Bird-watching and botany walks set for spring and summer

Feather Publishing

With the warmer weather new bird songs can be heard from spring migrants, buds are breaking and flowers are appearing in Plumas County. Your enjoyment of these events could be enhanced by a program of bird-watching and botany walks organized by the Plumas Audubon Society. These walks will provide all who are interested with an opportunity to see a wide array of birds and flowering plants with guidance from people who have expertise in finding and identifying different species. Put on your walking shoes, bring your binoculars and come and join us.

On Saturday, May 5, David Arsenault and Tony Hall will lead a morning bird walk that will explore Spanish Creek from Gansner Park down to the wastewater treatment ponds. The walk will start at the parking area next to the tennis courts in Gansner Park at 7:30 a.m.

In Gansner Park, male red-breasted sapsuckers and northern flickers might be heard announcing their territory by drumming loudly on trees. From the walking bridge across Spanish Creek an American dipper might be seen because a pair already has started nesting under the Highway 70 bridge. There should be several warbler species in the willows along Spanish Creek. California quail and various hawks are often seen at the airport. The wastewater ponds are a special treat in that about 20 different bird species have been seen there in the spring. Spotting scopes will be available to provide a good look at the waterfowl in the ponds.

On Saturday, May 12, Ryan Burnett will lead a bird walk that will start at 7:30 a.m. at the Chester High School parking lot at the end of First Street. To carpool from Quincy meet at the post office at 6:15 a.m.

This will be a several-hour walk; bring a pack with lunch and drinks if you wish to participate in a group picnic in the meadow. We will follow the old railroad tracks and cross the bridge over the North Fork Feather River. We will walk along the meadow and follow the river as it flows toward Lake Almanor and then walk along the lake shore. Due to the diversity of habitats that will be examined it is possible to see as many as 70 bird species. Possible sightings include several warblers, flycatchers, vireos, grosbeaks, bald eagles and other raptors, white pelicans and various waterfowl and shorebirds.

On Saturday, May 19, there will be bird walks, a botany walk, a barbecue and opportunities for canoeing at the Maddalena Ranch corral in Sierra Valley. The corral is located 1-1/2 miles south of Highway 70 on Road A24. The bird walks will be led by David Arsenault, Bob Battagin and Colin Dillingham and begin at 8 a.m. There will be an opportunity to use the viewing platform developed by the Plumas Audubon Society so bring your spotting scopes. Bill and Nancy Harnach will lead a mid-morning botany walk. Canoes will be available in the morning for anyone to use. There will be a barbecue at the corral at noon to which everyone is invited. A $5 donation for the food would be appreciated and you should bring a chair if you need one.

On Saturday, May 26, there will be another opportunity to see the birds of Sierra Valley in a car caravan led by Colin Dillingham. This field trip will start with arranging carpooling at the parking area across from the A23/Highway 70 junction at 8:15 a.m. To carpool from East Quincy, meet in front of Sav-Mor at 7:30 a.m.

Bring lunch and drinks and plan on eating on the road because Colin never stops looking for birds. We expect to find 40 to 50 bird species on this field trip. Possible sightings include: yellow-headed blackbirds and cliff swallows nesting near the steel bridge, sandhill cranes, white-faced ibis and many waterfowl including redhead ducks, cinnamon teal, willets, American avocets and black-necked stilts and, if we are lucky, black terns. Bring your spotting scopes because some birds may not be close enough for good viewing with binoculars.

On Saturday, June 2, there will be a morning bird walk in Spanish Ranch led by Darla DeRuiter and Darrel Jury. The bird walk will begin at 6669 Bucks Lake Road in Meadow Valley at 7:30 a.m. When coming from Quincy, No. 6669 is on the right side, two houses past the Pineleaf intersection. In the first year of this bird walk in 2010, we saw 34 bird species including a pygmy nuthatch, a red-breasted sapsucker, three warbler species, nesting American dippers and a male lazuli bunting. Beginning birders are especially welcome on this easy walk, which has lovely views of Spanish Peak.

On Saturday, June 9, Jim Battagin will lead a morning botanical excursion that will begin at the Mount Hough Ranger Station visitors’ parking lot at 9:30 a.m. where we will arrange carpooling to minimize the number of vehicles going on the trip.

Jim will share his wealth of knowledge of the many plants (including the famed carnivorous cobra lilies) of Butterfly Valley. His “Flora of Butterfly Valley” is currently being reprinted and should be available for purchase for $20 on the walk. You may want to bring binoculars in case a pileated woodpecker graces the group with an appearance — last year we saw an angry northern goshawk.

On Saturday, July 14, Scott and Amber Edwards will lead a bird and plant walk on the Mill Creek trail along the shore of Bucks Lake. The walk will begin at the Mill Creek trailhead at 8 a.m. When coming from Quincy, the trailhead is on the right side of Bucks Lake Road 0.3 mile past the Whitehorse Campground.

Length of the walk is optional because we will return on the same trail. Bring a pack with lunch and drinks if you wish to participate in a group picnic on the lake shore. Last year on this bird walk we detected 29 bird species including five warblers: hermit, MacGillivary’s, Wilson’s, yellow and yellow-rumped. In addition, we saw a common sheep moth spreading its wings for the first time, an interesting parasitic pinesap fungus and many wildflowers just starting to bloom.


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