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From: River Gates
Remote Name: 184.108.40.206
Date: 04 Jan 2005
Time: 12:43:58 -0500
On Sunday, December 19th, 2004, twenty-six Eastern Sierra residents participated in the 28th Annual Mono Basin Christmas Bird Count. This yearís routes were relatively snow-free with the majority of observers covering their areas on foot or by car. The weather was clear and sunny and virtually wind free. Seventy-five species were observed during count day with three additional species seen during count week. Jean Dillingham and Margina Rhyne observed the stealth-like submarine behavior of a single Pied-billed Grebe at the Rush Creek delta and the counts only American Dipper upstream. Pied-billed Grebes havenít been seen on the count since 1998 and have only been seen on two previous CBCs. Eared Grebes were in low numbers with only 121 individuals being counted; apparently numbers vary widely between years with a maximum count of 500,000 in 1987. Jerry Zatorski and Greg Reis observed the countís only Common Merganser and Least Sandpipers at the Lee Vining Creek delta. Joel Ellis and Kristie Nelson had a good day seeing the counts only American Tree Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Sora, Bald Eagle (perched atop Krakatoa) and a Northern Pygmy Owl. Debbie House and Chris Allen photographed a Northern Shrike and watched an adult Northern Goshawk fly over the Parker Meadows area. Northern Shrikes are surprisingly regular on the CBC with birds being observed for 13 years including two count week individuals. A Northern Goshawk is less consistent, being observed for 7 years and hasnít been seen since 2000. Heidi Hall observed the counts only Rough-legged Hawk above Jordan Springs. Sacha Heath and Lisa Bassani saw a gregarious flock of 75 Pinyon Jays along the north side of Highway 167. Don Banta flushed up the countís only Mourning Dove at Thompson Ranch. Mourning Doves have only been observed one time before in 1988. Paul Mc Farland and Blake Barbaree had an extraordinary day seeing three species of sapsucker, the relatively common Red-breasted, a rare Red-naped and even more elusive female Williamsonís Sapsucker. Itís the second year in a row that Paul has added the Red-naped to the count total and Williamsonís Sapsuckers have only been seen twice before, with the last individual being seen in 1986. Erika Obedzinski and River Gates managed to get a closer than usual look at an immature Red-shouldered Hawk on Mill Creek. Finally, Alan Taylor just out walking his dog flushed up a flock of 15 Greater Sage Grouse near the west end of Mono City. Overall, it was a three nuthatch (Pygmy, White and Red-breasted), 3 wren (Bewickís, Marsh and Winter) and 3 sapsucker day (Red-naped, Red-breasted and Williamsonís). We added three new species to the Mono Basin CBC list including a small flock of Western Bluebirds, House Finch and Sora. Itís safe to say that we covered the area comparatively well and everyone enjoyed the beautiful day and magnificent birds.