BIRD SURVEYS OF PIUTE PONDS, EDWARDS AFB (Permit Required), Los Angeles County, CA

                                                                               © Callyn Yorke

 SURVEY INDEX (2009 -2011)

September 21, 2011

September 16, 2011

August 15, 2011

August 5, 2011

July 27-31, 2011

July 21 & 24, 2011

July 9, 2011

June 8, 2011

May 28, 2011

May 18, 2011

May 1, 2011 

February 23, 2011

January 24, 2011

September 13, 2010

September 4, 2010

August 26, 2010

August 8, 2010

August 2, 2010

June 7, 2010

May 14-15, 2010

April 23, 2010

March 21, 2010

March 1, 2010

October 16, 2009


Piute Ponds, Edwards AFB (Permit Required) Los Angeles County, CA


                                                                                    PHOTOS OF RARE BIRDS OF PIUTE PONDS    © Callyn Yorke


Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica)  North Piute Pond,  Edwards AFB, Los Angeles County, CA   May 15, 2010


                                                                                                        ©  2010 Callyn Yorke  


Little Stint (Calidris minuta) July 24, 2011 © Callyn Yorke                  Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) July 27, 2011  © Callyn Yorke


South Piute Ponds, Edwards AFB                                                                    South Piute Ponds, Edwards AFB


Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) Northeast Piute Ponds, July 9, 2011                 © 2011 Callyn Yorke                


                                                    © 2011 Callyn Yorke                          Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus) Southwest Piute Ponds, July 29, 2011


SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 (44 Species)

Weather: Fair; 60F to 84F; no wind.

Time: 0740 - 1220 hrs.

Observers: Duncan & Jan Fraser (visiting from the UK) and I.

Area Covered:  We drove the main levee road through the south Piute Ponds complex (SP), stopping several times to observe birds. We used scopes, binoculars and two digital cameras. Water levels remain high in the ponds, leaving little exposed shoreline. Most waterbirds were clustered in the northwest and southwest sections; the northern south pond (more a shallow lake than a pond) held numerous waterfowl. Continuing in our two vehicles to the Avenue C levee and eastward, we scoped the large northern south pond from the observation shelter area, beneath a large cottonwood. We also made a cursory survey of the adjacent north pond (NP), although I did not proceed around the perimeter. Instead, I drove west on the Avenue C levee to exit the ponds and base. Windless, quiet conditions prevailed during our survey, except for one stunningly loud sonic breach that sent hundreds of waterbirds aloft. We engaged in frequent discussions comparing British and American bird  taxonomy,morphology, distribution and behavior (e.g. common names for Circus cyaneus in Britain (Hen Harrier) and America (Northern Harrier); distinctive coloration differences of American and European populations of Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica); the curious disjunct distribution of the passerine Eremophila alpestris in America (Horned Lark) and Europe & Northwest Africa (Shore Lark); competition and interbreeding between White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) and the introduced Ruddy Duck (O. jamaicensis) in Britain). Conditions were good for locating and identifying birds by their vocalizations. As usual, most of the birds were found in the SP; only six additional species were found in the vicinity of or viewing from the NP: Redhead, Clark's Grebe, Great Horned Owl, California Gull and Yellow Warbler.  Except for our host, Wanda Deal ( of the Environmental Division of Edwards AFB), whom we met at the Avenue C gate, no other people were in the survey area during our visit. Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest found today included, Bufflehead (3), Baird's Sandpiper (4) and Pectoral Sandpiper (4); the latter two species were notably, "life birds" for Duncan and Jan.


Canada Goose  4 (ad) swimming, nw SP.

Brant  1 (ad - continuing) foraging on small island, sw SP.

Gadwall  25 (m,f) swimming, north SP.

Mallard    100 (m,f) swimming, resting in shady areas on islands and shorelines, SP.

Cinnamon Teal   10 (f)  flying, dabbling in shallows, SP.

Northern Shoveler    250  dabbling, SP, northern SP.

Redhead  2   (m,f) resting on small marshy island, n SP.

Bufflehead   2-3  (m,f)   diving, n SP.

Ruddy Duck   40 (m,f) swimming, resting, n SP.

Eared Grebe   8  swimming, SP, n SP.

Clark's Grebe  (1-2) sleeping, swimming near edge of marsh, n SP.

Great Blue Heron  2 (ad, imm) edge of marsh, SP.

Great Egret   4  resting, edge of marsh and on snags, SP.

Snowy Egret  3  resting, edge of marsh and on snags, SP.

Black-crowned Night Heron   4  (2 ad; 2 imm) flushed from marsh, SP.

White-faced Ibis  26 (counted) foraging in shallows, SP.

Northern Harrier  2-3  (1 m; 2 f) flying low over marsh s SP and higher over saltbush field, NP; m going down to ground, SP

Red-tailed Hawk  1  on utility pole near entrance to SP.

American Kestrel   2   SP, NP; one female with large red dragonfly in talons, NP

Falco sp. (probably Prairie Falcon) flying low over marsh and landing at edge of marsh. Not seen well due to harsh lighting, SP.

American Coot  400 (conservative estimate) ubiquitous, SP, NP.

Killdeer   10  shoreline; short and long alarm calls while flying over us, SP.

Black-necked Stilt   2   shallows, SP.

American Avocet   120  one group of about 25 birds swimming and foraging in a tight formation, SP.

Greater Yellowlegs  3  (m,f)  foraging in shallows; fly, calls, SP.

Least Sandpiper  30  foraging on shorelines, SP.

Baird's Sandpiper  4  foraging together on shoreline shallows, SP.

Pectoral Sandpiper  4-6 (ad, juv) foraging in shallows with LBDO, SP.

Long-billed Dowitcher   35  foraging in shallows (one swimming), SP.

Red-necked Phalarope   12  foraging by spinning in shallows, SP.

California Gull  1 (ad) swimming, n SP.

Great Horned Owl  1  flushed from cottonwood into tamarisk, NP.

Loggerhead Shrike   10  (ad, imm)  a very vocal immature (high-pitched begging calls) following adults, SP; NP.

Common Raven   12  on utility poles, SP; flying over; on shore, SP; calls.

Horned Lark   30  flying over short-grass fields; vocalizing, SP.

Tree Swallow  1  (imm) flying low, back and forth over ponds and marsh, SP.

Barn Swallow  4  flying low, back and forth over ponds and marsh; vocalizing, SP.

Marsh Wren  6  calls and song (briefly)  edge of marsh, SP.

Yellow Warbler  2  (f & m?)  calls, foraging in canopy and subcanopy of cottonwood, NP.

Common Yelowthroat  1  calls, edge of marsh, SP.

Savannah Sparrow  3-4  calls, edge of marsh and ruderal roadside halophytic vegetation, SP.

Song Sparrow   8  calls, song, active at edge of marsh, SP, NP.

Red-winged Blackbird   10  calls, active in marsh, SP.

Western Meadowlark  12  fly, calls and song; weedy edge of ponds, SP.










SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 (50 Species)

Weather: Fair; 65F; winds WSW 2 mph.

Time: 0733- 1020 hrs.

Area Covered:  1) West inlet channel: I drove on the south access road to the end of the levee road and back, surveying the channel (full) and adjacent marsh (WIC). 2) South Pond Complex (SP): I drove the main levee separating the south ponds and marsh, circling around on the north side and stopping several times to observe birds in the northern and southern pond-marsh complex (0733-0940 hrs.). 3) North Pond (NP): I drove on the main (Avenue C) levee in a counter-clockwise direction around the entire north pond. All ponds, north and south, were nearly full; the previously dry north pond is now completely flooded with a large open water space. Exposed shorelines are minimal throughout the ponds, due to relatively high water levels. I used a 35-55x scope, 10x42 binocular and DSLR (hand-held) camera with an 80-400 mm lens. One other couple was met briefly at SP, where we observed with our scopes, a pair of unusual sandpipers (possibly STSA - see notes and photos below). Conditions were very good for locating and identifying birds. Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest found today included, Brant (1- continuing), Northern Pintail (2), Redhead (12), Ring-necked Duck (1), Cattle Egret (1), Baird's Sandpiper (2), Pectoral Sandpiper (2), and a pair of Calidris with markings initially suggestive of STSA; subsequent reviews concluded the photos most likely represent immature PESA (see below). .


Brant  1 - continuing -  on small island, SP.

Gadwall   50 (m,f) flighty,   WIC, SP.

Mallard   90 (m,f)  flighty, SP.

Cinnamon Teal  10  (f) SP.

Northern Shoveler    80  (f) flighty, SP.

Northern Pintail  2 (f) north SP.

Redhead    15 (m,f)  north SP.

Ring-necked Duck 1 (m) leading Redheads into open water, north SP.

Ruddy Duck   20  (m,f)  SP.

California Quail     50  (ad, imm)  brushy edge of   SP, NP.

Eared Grebe  4  diving, SP.

Double-crested Cormorant   5  flying over, SP.

Great Blue Heron  3   edge of SP.

Great Egret   4  resting on snags, SP.

Snowy Egret  3   resting at edge of marsh, SP.

Cattle Egret  1  resting on snag with GREG (photo).

Cattle Egret  (with Great Egret)  south Piute Pond, September 16, 2011.

                                                                                                                  © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Black-crowned Night Heron  2   (ad, imm) flying, SP.

White-faced Ibis    6  flying, foraging, SP.

Northern Harrier  2  (m,f)  flying low over marsh, separated by 0.5 mile, SP.

Red-tailed Hawk  3   (ad, imm)  on utility pole; flying, SP, NP.

American Kestrel  4  (m,f) perched on snags, SP, NP.

American Coot    500 (conservative est.)  (a few immatures), SP, NP.

Black-bellied Plover  1 (bsc. plmg.)  on small island, SP.

Killdeer  16   shorelines, SP.

Black-necked Stilt   11  SP.

American Avocet   60  SP.

Greater Yellowlegs  6  fly, call, SP.

Spotted Sandpiper  1  flushed from edge of channel, WIC.

Least Sandpiper    25  shorelines, SP.

Baird's Sandpiper  2   shoreline, SP.

Pectoral Sandpiper  4   shoreline, SP. foraging in shallows, SP:  Details: Two individuals, PESA size, one about 15% smaller. Both showing rufous crowns, conspicuous supercilium, white eye-ring; one showing more rufous dorsally than the other. Underparts white except for unstreaked, buffy-gray breast, . Legs and feet yellowish-green; bill dark, basally fleshy-pink.  Observed southward from a distance of about 60 yards, by three individuals with binoculars and for several minutes using 2 scopes (35-55x); photographed using a hand-held Nikon D3X with 80-400 lens. Digital photos subsequently emailed to Kimball Garrett of LACMNH, who was unable to assign specific identification, but noted that STSA could not be ruled out. Other reviewers of the photos judged them to most likely represent immature PESA (photos South Piute Ponds, : September 16, 2011:  A,B, C, D, E, F).   © 2011 Callyn Yorke

 A) Probable immature PESA: Note the rufous crown, unstreaked, buffy breast, pronounced white supercilium. South Piute Ponds, Sept 16, 2011


B &C) Probable imm. PESA: note white eye-ring and unstreaked, buffy breast,yellowish legs. South Piute Ponds, Sept. 16, 2011.






F) Note rufous upperparts; buffy, untstreaked breast.   South Piute Ponds, September 16, 2011

                                                                                                                     © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Long-billed Dowitcher   25  resting at edge of island, SP.

Marbled Godwit   13  foraging in shallows, resting; fly, call, SP.

Red-necked Phalarope  2   flushed from pond, WIC.

Forster's Tern  2   flying over marsh, north SP.

Common Tern  1  flying with FOTE; showed dark gray marks in wings; complete black cap.

Mourning Dove  2  flushed from brushy roadside, NP.

Great Horned Owl  1 (ad) in tall willow next to main levee at entrance, NP.

Willow Flycatcher  1  aerial hawking from low perch in cottonwood, main levee, NP.

Black Phoebe  2   low perch at edge of marsh, NP.

Loggerhead Shrike  4  perched on snags; calls, SP, NP.

Common Raven    6  flying over, SP, NP.

Horned Lark   20  flying around border of pond, SP.

Barn Swallow  4  flying low over pond and marsh, NP.

Marsh Wren  20  calls and song, NP, SP.

Common Yellowthroat  5  calls, SP.

Savannah Sparrow   2  calls, SP.

Song Sparrow   25   calls, song, SP, NP.

Red-winged Blackbird   10  (m,f)  in marsh, SP, edge of NP.

Tricolored Blackbird  18 (f, imm)  a tight flock in shrubs at edge of channel, WIC.

Brewer's Blackbird  4   (m,f)  flying over pond, SP.






AUGUST 15, 2011 (52 Species)

Weather: Fair; 75F to 95F; winds WSW 2 -7 mph.

Time: 0700 - 1050 hrs.

Area Covered: South Pond Complex (Ducks Unlimited). I drove the main levees, stopping to scope the ponds at several locations (SP, NSP ). Most of the waterbird species found today were in this area. Recent plowing of all the shorelines, together with increased water levels in the ponds, has significantly reduced migratory shorebird habitat. Many of the shorebirds were in shallow water and/or narrow muddy margins of the ponds with herbaceous regrowth. Some shorebird species present on August 5, 2011 (e.g. Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Dowitcher, Least Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope), appeared to be more numerous during today's survey. Other species, e.g. Semipalmated Plover, Snowy Plover, Western Sandpiper, were not found today. One other vehicle was in the area during the survey. I also drove the main levee around the north pond (NP), stopping to scope the northern SP, which included shallows but no exposed mudflats or sandbars. The north pond, still mostly dry, contained considerably more water today than on August 5; formerly dry fields now flooded around the north channel. I used a 10x42 binocular, 35-55x scope and DSLR camera for the survey.


Brant  1 (cont.) on small island, southern SP; entered water was I approached.

Gadwall   5 (m,f)  SP, NSP.

Mallard  80 (m,f) edges of ponds, SP, NP.

Cinnamon Teal   5 (f)  NSP.

Northern Shoveler   80 (m,f) dabbling, NSP.

Ruddy Duck  20  (alt. bsc. plmg.) resting on water, NSP.

