Bird Surveys

December 25, 2013  Rancho Sierra Golf Course

May 25, 2013  Rancho Sierra Golf Course

September 14, 2012  Rancho Sierra Golf Course

March 27, 2012  Rancho Sierra Golf Course

January 9, 2012  Rancho Sierra Golf Course; agricultural fields at 110th Street East and Avenue I

January 20, 2011  NAS Mountain Plover Survey: agricultural fields of East Lancaster and Palmdale

January 18, 2011  Lancaster Landfill, Los Angeles County

 April 25, 2010   East Palmdale and Lake Los Angeles

January 21, 2010  Agricultural fields of East Lancaster

October 28, 2009  Agricultural fields of East Palmdale


DECEMBER 25, 2013 RANCHO SIERRA GOLF COURSE @ 60th St. East and Avenue F-8 (22 Species)

Weather: Fair;  55F F; wind WNW 2-5 mph.

Time: 1033-1247 hrs.

Observers: Becky Kitto and I.

Area Covered:  Becky obtained permission in advance to bird the golf course, which was closed today. We walked the perimeter and interior portions of the course, surveying mature deciduous and evergreen trees, ponds, fairways and adjacent fields of saltbush (Atriplex spp.). There were no other people present during our survey and conditions were good for identifying bird vocalizations.

Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest found today included, Pink-sided Junco (2) and Slate-colored Junco (6).


Mallard  70 (m,f) crowded in the northwest pond.

American Wigeon  8 (m,f) in and around the nw pond.

Great Egret  1  flushed to top of tree, w.

Cooper's Hawk  1  flushed from cottonwood, sw.

Red-tailed Hawk  1(ad)   flushed from cottonwood, ne.

American Coot  12  in nw pond.

Eurasian Collared Dove  5  flushed from conifers, n.

Mourning Dove  2  flushed from a large conifer in the nw corner.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1 (f) calls; active in the top branches of a cottonwood, se (photo).

Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris) female, Rancho Sierra, LACO CA 25 Dec 2013

                                                                                          © 2013 Callyn Yorke

Northern (RS) Flicker  2  calls; flushed from cottonwoods, central.

Black Phoebe  3  low perches around the course, esp. close to water.

Say's Phoebe  1 sallying from raised objects (posts and concrete cylinder) at the edge of the saltbush field, nw.

Common Raven  6  fly, calls, ubiquitous.

Horned Lark  calls (unseen) flying over the cours.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2  calls; active in conifers,n, central.

American Robin  8  drinking at edge of pond nw.

European Starling  2  on top of cottonwoods, central.

Yellow-rumped (A) Warbler  5  in cottonwoods and conifers throughout.

White-crowned Sparrow  25   small, cohesive flocks active on ground and in trees around the park.

Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco  15  foraging beneath trees on the fairways; 2 Pink-sided; 6 Slate-colored (m,f) with them (photos).

 (L) Pink-sided Junco (Junco hyemalis mearnsi); (R) Slate-colored (J. h. heyemalis) females, Rancho Sierra, LACO CA 25 Dec. 2013 Note: dark lores and extensive pink on flanks on Pink-sided Junco;  the latter features absent on female Slate-colored Juncos.


                                                    © 2013 Callyn Yorke

(L) Oregon Junco (Junco hyemalis thurberi); (R) male Slate-colored Junco (J. h. hyemalis), Rancho Sierra, LACO CA  25 Dec 2013. Note absence of contrast between head and breast; predominantly gray mantle and flanks on the male Slate-colored Junco.

                                                                                                                                          © 2013 Callyn Yorke


Western Meadowlark  10 foraging on fairway near nw pond. A featherless skull of this species was found beneath a large conifer with owl pellets (probably GHOW), nw.

House Finch  6  calls; in cottonwoods and on fairways.







MAY 25, 2013  RANCHO SIERRA GOLF COURSE @ 60th St. East and Ave. F-8 (23 Species)

Weather: Fair; 65F; wind W 5-10 mph.

Time: 0815-0847 hrs.

Area Covered: I obtained permission to survey the course from the manager in the clubhouse. Then, in an effort to avoid increasing numbers of golfers, I hastily surveyed the southern half of the course, including three ponds bordered by dense growth of bullrush (some recently removed), mature deciduous and evergreen shrubs and trees. Most of the birdlife appeared concentrated in around ponds and shaded areas at the margins of the fairways.


