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11-31 October 2002

Part 7:  High Sierra Rec Area

    Left a bit early the next morning and made it up to High Sierra Rec Area right at dawn (or at least to Lake Huntington)!  A stop at the potties added a rattling kingfisher, and from there stopped every mile or so along FR 80, logging the expected mountain stuff and adding a new winter finch: a cher-duping Pine Grosbeak!  I also had several flocks of what I'm still assuming are Cassin's Finches, having the same clear, whistled WHEEooo! as the bird yesterday.  Interestingly, as I was playing back the Pine Grosbeak recording to confirm what I had just heard, a flock of Whiteys came tearing in in response!

I was wondering what in the world my friend Suzanne was talking about when she warned me about this scary, one lane, windy road, as the road I was on was a nice, wide, two-lane thing!  But I shortly hit "her" road, and she wasn't kidding: it is not for the faint of heart!  It was about the caliber of Lost Valley Road here in San Diego County, only on this one you were literally on the edge of a precipice at times (and you prayed that no yahoo in a big pickup towing a boat was barreling around a blind corner--which did happen to me on the way out)!  The morning was pretty quiet traffic-wise, though, and while the birding was also pretty quiet (the most cooperative bird was a Solitaire that came zooming in to pishing), the scenery stole the show hands down!  It reminded me of Moonridge Road in the San Bernardinos, only better:  mostly boulders, patchy chaparral, and patchy pine trees.  Consulting the map, I'm assuming the major range to the east was the Infant Buttes, with Bear Dome sticking out, and the Bear Ridge in the distance. 

      

Scenes along the adventurous road

      

Townsend's Solitaire and more scenes

         

The road to Florence Puddle was by far the best, passing pretty little Ward Lake on the way in.  I found Jackass Meadow Campground, but no nature trail that the BBB talked about, so that was somewhat disappointing (although I got some nice shots of the San Joaquin River and Song Sparrow for the day).  I wasn't exaggerating about the puddle, either: you see this huge dam coming back up the road from the campground, but on the other side was a moonscape!  I ran into a Forest Service guy up at Thomas Edison Lake (which was also low enough to have its own "oxbow" lakes) and he said they had indeed drained Florence; there's literally nothing left of this huge expanse but a puddle!  That would be like completely draining Lake Jennings!

Ward Lake

      

This road is not for the faint of heart!

       

                                                                                                       San Juaquin River at Jackass Meadows

         

On the way to Florence Lake...or should we say Florence Puddle?! (They use the reservoirs for irrigation, so they apparently are drained dry occasionally, especially in a drought year)

       

"Abandoned" ranger station at the Puddle...   

       

More pretty scenery and hairy roads...

       

Bridge over the San Joaquin River

      

Thomas Edison Lake had a little more water, but not much... 

Headed back to Fresno after that with a quick stop at Lake Huntington: picked up two California Gulls and a new trip bird I didn't even have on my checklist: Chipping Sparrow!  (I thought I had just overlooked it, but checking the range map I indeed left it off as it implied that they should be gone by now...). 

Continue to the Fresno Zoo

Go back to Kings Canyon NP

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