California Quail  40  edges of s SP.

Clark's Grebe  1  resting on water, NSP.

Double-crested Cormorant  1 (imm) on snag, NSP.

Great Blue Heron  3 (ad, imm) edge of ponds, SP, NSP, NP.

Great Egret  1  in marsh, inlet of SP.

Black-crowned Night Heron   20  in marsh, SP, NSP.

White-faced Ibis  20  (ad, imm)   Foraging in shallow edge of pond, SP, NP (photo)


WHFI  North Piute Pond, August 15, 2011                       © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Red-tailed Hawk  1 (ad) on utility pole, SP.

American Kestrel   2 (m)   one on utility pole, SP; one in Tamarisk, NP.

Prairie Falcon  1  on utility pole briefly, SP.

American Coot   3 (ad)   NSP.

Killdeer   30  edge of ponds, SP, NSP, NP.

American Avocet  350  scattered in shallows, NP, NSP, NP.

Black-necked Stilt   80  scattered in shallows, NP, NSP, NP.

Spotted Sandpiper   8 (trans. alt. plmg.)   edge of ponds, shorelines (photo)

SPSA  North Piute Pond, August 15, 2011  © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Greater Yellowlegs  25  (bsc. alt. plmg.)   foraging with LEYE , edges of ponds, SP, NSP, NP (photo).

Lesser Yellowlegs  5 (bsc. plmg.)   foraging with GRYE shallows, SP, NP (photo).

GRYE (outside) and LEYE (center)   North Piute Pond,  August 15, 2011                  © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Least Sandpiper   120  (ad, imm) foraging on shorelines; a few intraspecific territorial disputes, SP, NSP, NP.

Long-billed Dowitcher  80  (alt. trans, alt. plmg.) most resting in shallows, NSP; some foraging, SP, NP.

Marbled Godwit  10  (ad, imm)   foraging in shallows, SP, NSP.

Wilson's Phalarope   250 (trans. alt.-bsc plmg.)   spinning, foraging on shore, preening, SP, NSP.

Red-necked Phalarope  15  (bsc., trans alt. plmg.) spinning in shallows near WIPH, SP, NSP.

California Gull  2  (ad, C2) flying, resting on shore, SP, NSP.

Caspian Tern  1 resting on post, NSP.

Forster's Tern  1 (bsc. plmg.) flying low, dipping, SP.

Mourning Dove  1  flying over marsh, NP.

Greater Roadrunner  1  in bare branches of  the canopy of  a Tamarisk, NP.

Black Phoebe  1  edge of channel, NP.

Say's Phoebe  1  flying low over open field, SP.

Western Kingbird  3   one caught and consumed an aerial dragonfly (numerous), SP.

Loggerhead Shrike  5  fly, call, fields next to marsh, SP, NP.

Common Raven  2  flying over, NP, NSP.

Horned Lark  60  open fields around ponds, SP, NSP, NP.

Tree Swallow  12  on utility line; flying low over a small, nearly dry pond, SP.

Bank Swallow  1  on utility line with BASW and TRSW, SP.

Cliff Swallow  1  on utility line with BASW, TRSW and BASW, SP.

Barn Swallow  25  flying low, back and forth over shallow pond; edge of marsh, SP, NP.

Marsh Wren   12  calls and song, SP, NP.

European Starling   30 (ad, imm) foraging on shorelines, SP, NSP, NP.

Common Yellowthroat  2   fly, landing at edge of marsh, NP.

Sage Sparrow  6 (ad, imm)   on levee, NP.

Song Sparrow  30  (ad, imm) edge of marsh, song, calls, SP, NSP, NP.

Red-winged Blackbird  15  in and around marsh, SP.

Brewer's Blackbird   50  (m,f) on shore, edge of marsh and ponds, SP, NSP.

Great-tailed Grackle  2 (m,f) shore, NP.

Western Meadowlark   10  saltbush fields, SP, NP.










AUGUST 5, 2011 (52 Species)

Weather: Fair; 78F to 93F; winds WSW 2-5 mph.

Time: 0750-1109 hrs.

Area Covered: 1) South Pond Complex (SP; NSP): Using a scope and binocular, I surveyed the ponds visible from the main levee around the south pond complex, including a portion of the large northern pond and marsh (NSP). Water levels in the ponds continue to be low, exposing shorelines islands and sandbars throughout. Recent plowing (i.e. using a chain-link towing device) was evident on some of the wide shorelines of the south pond complex. Relatively few sandpipers were found in this area today. 2) I drove east and north from SP on a dirt road through Joshua Tree- saltbush scrub, that intersects the eastern perimeter of NSP, then turns westward onto the main Avenue C levee separating NSP from the north pond (NP). A survey crew from Loma Linda University was working near the concrete spillway when I arrived. I continued to the covered observation shack, where I scoped the open water and marsh of NSP. I drove a clockwise route around NP, returning to the Ave. C levee for a survey of some adjacent mudflats and sandbars on the south side of the levee. Those mudflats held the largest flocks of shorebirds (including sandpipers) to be found today at Piute Ponds. Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest found today included, Baird's Sandpiper (2) and Savannah Sparrow (1).


Gadwall  6  (f)  SP; NSP.

Mallard  120 (m,f; imm) SP, NSP.

Northern Shoveler 1 (f) continuing, NP.

Cinnamon Teal  2  (f) SP.

Ruddy Duck   25  (m,f)  SP.

California Quail 30 (ad, imm)   SP.

Clark's Grebe  1  NSP.

Great Blue Heron  1  NSP.

Black-crowned Night Heron   20 (ad, imm) SP; NSP.

White-faced Ibis   50 (ad, imm)   SP; NSP, NP.

Red-tailed Hawk  1  utility pole, SP.

American Kestrel  1  flying low, harrier-like, over marsh and ponds, SP.

American Coot   20 (ad, imm)   SP; NSP.

Black-bellied Plover  2 (alt. trans. bsc. plmg.) SP, NSP.

Semipalmated Plover  4  mudflats and sandbars, NSP.

Killdeer  30  SP, NSP, NP.

Black-necked Stilt    30  SP, NSP.

American Avocet   400  SP, NSP.

Greater Yellowlegs    6  SP, NSP, NP.

Spotted Sandpiper   2  shoreline, SP; rocks on levee, NSP.

Marbled Godwit    4   foraging in shallows, SP.

Western Sandpiper  8  foraging on mudflats, NSP.

Least Sandpiper    20  foraging on mudflats, SP, NSP.

Semipalmated Sandpiper 1? (imm) too distant for pos. id; pale gray face and upperparts, relatively short bill, small size; foraging on mudflats with WESA, NSP.

Baird's Sandpiper  2   a pair staying close, foraging on shoreline and shallows, SP.

Long-billed Dowitcher  30  foraging in shallows, SP, NSP.

Red-necked Phalarope  1 (bsc. plmg) spinning in shallows, SP.

Wilson's Phalarope  120  (bsc. plmg.) foraging on shore, snatching surface insects, spinning in shallows.

California Gull 3  (ad, imm) on distant sandbar, NSP.

Caspian Tern   4  on distant sandbar; flying, calls, NSP.

Mourning Dove  1  flying, NP.

Great Horned Owl  1  flushed from willow on levee, NP.

Black Phoebe  2   low perch, edge of marsh and channel; calls, NP.

Western Kingbird   5  fly, calls, edge of marsh and field, NP.

Loggerhead Shrike  6  fly, call,  edge of marsh and desert, SP, NSP, NP.

Common Raven    4  flying over, SP.

Horned Lark   60  flocks at shoreline, edge of desert, SP, NSP.

Tree Swallow   20  flying low, back and forth over shallow pond, SP; NSP.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1  flying with TRSW and BASW over pond, SP.

Cliff Swallow   2   flying low with TRSW and BASW over pond, SP.

Barn Swallow   40  flying over ponds and marsh, SP, NSP, NP.

Cactus Wren   2  fly, call, Joshua Tree scrub, SP.

Marsh Wren   6  calls, song, active in marsh, SP, NSP, NP.

European Starling  10  (ad, imm) foraging on shore, SP, NSP.

Common Yellowthroat  2  song, marsh along levee, NSP/NP.

Sage Sparrow  25 (ad, imm)   edge of marsh, desert scrub and salt cedar groves, SP, NSP.

Song Sparrow  8   song, calls, SP, NSP.

Savannah Sparrow  1  calls, low saltbush field, SP.

Red-winged Blackbird   10 (ad, imm) edge of marsh and shorelines, SP, NSP.

Brewer's Blackbird  4 (m,f)   shoreline, SP.

Great-tailed Grackle   2   edge of marsh, NP.

Western Meadowlark  4  saltbush fields, SP, NSP.








JULY 27-31, 2011 Summary (77 Species)

Weather: Fair; 74F to 90F. No wind.

Time: 0730-1053 hrs.(7/27); 0700-1152 hrs. (7/28); 0700 -1130 hrs (7/29); 0630-1040 hrs.(7/30); 0630-1045 hrs.(7/31).

Area Covered: South Pond Complex of Piute Ponds (SP, NSP): Stopping frequently to scope birds in the ponds, on shorelines and islands, I drove east on the entrance road bisecting the south ponds, then north and west along the northern levee of the south pond. Shorebirds were abundant mostly in the northwest and northeast sections. Other birders ( Jim Abernathy, Larry Allen, Kumaran Arul, Todd Battey, Allan Brown, John Garrett, Frank and Susan Gilliland, Jim Moore, Dick Norton, Mark and Janet Scheel and others) were present during the surveys, initially searching for a Little Stint (not found...last reported here Monday, July 25). I returned to Challenger Way and proceeded north to the north Piute Pond (NP), repeating the same stop-and-go methods used at SP. Relatively few birds were in this area, except in and near the open water channel on the north and east perimeter.The sandbars of the large pond/marsh south of the Avenue C levee were scoped, but the great distance made identification of  small shorebirds difficult. Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest included, Brant (1 -continuing) Northern Shoveler (1 - continuing), Burowing Owl (1), Short-billed Dowitcher (1-3, cont.), Semipalmated Sandpiper (1 imm), Spotted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper (1), California Least Tern (1) Peregrine Falcon (1 - cont.), Savannah Sparrow (1) and Tricolored Blackbird (1)..

BIRDS NOTED (including highest daily count and frequency based on five consecutive surveys)

Canada Goose   6 (2/5) (cont.) together on shore, SP.

Brant  1 (3/5) (continuing through the summer.) swimming, walking on shore, SP (photo 7/29/11).

                                                                                      © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Gadwall   5 (4/5)   SP.

Mallard  250 (5/5) (ad, imm)   SP, NP.

Cinnamon Teal   6 (5/5)   (f)  SP, NSP.

Ruddy Duck   30 (5/5)   SP, NSP.

California Quail  60 (5/5)   SP, NP

Clark's Grebe  2 (ad, imm?) (1/5) swimming together, n SP.

Eared Grebe  2 (1/5)   swimming, diving, n SP.

Double-crested Cormorant  2 (2/5)   resting on short stumps, SP.

Great Blue Heron  5 (5/5)   SP, NSP.

Great Egret   3 (5/5)   SP, NSP.

Black-crowned Night Heron   40 (5/5) (ad, imm) SP, NP.


White-faced Ibis   30 (5/5)   (ad, imm)  SP, NP (photo 7/28/11).

                                                                                                                                                                                           © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Red-tailed Hawk  1 (4/5) on utility pole, SP.

Northern Harrier  1 (f)  (1/5) foraging low over marsh and shore, SP.

American Kestrel  1(2/5)   on utility pole, SP.

Peregrine Falcon 1 (1/5) (ad) on utility pole, SP (photo 7/27/11).

                                                                             © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Virginia Rail  2 (2/5)   (ad, imm)  individuals active in the marsh; calls, separated by ponds, SP.

American Coot  25 (5/5)   SP.

Semipalmated Plover  6 (5/5)   SP.

Snowy Plover 3 (3/5)   foraging on sandbar, SP.

Killdeer  25 (5/5)   SP, NP.

American Avocet   600 (5/5) ( rough est.) ubiquitous in shallows.

Black-necked Stilt  100  (5/5) "       ".

Spotted Sandpiper  2 (4/5)   SP

Greater Yellowlegs   10 (5/5) (bsc. trans. alt. plmg.)   SP, NP (photo 7/29/11)..

                                                                        © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Lesser Yellowlegs  4 (2/5)   SP, NP.

Pectoral Sandpiper  1 (1/5) (imm) seen briefly on island, s SP.


Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus)  1(3/5) (trans. alt. plmg.) foraging, fly,with other shorebirds in shallows near sandbar, nw SP (photos 7/29/11 ); continuing 7/30/11; 7/31/11


                                                                                               © 2011 Callyn Yorke


                                                                                                                                                                   © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Western Sandpiper   120 (5/5)   SP.

Least Sandpiper    200 (5/5)   SP.

Baird's Sandpiper  1 (2/5) on shore; fly, call, SP.

Semipalmated Sandpiper   1 (4/5) ( imm. trans-basic plmg) on north shore of southern-most pond; noted stockier than LESA (photo) relatively thin, black legs; short black bill; dark crown; conspicuous white supercilium; white rump shown with white underwings. grayish variegated upperparts wih slight rufous tinge on scapulars., white underparts with dusky sides of neck. Foraging on shore (photos 7/27/11). Continuing through 7/31/11.


                                                                                                                       © 2011 Callyn Yorke

     Least Sandpiper (L); Semipalmated Sandpiper (R)                                                                                                   © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Short-billed Dowitcher   1-3 (2/5)   noted relatively short bill, white belly; call; birds staying close together while foratging,but away from LBDO, SP.

Long-billed Dowitcher  90 (5/5)   foraging in shallows, SP (photo 7/31/11)

                                                                                                                                 © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Marbled Godwit  2 (5/5) (imm) foraging on shore with back held horizontal, SP.

Willet  6 (4/5)   foraging together in tight flock, SP.

Wilson's Phalarope   120 (5/5) (95% bsc. plmg.)  spinning in shallows; foraging on shore, SP.

Red-necked Phalarope   12 (2/5) (bsc. plmg.)   spinning in shallows together, away from large flock of WIPH, SP.

