000 nesting gulls. Food, overnight stay on Krakatoa Island, and all the necessary training are included in this research adventure.

This year we will again need volunteers to assist with two shorebird counts at Mono Lake on April 24th and August 21st. Volunteers will census the entire lakeshore during the peak spring and fall shorebird migration. As the lake rises we would like to continue gathering important shorebird and waterfowl data. We are always looking for experienced volunteers to help survey nearby and remote shoreline locations. We welcome and encourage Audubon members participation!

The Mono Lake Committee is also offering field seminars this year dedicated to birding in the Mono Basin. Dave Shuford, from the Point Reyes Bird Observatory will return again to offer a two-day seminar on the Eastern Sierra Fall Bird Migration, August 21-22. Also, David Lukas will offer Birds of the East Slope June 12-13, the height of the breeding season.

If you would like to learn more about any of the research, bird counts, or field seminars ongoing in the Mono Basin, please give me a call at 760.647.6595, or you can e-mail me at

Additional information on Mono Basin bird sightings, surveys and more can be found at


If you or someone you know is interested in the status and distribution of birds, we offer these two fine books for sale: If you bird in Mono County and Yosemite National Park, David Gaines' book, Birds of Yosemite and the East Slope is for you. Dave has written an interesting species account of every bird found in these areas and includes a bar graph showing how many birds are present at which time of the year. Jim and I found this book indispensable when birding in Mono County. Cost (tax included): $10, softcover.

Grinnell and Miller's The Distribution of the Birds of California was originally published in 1944 by the Cooper Ornithological Society, and was republished by Artemisia Press of Lee Vining. David Gaines wrote: "[This book] remains the definitive benchmark on California's avifauna. It summarizes a wealth of information on the seasonal status, abundance and geographic range of the 644 species and subspecies then recorded in the state. Its terse yet detailed descriptions of habitat and habitat requirements have yet to be bettered. It is an indispensable reference for anyone seriously interested in California's birds." $20 (tax included), hardcover. These books will be for sale at our Audubon monthly program meetings, or phone Debby Parker at 872-4447.

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Field Trips


Death Valley in Winter!

Eight winter-weary Auduboners enjoyed the warmth and clear air of Death Valley for a three day weekend February 12th to the 14th. We birded every morning and late afternoon at the golf course, sewer ponds and housing area at Furnace Creek. A total of 43 bird species were seen. The most interesting bird sightings were 5 small scalloped-bodied doves, called Inca Doves, and a small flock of White-throated Swifts over a water hazard. We also saw several Verdin in the Tamarisk trees surrounding our campsites. While day hiking a remote canyon in the southern area of the park, we discovered a semi-fresh Desert Bighorn Sheep skull, complete with large ram horns worn down over years of dueling with other males. Everybody enjoyed this trip, but then again, how can you go wrong in 72 degree weather in Death Valley?!

-Chris Howard, Rosie Beach, Kathy Duvall, Larry Nahm


Big Birds and Boulders

by Joy Fatooh

When I think of the steep edges of the Volcanic Tableland just north of Bishop, I think of raptors. I expect to see one when I drive the Chalk Bluff Road - maybe a wintering rough-legged scouting from atop a craggy boulder, or a northern harrier sweeping the river flats below. Last week I saw a prairie falcon strike a junco by Pleasant Valley reservoir and defeather it up on the bluff. Model glider flyers who slope-soar on rising air sweeping up the bluff are often joined by two or three hawks. Someone told me about finding an owls nest tucked amid the rocks, with fuzzy round-eyed young. Golden eagles maintain a nest on East Side Bluff, possibly one of several alternate nests in their huge territory. Once I bicycled along a lonely two-track road traversing the Tableland near its southern edge. Suddenly a red-tailed hawk rose up, flew low and settled on a shrub a hundred feet downwind. I looked where it had flushed: there lay a cottontail, still warm. I pedalled quietly away. So when I learned that this same area was rapidly becoming an internationally publicized recreation destination, with visitors already increasing a thousandfold, I thought of raptors. Bouldering is the sport of using natural hand and foot holds to climb large rocks and small cliffs. Bubbles of volcanic gas and the random acts of wind, water and time have made countless little pockets in the rough-and-tumble, boulder-strewn scarps that line the Tableland. Its a bouldering paradise. Can it still be a raptor haven too?

