Sunday, August 12, 2007

San Jacinto Mountains

This weekend my dad and I made a short camping trip in the San Jacinto Mountains. It was awesome - lots of birds (seven lifers: Red-breasted Sapsucker, White-headed Woodpecker, Gray Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Pinyon Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, and Hermit Warbler), great scenery, and good times. Here's a brief report:

On Saturday, we drove up into the mountains (about a one and a half hour drive from home). At Lake Fulmor, we found our first White-headed Woodpeckers and Dusky Flycatchers, along with the common mountain birds - Mountain Chickadees, Steller's Jays, Pygmy Nuthatches, etc. We quickly checked Indian Vista Point, which was birdless but had lots of lizards, including this handsome fellow which I am tentatively calling a Granite Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus orcutti).

Our next stop, Idyllwild County Park, was productive. Pygmy Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, and Band-tailed Pigeons swarmed the feeders, and on a nearby trail we found Red-breasted Sapsucker, Purple Finch, and Nashville Warbler. I also found several species of butterflies in the meadow area of the park, including this Checkered White (Pontia protodice).

Later, we hit Lake Hemet where we found singles of Caspian Tern and Gray Flycatcher, and then the Garner Valley, a low elevation area of pines well-known for its Pinyon Jays. We found the jays without much trouble and managed to track down several calling individuals. We then headed to Hurkey Creek Campground, where we camped for the night.

Early Sunday morning we were awoken by a chorus of coyotes, followed by a couple Great Horned Owls then the noisy awakening of the Steller's Jays. After packing up, we headed into Idyllwild to take a hike into the San Jacinto Wilderness on the Devils Slide Trail. What an awesome hike. There were birds all over the place, and the scenery was spectacular! We hiked a couple miles on the trail (all uphill), seeing many birds in the process. The highlight had to be the Clark's Nutcracker that flew right overhead and landed in a pine close to us, but a Hermit Warbler I saw was very nice as well. On the way back down, we found many unknown lizards that I am still puzzling over. Any ideas for this lil guy?


Anna Lozyk Romeo said...

Very nice trip summary. The photos are very nice, nice close ups - What camera do you use?

Cole Wolf said...

your first lizard is orcutti, second one is western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis. sounds like a sweet trip. are mountain quail in the area?

Neil Gilbert said...

hey Cole thanks - that's another herp lifer. Anna, I used a Fuji finepix s5200, a digital point & shoot.