The summer of 2005 has come and gone leaving only memories of the coolest June most locals can ever remember. July, with temperatures in excess of 100F, quickly brought us back to the reality of an Eastern Sierra summer followed by the hot muggy days during the expected monsoons of August.
Each season provides bird surprises and this summer was no exception. A Common Loon at Furnace Creek Ranch from 6-11 June was a very late spring migrant. Least Bitterns raised young at Nik & Nik’s gravel quarry near Bishop, extending the known Inyo County breeding location further north. A male Bufflehead chose to summer at Nik & Nik’s gravel quarry instead of breeding far to the north.
A Greater Scaup dropped in to the sewer ponds at Stovepipe Wells in late May and remained through 10 June while the tenth Least Tern to occur in Inyo, a one-year-old bird, was found at Tinemaha Reservoir on 16 June. Panamint Springs was host to a White-winged Dove on 2 June and three Vermilion Flycatchers, including one brilliant male, were at Furnace Creek Ranch 11 June. American Crows are regular in the Owens Valley towns but rare elsewhere making the two at Furnace Creek Ranch from late May to mid June noteworthy. A Winter Wren returned to Pine Creek just above the pack station for the 4th summer. There he sang his heart out and again locals were unable to prove that he had a girlfriend with him.
The most spectacular visitor of the summer was a singing male Yellow-throated Warbler in north Bishop on 17 June. This was only the 7th time this eastern visitor has been documented for Inyo County. Found by Debby Parker, it was seen and documented by the Parkers, Chris & Rosie Howard and Jon Dunn, ensuring its acceptance as a scientific record. It was not found again the following day but in its place was a singing male Summer Tanager. A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was at Birchim Canyon on 10 June and a male Indigo Bunting was in Bishop on 9 June.
With just ten previous records for Inyo, the second most amazing record occurred when Jim & Debby Parker found an adult male Tricolored Blackbird near their Bishop backyard which remained 18-24 June. It also was well photographed and documented. Finally, a very rare Lawrence’s Goldfinch was at Mahogany Flat in the Panamint Mountains on 11 June, providing a group celebrating Kathy Duvall’s birthday with a very special gift!
Again these enjoyable sightings would be but ephemeral events if it weren’t for the extra effort many birders put into ensuring their acceptance as records in perpetuity. These summer records are immutable due to the efforts of Jon Dunn, Chris & Rosie Howard, Jim & Debby Parker, Susan Steele, Vicki & Gerry Wolfe, and Jerry Zatorski.
Fall migration is already underway and exciting surprises will be there for the finding. We can predict the appearance of many species that are rare but seen each year. We cannot predict the special few that will make the observer drop their jaw and start dialing their birding friends to help them verify their vision and produce yet another county record.Tags: blackbird, crow, dove, finch, flycatcher, grosbeak, loon, warbler, wren