Most of the Tableland is public land. I work as a biologist for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Bishop Field Office; wildlife habitat on the Tableland is among our responsibilities. We want to accommodate the influx of climbers, and guide them to use the land lightly in this place that has been so wild for so long. We have little data on the raptors - mostly our occasional observations and the surmise that the hunting perches, nest sites and prey base add up to high-quality habitat. With time and budget already stretched thin, how can we get the good information we need for good management?

I mentioned our dilemma to Audubon member Debby Parker when we were out birding one day. The next day she sent e-mail: Had an idea for you to mull over. Within six weeks Debbys idea had become an innovative partnership.

Local raptor researchers Floyd and Sandra Bero are going to conduct an intensive raptor survey on the southern Tableland during this years breeding season. The Beros are donating part of their time. BLM is providing vehicle expenses. And the rest?

Impressively, most of the funding is coming from the rock climbing community. Much credit is due to the unique perspective and fund-raising ability of James Wilson, climber, environmentalist, and Audubon member since age 11, whose Wilsons Eastside Sports is the Bishop outfitter for climbers. The local climbers group CRAG and the national Access Fund are contributing, and Patagonia is donating first-quality clothing that James will sell. Mick Ryan, who wrote the guidebook that put the Volcanic Tableland on the international map, is putting in a large donation himself. Eastern Sierra Audubon has pledged $100.

Once the study is done, the Beros will meet with representatives of BLM, Audubon, CRAG and The Access Fund to review the findings and discuss how to best manage the Tableland for both climbers and raptors. With birders and boulderers working together, I feel optimistic that majestic wings will soar above the Volcanic Tableland for centuries to come.

Joy has lived in the area for 25 years and has worked for BLM since 1990.


There is no new information about Owens Valley Radio Observatory's plans to put radio telescopes in the Inyo Mountains at Upper Harkless Flat. OVRO needs to make a proposal to the Inyo National Forest Service for a permit.


As far as the huge housing tract development at Rovana, Jeff Francis from the Pacific Development Coorporation has turned down a California Department of Fish and Game proposal to purchase the property for the Round Valley winter deer herd habitat. Although we will have to wait until the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) comes out to comment, it wouldn't hurt to contact the Inyo County Supervisors with your opinions since the final decision to develop is ultimately in their hands.

Kathy Duvall

Owens Lake Update

In January the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power revealed its interest in pumping up to 1600 acre-feet of water per year from under Owens Lake for use as dust treatment. Eventually the total treatment of dust will take approximately 40,000 acre-feet per year. Los Angeles will need permission from the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (GBUAPCD) or private parties for use of some existing wells. In addition, the DWP hopes to avoid a CEQUA environmental impact report by claiming that the pumping is research and therefore an exemption under the law. They hope to begin pumping this fall saying that they are under the gun timewise to begin dust correction as soon as possible. Audubon has long had serious concerns about pumping for LAs required dust control, which could result in subsidence or negative impacts to wetlands and springs that surround the lake. These wetlands are used by thousands of migrating shorebirds and waterfowl each year flying from the south as far as South America to the north as far as the Arctic Circle. We supported use of aqueduct water directly from the aqueduct or by way of the Lower Owens River. Audubon prefers shallow water spreading and managed vegetation because of their potential to create habitat lost when the lake was originally dried. Los Angeles has committed publicly to use of surface water, but say that it is expensive to replace and that they are unable to say right now how much of that water they will use. They have told public meetings, however, that they hope to pump as much water as possible for dust treatment. Currently the DWP is designing the Lower Owens River Project (LORP) pump back station to pump water from the river AND out onto the lake for dust control. As part of the rewatering of 60 miles of the Lower Owens River, water would be pumped back into the aqueduct from a site near Owens Lake. In an effort to meet time requirements for dust control measures on the lake, Los Angeles plans to begin large flows into the Lower Owens River Project by the year 2001, two years early. Soon we will know if Los Angeles will need to be challenged on their pumping plan using an exemption under CEQUA. They must be carefully watched, and to be made to avoid potentially harmful pumping. Wildlife public trust values at Owens Lake that were once lost must be restored. Those remaining wetlands that are so valuable must not be impacted. All of us must be vigilant. To see for yourself the wonderful wetlands and wildlife around Owens Lake, join us on our field trip there on Saturday, April 10th. Meet at 9AM at the parking lot at Diaz Lake just south of Lone Pine.