California Gull  1 (5/5) (C2) flew into e side of SP.

Caspian Tern   6 (5/5)   flying, calls, NSP.

Forster's Tern  2 (1/5)   on sandbar, NSP.

Black Tern 11 (2/5) (ad, imm)   flying low, resting on sandbar.

California Least Tern  1 (1/5) (ad) flew and landed on sand island, nw SP (photos 7/28/11)


                                                © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Rock Pigeon  1(2/5)   w NP; SP.

Mourning Dove   2 (5/5)   salt cedar grove, NP.

Burrowing Owl  1 (1/5) flushed from roadside on south side of AVE C entrance, east of Sierra Hwy (first record for vicinity of Piute Ponds).

Great-horned Owl  1(1/5) flushed from willow, Ave. C levee, NP.

Barn Owl  3 (1/5)   in salt cedar grove, e NP.

Black Phoebe (3/5)    edge of salt cedars, e NP.

Western Kingbird  8 (5/5)     a loose flock sally-flycatching from tall snags, east side of NP.

Ash-throated Flycatcher  1(1/5)   adjacent Joshua tree - saltbush field, SP

Loggerhead Shrike  5 (5/5)    calls, fly, SP, NP.

Common Raven   6 (5/5)   flying over; on utility poles, SP, NP.

Horned Lark  10 (5/5)  shorelines,   SP, NP (photo 7/31/11)


Bank Swallow  3 (3/5) flying 20-40 ft over pond, SP.

Tree Swallow  1 (4/5)   flying low over pond, SP.

Cliff Swallow  2 (5/5) aerial hawking 25-75 ft, SP.

Barn Swallow  6 (5/5)   flying over marsh, NP.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow  2 (1/5), SP.

Marsh Wren  10 (5/5)   song, SP, NP.

Cactus Wren  2 (1/5)   Joshua tree - saltbush scrub; calls, SP.

Northern Mockingbird  1(2/5)   Joshua tree - saltbush scrub, e SP.

European Starling  10 (5/5) (ad, imm)   SP, NP.

Common Yellowthroat  1(5/5) marsh;  flushed from salt cedar, NP.

Sage Sparrow  12 (5/5) (ad, imm)    shorelines and brushy edge of levee, NP.

Song Sparrow  10 (5/5)( ad;imm)   edge of marsh, SP; calls, NP.

Savannah Sparrow  1 (1/5) calls, edge of saltbush scrub, SP. Generally scarce in July.

Black-headed Grosbeak  3 (1/5) (m,f, imm.) in willow at edge of levee, NP (photo  7/31/11)

                         © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Red-winged Blackbird   40 (5/5) (m,f, imm)   foraging on mudflats with TCBL, SP (photo 7/31/11).

Yellow-headed Blackbird  8 (m,f, imm)   foraging on mudflats with RWBL, SP.

Tricolored Blackbird  1  (1/5) (m)  shore and marsh, with RWBL SP (photo 7/31/11)

                                                                                                                            © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Brewer's Blackbird   6 (4/5)   foraging on shore, SP.

Great-tailed Grackle   6 (5/5) (f, imm)   foraging on shore and in marsh, SP.

Brown-headed Cowbird  5 (1/5) (m,f) flipping pieces of shoreline crust, SP.

Western Meadowlark  10 (5/5)    saltbush fields, SP, NP.











July 24, 2011  Little Stint

Weather: Fair; 73F; no wind.

Time: 0715 - 0815 hrs.

Observers: About a dozen other birders and I at the south pond complex (SP).

Area Covered: South Pond Ducks Unlimited Complex: Several cars belonging to birders were on the main east-west levee overlooking the northwestern portion of the south pond complex when I arrived around 0715 hrs. A Little Stint, reported here yesterday morning by Kimball Garrett and Kathy Molina, was being observed on the sandbars and shoreline in the ponds immediately north of the main levee (about 0.1 mi northeast of the junction of Challenger Way (10th Street East) and SP entrance road that crosses a narrow channel with fast-flowing water (passable with caution). Soon the birders and I relocated to the levee road on the north side of the south pond complex for improved lighting. After several minutes observing with scopes and binoculars, the bird was relocated in the same general area. Subsequently, I obtained identifiable photos of the bird after it flew and landed on a barren shoreline within about 30 yards of our group.

Little Stint (Calidris minuta 1 (ad; alt. plmg.) foraging and relocating frequently on shorelines and shallows in the northwestern portion of the south pond complex. Identifying features observed (and showing in the photos) included, small size (c.f. nearby WESA) long black legs, short wings, short thin bill, an overall orange coloration of the head and back; broken supercilium, white throat; dark spots on otherwise sparsely orange-buff neck (photos.). The bird was observed at several locations in the same pond area for a total of about 20 minutes, using a 35-55x scope and DLSR camera with a 80-400 mm lens. (first documented record for Piute Ponds). (photos 7/24/11)


                                                                         © 2011 Callyn Yorke

                                                                                                                                   © 2011 Callyn Yorke


JULY 21, 2011 (48 Species) 

Weather: Fair; 73F to 77F; winds WSW 10 - 20 mph.

Time: 0719 - 1052 hrs.

Area Covered: From the Avenue C entrance, I drove to the south pond complex (SP), spending most of my time there. I included a brief drive-through survey of the south pond inlet channel (high water level) and about 1 hr, at the narrow, water-filled channel of the north pond (NP); the latter having two other birders but markedly fewer birds than the south pond complex. Low water levels in the south pond complex provided excellent shoreline habitat for waterbirds, which were both diverse and abundant. I used a scope, binocular and DSLR camera for the survey. Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest included, Northern Shoveler, Semi-palmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Solitary Sandpiper , Willet and Short-billed Dowitcher.



Canada Goose  6   edge of SP.

Gadwall   3  (m,f) SP.

Mallard    200 (m,f; imm mostly SP.

Northern Shoveler 1 (f) continuing, NP.

Ruddy Duck  30  n section of SP.

California Quail  8  drinking, SP.

Clark's Grebe  2  resting, open water, north SP.

Great Blue Heron  4  marsh, edge of ponds, SP; n SP.

Great Egret  1  edge of channel, n SP.

Black-crowned Night Heron  20 (ad; imm) SP,  esp. north, SP.

White-faced Ibis   30 (ad, imm) SP; NP.

Northern Harrier  1 (f) circling low over a coyote, SP.

American Coot  3  edge of marsh, n SP.

Killdeer   30   SP; NP.

Semipalmated Plover  1  foraging on shoreline, SP.

Black-bellied Plover (trans. alt. plmg.)  12  flying; foraging on shoreline, SP.

American Avocet  300  (ad, imm)  vocal, active, mostly SP.

Black-necked Stilt    20  SP.

Solitary Sandpiper  1  foraging on shoreline, SP.

Greater Yellowlegs   18  shoreline and shallows, SP; NP.

Lesser Yellowlegs  3   shoreline and edge of channel, NP; SP.

Western Sandpiper   16  shoreline and shallows, SP.

Least Sandpiper    120  shoreline and shallows, SP.

Limnodromus sp.   10 (ad; imm; alt.. plmg.) individual shown on far right with a relatively short bill (concealed in the photo) and slightly smaller body size than nearby dowitchers (clearly L. scolopaceus);  partly white belly and flanks on some individuals, suggesting L. griseus;  a small, cohesive flock of this species foraging in shallows, SP Note: L. griseus does occur as a regular but scarce fall migrant in the Antelope Valley; usually greatly outnumbered by L. scolopaceus) (photo 7/21/11)

                                                                                                                                               © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Long-billed Dowitcher   100   (alt. plmg.)  shallows and edge of pond, SP.

Wilson's Phalarope   60  swimming, foraging on shore, SP.

Willet   2  foraging in shallows, SP.

Marbled Godwit   8  foraging in shallows, SP.

Whimbrel  1  foraging on island, SP.

California Gull    2  (C2) on island, SP.

Ring-billed Gull  1(ad) on island with CAGU, SP.

Black Phoebe  1  flying low, e SP.

Western Kingbird  1  saltbush scrub, NP.

Loggerhead Shrike   3    vocal; fly, desert scrub, NP, SP

Common Raven  2  flying, SP.

Horned Lark     20  flying, edge of ponds, SP, NP.

Tree Swallow  1  flying, SP.

Barn Swallow  2  flying low, NP.

Marsh Wren  2   marsh, song, SP;  1 NP.

European Starling  20 (ad, imm)   edge of SP.

Common Yellowthroat  1  flying into salt cedar, NP.

Song Sparrow  1  shore, SP;  1 edge of marsh, NP.

Sage Sparrow  2 shrubs at edge of levee, NP.

Western Meadowlark  10  desert scrub, SP, NP.

Yellow-headed Blackbird  5  (m, f)  edge of marsh and shore, SP.

Red-winged Blackbird    50   edge of marsh, shore, SP; NP.

Brewer's Blackbird  5  shore, SP.

House Finch  2  edge of levee, NP.'








JULY 9, 2011 (31 Species)

Weather: Fair; 84F to 87F; winds W 5-10 mph. Thundershowers in the Antelope Valley earlier this week; some puddles and mud remaining.

Time: 0810 - 1034 hrs.

Area Covered: I entered Piute Ponds, Edwards AFB from Avenue C and drove to the south pond inlet (SPI),  adjacent south pond complex (SP) and the north ponds (NP). The water levels were relatively low, exposing shoreline, sandbars and islands in SP. Most of the north pond was dry and covered by short wetland regrowth, except for a narrow, open channel along the eastern and northern boundaries. Shorebirds were scattered in SP and concentrated in the northeast corner of NP. The Avenue C levee separating NP and SP was muddy in places, requiring 4WD. I used a 10x42 binocular, 35-55x scope and DLSR camera for the survey. Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest found today included, Northern Shoveler, Pacific Golden Plover and relatively large numbers of White-faced Ibis and Greater Yellowlegs.


Gadwall  2 (ad)   swimming, SP.

Mallard  30 (ad, imm)  swimming, SP, NP.

Northern Shoveler  1 (f) swimming with mallards, NEC NP (photo 7/9/11).

                                                                                                                                                        ©   2011 Callyn Yorke     

Ruddy Duck   4 (ad) swimming, NP.

California Quail   3 (ad, imm)  running along levee, NP.

Eared Grebe  2 (imm.)  swimming, NP.

Great Blue Heron   4 (ad)    edge of marsh, SP, NP.

Black-crowned Night Heron  10 (ad, imm)   edge of marsh and on snags in open water, SP, NP.

White-faced Ibis   (ad, imm) foraging at edge of ponds and in marsh, 30 SP;  50 NP.

Killdeer    4  edge of ponds, SP;  3  marsh and mudflats, NP.

Pacific Golden Plover  1 (ad)  foraging at edge of ploughed mudflat near brushy wet area, NEC NP . I observed the bird from a distance of about 60 yards using a scope. for about 15 minutes with the scope and DSLR camera. Pale face, long legs, medium long bill and wings; golden-yellow and black markings on the dorsum and blackish underparts with white border and speckling on flanks. Evidently the first record for July at PP. (photos  7/9/11).


© 2011 Callyn Yorke                                                                                                                                                  ©  2011 Callyn Yorke


© 2011 Callyn Yorke                                                                                                              © 2011 Callyn Yorke


American Avocet   80-100 (ad, imm) scattered over SP and NP.

Black-necked Stilt    10 (ad, imm)  edge of SP and NP.

Greater Yellowlegs  11 (ad; trans, alt. plmg.) resting, calls, foraging in shallow channel, NP (photo 7/9/11)

                                                                                                                                                                                            © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Baird's Sandpiper ?  2  sandbar at s edge of SP. Larger than LESAt; plumper than WESA; warm buffy breast; too distant to see clearly.

Western Sandpiper   60 (ad, imm)  foraging at edge of ponds on islands and sanbars, SP; NEC NP.

Least Sandpiper  20 (ad )   foraging near WESA, SP.

Willet  1  foraging in  central flooded area, NP.

Tern sp. (Forster's?) 1   flying low, erratically over  northern section of the SP. Too distant and brief for proper identification.

Loggerhead Shrike  2   down to shore; calls, SP;  calls, NP.

Common Raven  4 flying;  a pair investigating a duck blind, SP.

Tree Swallow  2  flying low, SP.

Northern Mockingbird  1  edge of marsh and Joshua Tree scrub, SP.

European Starling  60 (ad, imm) foraging on shore; flying.

Song Sparrow   4  edge of inlet SPI;  2  edge of marsh, NP.

Red-winged Blackbird   60  (ad, imm) scattered around marsh and shore, SP, NP.

Yellow-headed Blackbird  3 (m)  flying low, SP.

Brewer's Blackbird   20  (m,f)  flying, foraging on shore, SP, NP.

Great-tailed Grackle  10 (ad, imm)   edge of marsh and shoreline, SP, NP.

Brown-headed Cowbird  3   marsh and shore, SP.

Western Meadowlark  4  fields adjacent to marsh and ponds, SP, NP; song.











JUNE 8, 2011 (35 Species)

Weather: Fair; 66F; winds WNW 5 - 10 mph.

Time: 0720 - 0956 hrs.

Area Covered:  Piute Ponds, South Pond Complex (SP): I drove east on a shallow, eroded levee, surveying ponds, islands, shoreline and adjacent alkali desert scrub with scattered Joshua Trees mature stands of Tamarisk. I used a 10x42 binocular, 35-55x scope and DSLR camera for the survey. Most of the waterbirds were on shallow islands and peninsulas in the southern sections of the ponds. Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest found here included, Brant (1 - continuing: see May 18 notes below), Whimbrel (1) and Sanderling (2). This is apparently the first June record for these three species at Piute Ponds.

I continued driving via 10th Street East to the north Piute Ponds (NP), initially walking east about 0.25 miles on the main Avenue C levee between the two main ponds. Then I drove a clockwise route on the levee around the north pond. Only four additional species were noted: Clark's Grebe (3), Eared Grebe (2), Mourning Dove (2) and Willow Flycatcher (1). Three other vehicles were in this area during the survey. Dense swarms of aerial insects (Diptera) were much more in evidence here than around the SP.