Mallard 8 (m,f) pairs in and around ponds; flying.

Double-crested Cormorant  1 (imm)  standing at the edge of a pond, se..

Great Blue Heron  1  flying over tree-tops, se.

Spotted Sandpiper  1  flying over flooded drainage ditch s-central.

Eurasian Collared Dove  2  calls, se.

Anna's Hummingbird  1 (f) hover-gleaning from outer foliage of a large Arizona Cypress, se.

Western Wood Pewee   5  calls; sallying from low branches in deciduous trees.

Black Phoebe  1  low perch at edge of pond, s-central.

Ash-throated Flycatcher  1  calls, middle level of cottonwood, s-central.

Warbling Vireo  1  song,  cottonwoods, se.

Common Raven  2  flying over, se.

Verdin  1  repeated chip calls in Arizona Cypress, se.

Swainson's Thrush  5  flushed from shady areas beneath cottonwoods, se, s-central.

Northern Mockingbird  1  flying low over the fairway, se.

European Starling   10  vocal, ubiquitous; foraging on fairways.

Common Yellowthroat  1 calls from marsh, s-central.

Wilson's Warbler  1 (f) low in a cottonwood, s-central.

Song Sparrow ? 1  seen briefly, flying low in marsh, s-central.

Red-winged Blackbird  2  calls, marsh, s-central.

Yellow-headed Blackbird   10  vocal, in and around marshes.

Great-tailed Grackle   8  vocal, in and around marshes.

House Finch   4  vocal, in cottonwoods, se.

House Sparrow  15  vocal, ubiquitous, foraging in tall grass on edge of fairways and in cottonwoods.







SEPTEMBER 14, 2012  RANCHO SIERRA GOLF COURSE @ 60th St. E and F-8 (27 Species)

Weather: Fair; 51F to 72F, no wind.

Time: 0630 - 0817 hrs.

Area Covered: After checking in at the clubhouse, I initially walked a diagonal route northwest through the course, then southwest and finally south east, visually covering most of the course. Two ponds with cattails and adjacent riparian growth (mature cottonwood and willow) were included in the survey. Fairways and greens are surrounded by tall cottonwood and pines, both attractive to migratory landbirds. Ponds and a drainage ditch are too steep-sided for most shorebirds. Several parties of golfers were on the course during the survey in addition to worker operating a riding lawn mower. Conditions were fair to poor for identifying bird vocalizations. The manager, Tracy, said that Monday and Saturday are relatively slow and probably the best days for birding the course.

Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest found today included, White-breasted Nuthatch and Mountain Chickadee.


Mallard   10  in nw pond.

California Quail  2  calls, ne.

Turkey Vulture  2  circling low over tree tops.

Cooper's Hawk  1  flushed from large cottonwood.

American Coot   4 in nw pond.

Eurasian Collared Dove  2  calls, central.

Mourning Dove  1  flying w.

Belted Kingfisher  1  fly, call, nw pond.

Nuttall's Woodpecker  1  calls, central.

Western Wood Pewee   2  subcanopy of tall cottonwoods, n.

Willow Flycatcher   7    vocal; sally-flycatching at all levels including ground and marsh; (photo)..

Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) Rancho Vista GC, 60th St. E, LACO CA  14 Sep 2012

                                                                                                           © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Pacific Slope Flycatcher  1  lower branches and middle-outside of large cottonwood, se (photo).

Pacific Slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis) Rancho Sierra, LACO, CA  14 Sep 2012


                                                                          © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Black Phoebe    6  vocal and ubiquitous, esp. near water.

Common Raven   4  fly, call, s.

Horned Lark  25   vocal, flighty; a flock foraging on the edge of the fairway, nw.

Mountain Chickadee  1    vocal; foraging in pines and cottonwoods, nw.

White-breasted Nuthatch   2  vocal; foraging on cottonwoods, n, se (photo).

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) se Rancho Vista,  60th E, LACO CA 14 Sep 2012


                                                                                    © 2012 Callyn Yorke

European Starling   8   vocal; in mature cottonwoods; one entering a large cavity, n.

Orange-crowned Warbler   10  vocal, active with YEWA in canopy of cottonwoods around the course.

