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NVBIRDS  October 2016

NVBIRDS October 2016

Subject:

Desert Loop Saturday (Gray Catbirds & Clay-colored Sparrow)

From:

Greg Scyphers <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Greg Scyphers <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 10:15:36 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

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On Saturday October 8th I birded some of the Desert Loop.  At Tonopah
Cemetery the only birds of interest were a Barn Owl and a Red-naped
Sapsucker.  At Miller's Rest Stop I relocated the GRAY CATBIRD reported the
previous day.  The bird was more cooperative than most individuals of this
species so I did get some nice photos.  In one photo, the bird is doing its
best impression of a Robin pulling a long earthworm out of the ground.
Photo link posted below.  The birding here was a bit slow so I wandered out
to the outer isolated tree row near the overnight camping spots and I heard
a thin sparrow call.  The bird eventually dropped down to the fence and
worked out into the few remaining large blooming Rubber Rabbitbrush.  As
soon as I got on it, I noticed that it was a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW.  I got a
couple nice pictures of the bird that are also posted on my Flickr site
(link below).  The only birds of interest at Arlemont Ranch in Dyer were
four Wood Ducks.  Sage Hen Road trees had an interested mix of owls.  There
were two Long-eared Owls (one photo on my Flickr page), a Barn Owl and a
Great-horned Owl.  I felt the tension of the Long-ears and the Barn Owl as
they obviously knew the Great Horned was nearby.  Their dilemma was obvious,
break cover and fly from the human and risk the Great Horned or ignore the
human and stay put.  I quickly moved away from the birds as to not stress
them out any more.  I know how they felt, Great Horned Owls have made fairly
significant threats and sneak attacks on my dog while we were walking at
this location in the past.  White Mountain Ranch reservoir (aka Dyer Pond)
had a Red-shouldered Hawk, a couple Wood Ducks and a couple Common
Yellowthroats.  The Dyer fairgrounds had a large flock of Yellow-rumped
Warblers but unfortunately nothing better was mixed in.  There was a sharp
male Red-naped Sapsucker here.

On my way home I stopped along the highway at Soda Springs in Mineral
County.  This is the area that used to have a strange sign that read
"Lobster Crossing" so that is how we used to refer to the spot.  It is a
lush riparian spot with flowing spring water and some marsh habitat.  I have
not gotten permission to wander the area yet, although I think I may give it
a try soon.  There also used to be signs stating "F" the Washoe County
Health Department and other such aggressions so I am a bit apprehensious.  I
think at some point, if I understand it correctly, the land owner or
occupant was raising crayfish "Desert Lobster" and for some reason Washoe
County Health stopped him from doing it.  Not sure what Washoe County was
doing in Mineral County or what the politics were but I don't really care.
When I seek permission to bird, I will certainly forget to mention that I am
an environmental contractor or that I live in Washoe County.  With each good
bird I find here, my courage to ask is building.  I have come to learn that
there are reasons some people live in isolated locations in Nevada and I am
not sure my request will be well received here, but I will try.  I don't
know this whole story, but what I do know is that this place produces birds
and today was no different.  For reasons stated above, I stay on NDOT
property, which is the shoulder of highway 95.  This can be unnerving when
tractor trailers blow by at 70 miles per hour, but luckily the traffic isn't
too bad and there can be long enough gaps in traffic to pish and find birds.
Also, you can be far enough off the road that you don't feel like a highway
road marker.  So today, while pishing across the small marsh, I saw movement
coming closer deep in the Russian Olives.  Eventually the bird was visible
and I was surprised to see my second GRAY CATBIRD of the day.  I believe
this may be a first Mineral County record.  I got some poor photos of the
bird before I drifted away to play Frogger (and check the other side of the
highway).  My eBird report has a photo of the bird (it is certainly
identifiable, but not what I want to put up on my Flickr page).  I have
stopped at this location 6 times in 2016 and have found White-throated
Sparrow (5-7-16), Magnolia Warbler (5-31-16), Northern Waterthrush (9-18-16)
and Gray Catbird (10-8-16).  Admittedly other than the Magnolia, these are
not really vagrants in Nevada, but they are a good indication that the area
draws in rarities.  

For photos of the Clay-colored Sparrow, Gray Catbird, Long-eared Owl, and
the Chestnut-sided Warbler from Floyd Lamb Park a week or so ago, here is
the link:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nvbirdr/


Greg Scyphers
Sparks, NV

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