Brant  1 (continuing - see May 18)   foraging in shallows by walking slowly, moving head side to side; flew a short distance then returned to same location in the south-central portion of the southern ponds, SP (photo 6/8/11).

                                                                                © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Gadwall   25  (m,f)  pairs scattered in shallows of NP and SP.

Mallard  150 (m,f)  pairs; females with young, NP, SP.

Cinnamon Teal   1 (m) in shallow pond near entrance of SP.

Redhead  2 (m)   swimming in open water on north side of levee, SP.

Ruddy Duck   60 (m,f)  males most conspicuous, some displays, swimming near edge of ponds, NP, SP.

Eared Grebe  2 (alt. plmg.) swimming together, NP.

Clark's Grebe  3   one pair swimming together on s side of levee; a single bird diving in the n pond.

Double-crested Cormorant  1  resting on snag, n side of levee, SP.

Great Egret  1-2   one flying in from west; one on s edge of pond, SP.

Black-crowned Night Heron   40  (ad, imm) scattered around edge of marsh, SP, NP.

Northern Harrier  2 (m,f)  male with small rodent in talons, flying over field, SP; pair flying together over NP.

American Coot  30  scattered around edges of ponds and marsh, SP, NP.

Killdeer   12  (ad, imm) vocal, running on levees and shorelines, SP, NP.

American Avocet   120 (m,f; imm)   vocal, territorial displays; on shore and in shallows, SP, NP

Black-necked Stilt  30  on shore and in shallows, SP; more numerous in NP.

Whimbrel  1  resting on shore with bill tucked into feathers, SP.  Stripes on head visible.

Sanderling  2   ( trans. alt. plmg.) foraging on shallow island and into water , SP (photo 6/8/11).

                                                                                                        © 2011 Callyn Yorke


California Gull  6  (C2; C3) resting on island and shore, SP.

Caspian Tern  6  flying low over SP and NP; calls; one dipping bill into water.

Mourning Dove   2 flushed from roadside, NP.

Willow Flycatcher   1  "fitz-bew" vocalizations from within deciduous tree at edge of levee, NP.

Loggerhead Shrike  3    calls from Joshua Tree area;  one perched on utility line along 10th Street East, SP; one on top of Tamarisk, NP.

Common Raven  5  flying, perched, and drinking, SP, NP.

Horned Lark  14  all in one flock coming to the shore to drink, SP.

European Starling   8  on shore and in Tamarisk, SP.

Common Yellowthroat  2  singing, SP; one singing, SP.

Sage Sparrow   8   around eastern edge of SP.

Song Sparrow   6  song, calls, marsh, SP, NP.

Red-winged Blackbird   10 (m,f) flying over marsh, SP.

Western Meadowlark   3  perched on tall shrubs; vocal, SP, NP.

Brewer's Blackbird  6  foraging on shore, SP.

Yellow-headed Blackbird   4   (m,f)  in Tamarisk and on shore, SP;  emergent vegetation, NP.

Great-tailed Grackle   7   (m) vocal and displaying on shore, SP.

Brown-headed Cowbird  6  (m,f)  on shore; males, vocalizing and displaying together, SP











MAY 28, 2011 (40 Species)

Weather: Fair; 63F. winds WSW  15 - 30 mph.

Time: 1015 - 1200 hrs.

Observers: Ethan Yorke and I.

Area Covered:  1)  Avenue C and 10th Street East North Pond (NP): After walking out to the southwest edge of the marsh (a dried salt pan), we drove a clockwise route around the entire north pond, stopping frequently to observe birds. MP's stopped us to check my Edwards AFB Pass and mentioned that a car with three other birders was also stopped and questioned at the south pond complex. Steady southwest winds kept many birds low and hidden from view. The only unusual bird species noted here was a single Red-necked Phalarope (presumably a late northbound migrant).  2) We then drove to the inlet channel entrance, and headed east into the South Pond Complex (SP) observing birds from the low, partially eroded roadway.  Only three additional species were noted, Canada Goose (adults with young), Snowy Plover and Brown-headed Cowbird.


Canada Goose 6 (2 ad. 4 young ) swimming together, SP.

Gadwall    16  (m,f)  edge of ponds, NP, SP.

Mallard    30 (m,f)  edge of ponds, NP, SP.

Cinnamon Teal   12 (m,f)   sandbars and shallows, NP, SP.

Redhead   10  (m,f)  pairs in shallows, NP, SP.

Ruddy Duck   50 (m,f)  edge of marsh, NP, SP.

California Quail  2  roadside, NP.

Eared Grebe  1  (alt. plmg. ) swimming, ne side of NP.

Clark's Grebe  2 (m,f) resting, edge of marsh, southern NP.

Great Blue Heron  1  standing in shallows, SP.

Snowy Egret  4  together at nw corner of NP.

Black-crowned Night Heron   30 (ad, imm); one caught a dark frog (Xenopus?) and flew off with it, NP.

White-faced Ibis   6   edge of NP; 1 with  small flock of SNEG.

Northern Harrier  2 (m,f) flying low over nw corner of NP.

American Coot  50  edge of NP;  shallows, SP.

Snowy Plover   3  on sandbar, SP.

Killdeer   4  edge of pond, NP;  6  SP.

Black-necked Stilt   40  shallow edges of ponds and marsh, NP, SP.

American Avocet  120  shallow edges of marsh; swimming in shallows, NP, SP; highly vocal with broken wing displays on levee.

Spotted Sandpiper   1 edge of NP;  4  sandbars, SP.

Red-necked Phalarope  1 (alt. plmg.)   preening on edge of marsh, ne corner of NP (photo 5/28/11).

                                                                              © 2011 Callyn Yorke

California Gull  2 (C1; C2)  on sandbar, SP.

Mourning Dove  2  flushed from e levee, NP.

Western Kingbird  1  calls, nw edge of NP.

Common Raven    10  fly, call, NP, SP.

Horned Lark  2  adjacent saltbush fields, NP.

Tree Swallow  10  flying low, w, SP.

Marsh Wren  2  singing, sw corner of NP.

European Starling  4  flying over, NP.

Common Yellowthroat   4  singing, sw corner, NP.

Wilson's Warbler  1  flew into Tamarisk, NP.

Song Sparrow  3  singing, s edge of NP.

Western Tanager  1 (m) flew into tall Tamarisk, NP.

Red-winged Blackbird  50   edge of marsh, NP; foraging on shore, SP.

Western Meadowlark  2  singing in adjacent Atriplex fields, NP.

Yellow-headed Blackbird  3  (f)  brushy island, NP.

Brewer's Blackbird  1  edge of NP;  3  flying over SP.

Great -tailed Grackle    2 (m) on levee, n NP.

Brown-headed Cowbird   2  (m,f) on shore, SP.

House Finch  4  calls, song, Tamarisk and edge of marsh, NP.








MAY 18, 2011 (39 Species)

Weather: Partly cloudy; 55F to 62F; winds WNW 5 -25 mph.

Time: 1614 - 1850 hrs.

Observers: Ethan Yorke and I

Areas Covered: 1) North ponds (NP). Initially we walked along the Avenue C levee about 60 yards and scoped the north pond; habitats surveyed included Tamarisk, ruderal roadside, alkaline - Joshua Tree desert scrub, freshwater marsh and open water. Water levels in the ponds were relatively high. Some exposed islands, peninsulas and shoreline on the southern margin of the pond. The adjacent southern pond had little or no exposed shoreline. We then drove a clockwise route on the levee around the entire north pond, stopping frequently to observe birds with a scope and 10x42 binocular. Birds of seasonal and/or distributional interest found in the NP area included: White-faced Ibis and Short-billed Dowitcher. 2) We drove south along 10th St. E (Challenger Way) to the entrance of the south pond complex (SP). We drove on the levee road east through the pond complex, stopping frequently to observe birds on shorelines, in shallows and on several small islands, with a binocular and scope. Species added to our day-list at the SP complex were: Canada Goose, Brant, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Western Sandpiper, Red Knot, Black-necked Stilt, California Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Tree Swallow and Cliff Swallow.


Canada Goose  7 (3 ad; 4 young); a pair of adults swimming with goslings; one adult keeping head and neck outstretched on the water, SP.

Brant  1 walking on sandbar, SP.

Gadwall   16  (m,f)   swimming; resting on sandbar, NP, SP.

Mallard  20 (m,f) pairs swimming and resting on land, NP, SP.

Cinnamon Teal   30 (m,f) pairs and single males, swimming, flying, NP, SP.

Northern Shoveler  1  (m) swimming, SP.

Green-winged Teal 1 (m) swimming, SP.

Ruddy Duck  100 (m,f)  pairs and small flocks swimming, diving, NP, SP.

California Quail   2   flushed from roadside shrubs, NP.

Eared Grebe  2 (alt. plmg.) swimming, NP.

Western Grebe   3  swimming, southern pond, NP.

Clark's Grebe  3  swimming, southern pond, NP.

Double-crested Cormorant   10 (ad, imm) , resting on islands, NP, SP.

Great Egret  1  on island, NP.

Snowy Egret  4  on island, NP.

Black-crowned Night Heron   60 (ad, imm) fly, edge of marsh; one dove into the pond when flying over and chased by a raven, NP, SP.

White-faced Ibis  2  flushed from roadside flooded area; one flying over NP.\

American Coot   80  swimming, NP, SP.

Killdeer    6  on islands, NP, SP; calls.

Black-necked Stilt   4   on sandbar and in shallows, SP.

American Avocet   30 (m,f)  alt. plmg.  highly vocal when approached; display flights; foraging in shallows; several sitting on islands, NP, SP.

Spotted Sandpiper   14 (alt. plmg.)  small flocks on   islands and shorelines, NP, SP.

Western Sandpiper  1 (ad) alt. plmg.   on sandbar, SP.

Short-billed Dowitcher  4  alt. plmg. foraging in shallows at s edge of NP.

Red Knot  1 (alt. plmg.) resting on sandbar; flew off when approached and did not return, SP.

Ring-billed Gull 1 (C1). foraging on shore, SP.

California Gull 1 (C1)  flying low over SP.

Mourning Dove  4  flushed from roadside shrubs, NP.

Common Raven  6  flying over ponds; one chasing a BCNH; a pair by a Joshua Tree near the Ave. C entrance, NP.

Horned Lark   4  flying low, landing on ground in Atriplex scrub, NP.

Tree Swallow  100 (conserv. est.) large, loose flock foraging over ponds and 150 ft. above ground, SP.

Cliff Swallow  4  flying low amongst TRSW, SP.

Marsh Wren  10  singing, NP, SP.

Common Yellowthoat  2  singing in marsh, NP.

Song Sparrow  20  edge of marsh and Tamarisk; song, , NP, SP

Red-winged Blackbird   6 (m,f)    calls and song, flying into Tamarisk, NP

Western Meadowlark  1  singing, alkaline desert scrub, NP.

Yellow-headed Blackbird  20  (m,f)  edge of marsh in Tamarisk snags (several females together); island with tules, NP.

Great-tailed Grackle  4 (m,f)   tule island,  Tamarisk, edge of marsh, NP.









May 1, 2011 (47 Species)

Weather: Fair; 65F to 72F; no wind.

Time: 1720 - 1928 hrs.

Observers: Ethan Yorke and I.

Areas Covered: 1) North pond (NP). We parked at the Avenue C entrance and walked around the parking area for a few minutes, surveying the marsh, open water, Tamarisk trees and adjacent flooded fields of Atriplex. We continued by car around the north pond, stopping several times to observe birds using the mudflats, marsh and open water. Most of the birds seen in today's survey were found here. Dense swarms of midges filled the air everywhere. Many warblers (mostly YRWA) were in the Tamarisk trees.

2) South Pond (SP). We drove due east (opposite the inlet) on the low levee separating the ponds, stopping frequently to observe birds.  Most of the same bird species seen at NP were present here; additional species were found at SP were  Canada Goose, Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Wilson's Phalarope and Tree Swallow. Water levels in both ponds were medium-high;  narrow shorelines and islands held a fair diversity of birds, though not in large numbers. We used a 10x42 binocular, 35-55x scope and a DSLR camera for the survey.


Canada Goose   2  foraging at the edge of the marsh, SP.

Gadwall   20   pairs swimming in middle and edges of ponds, NP, SP.

Mallard    30  (m,f)  swimming in ponds; some on land at edge of ponds, NP, SP.

Blue-winged Teal  2 (m,f)  a pair resting on a small island, SP.

Cinnamon Teal   50 (m,f)  pairs swimming; flighty, NP, SP.

Northern Shoveler   80   (m,f)  most on SP.

Redhead   12   (m,f)  pairs swimming, NP, SP.

Lesser Scaup  2 (m,f)  swimming in open, shallow water, SP.

Ruddy Duck  250  (m.f)  alt. plmg.  abundant, conspicuous, NP, SP.

Eared Grebe   6  (alt. plmg.)  swimming near edge, NP, SP.

Clark's Grebe  1   swimming in open water, northern section of SP.

Double-crested Cormorant  9  resting on island, NP.

Snowy Egret   1  foraging in flooded field, NP.

Black-crowned Night Heron  100 (ad, imm)  widely scattered in Tamarisk at edge of ponds; snags in ponds, NP, SP.

White-faced Ibis  1  flying low and landing in flooded field, NP.

Red-tailed Hawk   1  on utility pole, 10th St. E, SP.

Sora  1  calls, edge of NP near Avenue C.

Virginia Rail  1  calls, edge of NP near Avenue C.

American Coot  300  edges and middle of ponds, NP, SP.

American Avocet    60   edges and shallows, NP, SP; calls.

Black-necked Stilt   18   mudflats and shallows, NP, SP.

Killdeer  2  mudflats, NP.

Solitary Sandpiper  1  on mudflat, NP.

Greater Yellowlegs  1  grassy edge of NP.

Western Sandpiper    10  mudflats, NP.

Least Sandpiper   80  mudflats, NP, SP.

Short-billed Dowitcher  2-3 ? alt. plmg.  foraging close together, uniformly reddish underparts; comparatively short bills, shallows, NP.

Long-billed Dowitcher   30  shallows and flooded islands, NP, SP.

