Nelson Range Birds

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Posted by Vicki on August 05, 2002 at 23:35:52:

Temperature: 103 degrees
Comments: listed below are some of the stops along the way. I called it a
night when I got to the
Snake Range at 11:00pm

Time: 6:00pm Buffalo Canyon east of East Gate on the old highway to
1. Loggerhead Shrike 1
2. Pinyon Jay 7
3. American Kestrel 2
4. Mourning Dove 4
5. Western Meadowlark 2

* Saw a lot of Sage Thrashers in all of the valleys along the way before

Thursday, July 11, 2002
Weather: Sunny day and thunderheads in the afternoon, no wind.
Temperature: 100+ in Spring Valley and 55 degrees at 11,676' on top of Mount
Comments: I drove up the old mine which is in PJ belt and the start of the
Mountain Mahogany
belt. From there I took the 4x4 road that leads to the area where Pole creek
begins below Mt.
Washington on the northwest side. The road ends at the base of the sheer
white face of the
mountain. The make up of the mountain must be granite, but I don't know for

Birds at the old mine where the water comes out of the entrance and flows
over the mining
works pad and them flows down the mountain side in a two foot wide stream.
1.lesser Goldfinch 4 Two bright males
2. Mountain Chickadee 2
3. Green-tailed Towhee 1
4. Mountain Bluebird 1
5. House Finch 3

Birds seen on the way to the base of the white face and the base of the
1. Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
2. Broad-tailed Hummingbird 3
3. Rufous Hummingbird 4
5. Cassin's Finch 6
6. Red Crossbill 6
7. Clark's Nutcracker 7
9. Mountain Chickadee 8
10. Western Tanager 2
11. Audubon's Warbler 4
12. Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
14. White-breasted Nuthatch 1
15. Brown Creeper 2
16. Townsend's Solitary 6 A Townsend's flew out from under some roots
of a Bristle-cone
Pine that was sticking out of the road embankment. The nest had a brushy
look with a three inch
cup that was built between the roots and a small ledge. It had two dark
spotted eggs in the root
and grass cup.
17. Pine Siskin 20+
18. Hermit Thrush 1 Heard many more up on the dry hillsides.

Time: 4:00 pm Back at the Mine I took the other road that leads off to the
south and up the
steep mountainside to the crest. Sentenel peak is on the north end
of a long sloping,
sheer, white face about 2000' in height. The road up to the crest has
between 18 and 20 sharp,
hairpin switchbacks before getting to the crest. This road is definitely a
short-bed 4X4 road.
After reaching the crest, you come upon a two year old burn that started
down in Trail Canyon
at about the 6000' level. It is a shame to see that some of the 3000
year-old Bristle-cone Pines
were burned, for the fire did reach the trees at the 10,000 foot level.
Instead of the normal tanish-
yellow color of old trees, you now have blackened scrags. The road is open
all the way to the
peak and from the top you can see Saline Marsh with ranches, more
mountain chains to the
west and to the east you have Nevada and its valleys and mountains. Be sure
and check with the
rangers at the headquarters of the park before coming up here, because there
is a gate and it may
be closed at certain times of the year.

Just down from the peak, I stop in an ancient unburned grove of Bristle-cone
Pines and marvel at
their age. In 1964, someone cut down a live Bristle-cone Pine that was 4,900
years old that grew
on Telescope Peak which I can see from here. ( I wonder sometimes about the
judgment of the
things they do in the name of science). Just think, that tree was 2900 years
old when Christ was
born, when Homer was writing the Iliad it was 1900 years old and when King
Khufu had the
largest Pyramid built it was at the young age of 350 years. Man is
insignificant compared to
these guys.
Three Clark's Nutcrackers fly high overhead heading for Ubehebe Peak
south of here. The
ancestors of these birds probably planted the seeds from which that tree
grew. The corvids have
been around since the Miocene and these mountains were completely formed by
the starting of
the Pliocene (5mill to 1.5 mill years). Somewhere in there, the Clark's
Nutcrackers started
planting the seeds for the Bristle-cone Pines, and both have survived
despite , fires,
droughts and man.
I wander in among the ancients and find one that has been dead for some
time and its surface
has been polished by the elements. It has a cup like a hammock, facing
north, so I plop down and
rest in the comfortable pocket. Such a change in temperature from Scotty's Castle, for it is around
55 degrees, where it was 100+ degrees there yesterday. A flock of Pine
Siskins and Oregon
Juncos wander through eating insects that they are finding in the small
belly flowers on the
slope. A Hairy Woodpecker hammers out a signal of its whereabouts to a young
bird, the young
bird answers and then flies across in front of me to where the adult is
located. I heard more
hammering from different Hairys down through the forest. All were the sound
of Hairys, not the
Three-toed that I was looking for.
The side road led over the east escarpment and down the head of Lincoln
Canyon where some
government people are camped around two small, dugout ponds under the Limber
and Bristle-
cones Pines. It was getting late and the sun was sitting in the west and the
people were in their
tents so I didn't disturb them. The birds were coming into the ponds but the
sun was now down,
so I started out of the canyon to go back up to the main road. That is when
I found out that my
front wheel drive had went out for some reason. I had to make a couple of
runs at two steep
areas to get back to the main road. Before I got to the switchbacks I called
it a night, because it
was going to take some care to navigate the steep switchbacks.
It was a quite night, only one call from a Poorwill and nothing else. At
5:30 am I started down
through the 20+ switchbacks (I lost count of the true number) without front
wheel power. It got
pretty scary on a couple of the turns, they were just too tight, so I had to
drive to the edge and try
to back uphill, so I could then go straight. It is hard to back uphill
without front-wheel power. I
made it by driving inches at a time. It was a relief to reach the Mine,
because the rest of the way
is downhill and no switchbacks
One must remember, this can happen to any four-wheel-drive regardless of
the age of the car
or truck. I have a new front end, engine and transmission, so I thought,
that I was set for a while.
The part that went out probably cost three dollars, but the job of replacing
it is a lot of work. I
didn't have a spare part.
Birds seen on the south slope and at the head of Darwin Canyon:
1 Clark's Nutcracker. 8
2. Rufous Hummingbird 30+ These guys are everywhere. The purple
thistle covers the
whole mountainside wherever there was a burned area and this is the plant
that the hummers are
3. Broad-tailed Hummingbird 30+ there is a constant war going on between
the two species.
4. Pine Siskin 30+
5. Oregon Junco 20+
6. Hairy Woodpecker 6
7. Chipping Sparrow 12
8. Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
9. Common Raven 14
10. Hermit Thrush 1 heard 6 more
11. Red-tailed Hawk 1
12. Golden Eagle 1
13. Cassin's Finch 6
14. Red Crossbills 10
15. Mountain Bluebird 3
16. Audubon's Warbler 4
17. Mountain Chickadee 6
18. Western Tanager 1
19. Black Rosy finches ?

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