Mike Prather

Websites: Swans, etc.

Trumpeter Swan Society website- Once you get to the website, click on the blue highlighted, Hear a few happy Trumpeters right HERE.

Trumpeter Swan sightings in California: (14 have been recorded in CA since November, '98; "our" 8VO and 1 other bore neckbands.)

California Birds Records Committee website is hosting photos of our own Jo Heindel of Big Pine and Dave Marquart of Lee Vining. Jos photos are of the Purple Gallinule, Yellow-throated Warbler, Smiths Longspur, Red-faced Warbler, and Cerulean Warbler all found in Inyo County. Daves photo is of a Philadelphia Vireo found in Mono County. The CBRC website address is

An excellent weekly email article relating to the environment and health can be subscribed to by visiting Rachels Environment & Health Weekly website and requesting a free subscription. Check out

Cats Indoors! Campaign:

Debby Parker

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Mix-your-own Birdseed

About birdseed - I have been mixing my own brew for over a year now according to an article I read re-confirming what I already knew - that wheat, rapeseed and other fillers in seed mixes are practically worthless. The birds dont like them, they arent as nutritious as other seeds and so, why bother. I have been mixing white millet (specially ordered and not expensive) from local feed stores, cracked corn and black-oil sunflower seed. The December 1998 issue of Birders World had a very good article on birdseed which got me thinking about remixing. I am particularly upset about all the House Sparrows and Starlings that I am feeding. Trying to find a mix that appeals to my many White-crowned Sparrows, a few Mourning Doves and House Finches, and my Le Contes Thrasher and Spotted Towhee, but not the undesirables was fairly well covered in that article. Putting more black-oil sunflower seeds and less white millet in the mix was the biggest adjustment. The ratios of the ingredients in my new bird seed mix are 4-1-1-4. White millet, red milo, cracked corn, black-oil sunflower seed. You can even add more sunflower seed.

From the January, 1999, issue of The Chat - Newsletter of the Kerncrest Audubon Society- in the "Conservation Corner" authored by Terri Middlemiss (thanks to Debby P.).


On January 8, 1998, during the annual USFWS Bald Eagle Survey, Jim and Debby Parker, Eastern Sierra Audubon Society volunteers, discovered a collared Trumpeter Swan at Pleasant Valley Reservoir, in Inyo County, near Bishop, California. This reservoir is located at about 4,000-ft. elevation east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The steep sides of this long and narrow body of water are over 500 feet high and consist of volcanic rocks and boulders. In winter it is a place where mostly diving ducks and geese can be seen. Since no Bald Eagles seemed to be around that day, we found ourselves counting ducks when Jim spied a large white swan ahead of us resting in the reservoirs still waters. We got excited, because we had never seen a swan in this area before and it was close enough for a good view. We approached cautiously, not wanting to flush her. Jim commented that she looked like an ocean liner and the Canada geese around her looked like dinghies. The large green and white collar on her neck seemed a clue that she might be a Trumpeter Swan. After close study of the marks, we decided we better get word to our county coordinators, Tom and Jo Heindel, ASAP. Tom and Jo gave us Rod Hugs phone number and email address, and phoning immediately, we gave Rod the collar number (8V0).