Whimbrel  100  large flocks flying low over marsh; a few in shallows, NP.

Wilson's Phalarope  3  (alt. plmg.) swimming, forgaging, SP.

Red-necked Phalarope   6 (alt. plmg.) swimming in shallows, NP; SP.

Bonaparte's Gull   17 (4 - alt. plmg.)  swimming in shallows; flying low, dipping, NP.

California Gull   20 (ad, imm) flying east from  Lancaster sewage ponds.

Forster's Tern  2  perched on pilings, NP.

Mourning Dove   2  flying; perched in Tamarisk, NP.

Common Raven   6  flying over ponds and adjacent fields, NP, SP.

Tree Swallow  100  large flock at variable heights (10 - 200 ft.) over marsh, SP.

Barn Swallow  3  flying low over NP.

Marsh Wren  8  singing at edge of marsh along Avenue C, NP.

Orange-crowned Warbler  1  flying into Tamarisk, NP.

Wilson's Warbler  1  flying into tall Cottonwood, NP.

Yellow-rumped Warbler   (A)  60  in and around Tamarisk, NP.

Common Yellowthroat  2  singing, in marsh and edge, NP.

Song Sparrow  8   singing in marsh and Tamarisk, NP; SP.

Red-winged Blackbird  20  (m,f)  in Tamarisk and adjacent flooded fields, NP.

Yellow-headed Blackbird  5 (m,f)  marsh on island, NP.

Western Meadowlark   1  saltbush field near Ave. C entrance, NP.







February 23, 2011 (30 Species)

Weather: Fair, 43F; winds W 5-10 mph.

Time: 0845-1005 hrs.

Areas Covered: 1) From the Avenue D gate, I drove east then south on Challenger Way (10th St. East) to the inlet ditch on the west side of the south pond complex (IDSP). This area was almost completely inundated by recent rains; water level in the inlet ditch nearly to the top edge of the levee. Many ducks and a few shorebirds (Long-billed Dowitcher, Western and Least Sandpiper) were found here.        2) Returning to Challenger Way, I drove east into the south pond complex (SP), following the levees where passable. Pond water levels were very high, roads muddy and barely passable with high-clearance 2WD. Very little shoreline was exposed in this area; no sandpipers or shorebirds were found here during the survey.  3) Continuing in my vehicle, I entered the north Piute Pond complex (NP) at Avenue D and Challenger Way, proceeding east along the Avenue D levee, then around the north pond, which was also at high water level. The levee roads were largely dry and easily passable with 2WD. Five species, Mallard, Bufflehead, Eared grebe, California Quail and American Pipit, were added to the day-list at this location.


Gadwall   10 (m,f) IDSP; NP.

Mallard  2 (m,f) flushed from flooded field, n.

Northern Pintail  2 (m,f) flooded area, IDSP.

Northern Shoveler  300 (m,f)   ubiquitous.

Cinnamon Teal   8 (m,f) IDSP;  12  NP.

Green-winged Teal   60 (m,f) IDSP; NP.

Bufflehead   4 (m,f) NP.

Ruddy Duck  90 (m,f)   ubiquitous.

California Quail  3  ran across road, NP.

Eared Grebe  1 NP.

Great Blue Heron  1  flushed from roadside marsh, SP.

Black-crowned Night Heron  2 (ad, imm) SP.

Double-crested Cormorant  2 (ad) flying over SP.

Killdeer  3  calls, shoreline, IDSP.

Whimbrel  1  flying west, IDSP.

Long-billed Dowitcher  2  foraging, IDSP.

Western Sandpiper  2  foraging, IDSP.

Least Sandpiper    4  foraging, IDSP.

Red-tailed Hawk  2 (ad, imm) on utility pole.

Northern Harrier  4 (m,f) two males (1 imm) flying low, together, NP;  1 female low over SP.

Common Raven   6  pairs on and around utility poles; one pair in marsh, SP.

Horned Lark   2  flying low into saltbush field, NP.

American Pipit  1  on levee, NP.

Cliff Swallow  1  flying low over flooded field, IDSP.

Tree Swallow   300  ubiquitous: flying low over marsh and fields.

Marsh Wren   10  IDSP calls and song;  2 SP song; 2 NP song.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (A)   1(m)   roadside shrubs, IDSP.

Song Sparrow   5  singing, calls, IDSP;  2  SP;  2  NP.

Savannah Sparrow  2  roadside, IDSP;  1 SP; 1 NP.

Western Meadowlark  1 flying low over saltbush field, NP.







JANUARY 24, 2011 (33 Species)

Weather: Fair; 32F, no wind.

Time: 0810-0950 hrs.

Areas Covered: From the Avenue C west gate, I entered   1) Piute Ponds, West inlet (WI) to the South (Ducks Unlimited) Ponds: I drove west along the water-filled inlet ditch from 10th Street East (Challenger Way). Waterbirds were concentrated in the flooded fields near the roadway.  2) South (DU) Ponds (SP). I drove east from 10th Street East, across a swift-flowing drainage ditch (high clearance needed) and onto dry, rutted levees separating the ponds. Hundreds of American Coot, Ruddy Duck and Northern Shoveler were in this area. Several duck blinds were scattered around the ponds.  3) North Piute Pond (NP): I walked around the sw corner area on the levee road, surveying the shallow, flooded north pond and marsh where most of the birds occurred. The roadside Tamarisk and saltbush scrub held an abundance of sparrows (mostly Song and White-crowned). Birds added to the day-list were: Bufflehead, American Pipit and Tricolored Blackbird. Ducks and Coots were flighty on all of the ponds this morning. Several duck blinds were in the NP area. The perimeter road was easily passable with 2WD. No other people were seen in the area during my survey.


Gadwall  1 WI; 2 (m,f) SP; 4 (m,f) NP.

American Wigeon  1 (m) WI.

Mallard  4 (m,f) SP;  6 (m,f) NP, flighty.

Cinnamon Teal  1  resting on island shore, SP.

Northern Shoveler   300 (m,f)  ubiquitous.

Northern Pintail   1 (m) WI.

Bufflehead  3  (m,f)  NP.

Ruddy Duck  500 (m,f)  ubiquitous.

Pied-billed Grebe  1  diving, WI.

Eared Grebe  1 SP.

Great Blue Heron  1  flying, SP; 1 on duck blind, n SP.

Black-crowned Night Heron  2 (ad) in Tamarisk, SP.

Red-tailed Hawk  1   pair together on utility pole, WI.

Northern Harrier  1 (f) flying low over SP; 1 (f) flying low over NP.

Prairie Falcon  1  flushed from ground or low shrub, flew to Joshua Tree, east SP.

Turkey Vulture 1 flying low over marsh, NP.

American Coot   1,000 (conserv. est.) ubiquitous.

Killdeer  1  calls , WI.

Least Sandpiper  1  foraging on shore, SP.

Wilson's Snipe  1  flying over SP.

Northern Flicker  1  flying s over NP.

Black Phoebe  3  edge of NP.

Loggerhead Shrike  1  in tall shrub, WI;  2  in tall shrubs and trees, s and n NP; calls.

Common Raven  15  flying, calls, ubiquitous.

Horned Lark  13  flooded roadside ditch, Sierra HWY near Ave. C.

Marsh Wren  3  singing, WI;  2 singing, NP.

American Pipit  1  roadside grass & shrubs, calls, NP.

Yellow-rumped Warbler  5   roadside shrubs, NP.

Savannah Sparrow  2  roadside weedy area, WI;  2  roadside shrubs, NP.

Song Sparrow  30  ubiquitous at edge of marsh/levees; calls and song.

White-crowned Sparrow   5  roadside saltbush, NP.

Tricolored Blackbird  3 (f) together in saltbush, n side of NP.

Western Meadowlark   2  singing, WI;  4  flying over field, NP.



SEPTEMBER 13, 2010 (58 Species)

Weather: Fair, 62F to 68F; no wind (AM); fair, 88F; winds WSW 5-12 mph.(PM).

Time: 0850 - 1025 hrs; 1730-1900 hrs.

Observers: Myself (0850-1025 hrs); Ethan Yorke and I (1730-1900 hrs).

Area Covered:  I drove slowly along the brush-lined iInlet channel (IC) on the W side of the South Piute Pond complex (SP), then on the levee system of SP, stopping frequently to observe birds from my vehicle, using a 10x42 binocular and DSLR camera. An afternoon-early evening (1730-1900 hrs.) survey was made of the partially cleared and ploughed north pond (NP), including another visit to the south pond (SP.)The relatively low water level of the SP area (the ponds have been draining onto Rogers Dry Lake over the past few weeks) has exposed extensive sandy shorelines and mudflats, attracting thousands of waterbirds to Piute Ponds; many of these species are absent or scarce elsewhere in the Antelope Valley. Notable birds found today include: Pectoral Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper and Solitary Sandpiper.


Gadwall  2 (f)  eastern SP.

Mallard  50  eastern and northern SP.

Northern Pintail  2 (f) central SP.

Cinnamon Teal  30  (m,f) with mallards around edges of the ponds, SP.

Redhead  4 (m,f) northern SP.

Ruddy Duck   20 (m,f)   E-central SP.

Clark's Grebe  1  northern SP.

Eared Grebe  4 (Bsc. plmg.)   central SP.

Pied-billed Grebe  1 diving, northern SP.

Double-crested Cormorant  1 diving then resting on snag, northern SP.

American White Pelican  3  eastern section, SP (photo 8/13/10).

                                                                                                                             © 2010 Callyn Yorke


Great Blue Heron  2  SP.

Great Egret   6  IC and SP.

Snowy Egret   6  flooded depression adjacent (south) to IC.

Black-crowned Night Heron  2 (ad, imm) central SP.

White-faced Ibis  70  southern SP; large flock flying erratically over SP @ 1830 hrs.

Red-tailed Hawk  1  on utility pole along 10th Street East near IC.

American Coot  6   SP.

Plover (Pluvialis sp. dominica?)   1  Seen briefly in poor light; flushed with other shorebirds; interior shoreline of central SP P. dominica reported here by Kimball Garrett two days ago.

Semi-palmated Plover  1  interior shoreline of central SP.

Killdeer  15   shorelines of SP.

American Avocet 120  (bsc. plmg.) scattered over most ponds; foraging in shallows, SP.

Black-necked Stilt  50   shorelines of SP.

Greater Yellowlegs  1 (IC);  8  shorelines of SP.

Lesser Yellowlegs  1 interior shoreline of SP

Baird's Sandpiper  4  interior shorelines of SP.

Pectoral Sandpiper  12  shorelines of SP; loose flocks of 3-5 birds foraging together through thick, bubbling, green algae and cyanobacteria (photos). Initially I counted many more individuals, then discovered most were probably "double-counted" due to their flightiness around the S.(photos 8/13/10).


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                © 2010 Callyn Yorke


Western Sandpiper  100 +   interior and exterior shorelines, SP.

Least Sandpiper  300 +   interior and exterior shorelines, SP.

Solitary Sandpiper  1  backwater slough, NP.

Long-billed Dowitcher   80 (bsc. and trans. plmg.)   foraging mostly in shallows, SP.

Short-billed Dowitcher  2 (bsc. plmg. noticably shorter bill than nearby LBD); interior SP.

Marbled Godwit   12  foraging along edges of SP.

Whimbrel  1 flushed from shoreline, east SP.

Willet  1  brush-lined slough, SP.

Wilson's Phalarope   30  foraging (spinning) in shallows, SP.

Red-necked Phalarope   160   foraging (spinning) in shallows, SP.

Caspian Tern  5  flying over SP.

Western Kingbird  1 low perch in open field, NP.

Black Phoebe   1  W entrance to SP.

Loggerhead Shrike  1  calls from open area adjacent to IC.

European Starling  2  shoreline, SP.

Northern Mockingbird  1  salt cedar, NP.

Common Raven  4  flying over SP.

Horned Lark  1  in saltbush scrub along Ave. C, NP.

Barn Swallow  20  flying low over marsh, SP.

Cliff Swallow  1  flying low over marsh, SP.

Tree Swallow  4  flying high over marsh, NP.

Marsh Wren   5  calls from marhs, IC and SP.

Song Sparrow   12  brushy border of IC.

Savannah Sparrow 1  calls from roadside shrubs, SP.

Lincoln's Sparrow  1  muddy-brushy border of IC.

Sage Sparrow  1  saltbush flats adjacent to IC.

Red-winged Blackbird   20   (f; imm) brushy border of IC; flock roosting in brushy field, NP.

Brewer's Blackbird  2  interior shoreline, SP.

Yellow-headed Blackbird  1 (m) E shoreline of SP.

Western Meadowlark  2 saltbush scrub, SP.

House Finch   12  brushy border of IC.










SEPTEMBER 4, 2010 (54 Species)

Weather: Fair, 65F to 90F; no wind.

Time: 0720 - 1100 hrs.

Observers: Dr. Zia Nisani and I.

Area Covered: Beginning at the South Pond Complex inlet, we surveyed largely on foot, marsh, shoreline, open water and adjacent Joshua Tree- Atriplex scrub, spending most of time where birds were abundant around the south ponds (SP), before continuing NE on the back roads to the Russian-thistle -choked North Pond (NP).We used a 35-55x scope, binoculars and a DSLR camera. Several other birders from Pasadena, including Mark and Janet Scheel, were met at the SP; they were helpful both with reports from the areas we had not yet covered and with finding birds (e.g. Pectoral Sandpiper) at the SP. Today was my colleague Dr. Nisani's (an Entomologist from the AVC Biology Dept.) debut as a birder; Piute Ponds provided more than 50 "Life Bird" species for his list, in addition to numerous species of Odonata and Diptera. Notable birds (either for their seasonal occurrence and/or scarcity) included: Baird's Sandpiper (2), Semipalmated Sandpiper  (1-2), Pectoral Sandpiper (1), Solitary Sandpiper (1), Bank Swallow (1) and LeConte's Thrasher (1).


Mallard  60 (m,f) scattered over SP; flighty.

Cinnamon Teal  30 (m,f)   SP; flighty.

Northern Pintail   2 (f) open water, SP.

Ruddy Duck  12 (trans. alt. plmg.)  open water, SP.

