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Butterbredt Spring Annual Spring Campout Report: April 27-29, 2013

April 30, 2013

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The weather was nearly ideal for this tradition of more than 30 years
– not too hot, too cold, nor windy. The starry nights were extraordinary, as usual, and for those not too sleepy to hear, punctuated with the hoots of Great Horned Owls and the warbles of little Western Screech-Owls. Sunday before daybreak, Common Poorwills called from the area of the old swimming pool at Axelson’s Creek and gulch.

We were much aware of the desiccation of foliage and shortage of spring flowers, but deep blue patches of tall Lupines could still be found, blooming bushes, amazing magenta flowers on Beavertail Cactus, a few Chia blooms and the remnants of Joshua Tree flowers which seemed to have hurried into the season to take advantage of what little rain had fallen.

Sphinx Moth at Beavertail Cactus flower (R. Seidner 4/27/13)

Sphinx Moth at Beavertail Cactus flower (R. Seidner 4/27/13)

Birds, however, were plentiful, and numerous moths and butterflies: Blues by the stream, scattered Ladies, were noted, and, most spectacularly, Hawk moths on blooming chaparral mimicking little hummingbirds.

Of all the birds, the leader’s favorite turned up Saturday at Sageland Ranch, our camp site, while we were lounging, reviewing our day’s findings, sitting by the pond and watching Black-headed Grosbeaks taking nectar in the blooming locust trees. There was activity at the blue bird nest box nearby which Keith had checked and found that one of five eggs had hatched. But, I complained that our count was missing Lazuli Buntings!

Our Fearless Leader Mary (R. Seidner 4/27/13)

Fearless Leader Mary (R. Seidner 4/27/13)

Almost instantly, members scanning the dry grass clumps on the open area below called out, “It’s a Lazuli Bunting”! An amazing coincidence there, a beautiful male, gleaming azure, orange, white, riding grass stems for their seeds at the tips! That too, was totally unexpected behavior, since we traditionally have seen them after fires, and singing in trees.

The next morning, following Saturday night’s feasting and Birthday congratulations and wishes to our host, we hiked up Axelson’s beautiful creek for more birding, and, for some, to see the apiary on Dove Spring Road, well known by us for its Joshua Trees, nesting birds and very attractive campsite. The shock of finding it totally trashed by cattle was almost too much! In general, the whole Butterbredt upper canyon was also devastated by Cattle’s attempts to graze, largely due to the drought. There was literally no forage available for cattle. The ranchers were in the process of removing them, but damage done, and the cows’ fates sealed as they were being trucked away!  Nevertheless, despite this downside, our weekend was a memorable and joyful one.

Follows is the list of bird sightings during the drive down and up Butterbredt Canyon RD, walking through the Sanctuary area, scouting along Kelso Valley Road and all the area around Sageland Ranch. It is amended by sightings of those who went farther and saw more. [Mary Prismon]

Butterbredt Spring gate (L. Johnson 4/26/13)

Butterbredt Spring gate (L. Johnson 4/26/13)

Butterbredt Trip List April 27-29, 2013
Mountain Quail Cactus Wren
California Quail Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Chukar Townsend’s Solitaire
Red-tailed Hawk Hermit Thrush
Killdeer Northern Mockingbird
Eurasian Collared-Dove European Starling
Mourning Dove Phainopepla
Western Screech-Owl Orange-crowned Warbler
Common Poorwill Nashville Warbler
Costa’s Hummingbird Yellow Warbler
Rufous Hummingbird Yellow-rumped Warbler
Ladder-backed Woodpecker Black-throated Gray Warbler
Nuttall’s Woodpecker Townsend’s Warbler
Northern Flicker Wilson’s Warbler
Hammond’s Flycatcher California Towhee
Dusky Flycatcher Sage Sparrow
Pacific-slope Flycatcher Fox Sparrow
Ash-throated Flycatcher Lincoln’s Sparrow
Cassin’s Kingbird White-crowned Sparrow
Western Kingbird Golden-crowned Sparrow
Loggerhead Shrike Western Tanager
Cassin’s Vireo Lazuli Bunting
Warbling Vireo Red-winged Blackbird
Common Raven Brewer’s Blackbird
Bushtit Hooded Oriole
Red-breasted Nuthatch Bullock’s Oriole
White-breasted Nuthatch Scott’s Oriole
Rock Wren House Finch
Bewick’s Wren Lesser Goldfinch
Total Species – 58

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One Comment
  1. ethanski permalink
    May 26, 2013 4:51 am

    Where was the mountain quail seen? (only 1 of 30 or so missing calif. species for us ! Out of 630/+)
    Eg

    Like

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