Very soon we started to learn about our unusual visitor and the wonderful and organized world of the Trumpeter Swan Society. Since an Audubon Field Trip was scheduled for the next day, they changed course a bit and went to see 8VO instead. We met the group out at the water, with Tom and Jo in the lead toting their Questar scope. For many in the group it was their first Trumpeter Swan and all were thrilled to see her so well.

From Rod we learned that 8V0 was banded at Harriman State Park, Idaho, on Dec. 7, 1996, and released there. She was a she and also a truly wild Trumpeter Swan because she had never been translocated. Rod began emailing us all sorts of interesting information about Trumpeter Swans and we began getting up to speed on the subject. It was finally sorted out that our swan had not been seen since December of 1997, when she was spotted at Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming. What had she been doing in that last year, one wonders. On day two of her discovery, two friends went out in the late afternoon to see her. They were dismayed to find a hunter trying to shoot at the Canada Geese with her. The hunter was on the far side of the water, where the swan usually sought refuge, but she had moved out into the middle of the reservoir away from the hunter. The hunter hollered across the water to our friends to please move so he could shoot at the geese. Although, they agreed it was legal to hunt geese they tried to explain to the hunter that the swan was very rare and that they truly felt that by shooting at the geese he might accidentally shoot the swan. So the friends stayed and guarded the swan. The hunter finally gave up and left. Because of this incident, a photo and short article about our rare swan were put into the newspaper. It was hoped that our community would realize the rarity of such a visitor and help to watch over her. A short television segment was done by our local station, filmed at the reservoir with lots of footage of the graceful visitor. After the hunter experience, we started to make sure that we checked on her nearly everyday.

This is where Sarah Glasser took over and organized a scheduled daily visit to the swan. When a record-breaking snowstorm hit the area and access to see the swan was near impossible, Sarah expeditiously enlisted the help of the power plant personnel, who offered to keep an eye on the swan during this snowy period as they were moving through in their snow cats.

Rosie Beachs third grade class, from Bishops local elementary school, got to see the swan through binoculars and scopes. Mrs. Beach, a bird fancier herself, had shared the Trumpeter Swan story with her class, and the kids were wound up to see it. A California Department of Fish and Game biologist, Denyse Racine, told me later that she was there the day the kids were and a little boy came up to her, bird book in hand, asking her if she knew what the big white bird was. He then proceeded, with great exhilaration, to show her the Trumpeter Swan picture in the bird book and filled her in on the wonders of this bird, reflecting pride, excitement and great joy of discovery. The whole class was very taken with the bird. Upon returning to the classroom, their teacher said they wrote stories and poems about their visit to see the swan.

Its exactly one month later, hunting season's over and 8V0 is still here. We now know that our visitor is the first wild Trumpeter Swan for Inyo County. With the passing of time shes out in the middle of the water more, seemingly more relaxed, with her long neck stretched watching the comings and goings of the place. I watched her from afar, as she enjoyed her early morning haunts, near the mudflats before the tourists and fishermen came. She was preening and stretching her huge wings out, giving them a good shake; she had the place to herself, and she seemed to like it that way. Watching her you could almost hear her thinking, Where are those Canada Geese? Theyre so nice to sit with and herd around a bit. Jim and Debby Parker live in the Eastern Sierra of eastern California where they are very active with bird watching and Eastern Sierra Audubon Society.

(Note: Debby and Jim wrote the above for Trumpetings, newsletter of the The Trumpeter Swan Society.)

Trumpeter Swan 8V0, or Queenie, as she is fondly called, has probably departed her deluxe southern vacation spot at Pleasant Valley Reservoir (she was last seen here Feb. 13), departing for parts unknown. If its north, will she have time to locate her mate for nesting season? Hard to say. We wish her our best.