California Quail   10 SP; 20 NP.

Pied-billed Grebe  1 (trans. alt. plmg.) diving near tules, SP.

American White Pelican  1  open water, SP.

Great Blue Heron  2 (ad, imm) around duck blinds, SP.

Great Egret  2  in marsh, SP.

Snowy Egret  5 (ad, imm)  marsh and shallows, SP and NP.

Black-crowned Night Heron  5 (ad, imm) flying, SP.

White-faced Ibis  20  SP and NP (photo 9/4/10).

                                                                                                                           © 2010 Callyn Yorke

Red-tailed Hawk  2 (ad, imm) on utility poles, SP.

American Coot  10 N edge of SP.Semi-palmated Plover  2  foraging on sandy island, SP.

Killdeer  20  SP, NP.

American Avocet  60 (bsc. plmg.) scattered around shorelines of SP.

Black-necked Stilt  80  around edges of marsh, SP, NP.

Solitary Sandpiper  1  inlet channel, SP.

Greater Yellowlegs   20  shoreline, SP, NP; flock of 8 with one LYL flying in from NE to NP.

Lesser Yellowlegs 3 shoreline, SP, NP.

Baird's Sandpiper  2  E end of SP; two individuals foraging nearby on shoreline of island (photos 9/4/10).


                                                                                                                                                                                                                 © 2010 Callyn Yorke

Western Sandpiper  80 (ad, imm)   shorelines around SP.

Semi-palmated Sandpiper  1-2  shoreline, SP.

Least  Sandpiper  180  shorelines around SP.

Pectoral Sandpiper  1  with LBD on interior sandy peninsula, SP.

Short-billed Dowitcher  2  (trans. bsc. plmg)  with LBD on interior shoreline, SP.

Long-billed Dowitcher  100 ( 15% alt. trans.-bsc. plmg..)  foraging; mostly interior shorelines, SP.

Willet  2  shoreline, E SP.

Wilson's Phalarope  200 (est. bsc. plmg.) spinning in water and preening on land; shorelines SP.

Red-necked Phalarope  60 (bsc. plmg.) foraging in open water, SP.

Marbled Godwit  2  foraging in shallows, interior of SP.

California Gull 1 (imm: C1) interior shore, SP.

Caspian Tern  2  flying high over SP; calls.

Mourning Dove  4  on roadways; flying, SP.

Black Phoebe  3  edge of marsh, SP, NP.

Western Kingbird  1  saltbush scrub at inlet, SP.

Loggerhead Shrike  4  flying, calls; perched in salt cedar, NP, SP.

Common Raven  12 flying over ponds; pair in metal shelter, NP.

Horned Lark  12 drinking at SP.

Tree Swallow  50 (ad, imm) flying low and perched: utility lines and tules, SP.

Bank Swallow  1  perched in tules with TS, BS and CS, SP.

Barn Swallow  3-5  in tules and flying low over SP.

Cliff Swallow  8  in tules and flying over SP.

Marsh Wren  20  calling and active in marsh, SP, NP.

LeConte's Thrasher  1  running across roadway, flying and landing in saltbush, backroad, E.

Orange-crowned Warbler  1  flushed from salt cedar, NP.

Common Yellowthroat  2  SP, NP.

Sage Sparrow  50 edge of ponds, marsh and desert scrub, SP, NP.

Song Sparrow  20  active in marsh, SP, NP.

Brewer's Blackbird  10 (m,f) shorelines, SP.

Yellow-headed Blackbird  1 (m) a rather scruffy, emaciated individual foraging along interior shoreline, SP.

Red-winged Blackbird  10 (m,f  imm)   scattered in marsh, SP.

Tricolored Blackbird  12  (f, imm) a tight, vocal flock in the marsh alongside the inlet channel, SP.

Western Meadowlark  1  flying low across saltbush field, NP.











AUGUST 26, 2010 (50 Species)

Weather: Fair, 73 to 78F; no wind. Thundershowers early AM.

Time: 0710-1010 hrs.

Area Covered:  I drove slowly through the south Piute Pond complex (SP), beginning at the canal inlet on the west side of Challenger Way (10th Street East), south of Avenue C. I surveyed ponds, marsh, open saltbush scrub, using a binocular, scope and DSLR camera. I returned to Avenue C and turned east onto the north pond levee (NP) driving through deep mud in places and around the northern perimeter. I also walked around the area by the raised metal observaion shelter, surveying salt cedar and adjacent saltbush scrub. Most of the birds were found in the south pond area this morning. Birds of seasonal and distributional interest were: Pectoral Sandpiper (1), Baird's Sandpiper (2), Semiplamated Sandpiper (3) and Willet (2).


Gadwall  2 (f) SP.

Mallard   60 (m,f) SP.

Cinnamon Teal    40 (f, trans. bsc plmg.)  SP.

Northern Shoveler   10  (f)  SP.

Redhead   3 (m,f)  SP.

Ruddy Duck   60 (m,f)   SP.

Great Blue Heron  4  SP.

Great Egret  20  inlet canal flooded roadside depression, SP.

Snowy Egret  4  "               "  SP.

Black-crowned Night Heron  2  flying low, SP.

White-faced Ibis   70  large flock foraging in flooded roadside depression, SP.

Red-tailed Hawk  1  on utility pole, SP.

American Coot   30  SP.

Killdeer   20  SP.

Spotted Sandpiper  1  dried mud bank in flooded ditch, NP.

Greater Yellowlegs   8 (bsc.  and 1 alt plmg.)   SP (photo).

Lesser Yellowlegs   4  SP (photo 8/26/10: left LYL; right GYL).

                                                                                                                                                                                                 © 2010 Callyn Yorke


Baird's Sandpiper   2 (juv) with large mixed species flock (msf) of peeps, SP.

Western Sandpiper   50 with large msf of peeps.   SP.

Semipalmated Sandpiper  3 (ad; juv) with large msf of peeps   SP.

Least Sandpiper   300 (ad, juv) ubiquitous around edges of SP.

Pectoral Sandpiper  1   N shoreline of SP (photos 8/26/10).


                                            © 2010 Callyn Yorke

Short-billed Dowitcher  3 (bsc. plmg) foraging near LBD, SP.

Long-billed Dowitcher  40 (trans. alt. plmg)   foraging on shorelines, SP.

Willet  2  flooded ditch, NP (photo 8/26/10).

                                                                                                        © 2010 Callyn Yorke

Marbled Godwit  20  flock of 15  landed and began foraging on shoreline of SP.

Wilson's Phalarope   60 (bsc. plmg.)   foraging in open water and on shore, SP.

Red-necked Phalarope  20 (bsc. plmg.)   foraging in open water near WP.

Black-necked Stilt  120  ubiquitous in SP; a few in the NP.

American Avocet  30 (bsc. plmg.)   SP.

Black Tern   3  (ad; juv) flying low and dipping in SP.

Mourning Dove   6  NP.

Barn Owl  1 flushed from salt cedar, NP.

Anna's Hummingbird  1 (f) in salt cedar, NP.

Western Kingbird 1  salt cedar, NP.

Loggerhead Shrile  3  SP; NP.

Common Raven   6  flying over SP and NP.

Horned Lark  1  roadside saltbush scrub, SP.

Tree Swallow   6  flying low over SP.

Barn Swallow  10 flying low over SP/NP.

Marsh Wren  20  singing in marsh, SP.

Northern Mockingbird  2  salt cedar, NP.

European Starling  4  flying over SP.

Common Yellowthroat  1 calls, edge of NP.

Song Sparrow   4  SP; 2 NP.

Red-winged Blackbird   3 (ad, imm)   NP.

Tricolored Blackbird  10 (ad f, imm).

Brewer's Blackbird  20 (m,f)   on shorelines, SP.

Great-tailed Grackle   4 (m,f) NP.

Western Meadowlark  1  song, edge of SP.







AUGUST 8, 2010 (56 Species)

Weather: Fair; 70 to 85F; wind WSW 0-2 mph.

Time: 0910-1240 hrs.

Area Covered: Initially I drove slowly west, along the inlet channel road, located about 0.7 miles south of Avenue C and Challenger Way (10th Street East and Ave. "C-10") on Edwards AFB. The channel is choked with weeds but the adjacent flooded field to the south had good visibility and several species of shorebird, including about 40 White-faced Ibis. Returning eastward, I picked up the dirt road leading into the south Piute Pond (SP) complex (south of Avenue C) and stopped frequently to scope the shallow ponds, marsh and shorelines. This area had abundant birdlife; most of the bird species found today were in SP. One other birder (Todd McGrath) was just finishing up his survey when I arrived and mentioned the location of one species of interest he had seen, Solitary Sandpiper, which I subsequently found and photographed in the SP area. I returned to Challenger Way and turned east on Avenue C, entering the north Piute Pond (NP) area. I drove slowly along the levee roads, stopping frequently to observe birds in the open fields, weedy channels and dry shoreline.  Only three new bird species were added to the day-list in the NP area: Clark's Grebe, Red-shouldered Hawk and Cassin's Kingbird. In addition, as I was leaving the area, a rather scrawny looking coyote crossed the roadway, galloped into the saltbush scrub then stopped and looked over its shoulder for a few seconds, allowing time for a quick portrait (photo  8/8/10).



                                                                                                                                                      © 2010 Callyn Yorke



1) Gadwall  4 (f)  flying over ponds, SP, NP

2) Mallard  60 (m,f)  shallows and edges of SP.

3) Northern Pintail  1 (f) dabbling and dipping, SP:

4) Cinnamon Teal  4  (f, imm) marshy edge of pond and open water, SP.

5) Green-winged Teal  1 (f) partly concealed in marsh, SP.

6) Ruddy Duck   80 (m,f alt. plmg.) open water and edge of marsh, SP.

7) California Quail   10   crossing roadway, SP;  30 (ad, imm) edge of marsh and saltbush scrub. NP.

8) Clark's Grebe  2  open water, SP.

9) American White Pelican  30  a flock gaining altitude above SP soon after my arrival.

10) Great Blue Heron  5  edges of marsh; shallows, SP.

11) Great Egret  6  edges of marsh; inlet, SP.

12) Snowy Egret  4  perched in Salt Cedar, SP.

13) Black-crowned Night Heron  8 (ad, imm) around edges of marsh and swimming in shallows, SP.

14) White-faced Ibis  50 (conserv. est.)   large, mobile flocks around inlet and mudflats; at least three individuals with USFWS aluminum leg bands (too distant to read) SP.

15) Red-shouldered Hawk  1 (ad) in dead tree at edge of NP (photo 8/8/10).

                                                                                    © 2010 Callyn Yorke


16) Northern Harrier  1 (f) flying in from NW over NP.

17) Common Moorhen  1  swimming in algae-choked backwater near the fast-flowing drainage ditch at the Challenger Way and "Ave. C-10" entrance of SP.

18) American Coot  40 (ad, imm) open water and edge of marsh, SP.

19) Black-bellied Plover  1 (trans-bsc. plmg.) on sandbar, SP.

20) Semi-palmated Plover   2   weedy sandbars and shoreline, SP.

21) Killdeer  10   shorelines throughout  SP.

22) American Avocet   100 (est.) (mostly in bsc. plmg..) ubiquitous, SP.

23) Black-necked Stilt  80 (est.)   ubiquitous, SP.

24) Spotted Sandpiper  1 (bsc. plmg) along shore, SP; 1 shore of weed-choked channel, NP.

25) Solitary Sandpiper  1  on mudflat and shallows at edge of marsh, 30 yards N of main (East-West) road, SP (photo 8/8/10).

                                                                                                © 2010 Callyn Yorke

26) Greater Yellowlegs   3   alkaline flooded area next to inlet; shorelines, SP.

27) Lesser Yellowlegs  1  shoreline in W section of SP. 1 weedy slough, NP.

28) Least Sandpiper    30  shorelines and mudflats throughout SP.

29) Short-billed Dowitcher  2  with LBD on shoreline, SP.

30) Long-billed Dowitcher   60 (alt. and trans. plmg.)   foraging in shallows and resting on shorelines and mudflats throughout SP.

31) Wilson's Phalarope   40  small flocks spinning in shallows probing, SP.

32) Red-necked Phalarope  3  intermixed with flock of WP, SP (photo 8/8/10: WP in foreground).

                                                                                                                            © 2010 Callyn Yorke

33) Marbled Godwit  1  on mudflat in W section of SP.

34) California Gull  2 (imm) resting on mudflats, SP.

35) Black Tern  1 (imm) circling marsh and open water, SP.

36) Mourning Dove  12  perched in dead tree, NP.

37) Western Kingbird  3   sally-flycatching in brushy area near inlet, SP; 2 around dead Salt Cedars, NP.

38) Cassin's Kingbird  1  perched in dead tree, NP.

39) Loggerhead Shrile  4  calling, flying low from exposed perches in open fields at edge of marsh, SP, NP.

40) Northern Mockingbird  1  flew into dense shrubs near inlet, SP.

41) Common Raven   10   flying around marsh and ponds, SP, NP.

42) Horned Lark  20  edges of fields and on levees, SP, NP.

43) Tree Swallow  30 (est. ) most circling 100 ft.+ over SP; a few flying low in marsh over open water.

44) Bank Swallow   8  flying back and forth over marsh and open water, SP.

45) Cliff Swallow  60 (est.) circling very high and low over water in marsh, SP.

46) Barn Swallow   30 flying back and forth, low over open water and marsh, SP.

47) Marsh Wren  10   song and calls from mqrshy areas throughout, SP, NP.

48) Common Yellowthroat  3  calls from marshy areas, SP.

49) Song Sparrow  4  flying low between marshy areas, SP.

50) Sage Sparrow   10  flying low through fields of saltbush scub and across roadways, SP, NP.

51) Western Meadowlark  3  flying low across fields of saltbush scrub, SP, NP.

52) Yellow-headed Blackbird  1 (m, imm)  perched atop shrubs at edge of marsh, SP.

53) Red-winged Blackbird   2  flying over marsh, SP.

54) Brewer's Blackbird  40  shorelines and mudflats throughout SP.

55) Brown-headed Cowbird   1 calls from edge of marsh-riparian, NP.

