CV Bird Club/Atacal Audubon Butte Meadows Field Trip
On Saturday, July 15th, Central Valley Bird Club joined members of the Altacal Audubon Society as we traveled through Butte Meadows in search for high elevation inhabitants. We left Chico at 8am and are first stop was a clear cut just south of Butte Meadows. We were able to hear a Cassin’s Vireo and Warbling Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Western Wood-Pewee, Yellow-rumped Warbler and the distant “peek” of a White-headed Woodpecker.
A beautiful meadow along Jonesville Road was our next stop, as we exited the car we had Steller’s Jay, Tree Swallow, Western Bluebird, Song Sparrow, clear views of a White-headed Woodpecker in the scope, Mountain Chickadee, Cassin’s Finch, Western Tanager, Red-breasted Sapsucker and a Northern Flicker. After a quick stop in Butte Meadows to wait for another group meeting us, we were able to detect the “rattle” of a Hairy Woodpecker.
We continued on Jonesville Rd. to the Jonesville Snowmobile Park. Most trips to Butte Meadows usually reveals a Mountain Quail crowing or whistling from great distances or seeing them on the side of the road as you are driving. On this occasion we were able to see a female Mountain Quail within 15 feet of the path that we we walking into Colby Meadows! We all wondered why she was sitting so patiently allowing us to take great pictures until we heard a rustle on the opposite side of the trail and saw two of her chicks! We didn’t want to bother this beautiful family anymore so we continued on the trail and were able to relocate a Western Wood-pewee nest with an adult feeding a newly hatched chick!
We then traveled Jonesville Rd. towards Humbug Summit and Cold Springs. Along the route we initially had one Northern Goshawk fly over the first car to the west, as we exited the cars and scanned the adjacent mountain skyline, we not only relocated the Northern Goshawk, but actually had two birds circling the sky together! And then we were off to Cold Springs!
Cold Springs is one of the main camping spots for hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail as they make their way north through the Northern Sierra Nevadas. At Cold Springs, we saw and heard an Olive-sided Flycatcher, House Wren, Mountain Chickadee, Fox Sparrow, and Red-breasted Nuthatch. From there, we hiked east along the PCT to a small meadow. Along the hike we found Brown Creeper, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Turkey Vulture, White-headed Woodpecker, singing Hermit Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet and American Robin.
On a previous scouting trip, Diego Bustamante and I found a male Black-backed Woodpecker sitting in a tree cavity, so we were hoping that this bird would still be present with this field trip. As we approached the hole, it looked as if it was vacant, so we waited to see if the birds would return. While waiting Bruce Webb was searching the surrounding areas and found both a male and female Black-backed Woodpecker! We all rushed over and individuals were able to take some amazing photos of both the birds. Some of the group had left to get a head start back to the cars and they were able to see 4 Gray Jay flying around the meadows. When the rest of the group returned, the birds could not be detected, but it’s great to know that this is now the 3rd year in a row that these birds have been located here!
On the way home, we all stopped at Butte Creek just west of the Jonesville Snowmobile park and saw a foraging American Dipper feeding a fledgling! All in all, we had a great day of birding with an amazing group of people! Can’t wait for the next trip!