Why so much hullabaloo over one swan? Reading in Ducks, Geese & Swans of North America, by Frank C. Bellrose, 1976, it was believed that Trumpeter Swans faced near extinction at the turn of the century into the 1930s. In 1932, the total known population was 69 birds, Red Rock Lakes, west of Yellowstone National Park, having 26 nesters, Yellowstone National Park 31 and 12 elsewhere. Two events gave hope for a brighter future for the swan, first, in 1932; Red Rock Lakes was made into a wildlife refuge, protecting the nesters. Secondly, unbeknownst to the swan biologists, swans were breeding in Alaska. Melvin A. Monson, in 1954, found approximately 3,000 birds nesting at the confluence of the Bremner and Tasnuna Rivers with the Copper River. Why did the swan numbers get so low originally, one has to ask? They were hunted. According to Bellrose, in the 1900s Trumpeter Swans were numerous, having a huge breeding area over much of North America from the Great Lakes to the Northwest Territories including Alaska. But looking at the Hudson Bay Companys records of swan skins with records of, From 1853 to 1877 they [Hudson Bay Company] sold a total of 17,671 [swan skins], or an average of nearly 707 a year. Bellrose continues that most of the swan skins sold were Trumpeter Swans. Eventually swan skin numbers dropped off to 57 in 1888-97 and zero in 1897.

8VOs history was provided to us by Rod Hug of the Trumpeter Swan Society (see the website address of the Trumpeter Swan Society, above):

She was banded at Harriman State Park 12/11/96 (They caught her, placed a collar on her neck and a band on her leg, but never moved her physically);

Teton River, northeastern Idaho 12/16/96;

Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park 11/5/97, 11/14/97, 12/5/97, 12/11/97;

Pleasant Valley Reservoir, Inyo County 1/8/99 and last seen 2/13/99.

Rod Hug of the Trumpeter Swan Society and Steve Bouffard of USFWS were grateful and thrilled that Trumpeter Swan 8V0 was found in California, observed by all of us and stayed so long. They were both appreciative that our community basically took care of her while she was here. We were thrilled as well, as she was the first wild Trumpeter Swan to find her way, all on her own, to Inyo County, our own backyard. Thank you to John Finkbeiner, Chris Howard, Rosie Beach, (and her third grade class), Sam and Sarah Glasser, Pat and Jack Crowther, Bob and Barb Toth, Tom and Jo Heindel, Denyse Racine, Brian Tillemans, Dorothy and John Burnstrom, Larry and Ruth Blakely, Joy Fatooh, Bonnie Dick and any others I might have forgotten, for checking on Queenie.

Debby Parker

This just in (2/22/99): Tom Heindel found the Trumpeter Swan, 8VO, at Tinemaha Reservoir, just south of Big Pine, this morning in with 8 Tundra Swans!

Student Swan Essays

On Thursday, January 14, with the help of some very supportive drivers, my class (3rd grade, Pine St. School) took a field trip to see 8VO. For many it was the first time to see many species of birds, all of which were amazingly cooperative!

As we walked across the bridge at the north end of the Reservoir, a Great Blue Heron sat on a rock in the water on one side and an American Dipper was on the other. Both birds gave us great views for about fifteen minutes.

When we returned to the classroom, the children wrote these pieces. Some chose to write in the first person as if they were the swan or the Canadian Honkers swimming with her.

The class used the ESAS binoculars on the swan trip. They loved them, easy to use, clear views, and just the right size for little fingers. So, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Rosie Beach, Teacher

The Swan

It was fun seeing the Great Blue Heron. That was the first time I have ever seen a Great Blue Heron fly like that. It was fun seeing the Trumpeter Swan swim back and forth and it was fun seeing the Shrike. By: Sierra Engel

The Swan

Yesterday my class and I went to go see the Trumpeter Swan at the Pleasant Valley Reservoir. We walked 3 miles just to see the Trumpeter Swan. My feet were hurting a lot after we walked 3 miles. I hated the walking. We saw some Great Blue Herons, Canadian Honkers, American Dippers, Shrikes, Audubon's Warblers, Buffleheads, Green Winged Teals, and some common Mergansers. The Trumpeter Swan went back and forth, over and over. I thought that the Trumpeter swan was cool. I had a lot of fun seeing the swan. By: Matthew Kuma

