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11-31 October 2002

Part 4:  Success Lake and Kaweah Oaks

Headed up to Lake Success the next morning and found the little nature trail below the dam that the Brown Bin Book talks about, called "Big Sycamore", which was a lovely little walk through the woods!  Plenty of Robins and Cedar Waxwings flew around, a Rock Wren called from the dam, and somewhere a kingfisher rattled, but I soon found that both directions of the loop were overgrown with trees!  Come to find out they had just opened it back up to the public after 9/11, so the trees have had over a year to take over the place!

                 

Entrance to the Big Sycamore Nature Trail and looking towards the dam

Headed up to the overlook after that, and I could see where the water level was way down, but there were still lots of birds on the lake.  Most of them were way out there, but by getting down to lake level (almost) via the Tule Rec Area, I added a mess of stuff to the list: the promised White Pelicans were there, and Clark's Grebes outnumbered the Westerns!  (So much for the theory of assuming they're Westerns until proven otherwise...)  A lone Canada Goose fed by the shore while a puff-ball Eared Grebe bobbed along nearby (tons of these further out, too).  "Greg & Sneg" fed side by side and in the duck department added a pair of Buffleheads.  In a muddy area close to the boat launch were a ton of Least Sandpipers, and a young male Red-winged Blackbird gave a good study of his rusty-scalloped black plumage.  Pipits and Barn Swallows flew around as well.  Also had a pair of White-tailed Kites patrolling the area, which was nice seeing as they seemed to have all but disappeared from my neck of the woods!

   

Views from the overlook, showing extremely low lake levels

                                      

L-R:  Rock Wren; Red-tailed Hawk; Brewer's Blackbird; Red-winged Blackbird

      

View from ground level

The only other obvious access point I could find was the trail to Kincade Cove, which was a long hike through the grasslands, so I only did a short loop.  Picked up Savannah and Vesper Sparrows in here, as well as a flyover Horned Lark.  I was really dismayed at all the empty shot boxes left behind by hunters; if they're trying to improve their image with the environmentalists, that's not the way to do it!

     

Savannah Sparrow on the trail to Kincade Cove

         

Self-explanatory...  

Headed over to Kawheah Oaks after that, and what a hike!  I had blisters the size of baseballs after that trek, but at least I covered the area, all four trails' worth!  All were delightful (you have to walk about ten minutes through open grassland to access them), but you can sure tell it's a drought year: not a drop of water in the river, and everything is terribly dry.  Picked up a few new things, though: American Goldfinch at the get-go, and a whistling Phainopepla along the Swamp Trail (said swamp was dry, too).  Lawrence's Goldfinches tinkled overhead and a Red-shouldered Hawk yelled along here as well.  Got another Goldie (sparrow, that is) along the Grapevine Trail, and that was a trail well-named: it reminded me of the kudzu (or whatever it is) back east that's taking over everything!

                               

Turkey Vulture and Red-tailed Hawk on the Sycamore Trail

         

On the Sycamore Trail

        

Scenes along the Grapevine Trail (kinda reminds you of kudzu, doesn’t it?)

Continue to Sequoia NP

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