12 August 2013

On the road... again

It sure didn't feel like I was home in California for very long.  Alas, it was time to get moving again.  This time I'm going to slowly bird my way eastward towards the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I'll be working this fall.

So what was my first goal after leaving The Golden State?  Finally making a state list for Nevada!  If you look back at my "County Listing" post (seen here), you can see I didn't have a single eBird tick for the state of Nevada.  I was out to change that; I would drive to the Ruby Mountains and (hopefully) see the HIMALAYAN SNOWCOCK and perhaps a few BLACK ROSY-FINCHES along the way.

It was a pretty easy drive from Sacramento but when I arrived in Lamoille Canyon, the weather was downright stupid.  Thunder, 35 mph winds, driving rain.  Yuck.  Take a look:

I decided instead of screwing around in the parking lot (or worse yet, hiking up in that weather), I'd go down to the campground and set up for the night.  In the trees immediately next to my tent was a family of RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS (a new tick for the year).  As you can see, they apparently had an affinity for keeping close quarters:

The weather cleared a little and I figured it was worth going back up to the trailhead.  Here's where my story and the story of others will diverge quite a bit.  Most people park at this trailhead and hike ~1.9 miles up to Lamoille Lake (elevation ~9700 feet).  The trail for that is up that way....  

They do this to have a good vantage point to scope the crags for the high-alpine snowcocks.  I decided that I'd skip the hike and just scope eastward from the parking lot since I didn't have time to do much else.  Here's a pic looking at the east part of the cirque:

I hadn't been scoping for more than 15 minutes before I caught a glimpse of a flock of something flying out over the open canyon.  They were... snowcocks?  Really?  Sure enough, a high-flying flock of 7 were circling WAY up in the air.  This is surely the first time I've seen any bird from this family flying THAT high out over nothingness).  They landed out of view.  However, just a few minutes after that, bingo.  See that bump?

A closer look via the scope at 60x revealed this... my lifer HIMALAYAN SNOWCOCK:

So for those of you who are terrible and lazy human beings, try scoping from the parking lot looking southeast.  Here's a map of the parking lot, and the money zone for where the snowcocks were:

View Lamoille Canyon in a larger map

And yes, I heard the odd calls of the snowcocks from the parking lot too.  And don't forget the BLACK ROSY-FINCHES; they were pretty common, flying up around the crags.

I retreated to my tent in a good mood; I didn't need to wake up predawn and I didn't even need to make the hike up.  I was 3 year birds richer too.  It was a good start to my trip...