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Central California

11-31 October 2002

Part 3:  Carrizo Plain

When I realized it was only about a three-hour drive to Porterville, I decided it might be fruitful to stop somewhere on the way up, so I chose Carrizo Plain, since that had the most unique habitat.  Enjoyed the drive up highway 33 through the mountains, but the Plains turned out to be rather sterile, as they've been grazed to death.  (Catherine Waters also reminded me that the rains hadn’t come yet, so until they did, it would indeed look dead.) Lots of Horned Larks, though, and Lark Sparrows, and shrikes, too, which was good to see as they're considered threatened.  The best bird driving up was a Ferruginous Hawk, and another one flew over at the Soda Lake Nature Trail.  I felt a little like that story of the time there were only two Model Ts in the entire state of Kansas, and they have a head-on collision: I pulled up to the trail at the same time this couple in an SUV pulls up (and I hadn't run into anyone on the road)!  I gave them a few minutes, but we still kept leap-frogging; there weren't any birds around anyway, although there were lots of droppings!

       

View from Soda Lake Nature Trail and Tarantula

Made a brief stop at the Visitor's Center and picked up Vesper Sparrows on the ground and Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers in the trees.  Something chirped very brightly (and what flew wasn't yellow), so that was the one that got away!  Seven-Mile Road was a little more productive with a couple of Sage Sparrows and a distant Golden Eagle, but this too (along with the road I took back) was grazed to death.  Gleaned a few Western Bluebirds on the wire, but nothing else out of the ordinary.  One of these days I need to bird Elkhorn Road, as it runs right along the San Andreas Fault and supposedly gets into good LeConte's Thrasher territory.

And as an aside: one of my friends (who was originally from Tulare) called in the middle of all this, and when I told him I was in the Carrizo Plains his comment was, "On purpose?!"

Continue to Success Lake

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