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Flowers, birds and butterflies galore at Mt. Piños: 11 June, 2016

June 19, 2016


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An intrepid group of 10 birders braved the beautiful mild June weather on Mt. Piños. It was hard getting beyond the parking lot, since we found dozens

Red Mariposa Lily Calochortus venustus (Grace Murayama 6-11-16)

Red Mariposa Lily, Calochortus venustus (Grace Murayama 6-11-16)

Long Leaf Paintbrush? Castilleja subinclusa (Read Howarth 6-11-16)

Long Leaf Paintbrush, Castilleja subinclusa?; one possibility among five species, plus additional hybrids (Read Howarth 6-11-16)

of gorgeous red mariposa lilies all over the area across the road, complemented by stands of orange paintbrush and many dandelion puffballs.

A native Dandelion Agoseris sp. (Read Howarth 6-11-16)

A native Dandelion puffball,
Agoseris sp. (Read Howarth 6-11-16)

There were more lilies than anyone (Mary) could remember. But there must be progress, and birding, so we tore ourselves away to climb Mt. Piños. Mary led the way to show us stops at our old reliable

Butterfly (Grace Murayama 6-11-16)

Mylitta Crescent female, Phyciodes mylitta, breeds on thistles
(Grace Murayama 6-11-16)

places along the road. At the biggest trail head, we were stumped momentarily by a blue bird with an orange chest. It couldn’t be a western bluebird, since it had white wing bars and a sharply demarcated orange chest; further research proved it was a Lazuli Bunting!

Male Western Bluebird (Read Howarth 6-11-16)

Male Western Bluebird waits for a flyby fly (Read Howarth 6-11-16)

Some Western Bluebirds flew along to help us tell the difference. An American Robin and a Chipping Sparrow pecked at the trail, and a Band-tailed Pigeon sat guard on a tree, occasioning wishful thinking that it was a Clark’s Nutcracker (Someone saw one, but I didn’t).

California Freemontia Fremontodendron californicum (Larry Loeher 6-11-16)

California Fremontia, Fremontodendron californicum (Larry Loeher 6-11-16)

Purple Lupine Lupinus sp. (Grace Murayama 6-11-16)

Purple Lupine, Lupinus sp.
(Grace Murayama 6-11-16)

All the way up the hill were lupines in full bloom; blue, purple and cream colored. Also bright yellow fremontia in almost full bloom; about 10 or so red snow plants poked up as we reached the top. At the top, the iris field was about a third in bloom. At the picnic area, there was much bird singing: bluebirds, sparrows galore, and some chipmunks.

Fox Sparrows sound much like the towhee (Read Howarth 6-11-16)

Fox Sparrows have beautiful songs
(Read Howarth 6-11-16)

At the McGill campground, we were entertained by a Fox Sparrow in full voice, a pygmy nuthatch flew by and several Green-tailed Towhees also contributed their songs. Numerous Purple Finches were heard, and finally one was clearly spotted. A White-headed Woodpecker made an appearance, and so then it was OK to leave.

If you want to help refine our flower ID’s, this page on Calflora may help.
[Liz Galton]

Bird species seen
Red-tailed Hawk
Band-tailed Pigeon
White-headed Woodpecker
Western Wood-Pewee
Black Phoebe
Western Scrub-Jay

Male White-headed Woodpecker likes high altitudes (Read Howarth 6-11-16)

Male White-headed Woodpecker likes high altitudes (Read Howarth 6-11-16)

Steller’s Jay
Clark’s Nutcracker
Violet-green SwallowPygmy Nuthatch
Western Bluebird
American Robin
Green-tailed Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Lazuli Bunting
Purple Finch
18 species

California Fremontia, Fremontodendron californicum (Larry Loeher 6-11-16)

California Fremontia, Fremontodendron californicum (Larry Loeher 6-11-16)


One Comment
  1. johnsand09 permalink
    June 19, 2016 7:47 pm

    What a lovely remembrance of the S.M. Bay outing to Mt. Pinos. How I wish that we had been along to see these gorgeous sights. The SMB Audubon Blog has given me much pleasure over the years. Regards, Jack Sanders


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