We made a brief stop at Convict Lake to show Rich what a beautiful gem of a lake this was.
We headed east towards Lake Crowley and the Glass Mountains along Benton Crossing Rd. with beautiful expanses of sage.
Knowing that Greater Sage-Grouse was on the top of Rich’s target list, I was in constant vigil of the edges of the road as we drove along. I was looking for that large, chicken-shaped bird, probably with chicks, that might take advantage of the feeding opportunities on the edges of their habitat. And in an instant, they were there! An adult Greater Sage-Grouse with at least 3 chicks. I immediately yelled it our and hit the brakes, making a U-Turn in the middle of the highway and we crept slowly back towards where they had been. Unfortunately Rich only got a glimpse of one of the chicks as it ran between shrubs.
Here is an image of one I photographed on a previous visit to Mono County.
Slightly discouraged and excited at the same time by the fleeting sighting, we headed on to Wildrose Canyon. Our target birds here included a recently reported Long-eared Owl, plus the usual suspects frequently found at this particular hotspot; Plumbeous Vireo, Calliope Hummingbird, Lazuli Bunting, Green-tailed Towhee and Blue Gray Gnatcatchers.
As we walked up the dirt road, we had birds singing and calling on all sides. Our first photographic volunteer was a Green-tailed Towhee that perched willingly on a dead snag next to us.
Next up was a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher that gave the photographers numerous poses to show off its fine array of feathers.
We had visits from Mountain Chickadees…
And many Lazuli Buntings…
And suddenly something buzzed right over our heads, like some kind of dive-bombing hummingbird. In fact, it was some kind of hummingbird, a Calliope Hummingbird was claiming its territory and doing dive displays to impress his potential mate. After doing several display dives, it proceeded to just hover in place not very far from us.
As we watched the Calliope Hummingbird, Joshua Stacey, a birder from the Bay Area, caught up to us and we chatted about what we had seen. All the while the hummingbird continued with its dives and hovers.
While Rich continued to look for the Long-eared Owl (unsuccessfully)…
I continued uphill hoping to find one of the MacGillivray’s Warblers that Joshua Stacy had told us about. I eventually found two of them and managed a low-quality, but identifiable image of one.
Next Stop: Earthquake Trail