56) House Finch   8  brushy areas near inlet and elsewhere on edge of marsh, SP, NP.









AUGUST 2, 2010 (39 Species)

Weather: Fair, 70-75F; no wind.

Time: 0815-1030 hrs.

Area Covered: I entered Piute Ponds, Edwards AFB, on Avenue C and began slowly driving around the north pond (NP), then the south pond complex (SP), surveying both outside and from within my vehicle. With the exception of five head of cattle foraging in the north pond, and an SUV with birders on the north levee, the area was undisturbed.The main slough on the edge of the north pond was nearly full, leaving relatively little exposed shoreline. Relatively more shoreline was exposed in the south pond complex area, where most of the waterbirds were found today. Many flying insects (e.g. Odonata) were present during the survey as the air temperature increased. After a fairly thorough search of the north pond area, I was unable to locate a Bobolink (a vagrant in the Antelope Valley) reported on the L.A.County Yahoo List-Server, two days earlier by Dan Guthrie.


1) Mallard  (ad, imm) 4 NP;   30 SP.

2) Gadwall  2 (ad)  flying, SP.

3) Cinnamon Teal  2 ( trans. plmg.)  flying, SP.

4) Redhead  1 (m) swimming in SP.

5) Ruddy Duck  30 (alt. plmg.) SP.

6) Great Blue Heron  2   edge of marsh, SP.

7) Snowy Egret  1   partially concealed at edge of marsh, SP.

8) Black-crowned Night Heron  10 (ad, imm) scattered around SP.

9) Clark's Grebe 1 (ad) open water; calling, SP.

10) White Pelican  5  swimming in SP.

11) Killdeer   20  edges of NP and SP.

12) American Avocet   30 (alt. plmg.) edge of SP.

13) Black-necked Stilt    15  edge of water, SP; 1 NP.

14) Least Sandpiper   10  foraging busily at edge of SP.

15) Spotted Sandpiper  1  foraging on dried mudflat along slough, NP.

16) Long-billed Dowitcher   20 (alt plmg.)   foraging and resting at edges of SP.

17) Willet  1 ( trans-alt. plmg.) flushed from edge of SP (photo 8/2/10).

                                                         © 2010 Callyn Yorke


18) Wilson's Phalarope  100 (est.: m,f;  alt. and trans.-basic plmg.-80/20%) foraging (spinning) and swimming throughout south pond complex, SP(photo 8/2/10).


                                                                              © 2010 Callyn Yorke


19) California Gull  1 (ad) flying over SP.

20) American Coot   30  open water and edges, SP.

21) California Quail  6  levees, NP and SP.

22) Mourning Dove   12  brushy borders of NP and SP.

23) Anna's Hummingbird  1 (f) aerial hawking of insects, SP.

24) Horned Lark   20   pairs and small flocks around levees, NP and SP.

25) Western Kingbird  4  low and medium height perches in fields, NP and SP.

26) Cassin's Kingbird  2  sally-flycatching from tall snag in Salt Cedar hedgerow, NP.

27) Northern Mockingbird  5  flying togther along entrance roadway separating NP and SP.

28) Loggerhead Shrike   3  on conspicuous perches (e.g. snags and Joshua Trees); calls; NP, SP.

29) Common Raven  2  flying over open field, NP.

30) Barn Swallow 3  flying low, back and forth over SP.

31) Common Yellowthroat   1 calls from marsh, NP.

32) Sage Sparrow   16  flying low over levees in saltbush scrub, NP, SP.

33) Song Sparrow  2  calls in dense marsh, NP.

34) House Finch 2  brushy border of NP.

35) Hooded Oriole  2 (f, m-imm) flying around weedy boders of NP.

36) Red-winged Blackbird  1 (f) edge of marsh, SP.

37) Brewer's Blackbird   30  (ad, imm) edge of marsh, SP.

38) Yellow-headed blackbird  2 (m, imm) flying over SP.

39) Western Meadowlark  9  edge of NP and adjacent saltbush scrub.








JUNE 7, 2010  (29 Species)

Weather: Fair, 81F to 85F; winds WNW 10-15 mph.

Time: 0820 - 0955 hrs.

Area Covered:  I drove into Piute Ponds from Avenue C and continued along the levee road between the N and S ponds, turning south through saltbush-mesquite-Joshua Tree desert scrub, then west through a mosaic of smaller ponds that is part of the South Piute Pond complex, where water-levels are nearly to the edge of the road. Habitats surveyed included freshwater and alkali marsh, fields, ponds, salt bush (Atriplex spp.), mesquite and Joshua Tree desert scrub. I surveyed both south (SP) and north ponds (NP), stopping frequently to observe birds from the vehicle and occasionally outside the vehicle, using a 10x42 binocular and DSLR camera. Steady WNW winds made identification of bird vocalizations relatively difficult.


Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus )    N Piute Pond, Edwards AFB, CA   June 7, 2010                                                                  

                                                                                                                                                             © 2010 Callyn Yorke


1) Mallard  30 (m,f 10% trans. plmg.) NP and SP.

2) Gadwall  12 (m,f)   NP and SP.

3) Cinnamon Teal  3 (m,f)  resting on land, edge of SP.

4) Blue-winged Teal  1 (m) swimming with Mallard, north edge of SP

5) Redhead   1 (m) open water, SP.

6) Ruddy Duck  40  (m,f alt. plmg.) pairs and triplets scattered in open water, edges of NP and SP.

7) Great Blue Heron  1 (imm) flying W, SP.

8) Black-crowned Night Heron   20 (ad, imm)   perched on snags, edge of cattails and flying, SP.

9) Pied-billed Grebe  1  north edge of SP.

10) Eared Grebe  1 (alt. plmg.)  open water, SP.

11) Clark's Grebe  2   pair showing courtship displays, north SP.

12) Killdeer    8   pairs on edge of pond and roadways, SP; calls..

13) American Avocet   25  (m,f) foraging in open water; shore; one sitting on N shore of NP; SP.

14) Black-necked Stilt   8  foraging in shallows and shore, SP and NP (photo).

15) California Gull  1 (imm) flying W over marsh, SP.

16) American Coot  70  open water and shallows, SP.

17) California Quail   2  brushy roadside, NP.

18) Mourning Dove   10 (ad, imm)   pairs along roadways and in open fields, SP and NP.

19) Horned Lark   16 (ad, imm)   one flock of 10 on roadway, SP.

20) Ash-throated Flycatcher  1 flying low over saltbush scrub, SP.

21) European Starling   8 (ad, imm)  flying over SP.

22) Cactus Wren  1 flushed from roadway through Joshua Tree area, SP.

23) Marsh Wren   6  singing in marsh along levee separating NP and SP.

24) Common Yellowthroat  2 singing in marsh along levee road separating NP and SP.

25) Sage Sparrow  1 flying low over saltbush scrub, SP.

26) Song Sparrow  4 singing in marsh NP.

27) Brewer's Blackbird  2 (m,f) on 10th St. E, SP.

28) Yellow-headed Blackbird  2  (m) singing in marsh, SP.

29) Great-tailed Grackle    4  flying over marsh, SP.




MAY 14,15, 2010 (49 Species)   


Weather:  Partly cloudy 79 to 84F; wind WNW 0-2 mph.

Time: 1145 - 1340 hrs. (5/14); 1430 - 1510 hrs. (5/15).

Observers: Mike San Miguel and I (5/14); Ethan Yorke and I (5/15).

Area CoveredWe drove in on Avenue C, turning south of Challenger Way, then east into Piute Ponds South. We continued driving slowly, exiting the vehicle several times to scope out the ponds, which were full to the edge of the levees. The shallow ponds to the north together with mudflats, contained most of the shorebirds found today at Piute Ponds. We returned by car to Avenue C, turning east and driving the perimeter levees of the north and south pond, stopping to scope the adjacent wetlands, shallow channel and salt bush scrub. We ended our survey on Avenue C, near the porta-potties, walking along the levee and roadway. Both north and south ponds were surveyed. Conditions were excellent for detecting bird vocalizations (5/14).

The following day (5/15), I received email and phone messages reporting Hudsonian Godwit at the north Piute Ponds, discovered earlier today (5/15/2010) by Janet Scheel, et. al. We drove directly to Piute Ponds from Green Valley entering on Avenue C. Two HUGWT (male and female in alternate plumage) were easily located near the north levee road, across a shallow channel in the north pond. We spent almost our entire time here observing and photographing these birds. On our return to Avenue C, we briefly surveyed the same area visited yesterday (see above) without adding any new bird species to the previous day list. Two other cars were present in the area during our survey (see notes below for HUGWT).



1) Mallard  2 (m,f) north pond.

2) Gadwall  5 (m,f) north pond.

3) Northern Shoveler  3 (m,f) south pond.

4) Redhead  2 (m,f) south pond.

5) Ruddy Duck  8 (alt. plmg) south pond near tules.

6) California Quail  2  saltbush scrub, north pond.

7) Pied-billed Grebe  1 south pond.

8) Eared Grebe 2  (alt. plmg.) south pond.

9) Clark's Grebe  1  south pond.

10) Double-crested Cormorant   4 (ad, imm) south pond.

11) Great Blue Heron  3 south pond.

12) Great Egret  1  south pond, near Challenger Way.

13) Black-crowned Night Heron   30  (ad, imm) south pond.

14) White-faced Ibis  1  south pond, flying low, N.

15) American Coot   20  south and north pond.

16) Semipalmated Plover  1 south pond; 3 north pond.

17) Killdeer   1 south pond; 1 north pond.

18) American Avocet    20 south pond, edges; 8 north pond; one sitting on ground, probably on nest; warning calls.

19) Black-necked Stilt   2 south pond, 1 north pond.

20) Spotted Sandpiper  8 (alt. plmg.) south pond; 2 north pond.

21) Greater Yellowlegs  1  south pond.

22) Western Sandpiper   6 (alt. plmg.) south pond;  10 north pond.

23) Least Sandpiper   3  south pond.

24) Dunlin   1 south pond.

25) Wilson's Phalarope  2  south pond.

26) Red-necked Phalarope  1  south pond.

27) Willet  1  south pond.

28) Whimbrel   2 south pond.

29) Hudsonian Godwit  2 (m,f  alt. plmg.) foraging busily along channel in north pond, opposite small observation blind. The pair stayed within a few feet of each other, and occasionally touched. The birds were seemingly unafraid as we approached, first by car, then on foot, to within about 30 yards, viewing them from the levee. We made multiple photographs of the pair (see above and below) before a woman with an unleashed dog arrived; the woman (apparently seeking to collect a water sample in a small tupperware container) with her unleashed dog climbed down the embankment to the water,  which immediately alerted the godwits, which exited the water and stood upright on the shore for a few seconds before taking flight. The birds made a short circular flight and returned to nearly the same location but were relatively more vigilant near the shoreline. Although the birds appeared to be actively foraging in a few inches of greenish water along the edge of the channel, we could not determine the nature of their food, even after examining numerous close-up photographs. This suggests that the food was quite small, perhaps diptera larvae (many small aerial diptera (e.g. gnats) were present around the ponds during the survey).

Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) male (L); female (R)  North Piute Pond, Edwards AFB, Los Angeles County, CA     May 15, 2010


                                                                                                             ©  2010 Callyn Yorke



30) Sanderling 1 (bsc. plmg.) south pond.

31) California Gull 120  circling over sewage ponds to the west.

32) Mourning Dove  1  flying, north pond.

33) Great Horned Owl  3  (ad, imm) in Willow along Ave. C near porta-potties; two flushed by MSM; one imm remaining (photo).

                                                                 Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) Piute Ponds, Edwards AFB, CA  May 14, 2010


                                                                                                                                                                             © 2010 Callyn Yorke


34) Nuttall's Woodpecker  1  calls from E end of levee (unseen).

35) Western Wood Pewee   1  in Willow near porta potties.

36) Gray Flycatcher  1  edge of salt cedars; flew into salt bush scrub, north pond. Gray back and downward tail-flicking seen clearly.

37) Empidonax sp.  1 edge of salt cedars, near GRFC; possibly Hammond's.

38) Say's Phoebe  1  in saltbush scrub, north pond, Ave. C entrance.

39) Loggerhead Shrike   2   Ave. C entrance; Joshua tree - saltbush scrub.

40) Common Raven   6 flying around; south and north pond.

41) Barn Swallow  2 flying low at edge of north pond.

42) Marsh Wren   50  singing in marsh, south and north pond.

43) Yellow warbler   2   in Cottonwood, north-south pond levee..

44) Yellow-rumped Warbler 1   in Cottonwood with Yellow warbler, north-south pond levee

45) Common Yellowthroat   2  marsh, north pond salt cedar; song.

46) Wilson's Warbler   3  edge of south and north pond with young riparian and salt cedar.

47) Sage Sparrow  1 north pond, salt bush scrub; song.

48) Song Sparrow  4  marsh, north-south pond levee.

49) Western Meadowlark  2  flying over saltbush scrub, north pond; song.







APRIL 23, 2010  (27 Species)


Weather: Fair, 66F; winds W 10-15 mph.

Time: 1800-1915 hrs.

Area Covered: I drove onto Edwards AFB on Avenue C (after talking briefly with Jim Abernathy and Dick Norton, who had just finished their survey of Piute Ponds;  kindly providing directions for finding the Solitary Sandpiper), turning S onto Challenger Way (10th Street East). I surveyed some flooded areas along the roadway, where a Solitary Sandpiper was flushed. Returning to the main entrance to Piute Ponds, I first drove slowly around the North Pond (NP), which was largely dry except for small sloughs running along the N and W borders, but contained hundreds of feeding sandpipers (mostly Least Sandpiper). I returned to the entrance next to the large salt cedars and two porta-potties, then walked E along the levee, surveying the marsh and open water areas of the NP and South Pond (SP) using only a 10x42 binocular.


1) Gadwall  4 (m,f) edge of water, NP.

2) American Wigeon  2 (m,f) edge of water, NP; flushed when approached.

3) Mallard   40 (m,f)  open water and edge of NP and SP.

4) Cinnamon Teal  6 (m,f) shallow slough, NP.

5) Northern Shoveler  200  SP, far southerly section.