The Swan

When I first saw the swan I thought about how far that swan flew to get into Bishop. Maybe she flew 100 or 1000 miles. I also thought about how it got here and how it felt around other birds. It probably felt like a giant around the other birds. I also thought about why it was staying here so long. It was fun to go on that field trip. I liked the field trip because it was very interesting. I think it is neat to have a Trumpeter Swan in Bishop. By: LeeAnn Sonke

The Swan

I saw a swan. It was very big. It had a 72" wing span. The swan swam fast and slow. The swan was tagged. It had 3 numbers on it. The dam was made of rocks and it was called Pleasant Valley Reservoir. By: Josh Harris

The Swan

I was the Trumpeter Swan, and I was be scared to die when I almost went extinct. I would lay 2-13 eggs. I like to be in the water. I like it where I am right now in Bishop. It is nice to be here. A class came to see me and I got to see them. By: Alfredo Martinez

The Swan

I liked the Trumpeter Swan in the water. It was a lady. It had white on its feathers. I liked the Great Blue Heron. It was great to see the bird on my walk. I liked the Bufflehead because it has a piece of pie on its eye. By: Jacob Poirier

The Swan

Last Thursday my class went to Pleasant Valley Reservoir to see the Trumpeter Swan. When we had just arrived there we saw a Great Blue Heron and the American Dipper. We walked a little longer and we stopped to have a snack. When we finished the snack we walked again. A man said the swan was in the reservoir, but a noisy bike rode down the road and scared the swan to the other side of the reservoir. We had to go back to the cars, drive to the other side and walk up the reservoir again from the other side. We saw a Great Blue Heron again. We walked and we met two men and asked them if they saw the swan and they said, "Yes! But it is on the other side." Luckily he was kidding. We saw the swan. It was beautiful and we took a little while looking at it. Then it was time to go. (Teacher's's note: The man who was joking with the children was Tom Heindel.) By: Ricardo Ruiz

What the Honkers Think

Hi, I am a Canadian Honker. I am flying in the sky. Hey, there is a big bird down there. Let's go down there. I think we will stay here with the Trumpeter Swan. Ok, let's go. Here comes a line of kids. Hey, where are they going? Come back here! Why don't you come here? By: Kara Barlow

The Swan

We saw lots of birds at the Reservoir. We saw the Trumpeter Swan and a Great Blue Heron. We saw a Bufflehead. We walked 3 miles just to see the Trumpeter Swan. My feet were hurting by the time we arrived. We could not see them very well because they were in the shadows. By: Ressie Willis

The Swan

Hi! I am the Trumpeter Swan. Lots of birds are around me, because they want to be protected and not get eaten. I flew here to be away from other swans. It is beautiful and peaceful here. I think I will stay here for a while. Lots of people are coming to see me. They say I am rare. It is fun being with all of these birds. When cars and bikes come they frighten me. I met a lot of friends here but I can't stay here forever. I need to get back with my brothers and sisters. I do not know when I am leaving. It is fun here. The water is nice and cool. There is a perfect breeze. I would really like to find duck potatoes, but so far I have only found sage pond weed. There is plenty of food to last me the whole winter. (Teacher's note: Heidi did research on her own.) By: Heidi Patrykus

I am the Swan

I saw lots of birds. I'm swimming in the pond. I see a huge group of kids. They make tiny little noises. The Canadian Honkers are annoying. They say, "Honkity honk honk honkity tweet tweet honk honk." These kids make me scared. They threw rocks in the pond and scared me. It was at least a half mile away. I could hear them because I have good hearing. I guess I'll stay away for a little while longer. (Teacher's note: Whitney used poetic license to add suspense to her first person account. No one threw rocks.) By: Whitney Etcheverry

The Swan

The swan is a pretty Trumpeter Swan. The bicycle scared it so it flew to the other end. We had to walk to the other end. The swan is a very big Trumpeter Swan. The swan body is white and her beak is black and so are her eyes. By: Brandi Sam