Yellow Warbler   12  active in canopies of cottonwoods around the course.

Common Yellowthroat   5  calls, in marshy areas around the course.

Sage Sparrow  2  in saltbush (Atriplex canescens) on perimeter of the course, w.

Lincoln's Sparrow  1  calls (unseen) edge of marsh, sw.

Song Sparrow  1 call (unseen)  dense marsh, sw.

Western Tanager  1 (f) flying between mature cottonwoods, se.

Western Meadowlark  2  song in adjacent fields, n.

House Sparrow  20  in trees and on edge of fairways around the course.






Weather: Fair; 43F to 60F; no wind.

Time: 0905 - 1018 hrs.

Area Covered: After obtaining permission at the clubhouse, I walked a diagonal route across the Rancho Sierra golf course, located on the west side of 60th Street East and Avenue F-8. I spent most of the time around the two small ponds and cattail marshes in the southeastern and southwestern sections, beneath mature cottonwoods and assorted conifers. The largest pond in the northwest is presently without a marsh and exists as open water surrounded by fairways. The course was relatively quiet, only two or three groups of golfers and sprinklers had to be dodged.

Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest found today included, Mountain Chickadee (2), Orange-crowned Warbler (1), Chipping Sparrow (3) and Yellow-headed Blackbird (3).


Mallard  8 (m,f) edges of ponds.

American Wigeon   4  edge of nw pond.

California Quail  10  foraging on a fairway, se.

Sora  1 calls (unseen) , sw marsh.

American Coot   20  ponds, marsh and edges.

Killdeer  2  edge of marsh, sw.

Eurasian Collared Dove   6  calls, flying around course.

Mourning Dove  2  calls, se.

Anna's Hummingbird  1 vocal, active at edge of marsh, sw.

Northern Flicker  3-4  calls, fly; in large cottonwoods.

Black Phoebe  2  low perch, edge of drainage ditch and pond, sw.

Common Raven  2  fly, call.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow  2  flying back and forth, low over pond, nw.

Barn Swallow  1  flying low, nw.

Mountain Chickadee  2  vocal, active in conifers and elms, sw, s.

Marsh Wren  1 song, in marsh, sw.

Wren sp. (Pacific Wren?)  1 (small, dark; no other details noted) running, then flushed from ground in cut cattails at edge of marsh and drainage ditch; flew into dense growth of willow in marsh; same area where Marsh Wren was singing a few minutes later, sw.

American Robin  4  on fairway and in cottonwoods, calls.

European Starling   12  vocal, active in budding cottonwoods and elms, s..

Orange-crowned Warbler  1  singing for several minutes in budding cottonwood, s.

Yellow-rumped (A) Warbler  10 (m,f) active, vocal in trees and marsh.

Common Yellowthroat  2 (m)   active, vocal in marsh, se, sw.

Savannah Sparrow   3   active, vocal, on ground, edge and in marsh and riparian edge, s

Song Sparrow  2  active, vocal, marsh, sw.

Lincoln's Sparrow  1  foraging on lawn at edge of marsh, se (photo).

Lincoln's Sparrow   60th St. East and Avenue F-8, Los Angeles County, CA  27 March 2012

                                                                                           © 2012 Callyn Yorke

White-crowned Sparrow  25 (ad, imm) on lawns and edge of marsh throughout.

Chipping Sparrow  3 (ad)   foraging on lawn near entrance, se (photo).

Chipping Sparrow  60th Street East and Avenue F-8, Los Angeles County,CA  27 March, 2012

                                                                                        © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Dark-eyed Junco  6  foraging on lawn under conifers, s.

Red-winged Blackbird  3  vocal in tall cottonwoods, s.

Western Meadowlark  1  song, s.

Yellow-headed Blackbird  4 (m) song; spaced 10-15 yards apart in cattail marsh, sw, fos (photo).

    Yellow-headed Blackbird  60th E and F-8, LACO, CA  27 March, 2012

                                                                       © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Brewer's Blackbird  6   (m,f)  foraging on lawn with EUST, s.

Great-tailed Grackle  3 (m,f) vocal, flying around marsh and in cottonwoods, s.

House Finch  2  vocal, active in tall trees, sw.

Lesser Goldfinch  2  vocal, atop budding cottonwood, s.

