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Butterbredt Spring Springtime Outing: 27-30 April, 2012

April 30, 2012

Bush Lupine (R. Seidner 4/27/12)

We had a very successful outing on our traditional spring-migrant trip to this spring which draws hoards of birds and birders.   I stretched my part to four days: Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning which allowed me to see (on a camera picture) the Hooded Warbler.   It was discovered by a couple I met Monday at the Spring on my way home, who had camped there Sunday night.   But, sadly, of course, nowhere was it to be found when I searched the trees Monday afternoon.

Our ranks were few, but fortified by visitors from the combined Tehachapi and Bakersfield Audubon chapters, and our own Chris Lord who came early and stayed late, Friday and Saturday, scouting all the slopes, canyons, trees and byways to provide a fortified final list of 70 species.

A lovely yellow flower (R. Seidner 4/27/12)

Other visitors on Saturday at Sageland Ranch, our camp site, hosted there by owner Keith Axelson, and itself a nature refuge, were various members of the local community, friends, birders and two members of the Student Conservation Association, a conservation and restoration oriented organization of young adults which SMBAS has been supporting since we found out about them.   They devote huge amounts of time and energy to restoring damaged natural habitats all over the nation.   It was very good to meet them, to observe how competently and cooperatively they work together under very primitive and strenuous conditions.

The annual wildflower show was somewhat minimal this year because of an unusually dry season, but we saw patches of the expected Deep Blue Lupine, and brilliant gold Bigelow Coreopsis with a few other smaller specimens.

Animals, however, were interesting, beginning with a fast stop for a beautifully marked Gopher Snake on the drive down Butterbredt Canyon road.   Lys Axelson jumped out of the car and ushered it off, out of harm’s way on this busy off-road vehicle route.   I personally saw two more snakes, none rattlers, one not identified and the other a Garter Snake, and three Greater Roadrunners while I was driving the Jawbone Canyon road home.   There was a very interesting raptor also. I called it a Swainson’s Hawk, but of course, no one can verify that.   The field marks fit, but the location and fact it was alone, and quickly out of sight, did not.

Hoary Bat (R. Seidner 4/27/12)

Most interesting creature was the Hoary Bat discovered by a fellow birder at Butterbredt.   It was hanging, sleeping on a branch above the lower canyon trail, only a few feet above our heads and oblivious to our stares.   We could see every identifying feature.   Furthermore, sleeping in trees was indicated as its habit.

There were, of course, numerous lizards, including a fleeing Whip-tailed, various Skinks, many Black Fence Lizards among the rocks, one of which provided us views while being fed to the female American Kestrel by her mate at Sageland. The Kestrels are nesting in the box Keith set for them on his water tank, and he observes lizards apparently are the bird’s chief prey source.

Whiptail Lizard (R. Seidner 4/27/12)

Some of our prize birds of the trip were the Green-tailed Towhee Chris found under a Joshua Tree up on the canyon slope; great looks at MacGillivray’s Warblers, one perched up on brush for full views of its every feather at the water trough area at Butterbredt, and another in the spring area of Keith’s creek. Other favorites, beautiful male Western Tanagers, Yellow Warblers, almost all the western warblers, Bullock’s Orioles, Greater Roadrunners, male Costa’s Hummingbirds, and, especially the magnificent Scott’s Orioles coming to the feeder where we were having our meals.

I must mention the lone Golden Eagle that Chris, while he waited for our cars, watched from the pass on the Butterbredt Spring road, leave the cliff and sail away north.   It was the only one of the trip.   All are in very serious danger there, as roads have been graded along the ridge south and in Kelso Valley, and pads prepared for the installation of huge wind turbines.   Stacks of metal sheaths for the turbines lay along the gated entry roads.   These wind turbine installations seem nearly impossible to forestall, despite ample evidence presented that they are being located in very sensitive bird areas where at least eight federally protected Golden Eagles have been struck down in the LADWP Pine Tree unit not far west, without consequence to the operators.    For us especially, who have valued these magnificent birds sighted there over the years, it is a very sad prospect.

I hope we will still see more very rewarding trips to our Butterbredt Sanctuary, however.   The roads were in excellent shape, well graded, the weather near perfect. Our bird list follows. [Mary Prismon, leader]

Map of Butterbredt Spring area

Butterbredt Spring Trip April 27-30, 2012
68 species (plus one identifiable morph) in no particular order

Great Horned Owl
Sage Sparrow
Mourning Dove
Northern Raven
Red-tailed Hawk
Eurasian Collared-Dove
California Thrasher
Costa’s Hummingbird
Western Kingbird
Bullock’s Oriole
California Towhee
Scrub Jay
Western Tanager
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Nuttall’s Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Western Wood Pewee
Anna’s HummingBird
Say’s Phoebe
Lincoln Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged “Bicolored” Blackbird (at Keith’s)
California Quail
Common Yellowthroat
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Lawrence’s Goldfinch
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Hammond’s Flycatcher
Lazuli Bunting
Mountain Quail
House Finch
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Screech-Owl
White-crowned Sparrow
Greater Roadrunner
Chipping Sparrow
Loggerhead Shrike
European Starling
Green-tailed Towhee *
Scott’s Oriole
Brewer’s Sparrow
Yellow Warbler
Western Meadowlark
Black-throated Sparrow
Wilson’s Warbler
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lesser Goldfinch
Nashville Warbler
Townsend’s Warbler
Brown-headed Cowbird
MacGillivray’s Warbler
Cassin’s Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Cactus Wren
Spotted Towhee
Orange-crowned Warbler
Golden Eagle
American Coot
Bewick’s Wren
Western Bluebird
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Hermit Warbler
Swainson’s Hawk

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