Friday, June 21, 2013

Sierra Valley to Lake Tahoe

Well readers, it was hard to say goodbye to the Field Campus, but at least the birding has continued to be good.
   I stopped in Carmen Valley which is situated just off of Sierra Valley.  The birding was a bit slow there, but I did find a beautiful MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD.  The first of many as it turns out.  I saw a bunch more as I rode up Smithneck Road the next day.
  I decided to camp in one of my favorite locations in the area that night.  There is a nice stand of aspen trees near the top of Antelope Valley Rd. where I camped a few times last year.  The birds are often active where a small seep flows into the trees.  I've also found bear tracks each and everytime I've gone there and this time was no different.
  Camping there was very nice once again.  I was anxiously waiting for dusk to come because I love watching COMMON NIGHTHAWKS in flight.  Finally, they came out, along with some COMMON POORWILL.  I slept well that night.
  Then next morning I took the back roads to Truckee.  This meant riding dirt roads towards Stampede Reservoir.  So along Smithneck Road leading out of Loyalton, I was able to find a few LEWIS'S WOODPECKERS (yes, of Lewis and Clark).  I also got looks at a couple of BLACK-BILLLED MAGPIES.
  Higher up Smithneck Road, there are some nice  meadows where the Nighthawks like to come out and fly around.  I watched for a while and tried to get photos.  They're a pretty difficult bird to capture with a small point and shoot camera.  They dart around quick and sometimes almost moth-like.  Several CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS (yes, of Lewis and Clark) were around the Stampede area as well.
   While riding way out in the middle of nowhere, a man on horseback passed the other way.  He looked like a real cowboy with his hat, boots and waxed mustache.  He had two other pack horses with him and what looked to be some oldtime camping gear.  He said, "Howdy" as we passed.  Turns out, I just read about him in the paper today in Tahoe City.  He's riding the original Pony Express Trail.  Wish I would have known at the time.  He would have be fun to chat with (hey Scot, think cowboy version of Catfish Keith).
  So I've made it to Lake Tahoe.  I rode into town on a bike trail along the Truckee River.  It was gorgeous and I was having a blast.  When I reached the Lake there was a farmers market going on on a beach on the lake.  Talk about idyllic.  I was so happy to be in Tahoe and able to buy fresh tomatos and basil.  I'm loving this trip.
   Tonight I'll be on the lake again at D.L. Bliss State Park, then on to Markleeville at the base of Monitor Pass.  I can't wait to get over to the east side of the Sierra. 
   I haven't done much birding in the past couple of days.  Mostly just getting around and spending some time in civilization.  I did see a FORESTER'S TERN on a buoy this morning. 

Talk to you when I'm on the East Side...

1 comment:

  1. Been thinking about you and spreading the word! I passed by that same "cowboy" after I left the field campus and took a photo. He was heading north on HWY 395. I observed a NOGO while with Dave Shuford at the Chautauqua and kept thinking that I hope you get one. It is a delight to hear of your adventure. Be safe and happy birding.