House Sparrow  4  vocal, active around marsh, sw.







JANUARY 9, 2012  Rancho Sierra Golf Course  @ Avenue F-8 and 60th Street East; alfalfa fields around Avenue I and 110th Street East (26 Species)

Weather: Fair; 64F wind ENE 2 - 5 mph.

Time:  1050 -1303 hrs.

Observers: Debra Anderson, Becky Kitto, Merissa Mendez and I.

Area Covered:  1) Rancho Sierra Golf Course (RSGC), located on the west side of Avenue F-8 and 60th Street East, Los Angeles County, CA.  A ca 30 acre, driving range and 9-hole course with mature (exotic) conifers and deciduous trees, several small, marshy ponds and surrounding saltbush (Atriplex spp.) desert scrub. We walked from the clubhouse parking lot through the southwest and central portions of the course, surveying with binoculars and two DSLR cameras. Relatively few golfers were present, and after obtaining permission to walk on the course, we were able to conduct a fairly thorough survey without interferring with the golfers (1050 - 1220 hrs.).  2) We drove in three vehicles to the agricultural fields (AF)adjacent to the intersections of 90th Street East and 110th Street East and Avenue I. The alfalfa fields were at various stages of growth, ranging from fallow (dry, short grass; one field with sheep) to early spring ( medium height, well - watered). Rolling irrigation systems were active in some fields, attracting many birds. I surveyed the fields using a 35-55x scope and tripod, covering a total area of about 1.5 square miles. I also surveyed utility poles en route for raptors (1250-1303 hrs.).

Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest found were,  Great Egret (1), Turkey Vulture (1), Ferruginous Hawk (2), Vermilion Flycatcher (1), Le Conte's Thrasher (1) and Vesper Sparrow (2).


Gadwall  1 (f)  swimming in nw pond, RSGC.

Mallard  10 (m,f) swimming and resting in nw pond, RSGC.

Northern Shoveler  2 (f) swimming together in nw pond, RSGC.

Great Egret  1  nw pond, RSGC.

Turkey Vulture  1  flying low over saltbush scrub, w, RSGC.

Cooper's Hawk  1 (ad)  chasing small passerines from perch in tall deciduous tree, RSGC.

Red-tailed Hawk  3  (ad)  on utility poles along roadways.

Ferruginous Hawk  2 (ad, imm)  ad chasing an immature, low over dry fields, AF.

American Coot   25   relatively tame; on fairway and edge of nw pond, RSGC.

Killdeer   8  foraging in actively irrigated fields, AF.

Great Horned Owl  1  calls (unseen), RSGC.

Black Phoebe   1  sally-flycatching at edge of marsh, nw  RSGC.

Say's Phoebe  1  fly, calls (repeated), central and s RSGC.

Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)   1 - m continuing. Sallying to fairways from low to medium perches in trees (photo); possibly one of two individuals (male and female) initially reported at this location by Kimball Garrett in October, 2011. Several subsequent reports of a male VEFL here over the past few weeks (BK). This appears to be the only documented record of VEFL wintering in the Antelope Valley.

Vermilion Flycatcher    (adult male)  Rancho Sierra Golf Course, LACO, CA  Jan 9, 2012

                                                                                                                                                            © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Common Raven   6  fly, call RSGC;  30  AF.

Horned Lark   60  flying low; calls; foraging in fields, AF.

Marsh Wren  1  calls, active, low in cattails of nw pond, RSGC.

Northern Mockingbird  2  active, calls, trees, fairways, marsh, RSGC.

LeConte's Thrasher  1  perched atop a large saltbush at edge of a drainage, 150 yards west of RSGC.

European Starling   100 foraging in irrigated fields, AF.

Vesper Sparrow  2  drinking at edge of nw pond, RSGC (photo).

Vesper Sparrow     Rancho Sierra Golf Course, LACO, CA  January 9, 2012

                                                                                                                  © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Savannah Sparrow   5   in marsh drinking at pond; associating with WCSP and VESP (photo).

Top to Bottom : White-crowned Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow,  RSGC, LACO, Jan 9, 2012

                                                                                                                                                 © 2011 Callyn Yorke

White-crowned Sparrow   25   active, vocal in surrounding saltbush scrub, marsh and edge of pond (photo).