6) Clark's Grebe  2 far S near tules, SP.

7) Eared Grebe  1 (alt. plm.)  SP.

8) Double-crested Cormorant   1  with fish, SP.

9) Back-crowned Night Heron  20  (ad, imm) edge of tules, SP.

10) American Coot  60  NP and SP.

11) Semi-palmated Plover   7  NP  foraging at edge of water.

12) Least Sandpiper  200   large flocks (100 +) foraging on dry mudflats, NP.

13) Western Sandpiper   4  edge of water, NP.

14) Spotted Sandpiper  1 (bsc. plm.)    edge of water, NP.

15) Solitary Sandpiper  1  flushed from flooded area on E side of 10th Street East, about 200 ft. S of the intersection of Avenue C.

16) Long-billed Dowitcher  12  (alt. plm.)  flying low, W over NP.

17) California Gull 1 (imm) landed on NP.

18) Loggerhead Shrike  1  flew into Joshua Tree at NEC of Ave. C and !0th St. East.

19) Common Raven  2  flying W, NP.

20) Barn Swallow  100   flying 2- 40 ft. over flooded field, NP and SP.

21) Cliff Swallow  4  flying 50 ft. W, NP.

22) Marsh Wren  10 singing in marsh, edge of NP and SP.

23) American Pipit  2  open, flooded field next to NP; calls.

24) Yellow-rumped Warbler  5  in salt cedars, NP and edge of SP; calls.

25) Common Yellowthroat  1  calls from edge of NP.

26) White-crowned Sparrow  2  salt cedars between NP and SP.

27) Song Sparrow  4  edge of marsh, NP and SP; song.








MARCH 21, 2010  (34 Species)

Weather: Hazy; 55F to 62F, no wind.

Time:  1058- 1315 hrs.

Observers:  Dan Byrne and I.

Area Covered:  We drove in via Avenue C and parked by the large Salt Cedars. Walking slowly with binoculars, scope and camera, we traveled a clockwise route around the N pond, returning W on the levee separating the N and S ponds. We had good views of open water  mudflats (N pond only) and marsh of both ponds, though the SW portion of the S pond was largely obscured by dense growths of tules. No other people were present during our survey. Conditions were excellent for finding and identifying most birds.


1) Gadwall  6  (m,f)  N and S pond.

2) Mallard  6  (m,f)  N and S pond.

3) Northern Shoveler   42 (m,f)   N and S pond.

4) Cinnamon Teal  6  (m,f)  N pond.

5) Green-winged Teal  1 (m) N pond.

6) Ruddy Duck   30 N and S pond.

7) Clark's Grebe  2  S pond.

8) American White Pelican   26  (alternate plumage)  flew into S pond; swimming on E end with cormorants.

9) Double-crested Cormorant  6 (ad, imm) swimming and diving S pond near pelicans.

10) Great Blue Heron   1  edge of S pond.

11) Black-crowned Night Heron 3 (ad)  E edge of S pond.

12) Northern Harrier  2  (m,f) separated by about 100 yards, flying low over S and N pond.

13) Sora  1  calls from  N pond.

14) American Coot    100   N and S pond (wary and flighty).

15) Killdeer   1   N pond.

16) Least Sandpiper   80  foraging on mudflats, N pond.

17) Dunlin  1  (basic plumage)  foraging on mudflats with Least Sandpipers, N pond.

18) American Avocet  15  flying over N pond; calls.

19) Black-necked Stilt    1  N pond.

20) California Gull  10 (ad, imm) flying E over S pond.

21) Black Phoebe  2  trees between N and S pond.

22) Loggerhead Shrike  1  perched on tall shrub, NW side of N pond.

23) Common Raven  3  flying; calls.

24) Horned Lark  2   W margin of N pond.

25) Tree Swallow  2  flying low over N pond.

26) Marsh Wren   4  singing in cattails between ponds.

27) Northern Mockingbird  1  singing in alkali scrub N of N pond.

28) American Pipit   1   flying, calls, N pond.

29) Yellow-rumped Warbler   5  trees between ponds.

30) White-crowned Sparrow   3  Shrubby areas around N pond.

31) Savannah Sparrow  1  calls from N edge of N pond.

32) Sage Sparrow  1  singing on exposed perch, N of N pond.

33) Song Sparrow    4  singing around margins of both ponds.

34) Western Meadowlark  1  singing in field W of N pond.








March 1, 2010  (28 Species)

Weather:  High, thin overcast; 45 to 50F; no wind.

Time: 0815 - 0935 hrs.

Area Covered:  North Pond (NP): I walked from the parking area next to the portapotties on Avenue C, clockwise around the perimeter of the north pond. Using only a 10x42 binocular and DSLR camera, I surveyed alkali scrub and the fresh-water marsh of mostly the N pond; The northern side of the South Pond (SP)was also surveyed to a distance of about 100 yards. The water level in both ponds was high due to recent rains. The roadway around the N pond was muddy with numerous tracks and sign of mammals, including Raccoon, Skunk, Coyote and Kit Fox. Flying insects were abundant over NP and adjacent alkali scrub, attracting many swallows.


1) Mallard   4  (m,f) NP; SP  open water.

2) Northern Pintail  2 (m,f) NP, open water.

3) Northern Shoveler    50 (m,f) NP, open water.

4) Cinnamon Teal   10  (m,f)  NP, S edge, open water; flying.

5) Redhead  2 (m,f)  open water, E end of NP.

6) Ruddy Duck   35  (m,f)  open water, S side of NP.

7) Great Blue Heron  1  N edge of SP.

8) Black-crowned Night Heron  1 (ad) flushed from N edge of SP; calls.

9) Double-crested Cormorant  5   perched on posts, NP.

10) Northern Harrier  1 (f) low over alkali scrub; 1 on ground, N of NP (photo).

11) American Coot   150 (est.)   NP and SP; flighty.

12) Ring-billed Gull  1 (ad) flying N over NP.

13) Sandpiper sp. (possibly Dunlin)   8  flushed from central NP.

14) Killdeer   1  calling from NP.

15) Yellowlegs sp.  called once from NP.

16) Northern Flicker  1  flushed from Tamarisk NP.

17) Loggerhead Shrike   2   perched on Tamarisk and Joshua Tree, W of NP.

18) Common Raven   2  Tamarisks on E end of NP; calls.

19) American Pipit  2  N and S edge of NP.

20) Marsh Wren   12   singing around margins of NP and SP (photo 3/1/10).

                                             Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris) Piute Ponds, Los Angeles County  


                                                                                                                                            © 2010 Callyn Yorke

21) Barn Swallow   2  low over NP and adjacent alkali scrub.

22) Violet Green Swallow   4  low over alkali scrub, NP.

23) Tree Swallow   60 ( conservative est.)  foraging at all heights over NP and adjacent alkali scrub.

24) Yellow-rumped Warbler  2  in Tamarisk, N edge of NP; calls.

25) Song Sparrow   30  singing and active in marsh and Tamarisk, NP and SP.

26) Lincoln's Sparrow   1   S -central edge of NP.

27) White-crowned Sparrow  2   alkali scrub, N of NP.

28) Western Meadowlark   4  singing and calls from alkali scrub W and N of NP.








October 16, 2009 (52 Species)

Weather: Fair, 65 to 75F; NW winds 1-3 mph.

Time: 0742 - 1000 hrs. (ML); 1037 - 1200 hrs. (PP).

Area Covered:  (1) Muroc Lake (ML):  I parked at Tee # 7 on the west side of the golf course (same place as previous surveys) and walked around

the course, surveying fairways, ruderal edges, Muroc Lake and adjacent seepage, cottonwoods, Aleppo pines, willows, Chinese Elms and salt cedar, creosote bush- covered hillsides, using a 10 x 40 binocular. Used Nikon DSLR equipment for photos of birds. A few golfers began showing up around 0900 hrs. Otherwise, the course was largely unused and quiet this morning. I walked south to the last tee and northeast, uphill to the clubhouse, extending my usual survey route by about 0.1 mi. and about 35 minutes. Birdlife was abundant around ML and the edges of fairways, especially near creosote scrub and cottonwoods.

(2) Drove west on Rosamond Blvd. to 10th Street East (Challenger Way), then 5 miles south on a dusty, washboard road leading to the intersection of Avenue C at Piute Ponds (PP). Turned east on Ave. C and proceeded about 0.5 miles to a parking area next to a grove of salt cedars. Birded the south pond (photo) by walking E and W on the levee for about 100 yards, then returning to the car. Most of the south pond is obscured from view by tules. I then drove E on the levee road about a mile where it turns S for about another 0.3 mile. Stopped frequently along this route to scan the E section of the south pond. Some hunters were setting up blinds to the west, otherwise the ponds were undisturbed by human activities. Before leaving, I drove a short distance N on the dirt road adjacent to a marshy-mudflat area (photo); all that is left of the "north pond." The latter location was the only place I found shore birds this morning (I did not see any other exposed mudflats elsewhere at Piute Ponds). Flying insects

(Diptera) were abundant everywhere and being pursued by Yellow-rumped Warblers and sparrows. I used both a 10 x 40 binocular and a 25-30x scope.

Northwestern section of South Piute Pond from wildlife viewing platform, looking SW. (photo 10/16/09)   © 2009 Callyn D. Yorke
Southwestern section of South Piute Pond from wildlife viewing platform, looking SW. © 2009 Callyn D. Yorke

The roadside marsh and mudflat area of the North Piute Pond, viewing northeast.  © 2009 Callyn D. Yorke
The roadside marsh and mudflat area of the North Piute Pond, viewing northeast. © 2009 Callyn D. Yorke


Red-naped Sapsucker at Muroc Lake Golf Course (photo 10/16/09).     © 2009 Callyn D. Yorke
Red-naped Sapsucker at Muroc Lake Golf Course. © 2009 Callyn D. Yorke


Sora foraging in Muroc Lake (photo 10/16/09). © 2009 Callyn D. Yorke
Sora foraging in Muroc Lake. © 2009 Callyn D. Yorke

Birds Noted

1) Gadwall  6 (m,f) PP, n: staying close to tules; flew suddenly when I set up my scope.

2) Mallard  1 (m) ML, swimming in open water.

3) Cinnamon Teal  2-3 (m,f) PP near Gadwall.

4) Green-winged Teal  6 (1 m, f) PP, close to tules in shade.

5) Northern Shoveler  3 (m,f) PP  open water and near tules.

6) Ruddy Duck  20 (m,f) PP open water.

7) Pied-billed Grebe  2 PP open water.

8) Eared Grebe  1 PP near tules.

9) Clark's Grebe 1 PP open water, preening.

10) Double-crested Cormorant  1 (ad) PP on snag.

11) Great Blue Heron  3 PP edge and on duck blind.

12) Black-crowned Night Heron  2 (ad, juv) PP fushed from shore.

13) Northern Harrier 1 (f) PP flying slowly over S and N pond; alarming shorebirds in N pond.

14) Red-Shouldered Hawk  1 (imm) ML perched on short pole next to lake.

15) Red-tailed Hawk  1 (ad) PP soaring over dry N pond.

16) Virginia Rail 1 PP moving along shady edge of tules in N marsh.

17) Sora  2 (ML); 1 PP- same area as VR. ML sora quite approachable when foraging in Lake (photo).

18) American Coot  6 ML; 50 PP.

19) Killdeer  2 PP, mudflats; flushed by MH, staying with other shorebirds.

20) Greater Yellowlegs  1 PP north marsh-mudflats; flushed by MH. calls.

21) Least Sandpiper 3 PP north marsh-mudflat, foraging together.

22) Dunlin  1 PP foraging close to LS.

23) Wilson's Snipe 1 PP close to cover in north marsh-mudflat, staying close to other shorebirds.

24) Red-naped Sapsucker  1 (m)  ML moving up trunk of large cottonwood (photo).

25) Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1 (f) ML, calls, foraging in cottonwoods; perched on tall snag.

26) Northern Flicker  1 ML  perched on snag; calls.

27) Pacific Slope Flycatcher  1 ML in cottonwood; calls.

28) Black Phoebe  3 ML : in shrubs and trees near lake.

29) Say's Phoebe  1 ML landed on roof top of pump shed.

30) Loggerhead Shrike  2 ML; 1 PP:  calls, partial song from exposed perch.

31) Common Raven  4 ML;  8 PP, soaring and perched in tall trees.

32) Horned Lark  20 ML on edge of fairways; calls in flight.

33) Tree Swallow  10 PP, high (200 ft.+) over western part of S pond.

34) Barn Swallow  3, lower than TS, also low over water of S pond.

35) Verdin  2 ML, creosote bush area; calls.

36) Marsh Wren  3 ML, staying low in tules; calls and song.

37) Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2 ML foraging in cottonwoods; calls.

38) Northern Mockingbird  1 ML (edge of fairway); 2 PP-- entry roadside.

39) European Starling  3 ML in cottonwood.

40) Cedar Waxwing  2-5 ML, calling from trees around lake (unseen).

41) Orange-crowned Warbler  1 ML foraging with WW, YW and YRW in cottonwood.

42) Yellow Warbler  1 ML with above; calls.

43) Yellow-rumped Warbler  30 ML; 100 PP; ubiquitous, foraging at all levels, including hawking aerial insects to about 50 ft.

44) Common Yellowthroat  3 ML around lake; 10 PP, edge of marsh; calls.

45) Sage Sparrow  1 PP: flew across 10th Street East.

46) Savannah Sparrow  10 ML; 30 PP. ubiquitous, foraging in loose flocks; drinking at shoreline; bathing in puddles, calls.

47) Song Sparrow  4 ML;  10 PP, calls and song.

48) Lincoln's Sparrow 2 ML;  3 PP; calls from dense shrubs near water; secretive bu close to other sparrows (WCS, SNGS).

49) White-crowned Sparrow  30 ML;  100 + PP. ubiquitous, foraging at all levels, calls and song.

50) Red-winged Blackbird  6 (m,f) ML flew into cattails at lake; 4 PP, flew over; calls.

51) Brown-headed Cowbird  1 ML flew over lake; calls.

52) House Finch  20 ML  in trees everywhere; on ground; calls and song.

53) House Sparrow  5 ML  around clubhouse.

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