Believe it or not, fall migration lasts for almost half a year! The first southbound migrants are usually female Wilsons Phalaropes who return by mid June after laying the eggs in a nest and placing responsibilities on the males. This year the ladies were spinning around at Tinemaha Reservoir on 11 June, right on time. Concurrently some species, e.g. Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Common Nighthawk, are still winging their way north to breed.

This Fall, like all others, brought with it surprises such as early arriving birds, late departing birds, vagrants from the east, and sightings in locations or habitats that they wouldnt be found dead in the rest of the year! Some of the most surprising observations follow, but first thanks must be given to those who work very hard at gathering and substantiating county records that contribute to the valuable science that citizens can conduct following rigid standards. We want to acknowledge these important contributors: Paul Clark, Chris Conard, Jon Dunn, River Gates, John & Ros Gorham, Carolyn Honer, Chris Howard & Rosie Beach, Andrew & Vern Howe, Bob Hudson, Andrew & Leah Kirk, Sandy Koonce, Amy Lauterback, Kelli Levinson, Cathy McFadden, Jim & Debby Parker, Mike Prather, Bob & Susan Steele, Derrick & Mary Vocelka, Todd Vogel, Jim Weigard, Judy Wickman, James & Kay Wilson, Jim Yurchenko, and Jerry Zatorski.

Pacific Loons are often unreported but this year at least five were found between 30 Oct & 25 Nov. A Red-Necked Grebe, only the third one found in the county, was at Tinemaha Reservoir 16-19 November. Great Egrets are regular in small numbers but an amazing 59, the most ever recorded in Inyo, were at Tinemaha Reservoir 7 Oct. Wood Ducks had a successful breeding season based on the 31 seen at Tinemaha Reservoir 26 Aug. Single Surf Scoters, rarely reported, were at Klondike Lake 16 & 30 Oct. A pair of Barrows Goldeneyes, 11th county record, were at Death Valley Junction 16 Nov. A casual (not seen every year) White-Tailed Kite was in Bishop 7 Nov. Another casual species, Common Moorhen, was at Owens Lake 8 Oct.

A very late Spotted Sandpiper was at Tinemaha Reservoir 9 Dec. Red Knot, a casual shorebird, was at Owens Lake 20 Sep, and 11 Sanderlings, the high county count, were there 21 Sep. Two rare Semipalmated Sandpipers were found, one at Tinemaha Reservoir 24 Aug and the other at Klondike Lake 12 Sep. Two juvenile Stilt Sandpipers at Tinemaha Reservoir 21 Aug were the 6th county record. The seven Herring Gulls seen between 25 Oct & 9 Dec were the most ever recorded in fall. Five Sabines Gulls were more than normally reported and one seen at Owens Lake 2 Nov was the latest ever.

Two Eurasian Collared-Doves, recent colonizers in the county, were seen with one being the first found away from Bishop when found in Independence. Some observers mistake the captive reared and very similar Ringed Turtle-Dove for this species. Flocks of free-flying Ringed Turtle-Dove have been photographed in Bishop. A White-Winged Dove was at Owens Lake 5 Oct while 15 Inca Doves and 3 Ruddy Ground-Doves continue exciting observers at Furnace Creek Ranch.

The two latest ever goatsuckers were interesting with a Lesser Nighthawk near Trona 11 Nov and a Common Poorwill near Fish Springs 2 Dec. Annas Hummingbirds continue their new winter expansion visiting various feeders in the Owens Valley. Thirty Lewiss Woodpeckers are wintering in the date palms at Furnace Creek Ranch. Acorn Woodpeckers continue their expansion in the county with 3 reported from DVNP and 1 on top of Mt. Barnard (13,990) on 11 Sep setting a new high elevation record and suggesting that this species may not see the Sierra as much of a barrier as thought.

A Least Flycatcher, 10th county record, was at Birchim Canyon 10 Nov and a record setting late Pacific-Slope Flycatcher was there much of Nov and into Dec. Stellers Jays, Western Scrub-Jays and Mountain Chickadees are reported from the lowlands this fall as are Brown Creepers and Golden-Crowned Kinglets. An elevation record was set when a Mountain Chickadee was found on top of Mt. Tyndall (14,018). Lost Gray Catbirds were at Furnace Creek Ranch 20 Sep and Deep Springs 19 Oct. A Spragues Pipit, 3rd county record, was found at Furnace Creek Ranch 19 Oct. Warblers made their colorful appearance with a Magnolia in Big Pine 30 Sep, a stunning male Black-Throated Blue at Panamint Springs 18 Oct, a Blackpoll at

Surprise Canyon 11 Oct, American Redstarts at Birchim Canyon 12 Sep and Panamint Springs 18 Oct, and a Prothonotary at Deep Springs 28 Oct.

The latest ever Yellow-Breasted Chat was at Stovepipe Wells 13 Oct and a Summer Tanager

persisted at Rovana until 19 Nov.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks were at Independence 8 & 27 Nov and a male Indigo Bunting was at Big Pine 26 Aug. Three Painted Buntings were seen, Big Pine 18 Aug, Deep Springs 7 Sep, and Furnace Creek Ranch 20 Sep. A Common Grackle was at Independence 13 Nov and a Lawrences Goldfinch was there 16 Nov.

In summation, this was another interesting and sometimes spectacular fall thanks to all who helped find these feathered wonders and document them for posterity. The birds, too, are grateful, believe it or not!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.