Western Meadowlark   2  landed on fairway, RSGC;  3  flying over fields, AF.

Brewer's Blackbird   50  foraging in irrigated fields, AF.

House Finch  5  brushy edge of fairway and marsh, RSGC.







JANUARY 20, 2011  NAS Mountain Plover Survey: Agriculture Fields of East Lancaster and Palmdale, Los Angeles County

Weather: Fair, 35F to 60F; winds N, ENE  10 - 25 mph; with occasional dust storms.

Time: 0750 - 1115 hrs; 1500 - 1600 hrs.

Areas Covered: Fifteen farms (alfalfa and one sod farm) were visited in the northeastern, eastern and southeastern portions of the Antelope Valley, Los Angeles County. My principal objective was participation in the annual National Audubon Society's Mountain Plover Survey, coordinated by Kimball Garrett of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History (LACM). Areas appearing suitable for Mountain Plover (see below) were initially scanned with a 10x42 binocular, followed by a more detailed scan with a 35-55x spotting scope attached to a monopod. Due to high winds and dust, most of the survey was done from my vehicle.

Results of today's survey were disappointing: No Mountain Plovers were found, despite a recent report by Jonathan Feenstra of at least 30 MOPL in an alfalfa field near the intersection of 110th St. East and Avenue I. Reasons for the negative results may involve a number of factors, e.g. overlooked due to poor visibility, disturbance from local farm traffic and birds of prey (e.g. Red-tailed Hawk and Northern Harrier). Additionally, Mountain Plover is highly mobile in this region and could have been present on one of the many fields not included in my survey (e.g. between 60th and 70th Street East on Avenue J.).

Aside from the negative results of the Mountain Plover survey, alfalfa fields near the NEC of Avenue F and 90th Street East and west of a dairy farm at the SWC of Avenue F and 110th Street East, produced about 600 Tricolored Blackbirds, a California Species of Special Concern. This finding, combined with winter surveys in the Antelope Valley conducted in recent years, indicates that the population of TRBL in this region is doing well, presumably due largely or in part to an abundance of winter forage opportunities on local farms.

The following is a list of sites and observation time for today's MOPL survey:  1) Avenue E, on the north side, between 70th and 80th Street East: ploughed and new-growth alfalfa fields, extending over an area of about 1square mile (0750-0810 hrs.)  2) NEC of Avenue F and 90th Street East: ploughed alfalfa fields on both sides of avenue F (0815 - 0830). 3) Dairy farm at the SWC of Avenue F and 100th Street East (0830 - 0840 hrs.). 4) South side of Avenue H and 10th Street East: alfalfa fields ( 0930-0942 hrs.). 5) Avenue J and 110th Street East, north side: alfalfa fields, irrigated and dry; about 1 square mile (0946- 0956 hrs.) 6)  NWC of Avenue K and 110th Street East: exposed earth, ploughed fields ( 0959 - 1010 hrs.) 7) Avenue K, west of 110th Street East, south side: alfalfa fields (1005 - 1012 hrs.) 8) Avenue K, south and west around intersection of 100th Street East; exposed dirt fields (1014- 1020 hrs.). 9) NWC and NEC of 90th Street East and Avenue L: ploughed alfalfa fields (1025-1032 hrs.). 10) Avenue N and 70th Street East, south side: ploughed alfalfa ( 1040 -1050 hrs.).     11) 60th Street East and Avenue N, north side: exposed dirt fields ( 1048- 1055 hrs.). 12) 50th Street East and Avenue N, SEC: sod farm (1059 - 1105 hrs.). 13) Avenue P and 50th Street East, east side: alfalfa and alfalfa stubble (1110-1115 hrs. 14) Avenue I and 110th Street East, eastern fields of about 1 square mile. Scoped from several locations along 110th Street East, 120th St East and Avenue I; 110th Street East and Avenue J. Sheep and sheep dogs working northern fields; two individuals on ATV's patrolling southern fields; irrigation on southern fields; Northern Harrier and Red-tailed Hawk hunting in southern fields (1500-1600 hrs.). These are the fields where the MOPL had been found earlier this week by Jon Feenstra.


Red-tailed Hawk  1 on utility pole, (1); 1 (2); 1 on ground, foraging, (13); 5 (ad, imm)flying and on utility poles elsewhere in the survey area.

