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11-31 October 2002

Part 8:  Millerton Lake

    On Monday explored the Fresno County side of Millerton Lake SRA, which is basically a reservoir in the middle of rolling oak savannah habitat (I kept waiting for a Lewis' Woodpecker to materialize, but that didn't happen...).  There was a trail near the day use entrance that paralleled the road, which I don't think I'd use again as the neighbor's dogs heartily enjoyed barking viciously at me the whole time along the fenceline (not great for trying to hear birds)!  There was a better trail at the end of the road, though, which hugged the lake (which was way down there; you could see where in the past the water level came almost up to the trail).  Highlights along this trail were a flock of Canada Geese sailing in right overhead, a friendly Rock Wren checking out nesting holes (it looked like; I know this isn't the season, but everything I'm seeing is singing, so go figure), and a lovely but flighty Canyon Wren at the turnaround point.  One corner of the lake seemed to have all the waterbird activity (such as it was), so I wheeled over there and added California Gull, Coot, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, and Eared, Clark's, and Western Grebes to the list.  A quick stop at the historic Millerton Courthouse yielded a beautiful male Flicker bouncing around on the ground.

 

 

 

         

Trail by the lake had a Rock Wren and Canada Goose

     

Surrounding oak savannah habitat

According to the AAA Fresno Co. map, it looked as though there was another access point at the end of Sky Harbour (sic) Rd., so I took that curvy little thing through more rolling oak savannah to its terminus at one of the lake's fingers, and this was a delightful little spot (although closed to cars; you could walk in, though).  The highly landscaped picnic area was loaded with Acorn Woodpeckers and a pair of Nuttall's that allowed pretty close approach.  A Say's Phoebe was singing away, and a Rufous-crowned Sparrow called from the hillside.  Got some Oak Titmice excited by pishing, but that was about it.  Had a cute flock of California Quail crossing the road on the way out.

         

Picnic area at the end of Sky Harbour Road had Acorn and Nuttall's Woodpeckers

     

California Quail with view of the finger from the overlook   

Having finished that up in short order, I decided to swing by Mendota Wildlife Area, a place I had visited one year during May with my friend Shar, so I figured there'd be some interesting things there this time of year.  To my chagrin, the wildlife drive was closed, but I did have good views of Clark's Grebes feeding their half-grown babies (!!!).  A Harrier was cruising the distant field, and scared up some marsh-related songbirds (plus a Golden-crowned Sparrow), but that was about it.  On the way out, however, I passed a flooded field that was just full of White-faced Ibis, with a few Long-billed Curlews and Black-bellied Plovers thrown in!  Had another unpleasant surprise when I returned to the car: it was covered (inside and outside) with flies!!  I had never seen them that bad before in my life!!!  Thankfully most of them blew out on the way to Mendota, but there were still a few I had to shoo out the window on the fly (no pun intended).  I'm convinced that if I ever cash in due to a one-car accident it'll be because I was trying to kill a fly stuck in the car!

Checked in early to try to relax and ward off this cold and catch up on e-mail.

                               

L-R:  Clark's ’s Grebe feeding youngster at Mendota Wildlife Area; White -faced Ibis in nearby flooded field; fly attack at the field

Continue to Eastman Lake

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