This past Sunday, 16 June, I had a full and productive day of birding with Robyn Puffenbarger and Bill Benish from Virginia. We were out for 12 hours and tallied 82 species without even hitting the coastal slope! The day was pleasant with very mild temperatures, mostly clear skies, and little wind. About 8 hours of the day were spent exploring the high country of the Horse to Grouse Mountain areas along Titlow Hill Rd./Forest Service Route 1 and the remaining time was spent birding the Mad River Hatchery near the town of Blue Lake. Highlights of the day were great looks at the following species: MOUNTAIN QUAIL (always hard to see), WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKERS (attending a nest), RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER, HAMMOND'S, DUSKY, and WILLOW FLYCATCHERS, CASSIN'S VIREO, HERMIT WARBLER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, and THICK-BILLED FOX SPARROW. LAZULI BUNTING was the abundant bird of the day and was seen at almost every stop we made in the Horse/Grouse mountain area. The rarity of the day was an adult male INDIGO BUNTING (INBU), which may have followed the Puffenbargers from Virginia somehow! ;) (This was the 3rd INBU to be found within the past 2 weeks in Humboldt County and all of them have been adult males!)
Bill, myself, and Robyn along Route 1 with the Trinity Alps in the background.
Yesterday, 8 June, I led my annual Horse Mountain field trip for Redwood Region Audubon Society. The Horse Mountain region is the closest high elevation location from the Humboldt Bay Region and only takes about 1/2 hour to 40 minutes for one to reach the area going east on Highway 299. There's a nice mix of habitats up there with serpentine Jeffrey pine forests, some regenerating clearcuts, high elevation meadows, oak woodlands, and at the highest elevations along the route, white fir forests. The actual Horse Mountain is an official "botanical area" due to the coastal Jefferey pine, western white pine, and Port-orford Cedar communities that are found within its' 1,100 acres. With this large diversity of habitats comes a great diversity of bird species. If you want to see montane species like Sooty Grouse, Mountain Quail (both mostly heard only, though). White-headed Woodpecker, Hammond's and Dusky Flycatchers, Mountain Chickadee, Townsend's Solitaire, Hermit Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee, Thick-billed Fox Sparrow, and others, then the Horse Mountain area is THE place to go in Humboldt County for these species.