Northern Harrier 1 (imm) flying low, back and forth over field next to row of trees, (13).

Ferruginous Hawk  1 flying over open fields (3).

Killdeer   1 (1);  20 (4); 10 (5).

Rock Pigeon   55 (3) in and around the pens.

Common Raven  100 +  ubiquitous in alfalfa fields; especially in and around the dairy farm (3).

Horned Lark   5,000 (consev. est) : ubiquitous in alfalfa fields.

Northern Mockingbird  1 in roadside shrubs (2).

European Starling   200  in and around dairy feed lot (3).

Savannah Sparrow  35  edge of irrigated alfalfa fields,  mainly areas 1-8.

Red-winged Blackbird  30  in feed lot with TRBL and EUST,  (3).

Tricolored Blackbird  600 (counted by groups of ten)   flew in and landed in an alfalfa field on Avenue F, about 0.1 mile east of 100th Street East; Three large flocks converging within a few minutes, foraging actively in the field (2). Several more found in the feed lot with EUST and RWBL (3).

Brewer's Blackbird   80  in alfalfa field with TRBL (2) and edge of feed lot (3).

House Sparrow  2 (7).






JANUARY 18, 2011   LANCASTER LANDFILL (WASTE MANAGEMENT OF LANCASTER) 600 East Avenue F, Lancaster, CA (8 Species)

Weather: Fair, 50F no wind;

Time: 1030 - 1127 hrs.

Observers: James Merritt (WM Landfill Manager) and I (1030-1045 hrs.); myself (1045 - 1127 hrs.).

Area Covered: We drove on the principal roads through the facility, first south then east, circling the active landfill and adjacent excavations, storage and recycling sections. Most of the birds (i.e. California Gull) were in the active portion of the site where refulse was being off-loaded and a large bulldozer (compactor) was rolling up and down the hill of trash. About 100 California Gulls were feeding at this site, periodically taking flight at the sound of a loud shot from a device designed to frighten birds. The gulls circled and returned to feeding within a minute or so, evidently determined to find food. Adjacent open areas also held resting flocks of gulls; one area, west of the main entry road with a large puddle, served as a drinking/bathing site. Mr. Merritt kindly showed me where I could park safely to observe birds.

Following our tour of the landfill property, I drove alone on the same roads noted above, stopping at several points to observe and photograph gulls. The greatest concentrations of gulls were on the west side of the main entrance to the elevated landfill site (with a drinking/bathing puddle), the active landfill area, and the open areas (previous landfills) immediately east and north of the active areas. I observed gulls using a 10x42 binocular and DSLR/ 18-200 mm lens.


Ring-billed Gull  1 C1  resting near a flock of CAGU, west side of main road.

California Gull   500 (conservative est.) (90% ad) feeding in the active landfill; resting in adjacent areas.

Herring Gull  3 (Juv; C1,C2) resting with large flock of CAGU, upper site adjacent to active landfill; alert but reluctant to fly as I approached in a car (photo: Immature HEGU in foreground, CAGU behind). Note in C1HEGU, relatively flat head, pale pink legs and dark primaries, c.f. THGU.


   Herring Gull immature (C2): note white head, dark-tipped bill with dusky base, long, dark primaries.                                                                                     


                                                               © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Common Raven   12  flying around the active landfill area but staying away from the gulls; one contesting a food item with Larus sp. (above).

European Starling  25  in trees at entrance station; very vocal.

American Pipit  1 fly/ call near entrance.

Brewer's Blackbird  8  foraging on ground near entrance.

House Sparrow  2 on roof of entrance booth.





                           East Palmdale and Lake Los Angeles


APRIL 25, 2010 (17 Species)                  



LeConte's Thrasher (Toxostoma lecontei) at SWC of Blackbird Lane and 10th Street East, Palmdale, CA  April 25, 2010    ©  2010 Callyn Yorke  


                                                                     Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), Palmdale, April 25, 2010




Weather:  Fair , 60 to 63F; WNW winds 2-5 mph.

Time: 0840 -0910 (Palmdale);  0954-1040; 1700-1740 hrs. (Lake Los Angeles).