The Swan

Our class took a field trip to Pleasant Valley Reservoir on 1-14-99. We saw a Ruddy Duck and a Trumpeter Swan. The Trumpeter had a green band around her neck. By: Ronny Jenkins

The Swan

I went to Pleasant Valley Reservoir and saw lots of birds. Here are some of their names: Shrike, Great Blue Heron, Trumpeter Swan, American Dipper, Buffleheads, Canadian Honkers, and Warblers. My favorite was the Great Blue Heron. I liked it when the American Dipper ducked his head into the water. By: Stephen Puls

The Swan

January 14, 1999 we went to the Pleasant Valley Reservoir. We saw two Great Blue Herons, an American Dipper, Canadian Geese, a Shrike, Butterbutts, Buffleheads, Green-Winged teals, a grebe, and a Trumpeter Swan. By: Ryan Galloway

The Swan

If I was a Trumpeter Swan I would be scared of bicycles and motorcycles, because they sound like guns. I would like to glide over the water. I would also like to swim in the water all day. If I had a baby I would take care of him or her. If the Canadian Honkers were by me I would feel happy. Sometimes the Buffleheads make a circle around me. By: Salvador Santana

The Swan

When we first got to Pleasant Valley Reservoir we saw a Great Blue Heron and an American Dipper. The trip lasted 4 hours. My feet were very hot. I liked the Shrike. We saw a Trumpeter Swan, Canadian Honkers, Butterbutts and Buffleheads. I saw a Golden Eye. By Randall Wilson


by Tom & Jo Heindel

If you want to spend an afternoon birding the entire state of California from the comfort of your own home, plug in this URL and enjoy:

Joe Morlan, a member of the California Bird Records Committee (CBRC), has created a website, California Birding Pages, that sets a standard to which others aspire. If you are interested in taking his birding classes, or reading his publications, they are listed. Most fascinating is the California Birding section that lists the rare birds recently seen; when, where, and often with photographs. He also puts up two mystery photographs monthly and the birding community engages in debate as to the identification. The next month the discussion and answers are given and two more mystery birds are started. Here is a college class in bird identification for those who want it...and no tuition cost. One would do well to sit with a field guide and pen and enter all the unpublished and known only to the best of the state identification marks that wont make it into the next field guide for a decade or more. Talk about the cutting edge of identification! Another section is the CBRC, where photographs submitted to the committee as part of the documentation for state listed birds, are available to the public, captioned with the date and location. Some are from Inyo County! There also are audio and Los Angeles County sections. From the main page you can choose Links and see National, California, and Bay Area, CBRC, Other Birders' Webpages, Bird Research, and Weather Webpages. There is a Search function if you know it is on Joes website, but not where. Treat yourself to cyber-birding. It is especially fun when it is too windy to bird Inyo County!

Owens Valley has a new listserve available to those who want to be kept informed of birding information, primarily sightings, from the valley. This replaces the telephone tree that was the quickest way to get rare bird alert information disseminated in the old days. If anyone on the list sees a bird that they dont recognize, or that they do recognize and know that it is unusual for this area at this time of year, they can write up one post and everybody has access to the info as soon as they download their mail. It can not be emphasized enough that this kind of information needs to be put out as soon as physically possible, as a rare bird today is a gone bird tomorrow. Birders have been known to go out as the sun sets with spot beams to try to see the bird before it continues its migration that night. Not that any of us are that compulsive...but maybe we should let you speak for yourselves. This is not a replacement for the excellent Eastern California Bird Sightings Page by Chris Howard: They serve two different but related functions. All good, interesting, and/or rare sightings should be put on Chriss page so people can access them and learn about the local birds. This new listserve serves the function of a rare bird alert where time is of the essence as well as informing the recipients of miscellaneous birding information. It is an informal, irregular, and unmoderated list. If you are interested, please post us at and we will put you on the list. You can withdraw at any time with no early withdrawal penalties, and there are no age restrictions to this offer!

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