[Originally appeared in the Sierra Wave newsletter, Vol. 28, No. 3, Jan-Feb 2010 – click here for original with photos]
As stated repeatedly, each season brings its own sur- prises and this Fall was no exception. The biggest bolt- from-the-blue was a Little Stint, a Eurasian sandpiper, at Owens Lake 29-30 Aug found by Chris Howard and confirmed by Jon Dunn. This species has been found in CA only ten previous times and is a difficult identi- fication problem, looking very similar to Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers as well as another vagrant shorebird from Eurasia, the Red-necked Stint. The ar- ray of photographs raises this sighting to the level of a scientific record, since they are as close to a specimen- in-a-drawer as is achievable sans specimen.
The next most unexpected sighting was the 4th Inyo County record of a Western Gull at Tinemaha Res- ervoir 25-29 Aug found by Jon Dunn and seen and photographed by many observers. This is a common species along the coast but seldom ventures far from the smell of salty air. The 9th Inyo County record of a Yellow-throated Vireo occurred 22 Sep when Debby Parker found and photographed it in Birchim Can- yon. This is the earliest fall record for Inyo but Mono County has a 26 Aug record (1987 at Mono Lake) and CA has a coastal record for 23 Aug.
A male Common Ground-Dove was photographed at Furnace Creek Inn 10 Oct by Bob & Susan Steel and many other observers for the 25th Inyo County record. A Black-throated Green Warbler was seen at Deep Springs 18 Oct by Susan who wrote a description and provided a drawing. Two Gray Catbirds were in Inyo this fall; one photographed at Birchim Canyon 22-26 Sep (Jim & Debby Parker, et al.) and another photo- graphed at Furnace Creek Ranch 18 Nov (Justin Hite). An amazing 4 Baltimore Orioles were found from 10 Sep to 15 Oct in the southeast region of Inyo (Jim Pike, Bob & Susan Steele, Debbie House, and Jon Dunn). The species in this paragraph have been found only 20- 30 times in Inyo over the last 150 years!
A White-tailed Kite was found (Kelli Levinson) and photographed (Tom Heindel) at Olancha 8 Nov. An immature male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was photo- graphed at Shoshone 15 Oct (Jim Pike) while another brown juvenile was at Deep Springs 18 Oct (Bob & Susan Steele). A female/immature Blackpoll was at Deep Springs 7 Sep (Chris & Rosie Howard, well- documented), a Lark Bunting was photographed at Furnace Creek Ranch 3-4 Oct (Chris & Rosie Howard, Carl Lundblad), and 2 Grasshopper Sparrows were photographed in Inyo: 1 at China Ranch 14-15 Oct (Jim Pike) and 1 at Furnace Creek Ranch 31 Oct (Debbie House). The species in this paragraph have been only recorded 35-50 times in Inyo over 150 years!
The Inyo County Fall 2009 report contained 213 important records, accompanied by 94 pictures of 128 species with 61 species significant enough in Southern California that they were submitted to the editors of North American Birds for consideration to publish. This chronicle could not be completed without the exceptional effort of many… in this case 36 people. This cadre of serious birders recognizes that science is served best by providing evidence in the form of a picture, documentation, or a 1-3 sentence description to substantiate their claims thus providing material for an archive that will exist long after we are all gone and forgotten. In the last two decades they have filled a 4-drawer file cabinet with priceless proof of what happened in Inyo County during their tenure. Our deepest gratitude to all of them for leaving so much of themselves behind and insuring that a reliable record of avian fieldwork endures for the future.Tags: dove, gulls, lark, oriole, sandpiper, sparrow, vireo, warbler