Areas Covered:  SWC of 10th Street East and Blackbird Lane, Palmdale (P). This is partly disturbed Joshua Tree - Creosote Bush Scrub, on the south side of the Lockheed-Martin Aerospace Plant, between 10th Street East and Lockheed Way. I walked slowly through the area, using a 10x42 binocular and DSLR camera. After I completed the survey, A Lockheed security officer asked me to move my vehicle, that was parked adjacent to their fence at the corner of 10th Street East and Blackbird Lane. Conditions were good for identifying bird vocalizations.

2) I drove east on Avenue N, then to Avenue O, arriving at the eastern edge of Lake Los Angeles (LLA)at about 0954 hrs. I then drove slowly through the old suburbs between 170th Street East and 160th Street East, north and south of Avenue O. I covered the streets where Inca Dove had first been found in the early 1990's (in the vicinity of 169th St. E and Valeport) both in the morning (0954-1040 hrs.) and in the afternoon (1700-1740 hrs). The afternoon survey focused on the location of 169th St. East and Mossdale, where Jon Feenstra had found Inca Dove within the last year. However, I did not find Inca Dove during either of these two surveys today, nor had I found them during a survey of this neighborhood last year.

Lake Los Angeles was originally named for a large artificial lake located south of Avenue O near 170th Street East. The lake has been dry for at least 25 years. The suburbs of Lake Los Angeles, although augmented by a few new homes, and in a very scenic location at the base of the San Gabriels and local buttes, is mostly a desiccated slum, with mature Cottonwoods and Elms, occasionally watered to completely dead lawns,  small front yards, dilapidated corrals and trashy vacant lots grown to Creosote Bush. Although the isolated, high desert location of  LLA seems to be ideal for migrants, I have found a relatively low diversity of birds during a few surveys in the fall and spring months over the past 20 years. Today was no exception.


1) Prairie Falcon  1 P   on utility pole near corner of Lockheed Way and Blackbird Lane; dove and flew low E across the area I had just surveyed.

2) California Quail  4 P   running between shrubs; calls; 2 LLA.

3) Mourning Dove   6  LLA  flying around.

4) Eurasian Collared Dove  4  LLA   in trees, Mossdale and 169th Eastr; calls.

5) Rock Pigeon  2  LLA flying around houses.

6) Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1  P calling and flying between Joshua Trees.

7) Western Kingbird  2  P on Joshua Trees; calls.

8) Common Raven  2 flying over;  8  LLA.

9) Northern Mockingbird  2 P   singing atop Joshua Trees (photo);  10 LLA, singing.

10) LeConte's Thrasher  2  P a pair was flushed from dirt road and ran south (photo); flying into low shrub (photo); found on my return walk across through the northern section of the site.

11) European Starling  20  LLA  flying around mature trees and in corrals.

12) Cactus Wren  2  P flying between Joshua Trees; singing.

13) Yellow-rumped Warbler  3  LLA  in Cottonwoods; calls.

14) White-crowned Sparrow   3  P concealed in low shrubs; calls;  4  LLA.

15) Brewer's Blackbird  2  LLA  Mossdale and 169th East.

16) House Finch  2 P;   30  LLA.

17) House Sparrow  50  LLA.





January 21, 2010

Weather: Overcast with light, intermittent rain; rain heavy at times over the past 48 hours.

Time: 0845 - 0920 hrs.

Area Covered: Using a scope and 10x42 binocular,  I surveyed from my parked vehicle, an alfalfa farm at the southeast corner of 110th Street East, between Avenues I and J.  The farm is a mosaic of fallow and recently sprouted alfalfa fields, flooded from recent rains, bordered by a row of mature Chinese elms along 110th St. East and 115th Street East. A fallow portion of the farm had about 50 head of sheep grazing, that came over to visit me next to the roadway (Avenue I). This field contained all of the Tricolored Blackbirds found during today's survey. The adjacent land consists of mostly old, abandoned farms overgrown by Russian thistle, tumble mustard and exotic weeds. An open, degraded Joshua tree woodland occurs to the south of Avenue J.


1) Red-tailed Hawk  1  (imm. dark morph) perched with wings outstretched atop an elm on 110th St. E.

2) Ferruginous Hawk  1 (ad) on utility pole across the road from the alfalfa farm.

3) Northern Harrier   1  (f)  flew low S from edge of farm on Ave. J. into a Joshua tree - saltbush field.

