On May 8th thirty-five participants joined the international celebration of migratory birds and scoured hills and dales, valleys and mountains, lakes, streams, and the Owens River from Round Valley south to Little Lake, east to China Ranch, and north to Deep Springs, Wyman Canyon and the White Mountains. Last year Inyo County received national recognition as the Inland County with the second most bird species found in one day – 219. Because this years count was so early – it is always the second Saturday in May – the expectations were not high that the group would come even close to last years record. But what a magnificent excuse to arise early, tramp long, and celebrate the return of our visitors who winter south of us from Mexico to southern South America!
While there were five fewer observers than last year, they put in over 331 hours of birding in one day! That is like one person birding non-stop for 13.8 days! In order for 35 people to gain as much coverage as possible in the states second largest county (many other counties have nearly 100 people covering much smaller areas), the group was divided into 19 parties with 7 parties made up of one person, 10 parties of two people, and 2 parties of four. Two parties even hog-tied visiting relatives into spending Saturday in celebration of birds!
The weather was delightful, the energy was high, and the birds were incredibly cooperative as 13,124 let the celebrants find them! Six new species were added to the IMBD count: Mike and Nancy Prather found a very late Marbled Godwit at Owens Lake, Larry Nahm and Carolyn Gann saw a very late Common Goldeneye at Black Rock Fish Hatchery, Chris and Rosie Howard were shocked to see a Lesser Yellowlegs in Wyman Canyon, Bob Mauer, Jr. located a Bendires Thrasher at Lee Flat, Debby Parker and her mom and Vicki and Gerry Wolfe spied Eurasian Collared-Doves in Bishop and Death Valley, and Kay Wilson and Jo Heindel stumbled upon a totally unexpected Hooded Warbler, a vagrant from the East.
The final tally was 213 species, far more than expected and second only to last years record. Forty-seven of those species were seen by only one party, indicating that “One” can make the difference! Wood Duck, Northern Shoveler, Bonapartes Gull, Forsters Tern, Barn Owl, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, American Dipper, & Sage Thrasher were seen by Jim & Debby Parker, Sandy Scofield & Andy Zdon. Swainsons Hawk, Gambels Quail, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Bells Vireo, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Crissal Thrasher, Lucys Warbler, & Hooded Oriole were found by Tom Heindel. Semipalmated Plover, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Franklins Gull, Marbled Godwit, & American Pipit were located by Mike & Nancy Prather and Common Moorhen, Short-billed Dowitcher, White-winged Dove, & Plumbeous Vireo were noted by Vickie & Gerry Wolfe. American Wigeon, Lesser Yellowlegs, Vauxs Swift, & Broad-tailed Hummingbird showed off to Chris, Rosie, Barry & Bonnie Howard. Western & Clarks Grebes, & California Thrasher were pulled out by Kelli Levinson and Least Bittern, Acorn Woodpecker, & Le Contes Thrasher were observed by Andrew & Leah Kirk. Calliope Hummingbird, Willow Flycatcher, & Hooded Warbler were sighted by Kay Wilson & Jo Heindel while Coopers Hawk & Common Goldeneye were spotted by Larry Nahm & Carolyn Gann. Bendires Thrasher & Golden-crowned Sparrow were examined by Bob Mauer, Jr. and the lone Wrentit was ferreted out by Judy Wickman & Bob Hudson. One Ring-billed Gull was identified by John Williams and a Hermit Warbler was discovered by Debbie House. Others who added numbers and were often only the second party to find a certain species were Kathy Duvall, John & Ros Gorham, Steve Holland, Phill Kiddoo, Paul McFarland, Bill Mitchel, Todd Vogel, James Wilson, and Jerry Zatorski.
The hundreds of hours of birding resulted in Inyo County receiving National Recognition again! And again, as the second birdiest inland county but this time second to our neighbor to the southKern County! Just think what the possibilities would be if the lower Owens River was flowing and we had a few dozen more indefatigable birders!Tags: crow, dove, duck, flycatcher, gnatcatcher, grebe, gulls, hawk, hummingbird, lark, oriole, owl, plover, sparrow, thrasher, vireo, warbler, wren