4) Prairie Falcon  1 (ad) on utility pole; flew S as I approached in the vehicle.

5) Killdeer   20   in flooded, fallow alfalfa field, W of grazing sheep

6) Common Raven   6   flying over farm.

7) Starling  8   foraging in fallow alfalfa field, W of grazing sheep.

8) Savannah sparrow  50 (conserv. est.)  in flooded alfalfa fields between 110th St. E and 115th St. E.

9) Tricolored Blackbird  60 (about 60% m) foraging in fallow alfalfa field, moving short distances around grazing sheep.

10) Brewer's Blackbird  20  (m,f)  foraging nearby but separate from most of the TRBL.

11) Western Meadowlark   5  edge of field at S end of farm along Avenue J.



October, 28, 2009

Weather:  Fair, 45F; winds 0-5 mph, gusting to 25 mph by 1000 hrs. High winds and major dust storms yesterday.

Time: 0820-1000 hrs.

Area Covered:  (1) Intersection of Avenue M and 50th Street East. I parked on 50th Street East on the east shoulder, and walked east on a dirt road separating a relatively barren field to the south and a weedy, fallow field to the north. With the sun behind me, I scoped (25-30x) the surrounding fields, including an irrigated field on the NWC of 50th Street East and Ave. M. Several flocks of Horned Larks and American Pipits were moving through the field on the NEC; the other adjacent fields had little birdlife. (2) I drove south on 50th Street East to Ave. P-8 and turned west, parking about 0.3 miles east of 40th Street East. scoped the largely barren, stubble field on the NEC of 40th East and Ave P-8 (across the street from the Desert Aire Golf Course), where a small flock of Horned Larks was found. I also scoped the adjacent field to the south (SEC of Ave. P-8 and 40th Street East), where Ravens, Savannah Sparrows, Horned Larks and American Pipits were foraging. A field of tall tumble mustard and Russian thistle, immediately east of the barren field on the NEC of 40th East and Ave. P-8, contained White-crowned Sparrows and a LeConte's Thrasher near my parked vehicle and close enough for a photo using a Nikon D3X with a 80-400 mm VR AF lens (see photo below).

LeConte's Thrasher (Toxostoma lecontei) near 40th Street East and Ave. P-8, Palmdale, CA
LeConte's Thrasher (Toxostoma lecontei) near 40th Street East and Ave. P-8, Palmdale, CA

                                                                                                                                      ©  2009  Callyn D. Yorke

                                       BIRDS NOTED

1) Red-tailed Hawk  3: perched on power pole, irrigation wheel, and flying across Ave. M, near 45 th Street East.

2) Rock Dove  14 (1): flock foraging in field, SEC of 50th Street East and Ave. M.

3) Burrowing Owl  1 (1): fully exposed on bare mound with large burrow opening in open field, about 0.1 mile NE of NEC of  50th Street East and Avenue M.

4) Loggerhead Shrike  1 (1): on low perch in open field, NEC of 50th Street East and Ave. M; calls, flew down to the ground near Horned Larks.

5) European Starling  50 (1): irrigated alfalfa field at the NWC of 50th Street East and Ave. M; tight flock making short flights.

6) Horned Lark  120 (ad, imm) (1); 60 (2): foraging in loose flocks of 20-50 birds; some taking seeds from standing plants in fields; calls, low, short flights between fields.

7) Common Raven  6 (1); 10 (2); 20 in other fields between Avenue M and N; foraging in ground in tight flocks; flying, calls.

8) American Pipit  50 (1); 20 (2), foraging on ground in weedy, fallow fields with Horned Larks.

9) Le Conte's Thrasher  1 (2): perched, fully exposed on tall tumble mustard in dry, weedy field about 0.3 mi. E of 40th Street East and Ave. P-8 (see above photo).

10) Savannah Sparrow 2 (1); 1 (2); on or near the ground in weedy fields; calls.

11) White-crowned Sparrow  3-10 (2) in field of tall, dry tumble mustard, near LeConte's Thrasher; calls.

12) House Finch  20 (m,f)(2) in a fenced yard with weedy edges, near Ave. P-8 and 40th Street East; one bird (young m) with white primaries.

13) Brewer's Blackbird 5 (1), call, flying over field.

14) Western Meadowlark  2 (2): weedy field; flew up to fence, S.

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